|K-PAX UnderCover Alien
Author: Atomdancerrr PM
Fannish fun with Gene, prot and Robert at MPIRated: Fiction K - English - Sci-Fi - Words: 58,028 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 1 - Published: 08-31-02 - id: 942977
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A K-PAX Fan story
written with love
for both gene brewers
the real and the unreal
for imitation is the
sincerest form of flattery
by liz hensley
A mental hospital once had not one but THREE Jesus Christs! The clever director of the facility put all three of them together in group therapy to see what would happen! The results, two of them retreated from their delusions a little bit, and became somewhat improved. The third, the one who was the sickest of the three, at least became no worse.
Robert had made excellent and rapid progress in accepting the fact that he, prot, Paul and Harry, were just different personas in one multiple. I was suddenly faced with an ironic role reversal situation. Up to now strange as it may seem to most, prot had been the stronger, more reality oriented member of the pair. I have to say this despite prot's strange firmly entrenched delusion that he was an alien being from a distant world. He may have been in his mind, an alien, but it was prot who somehow managed to cope with reality well enough to find food, clothing and some rudimentary shelter for himself and Robert for four and a half years (while somehow avoiding being arrested for being a murderer!) It was prot who fearlessly and even cheerfully faced our world, however savage and alien it may have seemed to him, and made "first contact" with the police at the bus station in what was obviously a cleverly disguised attempt to deliberately get committed. How do you live on this world four and a half years with no social security card, no background you can write down on an employment form? No past and no practice at getting along with humans whatsoever? (Until Robert's catatonia prot had never taken dominant position.) It must have taken enormous courage and I had deep admiration for the being. And where HAD his considerable social skills come from? Robert could not have done that. I wonder if I could have done it. Prot had not only done it, but done it with a certain flair! But now it was prot that needed our help to face reality. I knew I would have to take it in stages, and that it would never be a completely finishable task. Convincing prot that he was not from K- PAX was probably impossible and damaging. What else did my cheerful but tragic being have but his imaginary wonder planet? If I took that away from him it would be worse than telling a four year old, Santa Claus wasn't real. I would not just be breaking his heart, I would be shattering his mind, taking away his entire culture, destroying his entire world, eliminating all the nurturing beings that had made his completely imaginary childhood a happy one! It would have been just as shattering to him as if you or I woke up one morning and discovered that EARTH and all one's friends, family and childhood memories, had been nuked out of existence, or even worse, had never existed, having in fact been only a figment of one's sick mind. I was quite sure we would have lost prot's, "soul." His cocky confidence, that he could handle ANYTHING even alien worlds, psychotherapy and mental hospitals would have been gone. We would have lost the Cheshire cat grin, his bubbling cheerfulness that warmed us all and kept that wonderful gossamer thread of hope alive at MPI. All the very real good things about prot would have flown out of his mind along with his hope of ever reaching his paradise again. It is highly likely that prot would have been the one to go catatonic, or worse! I certainly didn't want that.
But I needed him to at least face the fact that he was inhabiting Robert Porter's body if I was to make any headway towards the goal of integrating prot and Robert. I decided to work with the delusion instead of against it. I wasn't sure how to do it when a remarkable opportunity presented himself, and a way to kill "two dinosaurs with one boulder."
MPI was "invaded," by another "alien."
Actually we had admitted to us a very paranoid schizophrenic who was terrified of his delusion, that an alien being was trying to invade his mind! What is worse he did not trust any of us, thinking us all part of the conspiracy. He refused to take medication for the same reason the humans in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" weren't too happy when the nice psychiatrist offered to sedate them! He feared any loss of control for even an instant would give the alien all the chance it needed to take over. So he would not sleep and he would not willingly take any medicine. No one can stay sane if they won't sleep! We could have forced medication on him but I knew from sad experience the minute we could no longer legally hold him, that medicine would be tossed in the gutter and he would be back out on the streets again, a pathetic testimony to our society's inability to legally handle the special needs of the insane. This fellow needed help badly and I was at a loss how to give it to him without calling on extraterrestrial resources of my own!
I sensed opportunity immediately. I would put our two possessed humans together!
I was sure either one of two things would happen, either prot would gain some insight into how strange the prot/Robert situation looked to the rest of us, or, more likely, prot would have our poor possessed paranoid DELIGHTED that he was the proud possessor of an alien, and that all the rest of us, his fellow patients and the nice doctors, orderlies and nurses were his friends willing to celebrate his good fortune with him. "And while you are at it, try some of this nice Thorazine. It is really soothing..."
Lately, for the most part, prot had been politely
staying out of dominant position, even avoiding coming
into therapy alltogether, letting me spend our precious
time with Robert. So I wasn't surprised when it was
Robert who walked in my examining room instead of
prot. I turned the lights up and inquired as to whether
prot could overhear us or not.
Robert replied, "Oh no, he's taking a nap so as to give us some privacy."
So I did my best for most of the session to persuade this relatively normal human that I wanted him to shack up for an undetermined length of time on a closed psychiatric ward with a paranoid schizophrenic.
Needless to say Robert was a bit leery of the idea. This was normal. Many people are scared of the mentally ill even if they have been mentally ill themselves. And paranoid schizophrenia is admittedly the hardest of all the mental illnesses to deal with. I explained to him it was for prot's sake, to give him some insight into just what it was, he was. I also told Robert not to worry, to just stay inside of prot, unless asked to come out to prove being possessed wasn't so bad. "For the most part let prot handle it!" Robert was more than willing to do that!
I only had a few minutes left. I dimmed the lights and called out prot.
He popped out and yawned widely, stretching like a bear. "Ah dr. b glad as I am to see you I almost wish you hadn't woke me. I was having such a nice dream. I was back on K-PAX and I was eating a yort blossom stew."
"Just dreaming this time, huh prot. You didn't really go there?"
He looked at me strangely, "Now how could I possibly go there and back in the space of a few minutes?"
