From: "Elizabeth Hensley"
To: "Elizabeth Hensley"
Subject: K-PAX: THE MAD MEN AND THE BIG BIG ROCK
Date: Wednesday, January 23, 2002 12:14 AM
K-PAX; THE MAN MEN AND THE BIG BIG ROCK
A comedy/drama fan written fiction about the lives of Robert Porter, prot and Dr. Gene Brewer (Mark Powell in the movie).
Joy GreenLeaf is right. Please accept the following is advertising for the original books by Gene Brewer, "K-PAX, a Beam of Light, and (coming in July 2002), The Worlds of Prot. Also accept it is advertising for the wonderful Universal Movie, K-PAX staring Keven Spacey and Jeff Bridges. Buy the books. Buy copies for your friends and buy, or at least rent the movie! Please support the professional stuff so we amateurs have something to work with. They have to make a living at it. We don't! So they need our support! If you are a professional connected in any way with K-PAX rest assured that those of us that are so in love with your product that we write our own fiction, are the very ones you want to encourage, not discourage. We bring you in many more customers by our evangelistic salesmanship of your product.
K-PAX fans be expecting a Quantum Leap/K- PAX cross over in a few weeks. We will post it in the Quantum Leap section in the hopes it will bring in more K-PAX fans.
Background. This story is definitely an alternate Universe story for I am sure Gene Brewer's coming book, "The Worlds of Prot." will take the sojourner saga in a direction we do not expect it to go. Madam Foogie and I wrote this story with only the first two books to work from as reference. This is set in our near future long after Robert and prot are out of MPI after they have made a successful and happy life for themselves with Giselle. This is a sequel to another story Madam Foogie and I are working on called, "Undercover Alien." If that had been ready first, much of this explanation would not be necessary.
Fop wa is a K-PAXian term I invented to explain prot's ability to far see objects, such as clocks which are out of his site, and orderlies which are waiting outside of the room, etc).
THE MADMEN AND THE BIG BIG ROCK
written by liz hensley and madam foogie
with love for both gene brewers
the real and the unreal
for imitation is surely the sincerest form of flattery
THE MAD MEN AND THE BIG BIG ROCK
It was the night of November 22, 2010. It was midnight and naturally I was sound asleep. At my age you burn all your midnight oil before 10 o'clock!
I was dreaming of my younger days back at MPI. Milton was riding his unicycle. That's all I remember when the vid phone rang.
Karen groaned, "Who in the world could it be at this hour?"
I sleepily reached for the vid phone, knocked the alarm clock off instead and spilled my
glass of water. I said something is a little rude in pax-o, then turned off the picture and took it sound only.
It was my brother-in-law Steve the astronomer, and he sounded hysterical. "Gene!" He was almost shouting into the phone.
What the.... I exclaimed. I turned the picture on. Steve looked about as crazy as he sounded. Before I retired I had psychotics who looked less terrified, "What in the world is it?"
"I need to ask you a professional question, and quick. With multiple personalities who have been integrated, is it possible to un- integrate them? We are in terrible trouble."
"Who is, Abby and you?"
"NO! THE WORLD IS IN TERRIBLE TROUBLE! Can prot be fished up out of Robert Porter's Brain? We need him badly!"
"Why, whatever for?"
"The big one's coming, Gene. We found it today, well actually an amateur astronomer in Cuba did, but we confirmed it, and its a doosey! About the size of Texas and it's headed straight our way..."
"An asteroid, Gene. We need prot to mirror beam it away, or show us how, or we are all doomed....."
It is amazing how fast my mind can adapt to accepting the impossible. My readers will think prot did this for me. But while he helped, I was good at, "entering the patient's world," long before my, "alien," friend showed up. So Steve's pronouncement startled me, but I recovered quickly. The fact I wasn't quite awake yet certainly helped.
"Multiples shatter all the time." I explained. "Put them under stress beyond what they can bear and there they are again, back into being separate personas. In fact I am very surprised Robert never had to come back to me for a tune up."
"So all it takes is enough stress?"
"Yes. But I would not participate in taking a multiple apart any more than I would give a patient poison instead of a healthy medication. It would hardly be ethical. In fact it would be an abomination that would cost me my license and my complete self respect."
"Ah, Gene, you are missing something here."
"What was I saying to you? Our planet is about to be destroyed by a big rock. Don't you rather think that is enough stress to shatter anyone?"
It must have been the late night hour. "I hadn't thought of that!"
"But," I continued, "so I spring on Robert that Earth is about to be destroyed, and suddenly we have prot back. What good would that do us? Can't you get it through your heads that prot is just a delusional persona, not an alien from another planet with mysterious powers?"
Steve said, "Gene, we don't care WHAT he is, alien or madman. It doesn't matter. We still need him to mirror beam that rock away."
"You are assuming he can."
"We think he might have a chance, one of the few we've got. We've had every physicist and magician we can collect studying his television appearance. You know we've been doing that for years, but I never told you just how much and who funded it."
I growled, "It wouldn't' be the CIA, would it?"
"Oh no, bigger than that but I am not at liberty to tell you.
"And they left prot and Robert alone all these years?"
"The governments of this planet are NOT as stupid as you think, gene. If an ET comes to your planet, and he wants to be left alone, YOU LEAVE HIM ALONE."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because no one knows what he, or his people would do if we make em mad."
"Then why was the CIA after prot?"
"They weren't after him, they just wanted to question him."
"To make sure YOU weren't mistreating him!"
"Ulp! If they think that. I will get Robert's permission and let you crazies listen to the hypnosis sessions. Prot LIKED MPI and he loved my sessions with him. He called them 'going on a picnic.' "
"Already been listened to."
"Subconscious, I want to wake up now!"
I tried to continue on a saner vein. "You really think my favorite madman can save the world from an asteroid with his little hand mirror and a bunny battery flashlight?"
"Yes, or with a bigger lights and bigger mirrors. We have no idea how big they have to be, but it doesn't matter. The United States Government, the Russian Government, New China, and The Euro federation are willing to give him whatever materials he needs."
"Ulp! You talked to these people about resurrecting prot BEFORE you talked to me?"
"The President brought it up herself, Gene, within minutes of my announcing our findings!"
It is amazing how quickly you can adapt to madness. Of course my being a psychiatrist helps, but I still wasn't sure whether it was Steve, or we really did have a big rock coming and a president willing to fund the light travel theories of a lunatic!
I began thinking like what I was, "Steve, I need you to prove to me that the big rock even exists, or that the president spoke to you."
As if right on cue we received another call.
"Steve, I'll get back to you. I have another call."
Steve was shocked, "I just told you our world is about to be destroyed and you want to take another call!"
I clicked him off, and took the other call, only to hear, "This is the White House Speaking. The President needs to talk to you."
I held the vid phone and did something I had not done in years, not since I was a little boy, "God, please let all this be a dream!"
I suppose it isn't fair to ask God to answer the prayer of someone who hadn't given Him the time of day in decades.
Morning came and the big rock still was coming and the President of the United States still wanted me to find prot and persuade him to help us.
Which is why I was riding the New- Concorde to Zaire. And I had a new job and title appointed me by the president herself, "Ambassador to the beings of the planet K- PAX." But she proved she at least had a little lucidity left in her by warning me, "Just don't tell anyone unless you have to. If he turns out to just be a lunatic I still want to be reelected."
She added, "if there is any America left to reelect me."
I pointed out to her that I wasn't even sure prot could be made to exist any more.
She looked at me and gave me an order that overwrote anything I learned about ethics in medical school. I am speaking as your president now, Dr, Brewer. Our time is dire. Robert is in as much danger as any of the rest of us. Therefore I am ordering you to do what so EVER you have to, to get prot back! After the rock is gone and you want to, you can reintegrate them again if possible, but even if they are then permanent schitzos...".
"Multiple personas," I corrected her. In fact I had interrupted her! "Schizophrenia is a completely different disorder, a psychosis, while Multiple personality disorder more accurately called Dissociative Identity Disorder is only a very bad neurosis." I explained, "Multiples can cope with reality, and often but not always can function as well or even better than normal people. Their illness can be super adaptive. Schizophrenics barely can cope at all. Or if they do, they do so in spite of their illness not because of it."
Ah yes, multiple personas. Even if Robert Porter becomes a multiple personality again at least he will be alive!
A chill went up my spine. I couldn't argue with that!
Was my patient's mental health going to have to be destroyed in order to save the world?
On the plane I mentally reviewed what I knew about Robert since he left my care. I knew he had written a very good book, called "The Alien Within Me," that had become a best seller even more popular than my four attempts to describe the prot phenomenon, or his wife's book, "An Alien Among us? And why wouldn't his be? I knew prot really for only a few precious hours! When I sat down and added them up one day I was shocked to discover I had spent, even counting informal contacts in the wards and our few out of the hospital outings, less than a combined total equaling a month's worth of time with my alien patient! Robert, on the other hand, lived with prot in his brain 24/7 for most of his life.
I knew he used the money he made from "The Alien Within Me," and more money he made from his own talk show appearances and lectures had been used to open up an animal research facility in prot's old confabulated stomping grounds, Zaire. There Robert works quite skillfully as an animal behavior researcher to see if affection training, genetic engineering, diet, medication and good old fashioned selective breeding can "gentle" animals, including predators. A scientific attempt, I am sure, to make the lion lie down with the lamb.
As a psychiatrist I can see all sorts of meaning in Robert's choice of careers.
I see mostly his mother's influence. She was a fervent Christian. I don't doubt Robert heard, "and the lion shall lie down with the lamb" on numerous occasions, so much so that even prot was influenced by this passage. See the incredibly moving "as told to" story by Giselle, "zaire" of prot's completely delusional but incredibly touching first person account of prot and Robert's time in Zaire. From his viewpoint he actually quotes this passage to a lion!
I also see his father's influence. He too had been a knocker, a cow killer who hated his job! He taught Robert there had to be a better way than killing! And he is right!
I also think the television show, "Daktari," had influenced Robert. ZARC (Zaire Animal Research Center) sounded an awful lot like the home stomping grounds of Clarence The Cross-eyed Lion. A place where animals of every species, human included, lived together in love, and tried to help one another. I.E. A furry being version of Star Trek, also a favorite of Robert's and apparently prot's who claimed he watched it with real aliens on FLORA on numerous occasions!
Or a furry being version of MPI. For there, too, the goal is to learn to love one another and be gentled and strengthened.
And of course, last but not least, prot influenced him. How could he not?
I thought about my "game plan" as I arrived. It had been agreed I would go to visit Robert first. If there was a chance of separating prot from Robert, or if it happened naturally when I told him about the asteroid (thus relieving me of the impossible ethical quandary), Steve would fly down later. I wanted to just observe Robert as he went about his daily tasks. I hadn't seen my old patient for a long time, and it was hardly untrue or unbelievable that I might have just flown out to see him to catch up on old times. This would allow me to access his mental state before I told him about the asteroid and sprung the idea of deliberately disintegrating him into prot/Robert again. I wasn't even sure it could be done, or that even an asteroid would have brought about a shattering. Robert had been coping for years as a single being, and by then I was sure his alien persona was buried deep inside of him, and may be quite unreachable.
Robert and Giselle met me at the airport. I was glad to see Robert had shaved off that atrocious beard of his. I guess the K-PAX fervor had died down enough he no longer had to hide, "prot's face."
As we traveled to the Z.A,R,C. Zaire Animal Research Center in their Chevy impala auto-car, I gazed around at the African scenery like prot did when riding in cars.
Robert was grinning at me. Obviously he recognized the same behavior in me that he had experienced, (though catatonic at the time), in his alter ego, prot.
Tourists! They act the same no matter what planet they are from!
I was glad they have started making auto- cars so the seats face one another. I wanted to be able to notice Robert's facial expressions. I never saw what Freud saw in making the patient face away from you.
I talked to Robert. He didn't know it but I was assessing his mental state. He seemed fine to me. Obviously he and Giselle were still in love though it had matured into long term marriage love. She snuggled against him. They were a very warm, close, affectionate family.
What did I expect Africa to be like? Well guess I've watched too many Tarzan movies. It didn't look like what I thought the "dark continent" should look at all. I was a bit disappointed.
They had malls and fences and roads and highway signs and supermarkets. I noticed the natives wearing puff-shoes just like my grandkids and great-grandkids do, and at the airport I even saw a missionary giving out holographic inter-active artificial intelligence Bibles as witnessing tools, just as they do at home. "Come! Talk to Jesus! Ask Him any question and He will reply in His OWN words!" (Russell would a have been delighted). On the other hand I remembered Robert's wild theory that God evolved out of us. Was this the start?
I said to Rob, "prot would not be pleased with all the changes."
Rob said quietly, "He isn't."
I stared at him. "Why didn't you tell me he was back?" I was a little hurt. "Did you think I'd drag you kicking and screaming back to MPI? I can see you are a functioning person, ah the both of you. If you are happy to be a multiple I'm happy for both of you!"
And I was!
I didn't realize until that moment what a big hungry huge, asteroid sized HOLE had been left in my heart when Prot had, "gone back to K-PAX." I don't think a doctor was ever so happy to find he had failed to cure a patient in his life!
It was Rob this time who gave me a Cheshire cat grin. "Well Doc, see it from my viewpoint. There I was, just finishing college. I had a beautiful wife and a baby on the way, car payments, rent to pay, and so forth and so on and I'm supposed to drop my life and to go back to being a mental patient just because I happen to have an alien being from another planet inhabiting my brain! Quite frankly, I didn't see the point. Just was seems to be zee problem doctor?"
I couldn't help laughing.
Rob continued, "Remember I've had him since I was six. It feels perfectly normal to me. Prot is as comfortable in the back of my brain as an old shoe. And he never leaves me anymore. Now the alien being inside my brain is so dying to talk with his beloved old psychiatrist, if I don't let him out of me, he's going to pop out an....Rob didn't even get to finish his sentence. Everyone wears sunglasses in Zaire when out of doors, but I could tell the difference immediately. Suddenly it was prot I was talking to.
