The Impossible Visitor by Brent Raynes
Updated: Feb 11
Brent Raynes is a dear friend of mine. He has a big heart, a deeply curious mind, and is a prodigious and tireless researcher of anomalous and ufology-related phenomena. Brent has been studying ufology since the age of 14. His life’s work has been greatly impacted by Journalist John Keel, influential Fortean (A movement established by Charles Fort investigating anomalous phenomena), and author of The Mothman Prophecies.
Many of you are familiar with the movie of the same name, based on Keel’s book, starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney. Personally, it is one of my favorites.
Below is a fascinatingly eerie story of Keel, shared and written by Brent:
John Keel claimed very privately that he had received a visit at his New York City apartment from a close friend named Joe who he hadn't seen for a few years, but he had been quite close to going back nearly 20 years. Keel was even his best man back in 1950 at his wedding. Then on December 15th, 1967, the old friend unexpectedly showed up at Keel's door and they spent hours together, from early afternoon until nearly midnight.
My informant to this story, who unfortunately wished to remain anonymous, also visited Keel's apartment that very day and remembers the man. “Big guy with a powerful handshake,” he recalled. The problem was, about three years later, Keel described in a letter to this informant (which he provided me a copy) how he was in a store where he found his friend's wife working. He asked her how her husband was doing and she told Keel that he had died of a heart attack back in July 1965, over two years before Keel claimed Joe had visited him. “I argued that I had seen him in December 1967 and that she must be mistaken,” Keel wrote in the letter. “She was most indignant. How could she be mistaken about a thing like that? She was with him when he died. She went through the funeral and all. She insisted it happened in July 1965.”
“It looked like Joe, had Joe's memories, was flesh and blood,” Keel continued. “But it couldn't possibly have been Joe. Strange, too, that he turned up on what proved to be one of the most important days in my life. You met him. All the people at Moseley's meeting saw him.” [Keel and this Joe attended a Jim Moseley UFO meeting at some midtown hotel] I had to leave this out of The Mothman Prophecies for obvious technical reasons. It would have been anti-climatic. But this has kept me awake many, many nights.”
I inquired around and learned from researchers Tim and John Frick, who have for some years now frequented Point Pleasant, West Virginia and the surrounding region, how they spent some 8 hours with Keel at the 2003 West Virginia Mothman Festival, at which time he told them the same story wherein “the day the Silver Bridge collapsed he had spent part of the day with an old acquaintance of his” who Keel “later found out...had died” previously. [It was the same story. Keel just didn’t mention the name of the friend] When John Frick asked Keel what he thought about meeting someone under such odd circumstances, Keel’s “exact reply” I was told was, “I don't like thinking about it, because it makes my head hurt.”
When something makes John Keel's “head hurt,” if you’ve ever read his UFO articles or his books like Operation Trojan Horse or The Mothman Prophecies, then you know you're dealing with high-strangeness that has been kicked up several notches! But in the paranormal world, such stories are not unheard of. Keel, however, being a life-long atheist but a strong believer in deceptive, devilish elemental-type beings he called “ultra-terrestrials,” struggled with this encounter. This was a very good friend, who seemed absolutely physical and ordinary, indistinguishable from his real friend during the 1967 visit. It had his memories too, he also pointed out.
Forty-six people died in the bridge collapse that Keel had been receiving psychic warnings about from experiencers for months and weeks previous. But he was unable to put all of the pieces together until the night tragedy struck. He only knew that something tragic was going to happen in the Ohio River…and then too, there was the part of Christmas packages floating in the water.
Whereas I suspect most, under similar circumstances, would have seen such a visit from a dead friend as a hopeful sign from the great beyond, Keel instead perceived it as yet another mind game perpetrated by the UT tricksters.
I tried to see if any of the old timers in the field, like Allen Greenfield, Rick Hilberg and Tim Beckley might have had photos from that 1967 Moseley meeting, but no one was able to help. Keel's long-time friend Doug Skinner, who helps maintains a website (www.johnkeel.com) filled with all sorts of archived materials of Keel's, didn't recall this incident when I contacted him. I've read Keel's books and many articles over the years (even corresponded with him going back to 1969) and until my informant mentioned this incident to me in 2015, I knew nothing of it.
Brent Raynes is the editor of Alternative Perceptions online magazine (apmagazine.info), speaker, and author of three books: Visitors from Hidden Realms (2004), On the Edge of Reality (2009), and his most recent publication, John A. Keel: The Man, The Myths, and the Ongoing Mysteries (2019). All are available on Amazon.
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