I grinned. I knew, though prot didn't, that ALL his confabulations about K-PAX had started out as vivid dreams like this. I was actually witnessing the birth of more K-PAX lore, and poor prot couldn't even realize it. I did not doubt, that if I had interviewed my "alien patient" a few weeks later, that dream would have become in prot's mind a real experience.
"Don't you want to hear the rest of my dream, doctor?" Prot was grinning at me.
"No prot I really don't."
"How weird! a head shrinker who doesn't want to hear his patient's dream!"
Playfully I asked, "Do you want to hear any of mine?"
"Well there you go then."
Prot started looking around for his fruit, and was a bit offended when he realized I had forgotten to bring him any, but he forgave me after he saw what I had placed over the gazing spot. (I didn't want him to immediately go under hypnosis like he had been doing).
I had placed a Gary Larson cartoon of a patient on a
couch being psychoanalyzed. The psychiatrist had
scribbled in his little pad, "Just plain nuts."
Now please understand with most patients I would not have been so insensitive, but prot was tougher than most. To my non surprised delight he grinned.
"Well doc that makes up for forgetting the fruit."
We chucked for a while. Or at least I chuckled and he grinned. Then I sprung my, "trap," on him. "Prot, I have a patient up on Ward 3 I want you and Robert to help."
"And so what else is new?"
Well, prot, this one is going to be tougher than most. You've worked with obsessive compulsives, autistics, necrophobics, hebephrenics and even depressives, but this one is a paranoid schizophrenic, the granddaddy of all mental disorders. He is NOT in touch with reality. He does NOT trust anyone, and I fear you may be the only one in all of New York who can reach him."
(I appealed to his pride and spoke earnestly, which wasn't hard considering what I had just said was probably the truth.)
Prot stared at me, amused, "And what's his problem?"
"He thinks his mind is being invaded by an alien."
This was just about the second time I heard prot laugh. He didn't just laugh. He belly laughed! It was good to hear! "Ah doc you are so devious! Put the two lunatics together and let them bounce off one another, see which one backs down first! Oh ho ho! It is delicious!"
I grinned ruefully. I should have realized prot was too cagey to fail to see what I was up to! "All right prot, my motivation is crystal clear. You caught me! ERRRG! But will you DO it?"
Prot was trying to stop laughing. "Oh gene, gene gene! I wouldn't miss this gig for the UNIVERSE! His brown eyes grew bright. "When do we begin?" He chortled again.
Well, prot, it isn't going to be easy. You and Robert will have to live with the guy for a while as roomies to gain his confidence and Ward Three is not as fun a place as Ward Two. "
"Will I be restricted like all the patients on ward 3?"
"Not completely, prot, I think we can allow you some relief sometimes, visiting privileges so to speak to wards 2, 1 and the back forty, and of course our therapy sessions will continue! But the more time you spend away from Thomas Johnson, the longer it is going to take to reach him, so I really need you to play the part of a ward threer, go undercover so to speak for as long and as much as you can take it. Make your visits to the rest of MPI as infrequent as you and Robert can manage."
Also even if ward 3 can't come down, I'll encourage ward 2 to go up to visit you guys as often as possible."
Prot grinned and nodded at that. Milton would do ward 3 some good! I know because he does ME good."
Ah yes Milton, our holocaust survivor and perpetual clown! Now Milton had more personal demons than any human being should ever have, and he coped the only way he could by being funny even when humor was inappropriate, and that is what had landed him with us. It was not that he was ever out of touch with reality, he just couldn't cope with reality, and how could any man whose reality had been his? From his mouth Milton spouted, often at word salad speeds, a steady, unbroken and unending flood of humor, jokes, anything funny. He had learned to ride a unicycle and was on it more often than he was off. He wore a silly hat all the time and wore it with pride as if it were his military uniform, and prot was fascinated with him. I wasn't sure this wasn't a bad thing.
I went on about Thomas Johnson. Hopefully in time you and Robert will be able to gain his confidence. At the very least he will see being possessed by an alien is not such a bad thing after all. Maybe you can help the two of them make friends, like you are with Robert."
I wondered if he was gong to deny on me that he possessed Robert and vice versa. To my surprise he didn't this time, or at least said nothing, probably realizing it was hopeless to convince me of his viewpoint. I knew Robert was talking to him about it, arguing with him, trying to reach him. Maybe the human side of the pair had actually been making some progress with the friendly alien in his head! With multiples sometimes the best psychotherapy comes from each other and we doctors can only sit around and watch the human mind heal itself in respectful amazement.
I went on, "I'm prescribing you a placebo."
Prot stared at me, "Huh? Did you not say that antipsychotic medication was not indicated for my, er, 'our' condition and anyway how can it be useful to me if I KNOW it is a just a fake pill, other than the taste." Prot's tongue went to his upper lip. Oh that oral fixation! Now he could hardly wait to taste the sugar pill!
"No prot, don't chomp on it. Sorry! I'll bring you a bag of hard peppermints every day, I promise! I don't think they have animal products in them, but I'll check. I want you to swallow the pill just like it is medicine, and I want you to do it cheerfully, eagerly just like you used to take the Thorazine and Haldol, And I want you to do it IN FRONT OF THOMAS JOHNSON. Got it?"
He saw what I was getting at. "Okey dookey I get to be the role model mental patient showing the uninitiated how much fun it is to be chemically strait jacketed voluntarily. I'll do it, but there are two conditions."
"What are they, prot?"
"One. I want you to make sure all the nurses, and all the orderlies, janitors, etc, know I KNOW I'm getting a placebo and why I am cooperating in your little ruse, or else I would feel VERY silly! And, two, you had better not forget your promise about the peppermints!"
I grinned, "I can meet those two conditions easily, and ah prot, please don't call it chemical strait jacketing in front of Thomas or any other patients!"
He grinned at me, "geno give me some credit for having some common sense! That was for my fellow operative's ears only.
"Yes Chief, and sorry about that!"