"Hey, geno. long time no see!" Big big big big grin!
"Prot!" I was too happy to see him to care that I now knew my bragging of curing the most famous MP in history had all been only a delusion of mine, a delusion which many of my family members knew was a delusion; one they had done their darnedest to encourage. For I found out later many people knew that prot was alive and well and living happily on planet EARTH as a lovable loopy member of Robert's family, Uncle prot.
In fact if Steve had talked to his wife SHE could have told him prot had never really left us for long. When I talked to Abby about it, this is what she said, "Oh Daddy, you are so old fashioned! Why can't you just let prot be prot? The rest of us aren't having any problem with him being from outer space. We only keep quiet about him to keep the media off their backs!"
"How come you knew?"
"He wrote me. With a regular stamp and everything. He didn't mirror beam it to me, or email it to me. He said he knew I'd like the stamp. I did. It had an elephant on it."
"And you didn't tell me?"
"What, Daddy? And break your heart. You were so happy you cured him. I'm not that mean."
Apparently no one else in the family was that mean either.
Anyway there he was again in front of me, as usual larger than life! He was older and his hair was longer than I remembered and he had a tan, and he was wearing African style clothes, with pockets everywhere, but it was prot, alright. He even had on the same style of glasses, and a big big BIG grin. "Hiya Coach!"
Prot then explained to me that he had been to five more PLANETS since I had seen him last. "I didn't like the last one, the produce was terrible!" He made a face. "And guess what narr I've reproduced!" He shuddered, "It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it was still hell! But when the time comes we just do, because we just must, I guess. I But I did something extraordinary. I left word with enough dremers so that he would eventually hear of it, that once in a while at the time of his choosing, he is to go to this certain balnok tree where I have fastened a bulletin board and leave me and his mother messages as to what he's up to, and what his plans and wishes are. Yes, gene, it's our family refrigerator door!
I also leave messages for him. So does his mother who I occasionally run into in the libraries. I know narr by your standards this is not much of a family connection, but for K-PAXions this is extraordinary. My painful little squirt likes to travel too, loves music like you and I do but like us he can't carry a tune and he can't paint or draw either. Gene, he's a chip off the old block!" Prot was grinning a very self satisfied grin.
"Other dremers thought this was a neat idea, and have started to do this too.. Gene you've changed an entire civilization!"
And what could I say? Tears were in my eyes. To prot, K-PAX is real. Somehow in my successful attempt to help Robert with his sexual hang-up, I had also helped the secondary personality! I also must have been more successful that I'd thought impressing upon prot the importance of family ties. Or so I thought, but could prot read my mind?
He grinned at me mischievously, "Nope, doc, you really had nothing to do with my reproducing. If you don't interfere with it nature takes its course even on K-PAX. I am quite proud of myself I didn't herb myself out of the need to. So it became my time to reproduce, and so I did, BUT seeing you with your family, and robert and giselle with theirs did impress upon me that maybe, in this, EARTHlings are wiser than K- PAXions in this one way: You keep up with family. I'm stubborn, but I do finally learn! You were correct. We should be more interested in our roots, and pay more attention to the feelings of our genetic replacements. I wouldn't have missed those bulletin board posts for all the worlds, all three of them!"
"No, three messages, silly!"
Prot's entirely fictional but quite real to him relationship with his confabulated son consisted of three messages left tacked to a tree, and yet from the blissful look on his face these had made him the happiest dremer on the planet!
But I thought I finally found a hole in his delusions. I should have known better. I asked, How can you be there so much of the time if, like Robert says, you never leave him anymore?
He just grinned. "Ah doctor, backwards time travel, remember? I'm gone and back before he notices. I really am the fastest gun in the GALAXY!"
I sighed. It was just like being back at the MPI with him. He hadn't changed a bit. He was just as cheerful, just as calm, just as sensible and logical and just as hopelessly delusional as ever. But darn! It felt good!
I fell back into my psychiatrist mode instantly. "Prot, I would like to speak to Rob again. Is that ok?"
Rob popped out immediately.
I asked. "When did prot return to you?" I had to know! Just how long had the integration lasted?
"He never left Doc." Robert grinned impishly. We played a trick on you because I just wanted OUT of the mental hospital so very BADLY. I was going nuts in there, no offense! We discussed what to do, and he just hid from you when you hypnotized me that last time to make certain he was gone. But later, right before our honey moon he did leave for a while, to as he put it, 'attend to urgent business back on K-PAX.' I thought he just left to give Giselle and me some privacy but apparently not. He too wanted to start a family!
Anyway I am not even sure when he came back to me after that, which is unusual behavior for him, since he usually says, "knock knock" before he indwells me again. This time he snuck in, not that I mind, and he just played possum in my brain until the day I had to take my final exams. It had been a stressful night. Giselle was having serious complications with Jr. in her womb. We have lost three babies, remember? I hadn't had much sleep, and suddenly my mind froze up. I couldn't remember any of the answers! I was really starting to panic!
"Then I heard prot's calm voice in the back of my head, 'B is the correct answer, you lunkhead! Now relax. I've been with you a while. I've studied all your notes and read all your text books. I know all the answers. Do you want me to just feed them to you or take dominant position and do the pencil work myself?' "
"I must have been hoping he would reveal himself to me again because I still had his glasses! I kept them in my pocket at all times just in case! So now I put them on so prot could pop out of me without as much eye pain, and take over. I told him, 'Do the pencil work! If you don't take over completely right now I'm going to make a scene and everyone will think I've gone crazy again!' "
"Prot took over my body and I felt my hand and arm being manipulated, just like the good old days!" (Robert smiled here"Prot quickly started checking off all the answers, zip zip zip. As he wrote he said to me, 'robin, my ethical nature requires me to point out to you that you just DID go crazy again. Feels kinda good doesn't it?"
"Welcome back prot! Welcome back!"
Well my professor noticed I put the glasses on, and he must have noticed the change in my facial expressions and manner while I finished the test, as well as the change in hand writing between the essay questions at the beginning of the test and the essay questions at the end. After class he called me into his office and said, 'prot is back isn't he?"
I was embarrassed let me tell you! I had been trying so hard to establish myself as myself and prot isn't back five minutes and already he is 'out of the closet!' Later of course, I realized that as a good idea. I didn't bother asking, "How can you tell!' The glasses, the way I was sitting in my chair, the change in hand writing, it all was a dead give away.
Shamefacedly I nodded 'yes.'"
The professor put his left hand on his chin and said, "Hmmmm, we have an ethical quandary here. Did you, or did you not cheat? Is it cheating when one persona in a multiple pays his tuition, enrolls in class, does well for years and years and then has his other persona answer the last 50 questions on his finals?"
I couldn't tell if he was serious or not. Was I about to be expelled or was he just teasing me? I protested, "Oh come on! If prot really is just another aspect of my own mind like my official psychiatric diagnosis says and not really an Alien like he says he is, then what is the harm in letting him help me? Its not like he's going to be able to leave me. I'll have him the rest of my life."
He just stared at be blank faced. I still couldn't tell if I was being teased or tossed.
"Then he said, "'If there are two of you we should have charged you double tuition!'"
I tried to reason with him, "Even I'm not crazy enough to buy two movie tickets when I go to the show, or two plane tickets, or even two meals at a restaurant, not unless I am just very hungry! One way or another prot is inside my skull and I demand the same right any student has to use everything that is in my skull to pass my finals!"
He suddenly grinned. I don't know if that last bit of logic had swayed him, or if he just wanted to see what I would have to say about the matter. Anyway I wasn't being expelled just picked on for being a multiple." Robert grinned here. "That's a darn site better than him suddenly being afraid of me and calling for the white coats. Dr. Brewer our books. the movies and my talk show appearances have done a lot of good. People aren't so scared of us multiples anymore. They understand us better."
I nodded. That was certainly true!
"As I left the building prot said to me, 'Are we headed back to MPI for a tune-up after this or can I stay awhile, prweeeeze!'
"Prot, you can stay as long as you like! Stay until I'm dead and then transfer to Jr. if you like." "Prot said, 'Now, robert, you can NOT be making a decision like that for someone else, not even your own munchkins, but it warms me that you wouldn't mind if I did. I've been a very successful behavior researcher when the study subject trusts me that much even around his biological replacements. I am sorry about the babies you lost. As soon as I leave you get in trouble. It never fails! I won't do that to you again!
"If you will go with me I'll pop down to brazil and we can collect a certain plant that will keep jr. where he belongs.
So that's what we did Dr. B. We collected this awful tasting plant the natives call tapu. Giselle ate a few meals of that and Jr. stopped trying to come out early. That's why we have him. Prot saved Jr's life!"
I stared at him, "You actually mirror beamed with prot to Brazil?
Robert gave me 'the grin' and nodded, "Uh huh. Sure did! He knew I didn't believe. Like his alter ego my disbelief amused him.
Oh, brother! I realized I had my work cut out for me! Robert was just as delusional as prot!
I fell right back into my psychiatrist mode. God, it felt good, too. Retirement, I realized, was boring! "Robert," I asked, "does Jr. know about prot?"
"He loves him! He calls him Uncle prot. You know what a clown he is. What kid wouldn't love to have an Uncle prot?"
I smiled. "I see your point! And he can tell you apart from him?"
"Instantly. Just like you can, and Giselle can."
"Does anybody else know about prot?"
"The whole Village, but they know to keep it quiet. They know we don't want the media after us again."
"What? The whole Village?"
I must point out here that the Village is not a few huts out of a Tarzan movie. The Village is a modern mega subdivision that consists of about 5000 modern Africans of black, white and mixed descent. The houses are huge brick ranch style affairs with running water, solar electricity, cable TV/ultranet and it was recently wired for holo-net. But they follow traditional African communal child raising practices, religion beliefs and culture. Hence to them, it is called , "The Village." That is its official legal name.
Robert explained to me "Yep. Neither one of us wanted to stay in the closet."
"And they haven't tried to convince you to accept psychiatric care?"
Robert grinned broadly at that! "Oh ho ho! Dr Brewer, it was a hoot! Old Doc Smitty, the shrink from the Village, dropped by one day, just for 'a little talk.' as he nervously put it. I told him sure, and he asked me if I could use 'his help.'
"Well, he asked me just as I was in the process of trying to put up a new fence for the zebra compound. I knew exactly what he meant but I figured he would do just about anything to win my trust! I do know psychiatrists, you know. I've been around them a lot! (Big grin), And I really did need help, digging post holes! So I innocently pretended not to know what he meant. I told him, 'You can help me dig these post holes.' "
Robert started giggling, "And of course because he is a dedicated psychiatrist who really wanted to help me badly, to win my trust and all that, he actually did help me dig a few post holes! I felt a little guilty, but I really don't have time to be a mental patient these days! So after I had worked him for a while I had pity on him and told him I really did know why he was here, and thanks but no thanks, 'we already have Dr. Gene Brewer if we need any psychiatric care.' He was really perturbed about that, that I would refuse his services, and also very tired and very hot! Plus I think our troop of Ameslan speaking chimpanzees were greatly unnerving him, but hey, they do know how to dig postholes and I needed all the help I could get!
"That was the funny thing, Dr. B. I think Dr Smitty has to be the last man in Africa, if not the world, who doesn't know all apes can be taught American sign language. While he was trying to talk psychobabble to me I kept being distracted from him by my need to shout and sign instructions to the chimps, because, let's face it. while they can dig just fine with more than the strength of an adult human they have the attention span and IQs of two year Olds.
So while Smitty is psycho babbling on and on and ON about me, 'obviously suffering from hysterical disassociative reaction, multiple personality type, with both personas obviously deeply out of touch with reality, plus attention deficiency hyperactivity disorder,' I am saying, 'excuse me a minute, Doc. No, Gerty, the hole goes over there, not right next to George's hole, and Franky please get back to work. Don't start a tickle chase!' and so forth and so on and Old Doc Smitty is getting the most peculiar expression on his face!
"I frowned at them firmly. 'If you don't dig right I'll take away your digging privileges!'
"That made them shape up, for a few moments. The best way to stop any two year old from doing work poorly is to threaten not to let them do it at all!"
I smiled ruefully. Robert was right!
Robert went on, "I had heard him though. I told him, 'We object to those diagnosis's, Doc!'
"I told him, 'Yes, Doctor, WE that is, prot and me. For one thing your terminology is behind the times. The new name for what we have, is Dissociative Identity Disorder.
Gerty, I told you, if you aren't going to dig where I want you to, quit!'
"Gerty shaped up, for a moment or two.
" 'And we object to that diagnosis, too...'
" 'Commander Pooh, quit trying to bite your sister!'
" 'They ought to call it a syndrome, not a disorder! Because, (Commander Pooh, that is ENOUGH!), while there is certainly disorder around here!'
" 'It is not prot and I that are causing it!'
" 'That's a good chimp, Commander Pooh. That's right. Now you are digging right!'
" 'And prot and I do not SUFFER from it, we ENJOY most every minute of it.'
"I gave him the famous prot/Robert Cheshire cat grin."
" 'As for attention deficient hyperactivity disorder.'
" 'Frodo! Please quit tickling Charley!'
" 'No shrink has ever tagged us with that one before! I agree there are primates present here now that seem to have it, but I don't think it's me and Prot!'
" 'As for being out of touch with reality. George! Please leave Gerty alone! Sex in front of guests is VERY rude!'
" 'The world and my life has gotten so strange right now, How exactly can you tell?"
"He started looking around him as if he wished he had brought some orderlies to protect him from the raving lunatic or something." Robert started belly laughing!. And so did I. I could see where this was leading!
"So Smitty asks me, 'How long have you thought you could talk to chimps?'
"I corrected him, 'WITH chimps, and since our primate communications researcher Dr Tommy Nbinga taught all of us at once, the chimps, prot and me all at the same time, though prot had his own way of talking to them long before he learned Ameslan.'
