The Invisible Friend

Clearwater, Florida, 2004
n June, Paul spoke at a conference in Clearwater, Florida, and ended up witnessing a fascinating case of a cross-world friendship.

A staff member where Paul was staying and presenting a program – the huge and historic Belleview Biltmore Hotel - approached him and said that weird things were happening to her 11 year-old nephew, who could predict all sorts of things about the future because of a companion nobody else could see but that other members of the family could, at times, hear.

"I’ve always been VERY suspicious of 'invisible friends,' who all too often turn out to be parasites setting up their human dupes to be hot lunches, especially when it comes to older children," Paul says.

Well, young Tony’s case turned out to be somewhat different. In visiting his home, Paul found to his surprise that Tony was no introvert, as are many children with invisible friends. He was a delightful, outgoing, straightforward boy who seemed more interested in Paul's background as a journalist than he was in the paranormal. He was interested in baseball, had a number of quite visible friends, and he did well in school. He said he wanted to be a reporter someday.

What he reported that day was most interesting. The invisible friend, whose name also was Tony, was entirely visible to the boy. Except for the fact that he usually would arrive by walking into the room through the wall, he was a great deal like Tony’s other friends -- except for a few biographical details.

Tony's mom had never seen the other Tony, but said that she had twice heard the two of them talking in the boy's room. She said the second Tony's voice was quite different and had an accent she couldn't identify. Much to her own surprise, she had felt no anxiety about this at all and had never interrupted a conversation.

"I found it fascinating that Tony's mom felt a vague connection to this invisible Tony, almost as if he was one of the family. The house itself had a warm, loving atmosphere," Paul remembers.   

According to our Tony, the paranormal Tony was “a relative” who was to be born on March 5, 2093, 100 years to the day after our Tony’s birth. He also lived in Florida, which in his world was part of a benign empire that included the entire east coast of North America, all the way up to Labrador. His father and mother were cattle farmers, and his Florida seemed a great deal more rural than ours. And he was crazy about baseball, which in his world had slightly different rules. And people there could do “visits.”

Our Tony seemed convinced that the paranormal Tony had saved his life on several occasions, including pushing him out of the path of an oncoming car and waking him up in time to put out a grass fire while he was out camping with his other friends.  

"I had a fascinating conversation with Tony – maybe both Tonys – because I felt the overwhelming presence of another boy from the moment I walked into the room and before Tony had told me anything. Very human, very positive, even good natured," Paul recalls.

"My conclusion: a friendship across parallel worlds. Maybe a family relationship, or perhaps even a descendant of our Tony’s?"

“I think there’s some stuff he won’t tell me because it might freak me out,” Tony told Paul, who adds:

"Well, I suppose that if you were 11 and talking to your own great, great grandson or something, you might find it 'freaky'!"

Paul continues: "I know. Once again, no real 'evidence.' No ghost photographs. No 'electronic voice phenomena.' As a matter of fact, I deliberately left my cameras and stuff at the hotel. Sometimes things like that get in the way – like standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and completely missing the view because you’re texting about the visit to somebody back East. Sometimes you have to just let it go and have the experience. If you don’t, you’ll miss the sheer humanity of the whole thing. And you’ll learn and prove absolutely nothing. Because, much as we might want it to, the paranormal doesn’t exist on our terms. Just the opposite is true."

Tony took this picture as Paul was with his mom and little brother.