This is a preview from Marc Emery’s autobiography, which he has been working on while in prison. The introductory chapter, called “The Prophecy”, is a strange but true story, seemingly foretelling Marc’s destiny when he was just 19 years old – even before he knew about marijuana.
One Saturday in September 1977 at my City Lights Bookshop in London, Ontario, I arrived early and excitedly to work on a huge collection of books from the 1800's and early 1900's. It took two trips in my Chrysler van, completely loaded with at least 750 books in each trip, to bring in this purchase from the estate of a deceased person the night before. I have to say, the best collections were always from people who had just died. Usually the children or heirs had no interest in the books and many other ephemera of an entire life of a collector, and in the era before the internet or eBay, those things were either put in an estate auction or, for most people who were impatiently wanting to settle estate matters more immediately, taken away by a bookseller like me. I would pay a nominal sum, and then haul away everything they wanted disposed of.
In this case it was a lifetime collection of religious books from 1800 to about 1930, with a fair bit of British poetry volumes from 1840 to 1900, and perhaps a few hundred illustrated books from the 1870 to 1945 period, probably the best books in the collection. For the 1,500 books in total, I paid about $1,000. The retail price when I was finished marking each one of them up was going to be $10,000 to $12,000. It was a great business, and I loved the old books, as each one was a treasure that was very profitable over time. On days like this, the next morning after a pick-up, it was the most fun my job could be.
I bought a collection of old, musty, rich smelling leather bound books two or three times weekly in those days, so my store was soaked in the smell of old paper and history and stacked with the 1,500 new arrivals in every available space, on counters, on the floor, rising above the counters three feet high above my head. For me to see anyone that morning I'd have to crane my neck around skyscrapers of old books. Only right by the cash register could I see someone in the aisle way.
Upon arriving at 9:30 in the morning, I put in my classic music tape; I was partial to George Frederick Handel Water Music, or Georg Philipp Telemann Flute Sonatas, gentle soothing period music that was clearly suggestive of old books. I unlocked the front door at 10am and started taking the religious books to their section in the back of the store, as I priced a stack of about 20 or so at a time. My store was 100 feet long, so once I was at the back, all I could hear was the classical music piped into every room, and every section was tight with bookshelves stacked with books and little room to move or maneuver. I would often peer around a corner to see if anyone came through the front door or needed assistance, and tried to stay in an isolated section no more than a few minutes before returning to the front area to do another stack of books and take them to their appropriate section. I was pretty fast, but this collection would take the better of three days to price and distribute throughout the bookshop.
I was so thrilled by this new collection of books that I wasn't particularly concerned that very few customers came in, at least for the first 90 minutes. Around a quarter to noon, my good friend and regular David Hogg came in and said "Hello," with a bit more animation than usual. "You didn't come out to see the woman who collapsed in front of your door?" he immediately wanted to know.
"What?" I said. "A woman collapsed? Where?" I was lost in my world and knew nothing about this.
"Right there," he pointed outside the very door he had walked through, "on the sidewalk."
"No; what happened?" I was surprised.
David looked at me askance. "You mean you didn't see an old woman, her head cracked open, blood all over the sidewalk, right there? That's hard to believe, Marc. She hit her head quite badly, apparently collapsed as she walked by, just like that."
"Wow…" I didn't know what to say. "No one told me."
"Well, I don't know how you'd miss it. Jim was following behind her and saw her fall, and called 911 from his store." Jim Weaver was my neighbor and the owner of Belle Air Music, a guitar and instrument shop two doors over. "That was lucky for her; the ambulance was here within minutes. I showed up just as they were loading her on a gurney to take her to the hospital. Jim got a bucket of hot water and washed the blood off the sidewalk just a few minutes ago. And you didn't see or notice any of this? Where were you?"
"Geez, I'm sorry, I guess I was in the back, with the music playing… you know how this place is."
"But you didn't hear the ambulance when it got here or left? It pulled up just outside your window." David was almost accusing me of negligence or something, and I felt a bit guilty. We went out and looked at bloodstain on the sidewalk, already old-looking and dried, but clearly it was quite an injury. I did marvel that I was somehow oblivious to what had happened. "Really odd that you missed that, Marc," David said. "I hope the old lady is going to be okay, but I don't know, it looked pretty bad."
I changed the subject and showed David some the old treasures I had hauled in the night before. Twenty minutes later, Jim Weaver came in and walked up to my counter, looking subtly like he had done a good deed, and also to query me. "Did you see the old woman who fell on the sidewalk just outside your door?"