"He got that nice professional skeptical look and went em hmmm! I could just see him mentally writing in a little yellow pad."
"Suddenly prot started howling with laughter! I have never before or since heard him laugh so hard! That really surprised and delighted me. You know how seldom he outright laughs. And I guess my surprise and delight exploded across my face, because Smitty asked me what I was suddenly thinking about.
"I grinned and told him, 'the alien being that lives in my brain thinks you are a hoot!'
"He started to edge away from me. I guess he figured he was in waaaay over his head! But hey, I'm a friendly soul, so I tried to salvage what patient therapeutic relationship we had, one that was rapidly going down the drain! I felt kind of sorry for him! I told him, 'listen doc, prot and I are too busy running this place to have much time to be mental patients again, but maybe we can help each other.'
"That got his attention.
"I explained, "The two of us go jogging every morning out on the veldt. It is very peaceful and gives us a chance to interact with the wild animals around here. Africa away from the malls and the congestion is still a very pretty country, and I bet you would enjoy it. You can do therapy with us all you want while all three of us get some healthy exercise.'
" 'I notice you are overweight, and by the pallor of your complexion, I don't believe you eat right. Lots of meat, right? That stuff'll kill you, not to mention that it tortures and kills the harmless beings you are consuming.
" 'So here is my proposition: We help each other. You can try to convince me I'm in dire need of psychiatric confinement and prot and I will teach you how to jog, and how to eat right. cook right, and how to enjoy the real Africa. Got a deal?'
"I was really a little sorry when he backed out, but hey! I tried!"
While I was delighted and amused, I wasn't amazed at the above conversation. I always knew my two favorite "madmen" were both saner than the sane!
However I pointed out to him, "But you were a little dishonest with that man, Robert. He really was trying to help you. And you haven't consulted me professionally in years!!"
"What would have been the point? We like us just as we are." (Big grin).
"Does Jr. know what prot and you discussed, that he is going to inherit prot after you die?"
"Sure he does. Jr. has a just-can't-wait-to- be-king problem. He loves his dad and doesn't want him to die, but at the same time he just can't WAIT to be prot's host."
I was very troubled about this new development. It was one thing that Robert believed he had an alien in his brain. If I hadn't met prot first I would have been sure Robert was a paranoid schizophrenic. Being invaded by aliens is a common schizophrenic delusion. Of course I found out Rob was not a schizophrenic. Multiples are usually able to function, even at a very high level. Rob certainly was doing that, but at the same time it was troubling that he was drawing his child into his pathology.
Second generation mental illness?
I said gently, "Rob, don't you realize that prot is a projection from you own mind? He can't transfer to your kid after you die, or anyone else."
Big Cheshire cat grin. "Oh, and you know this for sure, do you?"
"Of course I do, what you just said was so out of touch with reality you are making me feel like a big failure."
"Oh, doc, doc, doc! You aren't a failure until the patients say you are! Its not your fault I'm now resistant to treatment, and didn't really integrate. But do try to think about it from my point of view. While I don't mind having an alien in my brain I really really REALLY don't want to go into permanent Vulcan mind meld with him. I know this because we tried it. We actually merged for a while just like you wanted us to."
I stared at him. "Please do go on!"
"Well, Giselle was visiting friends for a few days so we lunatics had the house to ourselves. Among other fun bachelor behaviors we watched a Classic Trek marathon. During that episode where Spock mind-melded with a mental patient, prot playfully asked me if I actually wanted to obey our dear old shrink and try to integrate for a few days.
"Well you know me. I'm a fun lovin kinda guy so I said sure."
Rob grimaced, "It wasn't as much fun as I thought it was going to be."
"For one thing, Doc, it is really a weird kinda feeling to suddenly have dual childhood memories. Suddenly I was Rob growing up in Montana and I was also little sojourner wandering around on the planet K-PAX being everybody's little darling. They don't have many kids on K-PAX, so the ones that do exist are spoiled rotten by everyone, and I DO mean every one! And prot, being prot, managed to get spoiled even more than most! Prot's right, no mother or father, but everyone is one big family on K-PAX,"
I was intrigued. "I didn't even know prot had any vivid childhood memories. At our first hypnosis session his memories started at your father's funeral."
Rob grinned, "Oh he has em all right. He told me about that once. He pointed out that people don't lose all sense of will under hypnosis. He said, 'I put a brake on how far I would let geno take me back. I did this for two reasons. One, it was your life gene needed to work on, not mine, and two, if gene had regressed me all the way back to my K-PAXian childhood gene would suddenly have had in his office a young dremer with no ability to speak English, and thus he couldn't have unregressed me again. Plus I would have had absolutely no idea how I suddenly arrived on EARTH. As a child I didn't even know EARTH existed and I certainly had no coping skills for dealing with it. I would have been terrified!,'"
I startled at that. That was a possibility I hadn't thought of, and yet there were cases of exactly that happening. Hypnotically regress someone back to a child hood where they don't speak your language, and it CAN get quite hairy! Of course prot's childhood was confabulated but if he believed he had one, I could have had the same problem on my hands. I should have phrased my hypnotic command, "Your earliest EARTH memory!"
I thought to myself, "Duh! Geno you are an idiot! Think what could a have happened if prot hadn't been one step ahead of you!"
Robert went on, "He has vivid detailed memories for all of those 69 planets he has been on, but dual memories wasn't the only problem. All that week this was what it was like.
"Eyes hurt all the time. Couldn't see into the ultraviolet, which would have been compensation, but ouch! Photophobia is painful!"
Robert explained, "He never told you or me just how much pain he is in every day even with sunglasses on. I suppose there was no reason to. There was nothing you or anyone else can do about it."
And I'm thinking to myself, "But there was something prot could have done about it, if he'd only told me he was hurting. Poor prot!"
Robert went on, "And I've been a vegetarian all my life. Like many forced to work in the slaughterhouse industry my dad wouldn't have allowed a piece of dead animal flesh in the house for any reason at all. I can stand the smell of meat when we eat out. But with prot a part of me all my senses were working at a higher level, including my sense of smell. The smell of meat turns prot's stomach and while he was a part of me, it was turning mine too.
"His sense of hearing is more acute, too. I never realized how annoyingly noisy our world is until I heard it through prot's ears.
"On the other hand prot's oral fixation, as you call it, was becoming a bit embarrassing. I couldn't go anywhere where there was suitable food around that my first thought, my last thought, and most thoughts in between didn't involve, how can we maneuver the conversation to get some of that? Food is an obsession with prot and I far prefer to be a multiple than obsessed! That may also have something to do with his acute sense of smell, which I suddenly obtained. Food smells like heaven to prot, but he also smells everything else more acutely too. I never realized what the animal compounds smell like, but that doesn't bother prot, just the smell of meat! However, it bothers me, and suddenly I was smelling as well as he does!
"Also, Doc, I suddenly wasn't the least bit interested in who was winning the super bowl . That usually gives me a lot of pleasure. With prot merged with me, nada. On the other hand I found myself watching the most boring stuff on TV. I was absolutely fascinated with stuff I was bored with. That's an odd feeling! I can't even describe it, but it isn't fun, believe you me.
"I don't even want to go into the books he made me read!"
I couldn't resist asking. "From your human viewpoint, what does K-PAX seem like?" I knew it was all confabulation and not really therapeutic for the patient, but I couldn't help myself. I had to know! Wouldn't you?
I'm glad I did ask because I learned an ear full.
Robert explained, "K-PAX has its good points but it is not the paradise prot thinks it is. It is very beautiful in a blazing ultraviolet sort of way but it is also very dark and very hot.
"People there look a lot like us except neither males nor females have any nipples or breasts because they do not nurse their young. The kids can crawl within minutes after birth which by the way doesn't hurt the mother any at all. Sex hurts but once that's past its all an easy downhill from there. Finding food is instinctive with them, though they do learn from other dremers how to do it more skillfully as they get older. If they are polite, the mothers just drop their newborns in the nearest patch of crumpets and walk off, never to worry about the child again. If they aren't polite they don't even bother to find a patch of crumpets. They just squat down to keep the kid from having to drop to the ground where so ever they happen to be and once he or she is out, they walk off. Some don't even bother to look at their new kid, or if they are talking to someone while the birth occurs, they don't even stop their conversation. Strangely this doesn't disturb the baby a bit. They have no instinctive need to attach themselves emotionally to mama either. They are autonomous little beings from hour one of their births."
"Robert went on, "I think the lack of mother- child attachment has something to do with their two tiered eco system, plants and herbivores but no predators. You don't have any evolutionary advantage in close parental ties if there are no saber tooth tigers hidden in the bushes, trying to eat you. You do have to learn things, but any dremer can teach you. The maternal and paternal emotional attachment of, 'I would die for this kid.' just isn't necessary.
It is not that they don't need love or give love to one another. They are very cuddly. They just don't have favorites. Everything sleeps with everything. And I don't mean that sexually. I mean they really snooze together. Huge piles of all kinds of beings, furry and unfurry, and imports from other worlds just pile on top of one another and beside one another anywhere they want to. Under trees in the forest, in the fields, or wherever. There is no rain and there have never been predators, so they have no "gotta get to shelter" instinct at all.
I don't know about you Dr, but I like to sleep in a bed. Beds are soft. Prot can curl up on a hard rock and happily snooze away as long as he's warm. I don't know how he does it, but I know why he can. He's done it all his life.
"Anyway they pile up, and this is especially true during their cold season. How the ones who by chance end up in the middle of the pile don't suffocate I haven't figured out yet." Robert grinned, "Well its not very sanitary but I admit it is fun!"
I thought about this. Cuddling is very important to stimulate a person's pleasure centers. The brain won't even wire up right without it. Prot's confabulated for himself mucho pleasure center stimulating experiences. Thus despite being completely delusional he was a calm, cheerful individual.
Robert went on, "Every one runs around mostly naked and usually dirty. There is really little water there so it is really not their fault
"Except for the libraries which are huge and I do mean huge, and full of fantastic futuristic stuff, and the medical clinics which seem (but probably actually aren't), primitive by our standards, there is little technology to be seen. Oh they do have ordinary non video phones everywhere in the huts, clinics, libraries and even stuck on trees! But really Dr. they live mostly like gorillas, spending most of their time foraging for food.
"Food gathering is an obsession with them. They talk about it like we talk about TV and the weather. 'What did you eat today?' is practically their way of saying hello. 'Good eating' is their goodby word."
"Do they get enough to eat?"
"Of course, like prot said, food is always around. They just aren't picky eaters, that's all. Our produce is much nicer tasting then theirs. We, after all, have been selectively breeding it for thousands of years. Prot's people never bothered to. They are just too passive in their approach to handling life. I really think they could use our help."
Prot had on many times admitted that their produce wasn't as good as ours. It was amusing in a sadly sick sort of way, I suppose. The only area of superiority my 'alien patient' would grant to EARTH was in the area of food, the one thing he loves the most, and he confabulates that we have it better! I wished I had my little yellow pad. I wanted to make a note of that, and think about it a while. I was sure there was pay dirt somewhere here, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.
Then Robert dropped a bombshell in my lap.
"They are dying, Doctor."
Robert explained, "Each generation of dremers is about half the population level of the one before it. Apparently dremers were much like cats. Their sex hurts both genders but because they would go into heat, they had no control over it. Their biology forced them to do it. Of course as they evolved into intelligent beings they became aware that it was going to hurt, and they are quite naturally terrified of it. They sought a way to avoid going into heat and unfortunately they found it."
Robert went on sadly and solemnly. I knew now that he believed beyond all doubt that he really was harboring an alien in his skull. "It is a common herb. It is called Nopbin. It grows practicably everywhere. It is the K- PAXION planetary wide drug problem and it will lead to their extinction."
I felt tears coming to my eyes. Here it was Rob follie a deucing me instead of prot, and yet a big part of me couldn't help believing this wild tale! I suddenly realized my heart and subconscious cared for the beings of K- PAX even if my conscious brain didn't believe in them! All those sessions with prot had made them to my subconscious, ABSOLUTELY REAL TO ME. I wanted them to be doing all right. I didn't want them to die!
With genuine passion I exclaimed, "They can't help themselves? Start anti drug problems? Educate the children to know better? Can't they do SOME thing? Can't they use artificial insemination?
Robert shook his head, "That's just as painful to them. Plus, if they don't go into heat their eggs do not become fertile."
"Can't they overcome their addiction some way?
"Robert frowned, "No, Dr. They can't. And it really isn't an addiction. They just so fear the pain of sex they can't avoid consuming Nopbin in mass quantities. They even almost cultivate the stuff carefully poking a hole in the ground with a stick and putting in the seeds while they harvest it. That's as near to agriculture as they ever invented. They don't bother to do that with any other plant. Thus they avoid heat, and keep themselves absolutely happy, rational and calm, for it is also a very soothing mind clearing drug. If we had it here you could cure ANY mental illness! This herb and their own passive herbivore natures keep them absolutely mentally healthy, but because of their perfect mental health, they are going extinct."
As I tried to recover from that Robert explained, "That is why prot and others bring in imports from other planets. They don't want their civilization to die with them. They are bringing in replacements."
I was shaken. Robert's announcement filled in one of the gaps in prot's "confabulations" (were they confabulations?), that I had always wondered about. In fact if filled in two.
I could do the math! I had figured out that if two dremers have just one biological replacement and this kept happening they would indeed eventually go extinct.
It also explained why prot was allowed to bring humans to K-PAX. I had always found that part of his delusion really strange. Why would a civilization as civilized as K-PAX allow carnivorous savages like us to come? But darn it, it all fit together now, and made perfect sense! I would never never ever get either Rob or prot cured of the K-PAX delusion! Instead I was being drawn more and more into it myself!