Prot gazed at the ceiling again. I thought he was about to confabulate about K-PAX. He had the same happy look in his eyes. To my surprise we visited TV Land this time. "If only thomas johnson's alien had used his powers for niceness instead of naughtiness. Psychiatrists do not go 'piffle.' Would you believe I'm an alien from a distant world? Well, would you believe I'm an undercover agent from the second ward? Would you at least believe I can tie my shoe even if I can't answer it? Crazy! And loving it. This therapy session will self destruct in five seconds, five, four, three..." and prot put on his glasses with a little more flair than ususal and headed for the door, "two, and, one!"
Obviously wearing an imaginary trench coat, prot paused at the door and carefully checked out the reception room for enemy agents. Then he skulked out of my examining room without his ususal cheery goodby grin and wave. I kind of missed it, but I understood. James Bond would not have waved by-by! What a weird world we live in! What has TV done to us? Freud would have been sure prot was going completely out of his wits, but as a couch potato myself I knew what prot had just demonstrated to me, was that he could act normal! (By modern definitions of the term). I glanced at the clock, which again prot had not looked at. He was exactly right about the time, as ususal.
One of these days I was going to have to ask him how he did that!
PROT'S OSCAR WINNING PERFORMANCE.
I had an early meeting that afternoon. As usual, I couldn't seem to focus on what Dr. Thorstein was telling the rest of the staff. Visions of aliens were dancing in my head. I knew prot could work wonders with just about any creature, but this was different. What if Thomas Johnson thought prot was just another addition to the conspiracy? Perhaps even the ringleader of the secret organization his mind has confabulated? Of course I wasn't the only one.
"I hear you're planning to send prot/Robert up to three, Gene? Are you sure that's wise?" Thorstein asked, waking me from my musings.
"Why wouldn't it be? He's been there before." I was slightly miffed at him contradicting me.
"Because he may regress! For all we know, seeing the catatonics might just change his cheery outlook on things."
Thorstein was grabbing at air. There was nothing to support his theory, and I know Rob wouldn't go back for all the yorts on K- PAX. I was about to give him a piece of my mind when Dr. Goldfarb chirped up, "I think it's a good idea. prot's done wonders for the patients in two, why shouldn't he be promoted to the more difficult cases?" Several other staff members agreed and it was passed on as "a-okay".
Thorstein couldn't resist one last protest. "kind of strange don't you think? Usually patients in ths institution are promoted DOWNWARDS"
I helped prot and Robert go through their things to determine what they could and could not take up to the more restricted Ward Three. I explained to prot as gently as I could that he could not take his hand mirror and flashlight because a glass mirror can be broken and used as a weapon or suicide device and batteries can be swallowed.
A flicker of worry went across his face, but he just swallowed and handed them to me. "You keep them safe for me doctor b until I return."
Knowing what I know prot thinks the mirror and flashlight can do for him, this was a moment of sacred trust between us. I promised him, "prot, I'll put them in my own safe deposit box until we can get you back to Two." (And, to the amusement of my wife, I did.)
I escorted prot up to Ward 3 personally, along with Kowalski to make things more convincing.
He seemed quite eager to meet his newest comrades, but as soon as we reached the cold steel door he froze.
That familiar sinking feeling returned. Was he backing out on me? He'd never done that before. I hoped it wasn't Robert, regressing like Thorstein suggested earlier. Whoever it was, he was stock still and his jaw was clamped tightly. I put my hand on his shoulder. "If you don't want to you don't have to go," I suggested, feeling awfully disappointed. He edged away from the window and put his back to the wall.
He was smiling to beat the band. "I've seen quite a number of movies and television shows during my stay here, gino," he whispered. I didn't understand how this was relevant.
Then he scooted back to the window, and right then and there he did about the strangest and yet most human thing I had seen from him!
He opened his mouth slowly and emitted the most horrendous scream I had ever heard. I was shocked!
"prot, please!" I gasped, but he didn't listen to me. He wagged his head back and forth, wailing and pounding on the door. Kowalski looked at me, but I didn't know what to do! prot tuned and bolted down the hallway, Kowalski tackled him. The duo slid a good ten feet back before crashing into a trash can.
"NOOOOOOO!!!!! PLEASE!!!! NO! NO!!!" prot sobbed while Kowalski tried to pull him to his feet. His glasses had fallen off and his eyes were fastened shut. He kicked the wall as Roman gripped his arms tightly. . Several of the staff from three ran out and went to restrain prot. I dashed over as well.
"GENE!!! Oh Doctor Brewer! I JUST WANT TO HELP!!! NOO!!! PLEASE!!! I JUST WANT TO HELP YOU!!!" He bellowed as they twisted his arms back. But oddly enough, when he got to "I just want to help you" he resumed that huge smile I saw just a few seconds earlier.
"Somebody get a sedative!" the ward three head nurse shouted. (For reasons that will become apparent to you later, I will not identify her here).
Again, prot spun around and managed to get a leg out from the mass of orderlies. He bashed the wall even harder, and tore a big hole in the drywall. I was afraid he would break his foot! He screamed again "NO!!! YOU IDIOTS!!! I JUST WANT TO HELP YOU!!!" And then he rolled his head to me, squinted his right eye open, shut it, opened it and shut it again. He was winking at me! I could practically see the hallway light up from the brilliance of the light bulb above my head! prot was acting! He was trying to put on a convincing show for the people of three! prot was pretending to be a mentally ill human! Milton didn't have a thing on him now!
Then Ward 3 Head nurse came at him with the
hypodermic needle, but I told her to save it.
"Just take him into three. Whatever you do, don't be rough," I ordered.
Roman looked at me, bug eyed.
"It'll be fine. " I whispered, "he's just putting on a show for the other patients."
"Oh." Roman gave me a very relieved smile. Then, "Are you sure?"