"David told me about it, but I didn't even notice. Honestly, I had no idea. I must have been in the back, maybe even downstairs in that time."
"Well, it did all happen pretty fast. I was walking right along behind her just ten feet, on the way to get lunch from Between The Bread," (that was our neighbourhood sandwich shop three doors over) "and I saw her just drop face forward like a ton of bricks, not a stumble, just straight as a board fell forward. Oh, and the sound of her head splitting, the 'thunk' sound, just enough to make you sick. Went up to her for a second and then I ran into my store and called 911. Then I came out and knelt beside her and waited. The ambulance was pretty quick but I didn't move her and the blood was pouring out. It was terrible! It’s amazing you didn't hear the ambulance or see any of it, it was right there in front of your doorway. I guess no one came in to tell you."
"Not until she was gone in the ambulance, then David came in and told me, and by then you'd even washed away the blood," I said.
"Ian came out with towels," – Ian was his manager – "and a bucket of soapy water and our first aid kit. I didn't want to move her though, in case her head was really badly damaged. I hope she's going to be okay, but she was unconscious, or worse. She didn't move or anything."
• • •
Twenty-three days later, on a Monday morning, I was opening my store. I remember the counter was totally clear of books that day. The phone rang.
"Hello, City Lights Bookshop," I said.
"Mr. Emery?" said an old woman’s voice.
"Mr. Marc Emery?"
"Mr. Emery, you don't know me. We've never met. But I know all about you."
"Mr. Emery, I was walking along Richmond Street three weeks ago Saturday, and I passed in front of your store when a terrible, terrible thing happened to me. As I passed in front of your store, Mr. Emery, right in front of your doorway – and I know you were inside there – in the space of an instant, just a fraction of a second, I felt this most tremendous surge of an energy… of a force… this invasion of my whole brain by YOU, Mr. Emery, a terribly painful invasion by your aura, your essence, everything that radiates from you was forced into my brain, and I collapsed and fell on the sidewalk and split my head open. I understand from the hospital, when they explained what happened, that one of your neighbours called the ambulance.
"Mr. Emery, I was released from hospital yesterday. I was unconscious, in and out of a coma for two weeks. In that time, doctors operated on me, and remarkably, I only fractured my skull, had a very bad concussion and required stitches. They don't know why I was in a coma for two weeks, but I was on life support. After I was conscious again, I was kept in there for another week for observation, but yesterday they released me, as they think I'll be all right. But I know why I was in a coma, Mr. Emery. I didn't tell the doctors the reason I was there, but I'll tell you. I only know that the entire experience I went through is all about you, Mr. Emery.
"I know all about you now, Mr. Emery, in very strange ways. It’s all I can recall from the moment my brain was attacked with this painful energy that comes from you. I know this doesn't make any sense, Mr. Emery – how old are you, Sir?"
"I'm 19." I was disconcerted by how she frequently called me Mr. Emery with both fear and awe, and she sounded like she was blaming me for her horrible accident.
"All the time I was unconscious, all those weeks in the hospital, the second I fell, Mr. Emery, has all been about you. That’s all I've been able to think about. I can't control it. I'm very scared Mr. Emery; I've never met you. I knew nothing about you, I've never heard of you before. I've never been in your store, and now I feel I know too much about you. My husband made me call you to tell you of this, Mr. Emery, he thinks maybe it will stop once I tell you this… what happened to me. Maybe it will mean something one day. But I know you've got to leave my brain, I can't take it anymore. So I'm going to tell you, Mr. Emery, what I saw, and why I believe I fell into unconsciousness in front of you, and your building. I want my life back. My husband and I are so scared and confused, and he thinks if I tell you, it will stop. I don't know why this happened to me. I've never had any psychic experience. I don't even believe in that sort of thing. I want to tell you this and then I want it desperately to go away.
"Throughout the entire unconscious experience I know I was experiencing your life flashing before me. It was just all about Marc Emery, your name, thousands of times repeated to me, with images, and incredible energy and upheaval, like torrents of electricity and power and violent exchanges of energy, but not violence in any way. It was just your life being forced into my mind, so now I have to tell you these things that are coming, Mr. Emery, coming to you. And you need to be prepared."
This was so strange. Customers came in as I listened to this woman, and I even whispered to a woman across the counter, "This is the weirdest phone call ever!" but did not stop listening attentively. How could I not?