I looked at Robert. Giselle was cuddled up to him. He was a highly functioning person even if he did believe he had an alien in his brain! And now I had to call upon his madness in the hopes that it would save us all! Suddenly prot popped out. It was not hard to tell. The change that informed me of the transfer was the way he suddenly acted towards giselle and vice-versa. They both stiffened a little bit and became more formal with one another. Giselle quit leaning against him.
I know prot had overheard the conversation. Many multiple personas are not self aware while the other persona is in dominant position but many are and prot/Robert are the later type. I felt very bad for him.
But prot is the eternal optimist! For a being who had just overheard a discussion of his species' eventual demise, prot was quite cheerful. I suppose we are too, when we discuss nuclear Armageddon. It is amazing what the mind can adapt to!
"Capeesh, doctor b? It wasn't any fun for me being mind merged with Robert either. After a few days of this headache, and it was a horrible pounding headache, I separated from him again. Whew, what a relief for both of us! And you know what he said to me once we had our respective minds back! Let him tell you!"
Rob popped out a minute, and doing Daffy duck as Duck Dodgers in the 21st and a half century, said "My mind isn't big enough for the both of us." (Spit).
Then prot popped out, "I said, 'Oy.' of course. What else could I say? Robin was very right! Robert! Wove him! Can live quite happily inside his brain! But.... just don't want to be him. Capeesh?"
I nodded, "I capeesh! But you shouldn't tell Jr. he's going to be inheriting you, prot. He can't do that. I mean you can't do that."
"Oh yes I can. Yes he can! Yes we can!" This was to an old 60's melody about the war between the sexes. Prot sung amazingly on key for him!
"It's not healthy for the boy to think that."
"He likes the idea."
"But it's not consistent with reality."
"Spoken like a true psychiatrist, but hey, he likes the idea, rob likes the idea and I think little jr.'ll make a great host someday. We already tried each other out. We fit each other out just as well as robin and I do."
"Huh?" I was horrified by what I had just heard.
"I transferred to jr. for a couple hours to give him an idea of what it would feel like, for him and for me."
"He loved it, I loved it. Except that it would mean robin had died, we can't wait!"
Later on I had a chance to examine Jr. Now I add with deep pride here, the Jr. part is not because they named him after Robert. Jr.'s real name is Gene. They named him after me!
The first thing I noticed was that their TV room had 3 TV's. I pointed it out to the child.
"Why is that?"
He grinned (now where, I wonder, did he get that?) "So that Dad and Uncle prot can watch different shows when they come on at the same time. The third one is so Mama can cuddle on the couch with them and still watch her show when it comes on at the same time theirs do. I am hoping they'll give me a TV set of my own this Christmas. I'm getting old enough to chose my own shows. Daddy even said so."
He looked up at me, "Wanna watch Pablo's super pals with me? It's real neat. Its about Spanish super heroes, and broadcasts in Spanish with English subtitles. I'm using it to learn Spanish. Prot says it's important to learn different languages."
I sat down next to him on the living room couch and watched his favorite tv show with him, bonding with him that way, better than any other way I could. The child gave me a long description of the show and I am glad I watched it with him because if I hadn't, I would not have quite understood that what he was talking about made any sense.
I quite suspect that TV has been one of the the main reasons for the demise of the classic Freudian, lay on the couch and say the first thing that pops into your mind, kind of psychoanalysis. Unless the doctor and the patient happen to share the same interest in TV shows, the one cannot possibly understand the other! Entire sessions would be spent trying to understand the patient's TV viewing habits!
When the show was over Jr. said, "TV off," and the TV turned off. He was a sensible kid who did not use the TV as so many do, for wallpaper. His show was over and he didn't want to watch any more TV, so he turned it off. I admired him for that.
I asked, "Can I talk with you? "
Jr. had Robert and prot's dark eyes and long black hair. He also has long, dark eyelashes, which he got from his mother. He is a handsome, friendly young lad, with a quick intelligence and the wit of both his Dad and his Dad's alien alter ego.
He gazed at me, calmly, "Hey, that's cookin! I get to have a session with my dad and Uncle Prot's psychiatrist!" Big grin. He was a chip off the old block!
This eight year old child had seen right through me. He knew my interest was professional, and yet it didn't upset him at all. He looked forward to talking to me!
He got up, "I'm a kid, you know. I don't like to sit still. You can talk to me but you gotta walk with me too. Got it?"
I smiled, and so I went for a walk with this most unusual child, growing up in a most unusual environment with a most unusual upbringing.
He showed me around the compound. It didn't surprise me that Jr. knew every animal by name, and everyone who worked there. He introduced me to everything human and to all the four footed beings which he claimed to be able to talk to, "Uncle prot taught me how." It was always, "This is Dr. Gene Brewer. He's my Dad and Uncle Prot's old shrink. Now he's having a session with me!"
I had mixed feelings about this. It was nice that the child wasn't ashamed to seek professional help. I questioned the wisdom of telling everyone, but I held my tongue. It usually takes a long time to win a patient's trust, especially a child's. I had Jr.'s immediately, and I wouldn't say anything to wreck that.
So, I said, as we inspected a boa constrictor named Mabel. "prot told me he and you tried each other on for size. Do you believe you did that?"
"Ah huh." The child stated it calmly as if I just asked him if he liked his room. "You actually had Uncle prot living inside of you for a couple of hours?"
"How did it feel?" The child shrugged. "Like Uncle prot was in the back of my brain."
"But how did it feel to have Uncle prot in the back of your brain?"
The child's dark eyes took on an affectionate glow. "Like love. "
I didn't know how to react to this. The child seemed genuinely happy about an experience that couldn't possibly be real. An experience that should have terrified him. And yet he liked it and was looking forward to making it permanent!
I sensed if it didn't happen, and of course it wouldn't happen, couldn't happen, only THEN would Jr. become emotionally disturbed. Right now he was well balanced but as delusional as his dad and his dad's alter ego. I said to him gently. "Jr., you know it is very hard for me to believe that Uncle prot could get in your brain like that. I notice you are not upset about it. You actually want him to come live inside of you after your Dad passes on?"
"Yes and no, Doctor Brewer. I want prot but I don't want Dad to die. But Uncle prot says when he transfers over he will try and bring as much of Dad's consciousness with him as he possibly can too, so in a way I will have em both in my brain."
I was horrified! The child was fine now, except for his peculiar eagerly anticipated alien possession. But how would he cope with his father's death when it just wouldn't happen that way? I anticipated mucho trouble. Gently I said to him, "Jr., what would happen if your Dad just died and prot wasn't able to transfer to you?"
The child shrugged, "Oh, Dad and Uncle prot both talked to me about what to do if that happens. They said, "go find someone like Dr Brewer and latch on to him tight and tell him everything and let him or her help you."
I was very relieved to hear that! At least the child already had plans to seek help when (and I knew it was when and not if), it became necessary.
We came to the elephant compound. "That's pom," the child explained. "He's in here temporarily for an infected foot. He likes me. Wanna take a ride?" The child went right up the gate and made some gestures with his hands.
This big bull elephant came over and unlatched the gate with his trunk. The lock was on his side of the fence!
Later I asked prot/Robert about this, Prot gave me a condescending look like I had just asked the silliest question in the world. "Geno, elephants are very intelligent, as are most primates, including some homo sapiens. Lions and other predators may have to have a ward 4 treatment because when they get hungry they go insane, but what right have we to confine a being as sentient as an elephant or a chimp? So why should we have the right to lock THEM in? And why shouldn't THEY have the right to lock the door to their own home, so they can feel securely protected from us? What side of the door is the lock to YOUR home on?"
Pom opened his gate and before I could stop him Jr. scooted into the elephant's enclosure!
I rushed in after him hoping to rescue him.
"Jr." I exclaimed, "that's dangerous!"
"Oh no, it isn't. Pom likes me. He'll give me a ride. We do it all the time. Watch."
The child looked up at this huge bull elephant. The elephant gazed down at the child.
It was indeed like they were talking to one another.
Suddenly I shouted, "Hey!" In fear because the elephant grabbed Jr. in his trunk and...
Swung him up and placed him gently on his back!
"See Dr. Brewer. He likes me. He'll do you too."
And before I could get out of the way I indeed found myself grabbed by the elephant's trunk and placed on his back!
I was terrified, of course. I almost peed in my pants!
Jr. said, "Don't worry, Dr. Brewer. I told him to walk slow. And we won't go far, just around his pen."
So we did.
The ride did not last long. Jr. could sense I wasn't comfortable up there. He made pom crouch down so I could cautiously slide off his back. Being held in his trunk was not something I wanted to repeat!
The rest of our talk and walk just involved normal kid things. Here are his opinions.
TV: I love Star Trek. I am a 2nd generation Trekker.
Video games: Most are too violent but I do like pac man, both the old 2-D kind and the holo pac man down at the mall. Mom, Dad and Uncle prot let me play it because it's good exercise.
Girls: Hate em yet. Give me a few years.
Music: The Tonka Tonka Trinkas are just cookin! Dad likes them too but it drives Uncle prot right into orbit!
Ultra net: I have friends all over the world. Don't you?
The child was well centered, emotionally mature, quick and intelligent, and friendly just like his Dad and his Dad's alien. And I suspect the well nurtured part of his nature came from both WORLDS. Sometimes it takes a GALAXY to raise a child!
Soon after I learned another extraordinary thing. Robert wasn't kidding about being out of the closet concerning the alien in his brain.
I found this out when one of the compound workers happened to ride by prot on his solar-bike.
Prot was leading an ostrich behind him. He was not using any leash of any kind. He was making little cheeping noises to the big bird and the bird was simply following him!
As Tommy rode by he called out. "Hiya there, are you prot or Robert right now?"
"Ah, prot! How's it hangin, space man?"
"It is hanging very well my good man!" he grinned and gave Tommy a double thumbs up sign. With those sunglasses prot is the coolest alien in the universe! "I hope yours is hanging well today, too."
I was amazed that Tommy not only knew about prot but was comfortable with him. Later as we sat in on the porch and had lunch together I questioned him about this.
I found out Tommy's whole name was Dr. Thomas Nbinga. He was a trained animal behaviorist, over 40 years old and yet he looked and acted like a kid half his age. He had been invited to join ZARC when the compound inherited two dozen chimpanzees that had been used to develop the AIDS cure.
Tommy explained to me, "They were too old to use for medical research anymore, and it seemed most inhumane to keep them confined for the rest of their life. Robert and prot agreed to take them here. None of the three of us had any hope of their ever being able to live a typical chimpanzee's culture life in the bush, but at least here they are free and in their own country. Robert and prot wrote me and asked me if I would come and teach all of them, the chimps, Robert and prot, Ameslan at the same time.
"They signed their letter Robert Porter and Prot Porter, co-directors of Z.A.R.C. Zaire Animal Research Center
"Of course I thought they were brothers. I just thought the other one was otherwise occupied when only one person, or so I thought, met me at the airport.
"It was only after I got in the auto-car that Robert gently explained to me he was 'really two people' and one of them 'is convinced he is an alien symbiont from the planet K- PAX!'
"That was one scary ride in an auto-car, let me assure you! Here I was confined in a small place with an obvious madman! But you know how prot is. He popped out and introduced himself and by the time we got to ZARC we were the best of friends! It's just so very ....Tommy was looking for the proper term."
"Oh weeee Oh?" I offered.
"Oh yes, that's perfect, 'oh weeee oh.' "
"So," I said, "do you believe prot really is from outer space?" Tommy shrugged, "No. I think he's a looney, but hey, he's solid anyway. I'd trust him with my life, and my kid's life. In fact they love to go hiking out on the veldt with him, alone, or at least as alone as he can be. I suppose Robert is back there somewhere in their brain even when prot is on the loose."
"How many others of the villagers know about prot?"
"We all do."
"What? The whole village? What do most of the villagers think about him?"
Tommy grinned. "The same. They think Robert and his pet hallucination is as crazy as a loon but he is a harmless and a lovable ham. He also has done many fine things for my village. We finally got a village holo matrix installed. That was because prot talked to a lot of the rich mukka mucks down at the bank and made em cough up the money for a 30 year loan at, get this, absolutely no interest! I don't know how he did it. It's enough to make me believe he can mind control people."
Tommy grinned, "Robert is a fine scientist too, and he is no crazier than my grandmother. Now she successfully raised me and my eight brothers, sisters and cousins. She's a very bright woman. She has a degree in Artificial intelligence, but claims she has a, "human computer virus or two" inhabiting her own brain. She says she inherited them from her grandmother who was a shaman. A couple of times she let them 'out to play.' It was spooky!"
"In what way?"
"It was like my grandmother was suddenly two other different people! An ancient African warrior and her own shaman grandmother! I told her NEVER to do that in front of me again! And she never did."
"And she never sought professional help or had anyone in your family seek it for her?"
"No. Why should we? She did not wish it. Our culture believes in that sort of thing."
He grinned, "Just like your culture believes in Extra-terrestrial body snatchers."
One of the best things psychiatrists often do for the patients is "Run interference
for them" with the outside world when it takes a mental health expert to explain a patients strangeness to those who do not understand, family members, or work mates, or in many cases other doctors. I once had a patient go with untreated sleep apnea for years. The sleep deprivation was making her "strange" and her strangeness was making the doctors who should have been taking her seriously brush her off as just a mental case. It had become a vicious circle of the worst sort. Because she had been told she was mental so many times, and even threatened with psychiatric confinement, it had taken this brave individual years to get up the courage to seek help for her depression which was the direct result of sleep deprivation caused by the sleep apnea. Her interest in writing fan fiction led to her gaining enlightenment, not into her own condition, for she knew herself well, but into gaining enlightenment with what a real psychiatrist could do for her.
She was curious about the A Team Character, "Howlin Mad Murdock. In researching schizophrenia "to figure him out," her eyes happened to slip down the page to a description of biologically caused depression. She recognized herself but more important learned the difference between antipsychotic and antidepressants, a difference all too many doctors fail to comprehend.