I hastened to retrieve his glasses and I plopped them quickly back on his face because I knew how painful light was to our photophobic alien. I saw some of the tension go out of his body, and he opened his eyes and made calm eye contact with me. Some small part of prot's distress had been real. Once his glasses had been knocked off prot had been in real pain.
Much too quickly for anyone else to notice he flashed me another grin!
" Go ahead," they practically had to drag him into the ward. He kicked the walls whenever possible, making more holes and screamed a string of pax-o curses that would have melted Robert's yorts. In all my life, I have never been so elated, and yet so unsettled.
I stared at the holes in the dry wall, my mouth was so open a fleet of flies could have landed there. The nurses stared too. "He was acting!" I explained trying to reassure them, and myself. "Acting!"
They weren't so sure. I reassured them, "Yes he was. He winked at me when no one else saw it. It was sort of a reverse wink because he had to keep his eyes closed because of his photophobia, and listen to what he was saying not how he was saying it, 'You idiots I just want to help you.' He can be a real ham when he wants to be."
We gazed at those holes in the wall. prot had been so careful in all of his seemingly violent struggling not to hurt any one organic but the wall apparently he considered a harmless target. I added, "And its a good thing, too. Look at that! What if he hadn't been? I am sure glad he's on OUR side!"
"Now what do we do?" The Ward 3 Head nurse quipped, "Send him a get well card or an Oscar nomination? I've heard of actors chewing up the scenery, but literally?"
I said, "I'll send him the biggest bag of peppermints I can get my hands on, and a large grocery bag full of bananas and red delicious apples, and a bill for the wall!" But I was joking about the wall.
PEPPERMINTS, ET'S AND SCHIZOS.
I know the telephone company sometimes monitors voice mail for quality control purposes. I often wonder what they think if they ever monitor my communications to Karen! It wasn't just prot's world I had entered down through my professional years as a psychoanalyst. Getting into a patient's world is a MUST in my profession. So, in my many years of phone calls I had made such voice mail in the past as, "Going to be a little late, Karen, Superman just got lose and Roman is trying to chase him off the roof. They'll need me to calm him down." to, "Jesus was willing to take his medication today. Its a breakthrough Karen! Christ never trusted me that much before!" The thing is, at the time I say them, I don't usually realize how weird they sound. It is only later that when a hysterical Karen lets me listen to them, (after having amused all the folks at her office), that I too start laughing.
Sometimes of course I do it on purpose. Such was the following. I explained "I will have to take the late train home tonight because I have to buy some peppermints and produce for a deeply disturbed ET."
The thing is I knew prot wasn't disturbed and prot knew he wasn't disturbed and Robert knew this, but he had put on such an Oscar winning performance that I saw the trouble coming like storm clouds over the hill. Next staff meeting was going to be a doozy!"
I armed myself with two grocery sacks full of apples, bananas and five different kinds of peppermints for prot to try. I let myself into Ward 3 and knocked on the door of prot/Robert's new, "home, room 5. Ward 3.
He called out, "come in, gene." I cautiously opened the door. I didn't know what to expect, except I hoped it would involve a Cheshire cat grin. I couldn't be sure though that he wasn't going to continue his disturbed act. For all I knew he might have pounced on me.
I was actually disappointed. Prot was too compassionately worried about Thomas to either be grinning at me or pouncing. Instead he was sitting on the edge of his bed with his hands carefully placed in as unthreatening position as possible on his legs, (like he had with me during our first psychiatric interview, what I will call from now on his little lamb position). He was speaking softly to Thomas but Thomas was not interested in interacting with prot. That had to be just about the first time I had ever seen ANY one who wasn't.
Thomas was cowering on his bed, as far back away from prot as he could get with the most horrified expression on his face. Prot suddenly started gently whistling bird calls. I don't know why prot thought bird calls would do it for Thomas, but for once he was wrong.
Thomas was willing to talk to me. I noticed no evidence of word salads but he was very disturbed and delusional.
"You put me in a room with ANOTHER alien! I am surrounded by them! I have one in my head, and now I have one right next to me in bed!"
Sometimes schizophrenics rhyme their words. I listened closely to the rest of his tirade and decided this was not the case here. His rhyming had been accidental.
Prot asked what was, from his viewpoint a perfectly rational question, "Why don't you want an alien in your head or bed, Thomas? We aliens can be very comforting and fun!"
"That's good prot, try to reason with him."
Thomas glared at me. Gently I inquired. "Prot asked a good question Thomas, Why don't you?"
"Why don't I?" Thomas looked me like I was crazy! Why would I want to share my brain with an alien? If I ever let him get even a little piece of me I am afraid he will take completely over!"
Prot earnestly shook his head, "A most distasteful situation for both host and symbiont. It would be like whipping all the spirit out of a horse. Sure you would end up with a nag that would go where you wanted it to go but where would be the sacred relationship between the rider and furry being? Doesn't sound like any fun at ALL to me." prot looked very sad. I wonder if he realized he was alluding to his own tragic past with the catatonic Robert during their "wilderness" years.
I gazed at prot studying him. Maybe the insight into his own condition was happening sooner than I thought, or else it had been there all along and he had been unwilling to admit it to me.
Prot continued, "I have an EARTH friend who is willing to tell you all about me if you'll let him. He can tell you all about the fun we had in the good old days before he got sick and I had to bring us here, or about all the fun we are having now that Dr. Brewer made him better and we are roomies in this fun mental hospital!"
Prot continued, "The doc here thought you'd like to have some fun with us. Lets be friends!"
Thomas didn't look like he wanted to be friends with anyone much less prot. "I want out of this madhouse!" he shouted.
Prot stared at the ceiling thinking. Then and only then did he grin. "Thomas you haven't yet realized the possibilities. In a strange sort of way you have more freedom here than if you were out on the streets."
"In what way?" Good! Thomas actually was talking to prot!
