From 2001 to Prince

Steven Barnes
6 min readMar 3, 2021

Back in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s, Nicki’s mom, my first wife but at the time girlfriend Toni Young and I lived over near LACC. We often stayed up very late, because we didn’t have to be at work until afternoon, and after a work day, often drove down to Torrence to attend the Filipino Kali Academy’s stick and knife fighting classes. Good times. At the time I was working out four nights a week, meditating, and doing yoga…and something shifted in my perceptions. Its hard to explain, but the best way of describing it is that if I was speaking to someone who was being at all threatening, I stopped seeing them as a human being, and started seeing them as a silhouette painted on a sheet of glass, with vulnerable points marked in splotches of red. It was REALLY weird.

At any rate, the most extreme example of this effect happened one night when Toni and I walked down to the local 7–11, maybe four blocks away. It was maybe two in the morning, a hot night, and I wanted a Slurpy. (My old friend Otis used to call my carb cravings “God’s gift to the 7–11”. Miss him)

Anyway, so we’re walking down, and I was talking to Toni, my face turned toward her…when suddenly I felt something touch my “third eye”, the spot between the eyes, above the bridge of the nose, low on the forehead. Strange. I turned as if there had been a string attached there, pulling me, and looked ahead…and up about 100 feet ahead there was a guy leaning against a shop door, mostly in shadow. When he saw me look at him, he stepped out from the doorway, and started walking ahead of us.

Slowly. What is it, Calculus? Is that what you use to compare the intersecting speed vectors of two objects? Whatever that is, I GOT IT, and instantly. Like seething, glowing graph lines. I could see that if we kept walking at the current pace, and he kept slowing down, we would meet up at the corner ahead. In total darkness. I was kinda un-interested in that, if you know what I mean.

So I put my arm out to slow Toni down, keeping an eye on this guy.We slowed down. And…HE slowed down. So I slowed down more. And he slowed down more. And I stopped us dead.

And HE stopped dead. Then turned and looked over his shoulder at us…and took off running around the corner.

My my.


(An honest notice: I do not have a final opinion about whether “seeing auras” and such are phenomena of direct perception, indirect perception, or imagination. I really

Steven Barnes

Steven Barnes is a NY Times bestselling author, ecstatic husband and father, and holder of black belts in three martial arts.