Immediately she went searching for a "real psychiatrist", by that she meant one who wouldn't start blaming Freud for her problems, one that would use medication.
While I believe in psychotherapy there are times when it is contraindicated. A patient that has had decades of friends, teachers, family physicians, and family continually blaming the patient's problems on subconscious guilt or lust when it is really sleep deprivation is in no mood for more psychoanalysis, however well done. She had already been burned very badly and a burned child fears the fire. I wish medical doctors and non professionals would QUIT trying to do our job and instead do theirs! How many times have I found depression to be the result of thyroid deficiency because the good family doctor is so sure his patient is just depressed he doesn't even bother to do a test, or even ignores the results of tests already done? Don't ask!
I have seldom had a patient so responsive to antidepressant medication. Usually it takes weeks to work. My patient's sleep quality improved from the first pill! The antidepressants helped her enormously but it took years for the medical profession to understand enough about sleep apnea to treat her condition adequately. In the meantime as she put it, "The only psychotherapy I need from you, is that you believe me." And I did.
I ran interference with doctor after doctor down through the years for that patient, who never saw me for more than 15 minutes at a time, and only then for refills. It turned out this young lady had over a dozen minor health problems that were adding up to beaucoup trouble. Her spirit was willing but her flesh was weak. Her social skills improved somewhat as she started feeling better, but not as much as if she had not been exhausted all the way though her entire childhood, all the way up until middle age.
So I ran interference for prot and Robert. Now I had their blanket permission to do so, or else it would not have been ethical for me to tell Tommy what I then told him. As Robert had put it, "Say anything you want about us whenever you think it's a good idea. I want the world educated." Or as prot put it, "Sure coach. Tell em all about how I am only a cute little figment. I want the world to see just how crazy my doctor is so they know what I've been putting up with all these years!"
I told Tommy, "Prot is not a 'pet hallucination.' Robert and prot are separate personas in a disease that is commonly called Multiple Personality disorder, though that is not the most current medical term. Neither prot nor Robert is crazy in the sense that they are psychotic. What they have is NOT schizophrenia, which is a psychosis, but a very severe neurosis. When trauma occurs in some people, their primary personality splits off a secondary personality to deal with that trauma. That is what happened to Robert during at his father's death."
I went on, "All secondary personalities confabulate a past for themselves that they come to completely believe in. There have been cases on record of very young personas actually admitting to their therapist that they are doing this, and asking for their therapist's help in doing it well! Most, however, eventually completely forget their participation in creating their own past, and totally believe their false memories, which become as real to them as your childhood memories.
"Robert was quite young when he split. Much too young to realize the difference between speculation and solid reality. His father had told him there were alien beings amongst the stars, so Robert gave his secondary personality an alien existence. Wouldn't you?
"Prot, of course, totally believes that he is exactly what Robert made him to be. What else could he possibly believe? It would be as totally crazy for him not to believe. He was created to be an alien, and so an alien is what he is!"
Dr, Nbinga laughed here, "Prot is like Buzz Light-year. He doesn't realize he's just a little boy's toy!"
"Exactly!" I agreed. "And unlike Buzz Light Year I don't have a whole toy store full of prots to use to demonstrate he is just a toy. Prot is stuck with his confabulation. Fortunately he did a good job of confabulating for himself a happy childhood and this gentle, wise, calm, affectionate, socially skilled persona has been a better therapist for the primary persona, Robert, than I ever could be. After all he's with him 24/7."
I went on, "and Tommy I must point out something else to you here. You just made a very raciest slur."
Tommy stared at me with an open mouth, "Huh?"
"The term body snatcher is very very VERY offensive to prot. It kept prot for weeks from admitting to me he knew he was inside of Robert Porter's body, because of the emotional trauma this term causes to him. It is also quite inaccurate from a reality viewpoint, too. Both Robert and prot claim, and I believe them, that prot never took control of Robert's body, what we shrinks call taking dominant position, until it became absolutely necessary to save Robert's life.
"Most multiples know what they are, but because he was created to be an alien, prot cannot really understand he is just a secondary persona. He will accept us calling him that, even use the term himself out of his mischievous delight at humoring us "silly homo sapiens," me in particular! Or he will pretend to admit to being a persona, to avoid social difficulty, but really what he believes he is, is more accurately called a symbiont. This is, as I am sure you know, from the word symbiosis, which describes a biological partnership between two or more beings for their mutual benefit.
"So!" I grinned a Cheshire cat grin at Tommy (Where did I ever get that?). Is prot The Little Prince, tamed out of the sky by lonely little Robin and later by his beloved head shrinker, or is he the Velveteen Rabbit, love made him real?"
Tommy grinned, "You are asking me?"
I grinned back, "Everyone who meets prot eventually asks that question, not always in those terms, but that is, and always will be the big mystery about them. Of that I am sure!"
Tommy finished his sandwich and tossed its disposable clay plate into the yard where it would soon be trampled to dust. "I agree with you there! The funny thing is, doc, once one has been around prot for a while it is hard not to believe he is, as you put it, an oh wee ohhh alien. He definitely has some way to communicate with animals that I just do not understand. And I am supposed to be trained professionally in it. He has taught me quite a bit, let me assure you!
"Anyway I taught the chimps, Robert, and prot how to speak Ameslan all at the same time. I have got to write a book about that some day! I've just got to."
"How well did they learn?"
"Well, the chimps were the quickest to pick it up."
That surprised me, "The chimps learned quickest?"
Tommy shrugged, "Think about it. Who was the most motivated? Robert already knows English, and a fair amount of Swahili. Prot apparently knows a dozen languages, or claims to. The chimps had no language before Ameslan. So they spent all day practicing with each other instead of just less than an hour a day like the interstellar odd couple did. They had total immersion. Robert and prot just played at it."
"I suppose prot was the next best learner."
"No, Robert was."
"What? Prot picks up languages hypnotically! I played a Greek language CD for him once. By the end of the session we were both making puns about him having zorbaed the Greek! For he could speak and comprehend every word on the CD fluently! Why would he have trouble with Ameslan?"
"By his own admission, 'Lack of motivation. I can already talk to the chimps just fine.' And he can, too, somehow! Oh weee oh!"
Tommy went on, "And he does speak Swahili fluently, like he had grown up speaking it. I've also found out prot knows jungle drumming. Where do you think he learned that? I don't know any other blancos that know it." Tommy smiled to let me know he wasn't trying to be offensive with the politically incorrect term, "blanco."
"I hardly know any of my own people that know it anymore either. Grandma taught it to me."
Then Tommy proudly demonstrated his skill on the jungle drums, by pounding on the table top. "It is a very complex language, Dr. Brewer. It is much better than Morse code because we can send emotional messages as well as just send information. It is as if we invented emoticons for our rhythamatic code, unlike Morse code which has no emoticons.
"It is very poetical and musical, and very complex information can be sent. I wish I could explain it to you better, but unless you understand it you just can't understand it."
Something was coming back to me, Rhythamatic code....tap code! Both a chill and a feeling of hope went up my spine, both at the same time, (a weird feeling let me assure you).
WAS PROT'S K-PAXian tap code really just the same, or a variation of jungle drumming?
If it was I had to consider the possibility that PROT/ROBERT REALLY HAD BEEN IN ZAIRE after the Montana tragedy! Else how could he have learned jungle drumming and weave it into his K-PAX confabulation?
That would highly likely mean that what Steve and the other physicists kept hoping and insisting to me was true. That time prot mirror beamed right in front of us on national TV really might not have been just some kind of savant inspired magic hocus pocus
Steve had said many magicians had tried to duplicate prot's "trick," but had failed to figure out how he did it!
What if it wasn't just stage magic? Maybe it was a different kind of magic, as prot had said to me once,"Clarkian magic, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic..."
Might he really be able to mirror beam?
What if prot's delusional but savanted mind really had stumbled on some simple fact of physics all the rest of us more normal Homo sapiens had simply missed?
Something so simple, so obvious, only a madman noticed it?
Maybe there WAS a chance for our world after all...
ASTEROIDS, WATERGATE, ALIENS, AND TOFU.
While Tommy took Jr. to the mall, Robert, prot and Giselle decided to take me to the favorite restaurant in the Village.
A Chinese restaurant in Africa? It sounded strange to me, but that was my cultural egocentricity showing. Of course there would be Chinese Restaurants in Africa. People all over the world love good food, and Chinese is good food.
The waiters even knew about prot! "Which one are you today, sir?" They asked as they escorted us to the table.
"Prot," said my "alien" friend.
They didn't even blink an eye. "Good. You tip better than Robert."
Prot didn't need to look at the menu. In fact he didn't even need to tell them what he wanted. They just asked, "the usual?"
Prot sat down next to Giselle. I sat opposite them so I could observe their facial expressions and behavior better. I was completely into psychiatrist mode now, and it felt so very good!
When I explained to prot, Robert and Giselle about the asteroid. It didn't cause the emotional distress I thought it would.
Prot shrugged. "Oh, Robert, Giselle and I knew about it, gene. Fob wa. remember? We were just wondering when homo sapiens would get around to asking me for help."
"Will you help us, prot?" I asked. I was a little scared. I held my breath. I know how prot felt about humanity. For all I know he might have wanted us out of the way, for what creatures survived would surely be better in his eyes than homo sapiens!
Prot shrugged, "Of course. Rob, giselle and I were getting kinda antsy about it. I was about ready to mirror beam to the prez's office and offer my services!"
I stared at him in surprised gratitude. "Why, prot? I know you really don't like us humans."
"Oh, why you ask me that, my old friend?" prot grinned, "I do like some humans, gene. I guess I'm saving it 'cause once upon a time a nice psychiatrist brought me fruit and let me talk about my HOME a long time ago when I had a lump of homesickness in my widdle alien tummy the size of a watermelon! Know the guy? He's very nice!"
Well, explaining to an alien being that we needed him to divert an asteroid from the Earth went well. I now had the embarrassing job of explaining to a mental patient that his supposedly private therapy sessions had been listened to by the CIA and the President of the United States! What a job! There had been many occasions during my professional career when I had spent beaucoup time trying to convince patients that this sort of thing wasn't happening! Oh we oh!
"Robert, I need to speak to you now."
"Here, Here Doctor!" Robert took off the glasses. It was then that the food arrived. "Hey!" He said "Thanks! The rule is in this family, whoever has the body when the food arrives gets to eat it!"
I told Robert in an embarrassed voice, "Every word you and prot, Harry, and Paul said to me in therapy has been listened to and studied by the CIA, or worse."
I told him what Steve had said about our own personal Watergate.
Robert didn't seem too upset. "It's ok, Dr., we know. Well actually we only suspected that they stole copies of the tapes, but we do know they bugged every common room in the hospital, and several of the patients' private rooms."
"Prot knew, he told me."
"And you didn't tell me? Oh I know, you thought we shrinks would think you were having a paranoid delusion!"
"Oh no, prot and I could have shown you the microphones, though they were tiny. Prot said they were clever, almost microscopic, but with his fop wa he detected them immediately. We could, however, have convinced you with any microscope. Prot detected them right after that second trip."
"That long! They were worried that prot was really an alien even before he mirror beamed on television?"
Robert shrugged, "Well you did write that book." So they knew about prot and me, and they didn't take any chances. I don't blame them a bit. For once the government actually did something useful with the taxpayers money. Who knows? Prot might have been a big threat. Better safe than sorry.
"Prot, you didn't say anything!" . Prot popped up, eyes closed, reached for sunglasses in shirt pocket, popped them on and said, "Hey thanks! I wanted a chance at this spicy tofu." He grabbed a fork. (Rob had been eating with chopsticks). "And robin, now I've got the body, you ain't a gettin it back again until I've gobbled up every last crumb of the fortune cookie!"
His eyes suddenly closed, "robin, such language!" But I could tell they were both kidding.
Then prot stared at me, "By the way, dr. b, I need your professional advice."
I heard the mischievous tone in his voice but I played along, "Ok, prot, you know I am ever willing to be your psychiatrist, what advice do I need to give you?"
"If a multiple reads a fortune cookie message, which persona gets the fortune?"
"Why, the one who was in dominant position while reading the fortune, of course!"
"Why, doctor, you are geno e us!
Prot was in such good spirits to have a meal before him that I almost forgot the thread of the conversation. "Prot, you knew that MPI was bugged and you never tried to communicate this to me? Surely with all your remarkable abilities you could have found some way to tell me. For instance, why didn't you just write me a note! They could not have overheard that! And, prot, I would have believed you. I know and knew you are not psychotic! If it hasn't got anything to do with K-PAX you are perfectly reality oriented."
Prot shoved a whole handful of tofu in his mouth. Then, speaking with his mouth full he said with his usual unnerving calm, "Why should I have told you? It would have bothered you and it wasn't bothering me or robert. In fact we think it's a great idea. This restaurant is probably bugged too, and all of zarc. So what? But by now I am sure I cannot tell.
Technology has advanced. Bugs are probably smaller than I can detect now."
"You think it's a great idea to have no privacy?"
"Not robert, or giselle, or jr., or me, is in any way doing or saying anything to be embarrassed about. Privacy is a joke. All homo sapiens and for that matter most all of all creatures in the UNIVERSE do the exact same things over and over again. We all fart, curse, poop, pee, reproduce, make jokes, fuss at one another, go insane, get sick, vomit, pray, sing, laugh, dance, write poetry, swear, talk to ourselves and what have you, all of us all alike. So there is no such thing as privacy. If you know what you do, you know what everybody else does too.
"Besides, I doubt they cared a jort about robin's, giselle's and my three way arguments over whose turn it was to take out the garbage, or who gets to eat what. They simply wanted to know if I was dangerous to EARTH or not. Since I'm not, let em listen. It reassured them, and won my strange little family's right to live in peace, and help a few furry beings."
"But what about the MPI, prot. What about the right to privacy of the other patients?"