Prot's eyes took on a manic gleam, "Haven't you ever in your life, Thomas, wanted to go to a place where you could be absolutely and ONLY yourself? Where you didn't have to act, quote 'normal.' unquote," prot said the word with scorn. "Here If you want to stand on your bed and sing rowdy songs in pig Latin at two A.M. in the morning you can do it. They expect stuff like that. Wanna strip naked and go for a foot race with an imaginary friend down the hall? Nobody here will even blink. Giggle to yourself, live in your own world, why go for it. They have a place here where they can properly pigeonhole any possible craziness. There ain't nuthin they can't handle here. And people here want to hear what you have to say so much, that they don't just half listen but they totally listen, and they write it down and they tape record it for posterity and share what they've taped with a whole bunch more beings who sit round a little table, nodding and pretending to be wise. And they make comments about your thoughts and your dreams and they try to figure you out. Nobody out there in that damn world out there cares about you like the doctors do in here!"
I was heart warmed, and also kicking myself that I hadn't brought my tape recorder with me. If I could have taped what I was hearing now, no one at the next staff meeting would be pushing for what I knew they were going to be pushing for, demoting prot all the way up to heavy restraints and constant deep sedation on our violent section of Ward 4!"
"Here our only job is just to learn to be nice to one another and ourselves. Where else can you devote yourself to doing that full time, anywhere else in the Universe? Even on K- PAX we have to spend time scraping ap shit off the library walks. Here the janitors do that for us. Our total job here is simply to party on and be excellent to one another."
Suddenly I realized I was the one that was hungry. I reached into one of my grocery sacks and pulled out two apples. I handed one to prot and tried to offer one to Thomas. He wouldn't take it. No doubt he thought it was drugged.
I shrugged and bit into it myself and there we sat staring at Thomas, one psychiatrist and an alien from the planet K-PAX, the both of us trying with all our hearts to reach a fellow hurting soul.
Prot stared at me like I just handed him a piece of gold, or found a cure for cancer. It wasn't until years later that I realized what had prot delighted here was not that I had handed him an apple but that I was eating one with him.
But Thomas had done all the communicating he was going to do with us for the night. He threw his blanket over his head and whimpered, "Please ALL of you go away!"
I gazed at prot. He nodded. We both got up and left the room.
I walked with my friend down the halls of Ward 3. We certainly did not have privacy. Every one in the ward was staring at us and especially at prot, this strange new disturbed mother of all bull goose looneys who had been dragged shrieking into their midst! "Prot" I growled, "You have REALLY done it this time! You have really done it! I have to go and explain to those stiffs at the staff meeting that you are just a consummate actor, and they won't believe me. You put on too darn good a performance!"
And there finally was the Cheshire cat grin. "Well, you wanted me to fit right in, didn't you?"
Prot that was NOT fitting right into Ward Three, that was Ward FOUR level craziness!"
"Oops." Prot looked contrite,"Ah well, what do I know about mental patients? I only am one."
It was my turn to stare at the ceiling hoping for inspiration.
In a trembling little boy voice prot inquired, "dr b do you still wove me?"
I didnt' know whether to laugh or cry at that. "Prot I always will. But what are we going to do about this mess you've made? I'll have to explain it at the staff meeting! And I can't! No one is going to believe you were just putting on an act. You were just too damm good!"
Prot's eyes gleamed, "I can give a repeat performance."
"I'll do it for them again. Bring them all down here, or send me up there and I'll do it again and again and again until they finally do get the idea this alien missed his calling by not going on stage."
I started laughing in sheer relief. "Oh prot! You rascal! You CAN!"
It is a wonderful thing when a doctor is present to witness the awakening in a patient of possibilities he did not know he possessed. And here completely by accident in the hallway on ward three surrounded by at least 50 staring eyes, that prot had a revelation about himself.
"Gino! I'm right! Oh gene!" Light was shining in his face. "I WAS good!"
I was happy for him, I wasn't sure yet what it was I was happy about, but I was happy for him. What do you mean, prot?"
"Well you know I can't carry a tune. I can hear perfect pitch but I can't reproduce it. I can't sculpt. I can't paint. My drawing abilities are more mechanical than inspired. My attempts to master musical instruments usually end with me giving up in frustration. Once I even broke the instrument. I am all thumbs! All my life I've thought I've had only two talents, the ability to communicate with many beings, and insatiable wanderlust. I just found a third talent. I can put anything over on anybody!"
He stood there and smiled at me, a wise little smile, not like his ususal Cheshire cat grin. Prot disturbed? I knew now he never had been. He might think he is an alien visitor from the planet K-PAX with a thousand year life span and a human friend named Robert who for some reason looks just exactly like himself, but disturbed? No. prot is the most put together person I have ever met in my life."
As tired as I was, I didn't sleep well that night. What was it like for prot and Robert now? I knew that no matter what kind of damage control we attempted, there were always going to be those among the staff and the patients who would never EVER believe that it had been all an act, so for certain prot and Robert had made themselves card carrying members with the troubled souls of three. They would accept blue bird and Robin now forever as one of their own.
PROT'S SECOND OSCAR WINNING PERFORMANCE
I didn't take prot with me to the staff meeting right away. I called for Roman to come to ward 3 and wait with prot until I called them and then I borrowed one of security's twoway radios. I let prot explain to Roman what we had in mind and then I went up to the staff meeting which was on the fifth floor, the level where they keep the craziest inmates of all, us! I went in with, I must confess, a Cheshire grin on my face!
They stared at me with surprise. I suppose they expected me to be embarrassed and miserable about my big mistake.
They had themselves in a comfort mode and even my big grin wasn't going to snap them out of it. Dr. Goldfarb said, "Ah, Gene, we are really so very sorry! I thought there was a risk here, but I didn't know he was going to react that bad! It has got to be the worst regression I have EVER heard of in my professional career! You may have to start all over with him. He may never recover."
Dr.Thorstein frowned, "I KNEW something like this would happen!"
I started laughing.
Now they were beginning to get worried about me.
"He was acting!" I insisted. "I told him to go undercover on three and fit right in, and he took me literally, and just overdid it, that's all."
