by Dr. Lee Pulos and Gary Richman

Following the incident at Fasqueira, life went on as usual. Thomaz continued to work at the pharmacy and his father was busier than ever with patients. The only keepsake from that memorable day, the charred fishing pole, was kept on top of Dr. Morais’ dresser. The doctor neither spoke to anyone else about the events nor did he go out of his way to discuss them with Thomaz.

A month after the Fasqueira affair, Thomaz and two friends, Vanderlei and Manoel, went to the circus, a typical big-top spectacle with clowns, acrobats, and wild animals. The headline attraction was Dr. Wu, an elderly, rotund Asian billed as a master hypnotist. Attracted by Dr. Wu’s publicity, the boys decided to see his show. They became absorbed with the roll of the drums and his very slow dramatic entrance. The lights dimmed, and slowly, dramatically, his head swaying back and forth like a cobra’s, Dr. Wu entered. Gradually, he engaged the eyes of everyone in the audience. Then suddenly he shouted, “Sleep!” Most of the audience and nearly all the children present slumped over into a deep trance. But not Thomaz! He remained alert throughout the show, and later teased his playmates for the ease with which they had been hypnotized.

On the way home, the boys stopped to play at a construction site. Even though Thomaz had no prior knowledge of hypnosis, he boasted to his friends that he could do everything that Dr. Wu demonstrated earlier. Thomaz was challenged and Vanderlei volunteered as a subject. Touching his friend’s forehead with his index finger, Thomaz shouted, “Sleep!” Vanderlei slumped over like a Raggedy Ann doll. Thomaz pinched and prodded him, and the absence of any sensations suggested that he was in a deep somnambulistic trance. Manoel congratulated his new hero. But when Thomaz hollered, “Wake up!” just as Dr. Wu had, he received no response. He cried out again and despite all the clamoring and shaking, Vanderlei remained in trance.

By now, the afternoon twilight had faded to near darkness. In desperation, Thomaz began to pray and asked God for a sign or inspiration that would release his friend from this strange sleep. Suddenly, Thomaz’s mind was flooded with the events of Fasqueira, and particularly with the image of his fishing rod. Leaving Manoel to stand guard over the deeply hypnotized Vanderlei, Thomaz ran home, climbed over a wall, crawled through a window, and tiptoed to his father’s bedroom. Just as he was slipping out of the house with the fishing rod, his father caught him and challenged him to explain what he was doing. Thomaz replied that he had no time to talk and raced back to his two friends. As he was running, he felt the fishing pole pulsating in his hand. For the first time in his life, he was to say later, he “felt a strong faith” that if he really believed he could do something, he would.

Returning to the construction site, Thomaz approached Vanderlei cautiously, touched his forehead with the burnt end of the fishing pole and shouted, “Wake up!” Slowly, Vanderlei opened his eyes, but could remember nothing that had happened since leaving the circus. Relieved that nothing serious had happened to his friend, Thomaz headed home. His relief was short-lived, however, when he saw his father waiting for him with the dreaded leather strap. Thomaz confessed and to his surprise, received not a whipping but a warning about the dangers of “strange forces.” Dr. Morais took a book from his library on practical hypnosis, told Thomaz to read it carefully, and sent him to bed.


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