"It was a trade off, gene. I think it would have hurt them more to know than to not know. Some of em suspected it anyway, but had the common sense not to bring it up!" Prot grinned here. "Look what happened to the ones who did bring it up!"
"Prot! That right there is why we needed to be told! If we were treating patients for paranoia we thought was endogenous when it was really reactive, we were giving them the wrong treatment. For their sake alone you two should have told me!"
"Ah, dr, a nice soooooothing neuroleptic never hurts anyone. Besides, robin and I were pretty sure the ones who didn't have the sense to keep quiet about the place being bugged really were in need of a neuroleptic. If you are crazy enough to admit it, you are crazy."
"You brought up you were an alien to the cops!"
"I wanted help for robert and myself, and you know it."
I nodded, "I know it."
"Besides (mischievous grin), we is crazy!"
Then something occurred to me, "Of course now that we are speaking openly about it, if this restaurant is bugged, they now know you know. So now, how will they know you weren't just feigning harmlessness all along?"
Prot finished the last of the tofu, and looked more distressed about that, than he had about having no privacy.
Then salvation. The waitress brought a litchi nut dessert!
End of crisis. Now that there was more food in front of him life was wonderful again. Prot dug right in.
I waited patiently. I know prot hadn't lost track of the conversation. It was just he had his priorities quite straight, at least by his standards. Food before discussing interplanetary relations. Makes perfect sense.
Prot finished his dessert, put his fork down and started struggling clumsily with the paper around the fortune cookie. But I guess he took pity on me because he looked up before he cracked it open and said, "I'm willing to help you'll with the big rock aren't I?"
Prot read the fortune. " 'All your plans will bear fruit quite shortly.' " He was delighted! His grin could have lit up the room. "Anything that has to do with fruit can't be all bad!"
Later on, Giselle gave me this longer version of why we are all here now, instead of dead.
While prot was cleaning the wax out of Romba 3's ears I took the opportunity to interview him professionally. (Romba 3 is the third lion we have named after a lion that gave prot psychotherapy years ago in Zaire the day after my husband's mental breakdown.)
"If you hate homo sapiens so much, why are you even bothering to save us?" I kind of knew what he was going to say but as a reporter I needed to hear it from him in his own words.
He gave me one of his fond grins, "Now, you know me, gazelle (he often pronounced my name like the antelope), why are you even asking this?"
"I'm in my reporter mode. I just want it stated for the written record, so "the cubs of cubs of cubs will understand."
"Oh. Now why didn't I think of that? Quite logical. All right on the spot, breaking news reporter giselle, I am not saving EARTH for homo sapiens as a whole, though there are individuals.... I am saving it for, 'the lions and the tigers and the bears, oh my!' "
"I am saving it because there is a soft spot in my widdle alien heart for giselle, robert and my little nephew, jr."
"I am saving it because a certain psychiatrist who has NOT remained nameless gave a hungry lonely troubled alien all the fruit he could eat and a chance to talk about HOME at a time when I was so homesick my mental health really WAS in danger.
"I am saving it because the STARS look pretty from here.
"I am saving it because this bright beautiful top of the mornin' pom farted right in my face while I was cleaning the shit out of his pen. Then he put his trunk around my waist and apologized to me."
"I'm saving it because I like the sounds of crickets, and this morning I found a friendly cockroach in my hoofa.
"I'm saving it because bananas taste so good and they make me burp and fart, and poop pleasurably.
"I'm saving it because I like grape juice, even if it does stain and even if maxi-tide won't ever get it out.
"I am saving it because there is absolutely nothing else I can do to save the cetaceans. 'So long and thanks for all the fish,' is not an option. The K-PAX planetary ocean is the size of Gilligan's Lagoon, and until we got off K- PAX we thought it was incredible! It would be a bit crowded to save a few goldfish much less george and gracy," And it's not like I can impose on somebody else's planet, 'Oh by the way, FLORA, have you got room for several billion sea creatures in your ocean-system? Well at least I gave you a good laugh! Sorry to bother you.'
"I'm saving it because of a thousand reasons, some of which homo sapiens can understand, and some for reasons that are too alien for you to comprehend."
Prot put the ear cleaner and cotton ball in the bio-hazard bin and put the cap back on the hydrogen peroxide bottle, and asked, "Is that enough, giselle? If you want the extended list it will have to wait until later. I need to get little romba here back to his mama."
Romba was getting bigger and was becoming quite a handful. The cub started purring, (baby lion cubs can purr), and started wiggling around, nibbling on his ear, and batting at his sunglasses, He knocked them off. Prot immediately shut his eyes tight, "Ah, giselle, will you get my.."
I interrupted him, "Already on it." I picked up the glasses and put them back on prot's face.
"I thankey kindly, madam!" Prot hefted the cub to an easier carrying position and out the door he went. He even walks differently than my husband. People ask me, "How in the world can you live with a multiple, especially when one of his personas thinks he is from outer space? He's weird! Aren't you frightened of him? You actually allow this spaced out nut case around your child?" I think the above little scene will answer that question.
Prot loves me too, just as much as Robert does. Before you think I have some kind of weird interstellar adulterous relationship going on here, no I am not. prot had no interest in having sex with a homo sapiens. The whole idea of sex, with even his own species, terrifies him, and as he puts it, "I am not going to plow in Robert's field." But in a non-sexual and a very deeply profound way, prot loves me. There is a part of a woman who wants that, craves to be loved that way! How many times have we heard a man say, (and not believed him), "I love you for your mind, not your body?" Well with prot that was actually true!
Was Robert jealous? Of course not. Unlike me he doesn't always think prot really is an alien. As he put it once, "I have enough insight into my own condition to at least suspect at times prot is only a manifestation of my own mental clockwork, and when I am in folie a deuce mode," (which is often with prot with ANYONE who deals with him for any length of time), "I consider it a pleasant sacrifice I am making for interstellar goodwill. Prot ain't heavy, he's just my alien."
Then prot paid the tip, closed his eyes, and took off his sunglasses. Robert returned, and put the sunglasses in his shirt pocket. Then he paid the check, put his arm around his Giselle, and we all went back to ZARC.
WATER JUGS AND BUNNY BATTERIES
I called the President and told her prot was willing. I called Steve and soon his gaggle of scientists made their way to ZARC.
Many of them had never met prot. Needless to say they were nervous. But I can't tell if they were nervous because they were afraid he was an alien, or afraid he wasn't. Or maybe they were just afraid of madmen. It was hard to tell.
But prot put them at ease, at least as far as their relating to him goes. He always does.
When Robert popped out, their eyes really went ga ga. A minute ago they had been talking to someone who claimed to be from outer space, and now the same person insisted he was totally human but indwelt by prot! I was used to it. Steve was used to it, but lets face it, to people who haven't met bluebird and robin they take some getting used to!
Robert said, "I popped out mostly to reassure you that prot is not forcing himself upon my brain. I love prot. He has been my protector, a brother and a good friend. He is family to me. He has devoted years and years of his life to helping me and my family. He went through hell and back for me. He was even willing to be marooned permanently on our planet under the most horrible of circumstances, homelessness, in order to preserve my life. He would have too, if the mental health system hadn't rescued both of us just in the knick of time. So please don't be terrified of him, or scared for me."
Robert put his arms around Giselle. "I have a life of my own and prot lets me lead it, and he has a life of his own, and I let him lead it. Except when we argue over little things, who gets to do the eating, who takes out the garbage, little family things like that, we are a kind of strange but highly functional family.
That put them at ease about prot, but we were all still very terrified for our planet. For all we know, prot still could have been delusional!
So they all begged prot to prove he could mirror beam.
They went on and on and on. Prot just sat there and grinned his Cheshire cat grin. And once in a while he would turn his head and wink at me! I recognized the reason. He had been planning to help us all along, but my scientists had been so sure of his reluctance that they had spent hours writing and practicing their persuasion speeches, and as he told me later, "I didn't have the heart to let them waste them. So I listened. I figured they couldn't keep it up all night. Sometime they would have to go to the bathroom or something and I could finally get a word in edgewise!"
I won't bore you with all of them. Steve's was shortest and sweetest.
Steve was pleading: "First, prot, we need to know for a fact that you can divert the asteroid. Please no more cats hollerin' at the right moment to distract us. Please no more fastest gun in the West routines, Please! Have pity on us! It is no longer a matter of mere scientific curiosity. Now our hearts are in it because we don't know if we survive or not, or our loved ones, or our children, or our pets. Think of all the furry beings that are going to die if you can't or won't help us!"
Steve knew prot very well. He knew what buttons to push.
Steve's had been the last. So! Finally prot could speak!
Prot nodded, "I understand per FECT tly, folks! I promise and cross my widdle old alien heart: No more cats in on the con SPHE racy. No more late night television flicks involving homo sapiens explosively launching round cylinders of lead at one another. I'll do it in front of you so you can really see the rock is no big deal. You will all sleep quite soundly tonight unless you are just really scared of aliens, and if that is the pro BLE lum, I recommend talking to my good friend dr. gene brewer here. If he can't soothe you with his hypnosis he has all sorts of fun little pills that'll make you sleep like a baby and wake up happy and calm.
Prot looked around the room for a suitable target. There was an antique paper telephone book on one of the shelves. He took it down and set it on the coffee table. Then he started to lean his hand mirror against a vase.
"Oh no, you don't!" Giselle exclaimed, "You are not using that vase for any mirror beaming demonstrations! I remember what happened last time!"
Prot looked a little contrite. "Okey dookey, different target. What? "
"Men! They are all alike no matter what planet they are from! Here, use this." Giselle put a plastic water jug on the table.
The jug wasn't strong enough to hold the mirror up. Its weight knocked it over.
Prot reversed things. He made the jug the target and leaned the mirror against the telephone book.
"Not much of a target. I pointed out. The wind could knock that jug over and we'd think prot was doing it."
"Men!" Giselle got up, grabbed the jug and went to the kitchen. We heard water running and a half a minute later she came back with the jug full of water, and clunked it down on the table. She commented quite logically, "Now then, when you see his little flashlight beam can move this, you will be able to realize an even bigger one ought to move an asteroid. Agreed?"
Everyone including prot nodded.
Then prot said, "Ah, where shall I send it?" Then, grinning, He had figured out his target. "But it's rude, to send a present without a card." He got up, went over to an old roller top desk and grabbed a piece of paper, a pen and some tape. He scrawled on the paper,
"Greetings from prot from highest brightest africa. Jug contains non potable mono- hydrogen dioxide. Do not drink. Give it to benjamin. He'll love it.
"Benjamin was, as everybody knows, our president's favorite house plant, an enormous ficus benjamina tree, with its own grow light. He lives right next to the desk in the oval office and it is rumored the president talks to him.
I opened my eyes wide, "You are going to beam this water jug to the president?"
"Right on her desk in the oval office, dr b!"
"That will cause some consternation. Why not at least use the more common term, water?"
Prot gave me a mischievous grin, "Would you?"
He was right. I already knew the answer to that.
So with more flair than necessary, prot took out his flashlight and flipped the switch.
I don't mean that he couldn't mirror beam anything. I mean he didn't get any ray of light at all!
Steve was not happy! "Prot, that isn't funny! We are chewin nails here!"
"No." Prot agreed. "It isn't funny at ALL. But batteries do die sometimes. That could happen to everyone. Giselle, did you remember to buy more bunny power?"
I don't even want to know how we would have stood it if she had then said, "No. We'll have to run to the store real quick." Instead she said, "I'm ahead of you guys." Giselle placed a whole new package on the table. She'd had them in her pocket.
Prot was as usual all thumbs. Finally he got the package opened, spilled the batteries on the floor while doing so and had to retrieve them from where they rolled under the table. Then he got the back of the flashlight unscrewed, took out the old batteries, put the new batteries in (backwards and then had to switch them around), struggled with the cap and said "mot shit" when it didn't screw on straight. He unscrewed it again and finally got it on correctly! All this took him longer than it should have. It seemed to take forever! Can you imagine what all of us were feeling? But prot never had been mechanically inclined. He is much better with life than mechanical devices.
Finally he got the flashlight reassembled. He pointed it at the mirror.
I was holding my breath...
Holding my breath because for all I know the bulb could be bad too.
Holding my breath because after all these years I no longer wanted to challenge prot's delusions. I wanted him to go to his old age, and die thinking with all his heart that his wonderful planet was up there. His mind would have shattered if he suddenly found out he couldn't mirror beam and my heart would have shattered with his mind. And I don't think either my heart or his mind could ever have been put back together again. At my age it was too late to be treating severely disturbed patients again.
Not to mention that the fate of Planet EARTH was at stake!
A ray of light came out of the flashlight. It was just an ordinary flashlight ray, but somehow it hit the mirror, that ordinary little old garage sale freebie box mirror with the remains of a Wal-mart sticker still stuck on its back, and yet somehow the beam was intensified a thousand times. (Later Steve told me it would have had to have been about more than a million).
Suddenly the jug was gone!
We stared at one another! We stared at prot with our mouths open! As much as we wanted to believe it, there was still a part of us that was terrified that prot was an alien, that K-PAX and millions of other planets with life were out there, and we'd have to deal with them some day. It is hard to be forced to suddenly grow up!
Steve started to laugh. He was laughing with relief!
Then I reacted. "Prot!" I shouted, "you can really do it! You can really do it!" I hugged him. "You rascal!"
Then everyone was up and patting him on the back and shaking his hands and hugging him and snoopy dancing around the room! He looked quite overwhelmed by it all. More shocked I think at that than if they'd been afraid of him for being an alien.
Then he gave me a strangely frightened and haunted look.
Why? And then I understood! Prot was actually TERRIFIED that his revealing to me he could mirror beam would in some way change, as he had so many times put it, the "sacred patient-psychiatrist therapeutic relationship I have worked so hard to build with you and wish to maintain forever." In some strange way I was still his beloved "lifeline to sanity."