They stared at me like I had gone crazy!
I continued, "I think my only big mistake was my using the words. 'go undercover.' Well how was I to know my alien patient from the planet K-PAX always had Walter Mitty fantasies about being a spy?"
They continued to stare at me. They were beginning to get worried. "Listen, I can prove he was acting."
Dr. Thorstein said, "That COULDN'T have been an
I pulled out my twoway radio, "Ok Roman and Prot, beam on up."
They were about ready to send for Thorazine for me, by then!"
Well, prot and Roman didn't beam on up of course, though prot thinks he can. They used what Milton calls Darth Vader's sister, Ella-Vader.
I found out from Roman what the trip up with prot was like later. I'll let him tell it in his own words.
I was kind of freakin a little bit, you know when I heard Dr. B wanted me to come up to ward 3 and help with prot. I know he'd said prot was just acting, but cheeeese! I wasn't sure. I didn't know WHAT to expect again!. So I was sure glad when I went up there and Dr. B and prot were just standing there calmly waiting for me, and both of them were grinning. Dr. B is sure starting to grin a lot like prot. I'm not the only one who's noticed it. Of course a lot of the patients are starting to grin a lot too. Prot explained to me what he had in mind and when I looked at Dr. B he nodded yes, and I realized we were going to have some fun here.
We worked out the groundrules ahead of time. Dr B was to yell "action," and prot would go into his shtick. Then no matter where we were in the performance when Dr. B would yell, "cut," prot was to stop and act like a little lamb." Prot added here he was going to yell, "cut" himself if his glasses fell off again, and we were to put them back on him immediately, and then he would continue.
Dr. B asked prot to stay away from the walls and furniture. He agreed, "No more property damage." He looked sorry like a little kid that had just broken a window. Dr. B said he would hustle everybody away from the table and we could move it and the chairs, and prot would have plenty of space right in the middle where the walls would be safe.
Dr. B showed me the walkie-talkie he had borrowed from security and I made sure the Doc knew how to use it, and then I showed prot how to use it since he was interested. Then Dr. B went on up, and we waited for your signal.
So I waited there with prot a little nervous but by now I realized he HAD been acting. But I was nervous now you see, because I've never done any acting myself. I knew how to handle crazy patients acting out, but not a sane patient just acting, if you know what I mean.
He reassured me, "Just do what you always have to do when you have to subdue a violent patient, except in this case, I will TRY not to hurt you, and you can yell 'cut' too if you want."
Your call came, and we got on the elevator. As I
pushed the fifth floor button, Prot said in a hysterical
voice, "Oh noooo, you aren't just draggin' me up to
ward 4 you are draggin' me up to ward 5. Help! I don't
want to gooooo."
"Don't, prot!" I said, "save it for the docs. I don't want to see you do what I saw you do yesterday unless you do hear the word, "action," got it?"
He got it.
I never saw so many scared doctors in my life when we walked off the elevator. By now both of us were grinning like Cheshire cats. I was afraid prot wouldn't wait for the word, action, but he did.
They stared at Dr. B. Dr. Thorstein said, "Gene! You brought this disturbed patient of yours UP HERE. With just one orderly! It took two of them to control him yesterday, and they could barely do it! What are you thinking?"
"I'm not disturbed," prot insisted, "I am fine! I just have been watching too much television. You must realize for me this is the first time I've seen some of those shows that you've all seen over and over again since childhood. How could they not affect me? And I can prove it to you. I can do it again."
The docs really looked terrified now.
"I mean I can do it again, on CUE, with dr. b being my director, and I can quit when he yells, "cut."
He continued, "roman will help me. We'll do it in the middle of the room away from the walls. Help us move the table and the chairs."
Prot moved forward. The Docs exploded away from him and the furniture, like popcorn!"
I looked at prot. He looked at me. I started laughing and prot grinned and gave me a thumbs up sign. Then he helped me move the tables and the chairs. That is kind of nice of him, that he helped me. Some patients won't give us orderlies the time of day because we have to stick needles into them sometimes and control em but prot has always been so friendly to all of us."
Prot said, "Lets put the chairs over there and space em out, so they can sit in em and watch us in comfort.
So we did.
So after every one got settled, though they still looked VERY nervous. Prot got in the middle of the room and Dr. B yelled, action! And gosh I am sure glad I KNEW this time prot was acting!
I have had to subdue some pretty strong patients but prot has the body of a wrestler, or so I found out from his persona Robert. So that's how come he knew how to be so really hard to handle. To top it off he was howling like a banshee and screaming and putting moves on me that I've never seen before. Except he was very careful not to hurt me, I would state that on a witness stand if I had to.
Doc would call out "Ok prot, that's enough, CUT! And he would stop, and relax in my arms. I'd let loose of him and he would get up, wink at me, brush his corduroy pants off and sit down grinning at all of us with his hands carefully placed at his sides as if to say, "I'm harmless!"
So with my help, prot did do it "over and over and over again"
Once his glasses fell off in the middle of a cat-a-howling wail. The wailing stopped and he yelled, 'cut.' So I stopped trying to subdue him. With his eyes closed he asked in a funny British voice, "Be a good man roman and hand me back my peeper keepers. That's it, thank you." I placed them in his hands and he plopped them back on his face and the second they were back on he started wailing and the fighting again! Finally I couldn't take it any more. I was exhausted, and so I yelled, "cut," and prot stopped immediately for me, too.
"I guess we convinced em because all the docs started looking more amazed and thoughtful than scared."
Dr Gene Brewer's Viewpoint.
Well, that was Roman's side of the story. His amazing encore did indeed do the trick. I saw Goldfarb start to grin ruefully and even Thorstein relaxed a little bit. Other staff members weren't so sure, But prot did manage to convince most folks that he could indeed turn it on and off at will.
But somehow all this had awakened the inner ham in my "alien" patient and he just didn't know when to quit.