"Symbols, Mr. Emery, important and great symbols tell me about your future, your life, you significance to people, to the world, a great mass of people. Noisy masses of people. These symbols are the key to your future, Mr. Emery, and there’s more but these symbols are so important.
"I know I'm to tell you that you have a great destiny before you, Mr. Emery. When or how, I don't know. But you will lead a great multitude of people to sanctuary, to a liberation of some kind. There is great joy and rejoicing, with flags and symbols. And it will be trying Mr. Emery, it will be painful, you will have adversity, and you will have one very great obstacle, Mr . Emery, that you must conquer. You must not give into despair on this journey, you must practice patience and not lash out in anger at the adversity that comes, because it WILL come, and that is not the answer. That will undo everything, if you give in to bitterness. There is great power and influence where you are going, Mr. Emery, but if you give in to despair, you will risk ruining all the good you are working for. This was the largest warning I saw repeatedly. You cannot give into bitterness, anger, despair; those are your enemies, Mr. Emery. I am to warn you about this, because those internal personal adversities will be a great challenge to you, more than any other person or group in your way. You will feel deserving of this anger, Mr. Emery, but you must avoid giving in to it.
"I saw three symbols repeatedly, endlessly in my time unconscious, and they are certainly about your life. I don't know what they mean. I only know they are very important to what you must do and will do in the time ahead.
"The first symbol is the symbol of the dollar, Mr. Emery. The dollar sign. The dollar sign is very special in your life. You will rule the dollar. The dollar is a power you can control – it doesn't control you. With this power, you will have no conflict. You will use the dollar to great ends. And it means something very special in your power, different from its use by other men. You have a great gift and ability. It is like magic in your hands, I can't describe it.
"The second symbol that flashed endlessly was your brain, Mr. Emery, your brain in a steel trap. I think it means your mind holds information like a steel trap. It never escapes your mind. But this symbol changed back and forth. It would sometimes be your mind as the steel cage, and then it was like your mind in a cage. It would flash back and forth, so constantly, mind in a cage, the cage in your mind. I kept thinking it all goes in your brain, both experiences or meanings. This is also where I felt terrible premonitions of despair and sadness inside your brain, and I know I'm to tell you to protect your brain, your great and powerful brain, and to use this mind of yours to accomplish the goal of the next symbol.
"The most dominating symbol of all, the one that was always dominant in my mind the entire time, that never left, is the most mysterious to me because I don't understand it. It is a symbol of a leaf, Mr. Emery. It’s like a maple leaf, but it’s not a maple leaf – it’s different from a maple leaf, but I also thought the Canadian maple leaf was there too, and I'm confused about this. Because the leaf I saw had several fronds, each part of the leaf was similar in varying sizes, and the leaf has uniform ridged fingers around its stem. I can't tell you what colour it is, only that this is the most powerful symbol, it is what all the other symbols and messages I received were devoted to. This leaf is in all your banners, all the parades, all the conflicts, the great liberation, the people, whoever they are, are all bound together by this leaf, and you are leading them, to what I don't know, I just know it’s your destiny and it will happen and you will do it. Does any of this mean anything to you, Mr. Emery?"
I had listened to her desperate and anxious story quietly, hardly interrupting, out of politeness to an old woman who, after all, had nearly died because something about me had laid her out on the concrete sidewalk and put her near death. I felt guilty about that, but I felt she was disturbed, possibly nuts, too.
"I'm sorry, it doesn't mean anything to me," I said. "I'm sorry I'm involved in this… terrible thing that’s happened to you." I thought she was delusional, what else could I think?
She gulped. "Well Mr. Emery, I'm going now. I hope I never think of you again. I hope this all goes away. It’s been the most draining, painful, exasperating thing I've experienced in my whole life, and I'm 65. I am so frightened by what happened. I can't make sense out of it. Why me? All I know is that I saw these things and I know I was meant to tell you, to warn you, to prepare you. But now I want these thoughts gone and my life back. So goodbye, Mr. Emery, and remember, you have a great destiny important to millions of people somewhere, but don't give in to despair – that word was imprinted in these visions, don't give into it, Mr. Emery, that is so important. It will be hard but you have to get through the difficulties and then it will all be fine. Goodbye, Mr. Emery."
I said goodbye, and after she hung up I sighed. I didn't get her name and I never heard from her again. And then I didn't think about it for years.