"Don't worry, prot," I reassured him. "I still know you are crazier than a bull goose loon. You may have figured out some way to mirror beam but that still doesn't mean you are an, oh we oh, alien! After all, if you really were, why didn't you just go back to K-PAX instead of choosing to live on our backwater little savage world, and shovel elephant poop? You are one of the finest minds in the GALAXY I am sure, or at least on EARTH. That you are so limiting yourself hints at some kind of pathology for certain. I think we need to schedule more sessions!"
I wasn't entirely joking.
Big relieved grin.
And so our world was safe.
Suddenly my vid phone rang. It was an email from the President! It said: "Benjamin thanks you for his drink."
I showed it to prot.
He said, "You'll think I'm crazy because I can talk with furry beings, but the president talks with green leafy beings! Sheesh!"
ONCE UPON A DREMER
Well then the president called us, and prot took the call. He was as calm talking to her as he was talking to anyone else. I don't think prot was ever in his life flustered to talk to anyone.
"Yes, prez. I'll be glad to help the people of EARTH with their big old rock problem. But I am going to ask for a favor for my species in return."
This surprised me. It had come right out of the blue without any warning!
It surprised Mrs. President too. She asked, "what can such a primitive people as us do for your people, prot? I thought you were light years and light years ahead of us."
Prot said gently, "Prez, a light year is a unit of distance not of time. What you meant was simply billions of years ahead of us in just ordinary type years, not light years. Ordinary years, just a whole lot of em that's all. But yes and no. We are indeed, in most ways ahead of you'll but dr. brewer has taught me a thing or two about being too full of pride. There is something he can do that might keep my species, the dremers, from going extinct."
I stared at him in surprise! Prot never ceased to amaze me!
"What would that be, Mr. prot?"
"Just prot, prez. Dr. brewer can hypnotize us."
I was sure glad I was sitting down!
The President asked, "Now why would dremers want to be hypnotized by an Earthling psychiatrist? Oh I know you enjoyed it. I listened to some of the tapes, sorry prot, sorry Dr. Brewer, but it was for security reasons. So I know you enjoyed it but why would the rest of your species?"
"Because dr. brewer here has the ability to turn pain into pleasure. He hypnotized robert and me once, and told us needles would produce pleasure in our brain, instead of pain! Ever since then, the both of us have enjoyed getting shots!"
I remembered that. It had happened so long ago. Prot and Robert were so very needle phobic that in one their hypnotic sessions I gave them a hypnotic suggestion that any legitimately prescribed needle puncture would set off a serotonin cascade in prot/Robert's respective brain. After that they both became experts on all the latest inoculations. They were always trying to convince me to give them that or give them this. I didn't have the heart to refuse my favorite madman, so prot and robert got shot up more frequently than any mental patient in MPI history! Most of them Medicaid did not pay for so I paid for them out of my own pocket! Thank God I have an understanding wife!"
And I could see where this was leading...
I said, "prot, you want me to hypnotize your species and make sex feel good to them instead of being agonizing? Right?"
Big Big grin. "Why, gene, you got it! I don't believe you got it, but you did! And on my first communications attempt!"
He looked at me so lovingly! "Either I am getting better at communicating with homo sapiens or the doc here is getting better at communicating with me."
"Prot," I said, "I don't even believe there is an inhabited planet K-PAX, or that you are anything but a delusioned amazingly savant but completely human secondary persona, but I am saying this honestly without humoring you. If you can make that, 'big old rock,' as you put it, go away, I will do everything in my power to go to your planet and help your people if they are real! But if it turns out to be real I am going to need a very sedating herb after I get there because I admit I can't deal with it, but I'll try really hard to help your people if I can, prot! I promise! And if it turns out they aren't real I will come out of retirement and devote the rest of my life, if necessary to helping you put yourself back together! I will never give up on you! Prot, please believe me; or your species if they are real!"
He nodded, "I do know that, gene. I do."
Then he grinned at me, "Shake on that doctor gene geno narr brewer?"
So we shook hands, the two of us, the human and the dremer. Or, amazed Psychiatrist and trusting Mental Patient! I wasn't sure which! And I knew I had my work cut out for me! Either I was going to K- PAX or prot was going back to MPI in a shattered mental state! Because I knew once he made his attempt to mirror beam me to K-PAX, one of us is going to need heavy psychiatric care! Either he would succeed and I would go mad, or he would not succeed, finally realize he was delusional, and fall apart!
Prot refused to leave Zaire. We had to ship one of those premiere movie promotion lights to ZARC and fashion a few mirrors on some mail planes, which he told to fly at such and such height and such and such longitude and latitude. He also requested the use of a 747, a few shiny satellites and the international space station. And, "no I am not going up there. No one is getting me into one of those tin cans you travel in! Surely you can manage to place a mirror or two where I tell you to!"
That was our hardest hurdle. Communication. Prot knew exactly where and how each mirror was to be placed, but it was hard for him to tell us, which made me still suspect it is more likely that he was a savant of some kind than a real Alien.
I hadn't realized until I read Giselle's as-told- to accounts that a lot of prot's social skills are learned, not innate. He was similar in many ways to a highly functioning autistic. Like one of those he had studied the human race and learned proper behavior artificially. His own words revealed this to me more than any of our therapy sessions ever had. "I adopted a typical human/chimpanzee play face." (In other words he was giving us one of his famous grins.) "I indicated harmlessness with my body movements." And so forth and so on. His delusion that he was an Alien anthropologist worked with him, not against him in motivating him to reach out and connect with the human race, leading to an incredible amount of success. Most autistic/savants would not have been so motivated.
Prot had proved to us he could mirror beam but he didn't do it perfectly at first concerning the big big rock. He wrecked several shiny satellites.
They went crashing harmlessly into the Atlantic. Harmlessly that is, if you don't count the communications disruption their loss caused and the Billions of dollars it would take to replace them.
But hey, we were fighting for higher stakes here.
"What's the problem," Steve asked prot after he destroyed the fifth one. "You mirror beam all over the Universe, why can't you hit a little old rock?"
Prot shrugged, "That's not me doing it, that's hortense doing it."
"I can mirror beam myself and robert on EARTH fairly well, or myself on K-PAX very well, but when I mirror beam back to K-Pax I am only going as a passenger so to speak. I get it started but then the beam is being guided from home by a professional mirror beamer. Usually hortense. I am only trained for short hops."
Steve was still puzzled.
Prot explained, "It's like I am trained to pilot a piper cub. And suddenly your whole WORLD wants me to fly a fighter jet. Quite a difference!
"But keep being patient with me. I'm bound to get it right eventually."
Steve's eyes were wide. "I hope you do in time, and before we run out of suitable satellites!"
Prot nodded and said in his little boy voice, "me tooo!"
Then he turned to me, "What a darn shame dr b that mpi didn't a have a pool table. That would have been great practice for this."
I nodded. I saw his point.
"Homo sapiens seem to think aliens should play chess, so all the patients in long island psychiatric institute and at good old mpi worked very hard to teach me this very useless skill and it gave them no end of amusement that I was never very good at it! But all those widdle horseys and kings and the crazy guys in tin can suits sure won't save you now! If I had been spending all that chess time practicing to become a pool shark instead, I'd could hit that rock like one ball mekensky!"
He grinned, "Besides pool sharks look cookin in SUN glasses!"
Well he did get it right eventually. Obviously we are still here.
The rock went off its orbit just enough to serenely sail past the Earth instead of hitting us. When Steve's NASA friends reported that its orbit had been sufficiently changed, I breathed a sigh of relief for just one second. Then my promise to prot came back to haunt me.
Prot looked at me, "Now it's your turn to save my species, doctor!"
What could I say? I had made a promise.
I insisted on going back to MPI with the both of us. I figured that way I'd have prot back in his safe beloved familiar ward 2 environment if I suddenly had a highly disturbed mental patient on my hands.
I refused to let him try and mirror beam me there. On the other hand he refused to fly.
So I flew and he mirror beamed. In fact he mirror beamed Jr. and Giselle too! So there was no longer any doubt in my mind that prot could indeed use a light beam to travel, but I still suspected he was only a savant who had stumbled on a secret of physics the rest of us had missed; I really did not think he was an Alien. I even entertained the thought that prot might kill both of us by mirror beaming us out into the vacuum of space, or even to the very real K-PAX, only for us to discover as we choked to death that it had no life bearing atmosphere at all!
Prot explained to me he had a window just coming up, and had planned to take jr. to K- PAX for a while to show him "how the other half of the family lives." "So you can go instead of jr."
I made us sit in wheel chairs with two crash carts handy just in case. I remembered how prot had shined the light in his face and gone catatonic. I feared we might do the same.
GENTLE WORLD IN GENTLE DARKNESS
Mirror beaming is like going into a strange deep dream or a very deep hypnotic trance. There were no images. There were no voices. I was conscious but just barely. I was not aware of the passage of time. I knew I existed and I was content to know that, but that was all I knew.
Then suddenly I was awake. It was very very dark, and it was very hot. I smelled green life around me. I felt lots of negative ions and there were weird bird and animal noises coming from every direction.
Prot was beside me. "We made it dr. b. Welcome to my WORLD." Prot grinned at me and pointed at the sky.
I looked There was the star smiley, the n constellation, and the eye shaped cluster of stars.
"Oh wow," I said calmly. "We're on K-PAX all right. Fancy that!"
Prot didn't look the same. He still looked human as did all the dremers, and he was still almost swarthy, though a little darker than Robin. He still had those obsidian brown eyes and coal black hair, sans the premature graying. But he was nicely tanned. It must have been all the UV light. He was also a little more muscular, which was saying a lot, considering wrestler Robert's body. Even with these subtle changes though, I could still tell it was prot. "Why don't you look the same?" I was very very calm.
He grinned again. That was how I could tell. There couldn't be two beings in the Universe with that same grin! Prot said, "At the last minute robert changed his mind and stayed behind. Hortense had to do a sort of u turn. She was not happy. So for once I'm in my own body for a change. It'll do it good to get it out of cold storage and let it run around awhile, so no harm done, except I miss robin.
Then prot said, "Now I wish to introduce you to your host. His name is tobias. Yes, just like an EARTH being. Names repeat themselves like snowflakes, and yes you may call him toby. Many of us do. He's never had a symbiont inside his skull before so he is going to be learning the experience from the other side, just as you do. He is excited and happy to have you in his head!"
I suddenly heard a gentle melodic voice inside my skull, "HI there, doctor b!"
"Hi there toby." I said. I was so calm even suddenly going schizophrenic wasn't bothering me a bit.
Toby said to me, "I anticipated your need for a sedative and I've been eating nopbin all day. Did I eat enough of it? Are you calm enough? If not I will be glad to eat more. It tastes yummy and we have plenty.
"Oh, I think I'm sufficiently medicated, toby." I gave him a happy, loopy grin. So what if I was on K-PAX 7000 light years away from the only home I had ever known? Nopbin is so sedating I could have been in an electric chair and wouldn't have cared!
Prot said, "Try and stand, dr. b."
I did so. I felt suddenly very strong. Toby was a quite older than prot, and K-PAX gravity was heavier, but he was in fine shape from hours a day of hiking through his WORLD foraging for food.
I looked down at my borrowed body. I was stark naked of course as was prot
I had no nipples. I looked further down. Everything else was there including a navel and all the proper genitals.
Suddenly prot said "Oh Oh!"
I gazed into the dark K-PAXian gloom. He could have told me the Universe itself was about to blow up and I wouldn't have cared. Nopbin has to be the most sedating major tranquilizer in the Universe! But I at least was a little curious intellectually, "Why did you say oh oh?"
"Its the exodus!" Prot exclaimed. He grabbed his flashlight. At first I thought he was mirror beaming us somewhere again, but no, he was just using it as a flashlight. He shined it into the darkness so my human eyes could see.
Thousands of naked dremers were stampeding towards us from every direction! Prot suddenly grabbed his mirror and the flashlight flicked brilliantly and suddenly we were somewhere else, beneath a tree next to a hut, I believe. Another dremer shouted "Ho!," and must have sent out fob wa tap coding because before we could even catch our breaths more dremers were rushing towards us.
Prot beamed us to another hut, went inside and came out with what looked like another flashlight, "just in case. With this one the batteries and the bulb won't die."
That respite lasted a few minutes.
"Why can't you just tell them to line up?" I asked prot. Heavily tranked or not, I was getting tired of all the blinking in and out .
Prot shrugged helplessly, "We don't even have a word for 'line up,' or even the concept. Not even the ones who have read my report. I FORGOT to mention that weird aspect of human behavior!
"Weird!" I defended my planet. "If it is so weird why are we in desperate need of your beings knowing how to do it now? I can't help them if they won't hold still and take their turns. They are practically in hysterics. How can I possibly hypnotize them that way, and they are so eager I fear they might crush me to death. And how come they don't know how to line up?"
"Well up to now, during our entire history there has never been anywhere that everyone wanted to go to, all at once. We never needed to learn to line up."
"Prot, they could crush us to death!"
Prot nodded, "gene, you are right! You aren't right very often, but when you ARE right, you ARE RIGHT. No dremer has ever harmed another in millennia, not even accidentally, unless you count a few of us accidentally stepping on one another's feet! But you are in danger here! I am so sorry! Sorry for you, and sorry for my beings, and so very ashamed of them!" Prot was almost crying.
I thought, "There has got to be a way!"
It is funny where inspiration comes, "Prot, didn't you say K-PAX has a national ocean, a body of water the size of Gilligan's lagoon?"
"Rob said that but yes we do, and until we got off world we thought it was a wonder. We used to go and stare at it. But since someone tacked a sign up, saying, 'hey folks we are killing the grass. Better stay away.' no dremer has ever gone there again, not for several thousand of your years."
"Perfect!" I said.
Prot grinned, "Yes sir ree doctor! Here we go!"
"Prot, I didn't mean for you to land us right in the water!" At least it was warm water and I treaded water and tried to spot the shoreline with my human eyes.