"That was 'disturbed' he announced to his audience, I shall now do 'severe psychotic schizophrenia.'" He took a deep breath he launched without warning into, "You tell me I'm good and I believe it until you start making me eat carpet fuzz and peppermints which get worn down the back side of the red barn where the moo cows sit and wait to get ground up into hamburger which is really pink flamingos unless you squint your eyes and hug a few trees so mean little green au gratin taters won't run away from superman and maybe dr. carl thorstein will get off your back when either hell freezes over or thomas turns up the heat in the rubber room." Somehow he managed to say all this in one breath. He repeated it three times, ran over to me, took up an imaginary cigar and puffed it in my face twice. Will (who said he "wouldn't miss the performance for all the marbles" when I told him about it) howled with laughter. He and I were the only two who got the joke.
We had a patient on Ward 2 that had acted exactly like that. Prot and Will had been the only ones to finally figure out what he was trying to communicate to us. This wasn't really a true word salad but a carefully constructed code. By cracking the code we demonstrated to this disturbed person that we loved and cared enough about him to try and reach him. So he politely reciprocated by trying to communicate with us in a more normal manner. Improvement was rapid after that.
Then prot stopped on his own and sat down in his little lamb position, (because I had forgot to yell cut).
I could tell he was getting tired, but he was running on pure adrenaline. Then he said, "Now I shall simply do myself and Robert as we REALLY ARE when we are just simply having fun. He walked back and forth in front of the staff like a lawyer working the jury. He gazed very pointedly at each staff member as if to make sure they were hearing this! "Listen to me please! I implore you to remember that this is the ONLY part of this demonstration that shows you kind folks exactly kind of lunatics my friend Robert Porter and I really are. I never said we weren't crazy, just not disturbed. Got it? The rest of all of this has just been play acting."
Then prot and Robert did a reenactment of "Who's on first, What's on second, and I don't know's on third." It was quite a sight to behold! The duo did an excellent job, they seemed to know the script by heart. I wondered how many times they rehearsed this one. Towards the end, prot went into this unbearably long winded protest of using leather baseball gloves. But all the while, *Robert* swung an imaginary bat, made faces (which made it difficult for prot to talk) and even did a few dance moves. At least I think it was Robert. By the end, the entire senior staff was red faced with laughter.
"Had enough, folks?" He asked while shooting staples at my tie. No one could say they weren't having a wonderful time. Partly because they were so busy catching their breath!
Suddenly it seemed as if his hair were standing on end and under those dark glasses I am sure there was a dangerous glow. "I shall now do psychotic megalomania!"
"I can control your minds!" He warned us menacingly, and I shall prove it. I shall summon forth a human being from the lower depths of this building and fully control him simply by using my powerful alien brain to overwhelm his. Then I shall control all of you!"
Prot suddenly put his hands up to his forehead and started making the weirdest sounds I have ever heard come out of a human (am I sure?), mouth. He turned to his captive (spellbound, audience,) and stated calmly. "It will take him a few moments to get up here in the meantime, think carefully of your choice to try and cure me. I am warning YOU My powers are dang-GER- rous! I could if I chose to, take over this entire mental hospital, indeed all of manhattan, new york, the u.s. and the WORLD!" And soon I shall prove it!"
I was tempted to yell cut but quite frankly I was wondering where this one was going to lead.
Prot went on in a perfectly calm normal voice, "I said I wasn't disturbed I didn't say I wasn't crazy. I am very crazy. This is because I really really really can use mind control. "
Goldfarb fell into her psychiatrist mode, reasoning with prot as if he really was thinking he could use mind control. "But prot if you really CAN use mind control. If you aren't delusional about it, then that isn't a mental illness."
Prot said with terrifying calmness. "Oh. No? Do you think that? Think again. What if all homo sapians could do that?"
I saw them considering this.
Very gently he said, "It is only my delusion that I am a pacifistic alien from a distant WORLD with a high moral character that keeps me from taking over this entire PLANET, and I really could do it! I chose to possess robert when he gave me his cute lonely little boy's welcome, and I've been in love with him ever since, and don't get any sexual connotations out of that. I wouldn't care but it would bother robert. Both of us are hetero. There are other kinds of love."
They stared at him.
Prot continued. "But what if absolute POWER, not companionship had been my goal? What if I had chose to slam myself into the president's brain full force and make him push the button, then sucked the blood sugar out of every last dying one of you as nuclear winter took over? My motives are inhuman and thus do not include ambition. This is your salvation. Instead of taking global domination I instead just floated down into lonely little robin and said, "hi there kiddo, I'll be so very glad to be your friend, if you'll be mine because I'm lonely, too."
"If robin hadn't gone catatonic you would never even know I exist. I would have simply eaten with robin and he with me, and we would have shared sacred jokes, great truths, and simple friendship together. Good produce, too. Prot licked his upper lip. "It was humans choosing to do violence to other humans that has me in your midst, or else you would never even have heard of me."
Prot now had the entire staff staring at him with a mixture of emotions, more than I can list. Fear, thoughtfulness, amazement, disbelief and even a little warmth and sympathy at his description of his relationship with Robert.
"If you homo sapiens ever find a drug that can do in all of you what happens in me all organic naturally, throw the formula into the deepest sea you've got, give any hard drive it's hiding in shock treatment, lock up the inventor in permanent solitary, and keep any 'shop' participants on heavy sedatives for life!"
"I'm dangerous!" He warned us with deadly calm which was even more chilling than if he'd allowed a manic gleam in eye. I could kill you all with one brain slam, But I won't for the same reason I don't step on cockroaches or eat cows! Normal non demented homosapiens are not that peace--FULL, so watch out! Beware! Don't cure this looney of his delusion he's from K- PAX cause if you ever succeeded in bringing him to crystal clear reality, THEN he WOULD be extremely dang-er-us to everyone on this PLANET! In my present state, I am harmless."
I gave him the cut signal and just like a off switch had been pulled he calmly sat down in one of the chairs he had moved, made himself go into his little lamb position, with his hands on his knees, and he grinned at me.
