The Sane Man

Here is a story of insanity, apt for the occasion, as I stayed awake until 2:30 AM last night and it was the most irrational thing I have ever done, because now my circadian rhythms are more pear-shaped than an actual pear. 

Anyway, I planned on posting this Sunday, but because I can’t form a coherent thought in my current state I’m moving it up. Enjoy.

The single sane man in the bunch was a forty-two-year-old from Michigan, suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. His name was John.

At least, he told me his name was John—but with the way he looked—fly unbuttoned, drool dripping from the corner of his mouth—I wasn’t too sure. He could have been a Lamar for all I know. But for his sake, let’s call him John.

John sat next to me on a wooden park bench sometime last May. This was the first time I met him, and also the last. He placed his hand in his pocket and I half expected him to pull out some unknown object and stab me to death. But he didn’t; he pulled out a stick of gum instead and handed half to me. I reached out my shaking hand and snatched it from him. It could have been poison, but I didn’t dare ask. John wasn’t the type of man you asked questions: he assumed you had some sort of ulterior motive, and you didn’t want that. Do you know what John did to people with ulterior motives?

“I stab ‘em,” he told me, finishing up his sixteen-point speech. By then my gum had lost all its flavor and reality and I was just chewing for the pleasure of the ritual. The motions of my jaw were soothing. It made me forget, momentarily, that the reason this man was hospitalized was because he stabbed his two dogs to death and then took an ice pick to his mother (points four and seven, respectively).

He was comfortable now, no longer discerning my face. Just leaning back on a bench and watching the other patients frolic about on the lawn. He had a peaceful face. It was the face of a child. I thought, with him in such a good mood, it might be a good idea to try and finally question him; I had never questioned him before. But it was harder than that, so I fidgeted in my spot for a while, rocking back and forth, ritual, until finally he turned to me and just stared.

He punctuated the stare with three sharp blinks.

“What the hell are you doin’?” he asked. He didn’t seem angry, or disturbed. Just interested, like a cat that chases a ball of yarn.

“Why did you stab her?”

He blinked again. John wasn’t the type of man who blinked much, so you know when he did it became significant. He blinked again and wiped the drool from the corner of his mouth. “Well, I reckon it was because she was a bitch.”

“Your mother?”

“Oh, yeah. I wanted green beans for dinner and she wanted peas. So we argued and things got a little out of hand is all. She went to make the peas but I didn’t let her.” He spat the grass. “Is that all you wanted to ask?” I nodded. “Okay, alright, then. I’ll be seein’ you around. Enjoy that gum, you hear?”

I wondered what gum he meant, but my thoughts wandered for as he walked away he pulled out a tiny notepad—a gift from the some of the doctors for “good” behavior (although I knew really so that they could read and see what he thought)—and wrote down a string of disconnected words. What good was the notepad supposed to do, when all he did was write down nonsense? You might as well give a notepad to that selfsame cat.

After John left, I felt lonely on the bench, so I went over to my office and I sat down at my typewriter and began to file a report. Subject is approximately forty-two years of age, grey hair, and blue-green eyes. He wears hound’s-tooth–

I ran out of ink on hound’s-tooth. It was odd, because I swore I had refilled it the day before. I opened up the device and sure enough that was plenty of ink inside—but it was frozen stiff, like someone had left my typewriter in the freezer. Something was lunatic.

I went out to my receptionist’s desk. She was slightly younger than me, with a full bosom and curly blonde hair. Every day I walked past her I regretted the fact I was married; and at that moment I regretted the fact that I was standing over her and she wore a low-cut blouse.

“Ms. Knowles,” I addressed her in my formal doctor’s voice, “do you know what happened to my typewriter?”

“No, sir,” she said, refusing to look up at me. I was irked.

“Ms. Knowles,” I asked her again, maintaining my façade, “do you know what happened to my typewriter?”

“No, sir,” she said, and paused.

Before she could say anything else, I cut her off—

“Ms. Knowles,” I asked, my voice cracking, “do you know what happened to my goddamned typewriter?”

She finally looked up at me and there was a look of sheer terror on her face. Something about that pleased me.

“Lamar—you’re supposed to be—” she tried to finish the sentence but I didn’t let her.

~~La Stranezza


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