The Sight

An essay by Barney Whelan, as told to Maureen Bowden, for the ESP and  Clairvoyance Investigation Registry
Art by Katie Nyborg

It was 1957 and my thirty-sixth birthday when I met John, and saw his death in his eyes. I’d been busking outside the Liverpool Empire that morning and I’d done okay: made enough for a packet of Woodbines, and a plate of egg ‘n’ chips in Lime Street Station café. He caught me staring at him, stared back, and headed over to my table with a bottle of coca cola and a bacon butty.

“Mind if I sit here, mate?”

“Free country, son.” The place was half empty. He could have sat anywhere, but from the way he looked at me I could tell he knew I had the Sight. He had a touch of it himself.

“I’m John.” He dumped his coke and his butty on the table.

“Barney,” I said. “Barney Whelan.”

He screwed up his straw, took a slurp straight out of the bottle, and glanced at the clarinet case lying on the floor alongside my crutch. “I’ve seen you buskin’ in town. You’re good.”


He was about seventeen; blue jeans, black tee-shirt under an open-necked red checked shirt, with the collar turned up; Teddy-boy haircut: like a million other kids, trying to be different, all looking the same. I dunked a chip in my egg-yolk, trying not to look in his eyes. It hurt too much.

The Sight

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2014 collection.


‘Stardust’ (1927), Hoagy Carmichael / Mitchell Parish, Gennet Records, Richmond, Indiana, USA.

Barnie Whelan was a Liverpudlian and a World War II veteran. Since his childhood he had the ability to see a person’s future in their eyes. He spent the last twenty years of his life, courtesy of an anonymous donor, in Springfield Private Nursing Home, Liverpool. It was there that Maureen Bowden interviewed him in March 2013.

Barnie died on December 8, 2013, three months after his ninety-third birthday.

Maureen Bowden is an ex-patriate Liverpudlian living with her musician husband on the island of Anglesey, off the coast of North Wales, where they try in vain to evade the onslaught of their children and grandchildren. She writes for fun and she has had several poems and short stories published. She also writes song lyrics, mostly comic political satire, set to traditional melodies. Her husband has performed these in Folk clubs throughout England and Wales.

She loves her family and friends, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Shakespeare, and cats.

Katie Nyborg’s art, plus information regarding hiring her, can be found at

This story originally appeared in Flash Fiction World in July 2012.

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