Prot had also landed in the water.
Prot couldn't swim! He was drowning and he was panicking!
Now prot had once splashed down in the Atlantic ocean, and he had calmly waited until he bobbed up and mirror beamed out of there. But EARTH ocean water is salty and much more buoyant than fresh water. This water was not salty, not buoyant and I think dremers may be more muscular than us. K-PAX's gravity was also much higher. He was in real danger.
Fortunately I had taken a professional lifeguard course one summer. I knew what to do, I swam around behind him and grabbed him in such a way that he couldn't grab me and pull me under in his panic. "Where's the shore, prot!" I yelled at him. "Try not to panic! I can't see. Which way do I swim?"
Prot was still too terrified to cooperate. Lifeguard course or not he was almost pulling me under! He was younger, and stronger than toby's body was, and he was full of adrenalin or whatever the K-PAXian equivalent is. I wouldn't last much longer! Neither of us would.
How could I blame him? He had almost drowned once with Robert and this was like a horrible flashback to him! Think like a psychiatrist, Gene! He really IS your patient even if he REALLY is from K-PAX! I remembered the hypnotic off switch I had given him. Would it work? I said it.
Now that he was unconscious he wasn't hard to swim with, but I wondered what the closest way to shore was. Well, what did it matter? The whole K-PAX planetary ocean wasn't big enough to be a problem for anyone who could swim at all.
I didn't have to go far. Shore turned out to be all of twenty feet away, but it was so dark I almost bumped my nose on the bank before I realized it was there.
I couldn't lift prot onto the bank. Did I dare wake him? I had to. I put his limp hands against the bank and snapped my fingers, "Wake up prot. Don't panic again! Here's the bank. Feel it. Feeeeeel it. I spoke soothingly, and my patient calmed down.
Prot grabbed the bank and gave me an embarrassed grin. "Sorry for freaking out on you there, dr. brewer!" It was one of the few times he actually said my whole last name. It was years later that I realized the only other time he said my whole name was when I had been about to make the suggestion to hypnotize him. Was prot giving me a hint,, then and now, that these were the times he respected my professional skills the most? Had he realized all those many years ago, that I was about to suggest hypnosis, which he knew would lead to my discovering Robert? Just how far ahead of me in every step of the game, was this dremer patient of mine?
I helped my bedraggled alien patient, and by gosh he was an alien patient, (or was I instead now an alien doctor) climb up out of the water, and he grabbed my wrists by his brawny hands and pulled me out easily.
"Thanks!" He gasped, "You saved my mental health, the sanity of my host, and now my life, and now you are gong to save my species from going extinct!"
"Well, the feeling's mutual, prot. You did after all make that big big rock go away."
Prot looked around him, "You know this only bought us a little more time. They'll hunt everywhere else for us first, and then realize this is the only possible place left we could be, and they'll flock here, and damm the grass this time! There are limits even to K- PAXian eco-consciousness."
"Don't worry, prot, I have another idea."
Thank God, (and I actually mean that literally) that my parents had forced me to a few vacation Bible schools!
"Can you find us a few logs that can float and some vines that we could tie together to make a raft?"
Prot stared at me, "Ah yeah doctor b, but the whole ocean is less than a jort long at its longest and it is about half a jort wide. Why not just walk around it?"
"We want to get in the middle of it, not around it."
"Can any dremers swim, prot?"
"A few that might have learned the skill off world, not many.. What..." Then the light dawned! "Ah, russel would sure be proud of us!"
It was my turn to give HIM a Cheshire cat grin. "It worked as crowd control for Jesus on the Sea Of Galilee. It'll work for us here!"
"Ah," said prot, "the fish eating time traveler from K-PAX"
He grinned at me. I knew he was joking, remembering Robert's wild theory that Jesus was really a K-PAXian!
We had the raft built before any of the dremers found us again, and prot and I launched it into the water. We made a couple of crude paddles out of some branches. I had to teach prot how to paddle.
We no sooner got in the middle of the K- PAX planetary ocean when they found us again.
None of them were brave enough to try and mirror beam right onto the good ship enterprise, so they had to stand there on the bank and gaze at us longingly, all of them shouting variations of "me me first!" And then "dr b! DR B!" Millions of them! Megalomania time, anybody?
They would not settle down for hours, so prot could not get a word in edgewise! Finally collective laryngitis took over, and they had to quit shouting at us. I was exhausted by then. Not prot. He had simply gone to sleep for a while using my leg as a pillow. He trusted me, his beloved psychiatrist, so much he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would keep him from falling in the water.
I roused him, "They finally quit hollering. Now try and talk to them!"
So prot sat up (we did not dare try to stand on our raft) and explained to his people the concept of lining up.
And then he scolded them good and proper for being so rude to me!
And then he explained, "dr b needs a few hours' rest and recovery before he starts putting us under. Have a heart!"
They all looked very contrite. Their eyes were downcast. They would not make eye contact with me! And as we rowed to shore and struggled out off the enterprise, the crowd parted like the Red Sea parting for Moses.
And so we walked forth through the midst of them, (Couldn't resist sounding a little Biblical), and prot led me to the nearest hut, pulled out a sleeping mat for me and himself, and bade me goodnight.
He was out like a light, a trusting sweet smile on his face. It took me longer to fall asleep, nopbin or no nopbin. It had just been too stressful a time for me. Plus the sleeping mat was hard and not comfortable at all. The heavier gravity was tugging at my very soul.
Suddenly I heard toby's melodic voice inside of me. He had been surprisingly quiet through all of this. But now he came to my rescue, "I'll call an ap for you."
"Now why would I want an ap?" I growled. I was anticipating a long hard night!
"They are soft." said toby.
I felt a weird funny feeling pulsating tickle sensation like the bunny battery 9 volt "shock" treatment, i.e. EST, Electrical Stimulation Therapy that is all the rage these days for depressives who choose to self treat, go coursing through my borrowed brain. This must have been toby fob wa tap coding for an app because suddenly one came lumbering up
It looked like a Clydesdale-sized woolly mammoth, complete with two-foot-long tusks and enormous purple eyes. It came waddling up to right outside the hut. It made a. "hoo hoo hooooo" type sound and then a friendly grunting sound. It rolled over on its side. I suddenly felt toby take control of his own body, (a weird feeling let me assure you), and he walked us outside the hut and onto the top side of the app. He was right. The ap was as soft as a cloud.
"His name is pooty," toby said to me. I suddenly found I could control our body again. Then quietly toby said, "Good night dr. brewer, savior of my people."
"You are welcome, toby." I said. What else could I say?
Pooty grunted as if to say, "How about me?"
"And thank you, pooty, for being my bed tonight."
Pooty rumbled. I sensed it subharmoniclly.
He kept making these sounds. Subharmonics is a wonderful thing. I was hearing these loving sounds with every nerve in my body, not with my ears. It was like a massage for my nervous system. Very soothing, like a lullaby. Pooty brushed my (toby's) hair gently with his trunk and then started massaging my (toby's) tense body, so both my nerves and my muscles were being massaged. Soon I was asleep.
Well, there is no way one human can hypnotize 15 million dremers. If they had a national television system, maybe so, but they didn't, not even an old fashioned internet. They had holographic recording equipment and I put the whole hypnotic routine on file, plus everything I knew about hypnosis, for reference, but that is not the same thing, as having a live hypnotherapist work on you. Not all dremers made as good hypnotic subjects as prot did. I did have a few 12's but they were mostly 6's and 7's just like EARTH beings and I even had many 4's. A few I couldn't get under at all These were disappointed but adjusted rapidly to the news they would have to be childless, or would have to do it the old fashioned way and have it hurt like hell and smell like mot shit.
I took inspiration from Jesus again. I chose 12 disciples and taught them how to do hypnosis. Each of them taught 12 disciples of their own, and each of those 12, taught 12 more. It was like the biggest chain letter in the Universe. At first I supervised the more difficult cases, but soon toby could do it without me having to say a word. I could rest in the back of his brain, and even nap. He had my patter down perfectly. In a few weeks we had, for the most part, the whole species loving sex.
Then I got to meet Bess. She was using a korm as her host, flying all over K-PAX, and she was very, very happy!
The korm had brilliant blue plumage. Bess had found her own bluebird of happiness!
Time to go home!
But I remembered what prot said about how long it took sometimes to get a window to travel. How much longer would I have to stay on this drearily dark, horribly hot, naked-and-laughless peopled, awful-tasting fooded, almost waterless planet with gravity heavier than lead and no indoor plumbing except in the libraries?
I guess hortense must have switched a few dremers' schedules around (cosmic seat bumping?). Because within a few minutes of my announcing I felt my job was done, I had clearance for takeoff.
Well my soul, or consciousness, or whatever it was that traveled to K-PAX, did have clearance, but my heart didn't really want to leave, and prot didn't want me to go, either.
But we both knew it had to end sometime.
Goodbyes are always so hard!
Prot told me, "Don't be so glum, geno. You are right. There are better ways to spend my life than shoveling poop! Tell rob, giselle and jr. I'll visit them once in a while, and mirror beam from there to you from zaire for a quick visit once in a while, but these EARTH visits will be rare. For really, gene, my work on EARTH is done, and it is seven months out of my life coming and going every time I visit. Time for sojourner porter to move on! There are a ten trillion other worlds I want to see, places to go, beings to meet! You know how I hate to settle down! Even a dremer lives only a thousand years and I haven't anywhere the time I need to see all I want to see before I go, you know... That splash woke me up. I sense my own mortality now!"
Then prot said an amazing thing. "Gosh I hope robert and Russell are right about heaven!"
We were both crying!
I nodded, "Maybe we'll all meet up there someday, or down there someday, or wherever it is."
Prot winked at me, "Other dimensions exist, dr. So who knows? And tell my EARTH family, I might still decide to indwell jr. someday, but not on EARTH. If he wants to ride with me he'd better get used to the fact he'll have to be a sojourner too! . Then prot fob wa tap coded hortense and told me to send me home.
HOME AGAIN HOME AGAIN
Again it was like a dream.
I woke up from that dream. I was in ward 3. There were two IV needles in my arms and I had a catheter on. "What tha." I started to say.
Then suddenly I heard Karen saying, "He's awake! Oh my God! He's awake! Everyone come quick! He's come back to us!"
I gingerly eased the needles and the catheter off of me. I tried to stand. I was very weak. I almost fell. Karen caught me.
"Easy, Gene, you've been catatonic for almost seven weeks! Don't try to stand."
So I sat down again
"What am I doing in ward 3? I was just on K- PAX!" I was very puzzled.
"K-PAX my foot! You've been catatonic ever since that lunatic persona of Robert's flashed that bright light in your eyes. You both were for a while, but Robert was out only for a few minutes! Than when Jr. sat on Robert's lap and yelled Daddy! he woke up. Robert says prot is completely gone now and is going to Dr. Smitty for antidepressants and grief counseling! And Dr. Smitty has already lost five pounds!"
Karen was furious with me! She picked a pillow off a nearby bed and started pummeling me with it. "Why couldn't you have come back to me, us, that quickly. Oh no! You had to give me the scare of my life for seven weeks! I hate you! I love you! But I hate you! Don't ever do that to me again!"
"I'll try not to."
A doctor I did not recognize came (was I ever that young?) and said to me, "Gene, you've been gone for weeks. We tried everything to rouse you. EVERYTHING! Nothing worked! Not electric or magnetic pulse ECT! Not your family shouting at you, begging you to come back to us! Not even the latest anticatatonia drugs. You know those usually work at least temporarily, but you were completely gone! Your pupils were dilated so much I would have swore you really were on that dark planet of prot's!"
"I was." I said quietly.
Of course they did not believe me.
And how could they? As far as they were concerned prot put me into a catatonic stupor with his hypnotic mirror trick and I had been stiff as a board in ward 3 the whole time that I thought I was on K-PAX!
I had been a psychiatrist long enough to know how to work the system. I was the best darn most cooperative mental patient In MPI history with the possible exception of prot himself! When I had my psychiatric interview I knew exactly how to play the role of a grateful-for-help psychotic who was gradually realizing he had been psychotic. Puzzled fearfully about my breakdown! Grateful for the meds they were giving me, and cooperative to a T with all therapies offered me. "Thanks for trying to help me, doctor!"
My psychiatrist, Dr. Fontinewa, is a good doctor and I do like him. He gently pointed out to me one inconsistency in my little "delusion" that I had been on K-PAX, that I admit I can't explain. If the dremers could cause me to time travel, why make me sit in the catatonic ward for seven weeks?
Personally I just think hortense didn't bother to steer very well!
Oh I was such a goooood patient! Soon I was down on ward 2 in charge of my own medication.
And from there to ward 1 in the space of a few days, and then out the door to glorious freedom with instructions to keep taking and refilling my prescription.
Which of course I do religiously. But a doctor makes a terrible patient. Karen usually watches me take them, but whenever I can get away with it, they get flushed down the toilet, one a day right on schedule. They are delightfully calming but they also make my brain feel like it's full of cotton candy.
My friends gradually started to trust me again, that my brief voyage into catatonia was a one shot deal, and that my delusion that I had been on K-PAX is harmless. I am now a card carrying lunatic but I am an oh so gentle, calm, reasonable, socially skilled lunatic, who knows how to put people at ease about my madness! I can laugh at myself, or at least give people a Cheshire cat grin when they express doubt! I enjoy the little things in life and make sure other people see that I can: Apples, SUN-sets, opera. I learned how to be a very good lunatic from a very good teacher!
Soon I got my old life back. My wife still loves me in every possible wifely way. My kids and grandchildren and great-grandchildren still love and respect me, though they treat me a little gentler now, and life feels good!
So what if I have to swallow a pill every day?
And while I fully agree with my psychiatrist when I go back for a refill every few months, that I had a psychotic break with reality, to myself I know better.
I really, really WAS on K-PAX!
Blurp oho minny narr*
*They are but doubters