Then he grinned at the entire room like a cat who had just eaten buttered canary.
But suddenly he sat up like he was listening to an inner voice, "AH MY CONTROLLED HUMAN HAS ARRIVED!" He turned to gaze behind him, and such was the power of his performance that this room full of skeptical shrinks turned their gazes at the elevator too like they really expected a "controlled human" to arrive.
Suddenly Ella-Vader opened and Milton screeched in on his unicycle, juggling about a dozen rolls of toilet paper above his head and while playing " kazoo also sprach zara kazoo stra (2001 A Space Odyssey kazoo style). He dismounted and chucked a roll at prot. He dove and caught it. The two of them played a mini game of football until they turned around and bonked me with the rolls.
Then is when it got really ooh wee ohhh! Weird!
Milton's participation I could comprehend, but somehow suddenly the whole staff went crazy! Was prot controlling them somehow demonstrating for ME, that he was more than he appeared? Some of the toilet rolls missed their mark but suddenly, other staff members got involved in a most uncharacteristic display of nondignified behavior. They picked up the fallen rolls and took their own shots with them. And I seemed to be the target. It was indeed like a scene from some weird sci fi movie where everyone in the room was being mind controlled by one powerful alien force, except their weapon of choice was toilet paper instead of ray guns and the goal seemed to be, "pick on prot's psychiatrist" instead of global domination. For the longest time everyone was pelting me with toilet paper! I ran and crouched under the table, returning the missiles whenever I could. I couldn't say that I wasn't enjoying it.
I noticed in between bombardments that prot was creeping from chair to chair, and setting something on them. But then, it was hard to see anything with my head covered by the quilted sheets. Eventually the fight died down. The room was covered with bits of the Charmin. It looked like MPI had been overcome by a blizzard!
I finally yelled cut! Why didn't I have the presence of mind to have done that sooner?
Prot immediately sat down in his chair in his little lamb mode. And strangely enough the staff suddenly quieted down too. They all and sat down, very puzzled expressions on their faces. They stared at one another! None of them could figure out, just why they suddenly had acted like that! Though some of the puzzlement was gradually giving way to reluctant grins. It had been fun!
I decided to stay in my own safe haven under the table. I didn't know what was coming next. But it actually got a little saner, by "ward five" standards!
I think prot simply had to rest awhile. He sat down calmly yoga style on his chair, and calmly stated, "Ok Milton, its your turn."
Then Milton simply got off his unicycle and told us a rich string of jokes. They were the funniest ones out of his grab bag, and I saw that even prot was grinning widely in back, although he was all the while scrutinizing Milton's unicycle. Evidently he'd heard the jokes several time before, because he was mouthing the punch lines to himself. He must have gotten bored towards the end though, because suddenly he attempted to ride the unicycle himself. But he wasn't quite the most graceful man and fell off immediately. Roman managed to catch him which is the only reason he didn't go crashing into the floor.
Roman said to him gently, "Easy prot. You want to learn to ride it, when they let you back down to 2 go outside to the back 40 with me during my lunch hour. That way if you fall off you'll just hit nice soft grass. I'm used to keeping patients from hurting themselves so it won't be nothing new to me. I'll try and catch you if you fall again."
Prot went over to the table where I was cowering and bent down and looked at me with a rueful grin.
"Found another thing I don't do so well, doc. I don't ride unicycles very well. Thought I could. I should have realized, 'gravity works.' I think I'm believing my own megalomania bit." He got a thoughtful expression on his face.
Milton started going "A Brunette, a blonde, and a redhead were sleepin' with this married dude. One night the wife comes home early. 'Get under the bed!' hubby says. Wife comes in and goes to lie down. She steps on the brunette's arm. 'Woof!" the brunette barks. Wife decides it was the dog. She steps on the redhead's arm. 'Meow!' the redhead mews. Wife decides it must be the cat. She steps on the blonde's arm. 'Potatoes!'"
"Old lady goes to the doctor. 'I've got this flatulence problem. It's not loud or smelly, but it happens quite frequently and I'm worried.' She says. It was true, she was breaking wind all though the checkup and even in the waiting room. 'Okay,' says the doctor, 'take this pill and come back in three weeks.' Old lady does just that. But she started noticing her farts were smelling awfully putrid afterwards. She came back in, furious. 'You said this would cure me, and it hasn't! It's made it worse! It stinks, dammit! Let me tell ya, you're gonna be facing a lawsuit real soon, doctor!' she screams as soon as she gets in the room. 'Ah good, I see we've cleared up your sinus infection. Now let's see if we can work on your hearing!'"
And it went on and on like this, and the staff was loving it.
Suddenly prot stared at Milton in a very strange way. I just about believe prot can mind control Milton, because for once, he shut up!
Then Prot turned to the staff and said, "Now I shall try to imitate Milton. I don't think I figured out yet what kind of crazy HE is. Have ANY of you? I thought not! But I can do him too, just not as well as he does."
With a solemn look on his face, he said with seemingly perfect sincerity. We really all need to do more for the mental health needs of our furry beings. Some of you might have heard the rumor that I can communicate with animals. Well this rumor is true. Just the other day I heard this pathetic conversation between two milk cows. One said, "Oh it is just terrible!. The Johnson farm has an outbreak of mad cow disease. Five of them just went mad, yesterday! Absolutely mad darling! And that was just up the road from us. It could strike us next!
Then the other poor cow said, "OH I'm not worried. It doesn't affect us ducks."
Prot practicably pounced under my table with me, and grabbed me by my lapels. He peered with seeming earnestness right into my eyes. "Dr. You have to DO Something for these poor suffering furry beings! Isn't there some place in mpi we could put them in? Up here for instance. These guys seem to have more than their fair share of space. We are cramped on three for instance, but there's plenty of room up here on five. Besides we could use the milk!"
Finally he stopped and prot scooted back up to the front. He made the directors slashing signal at his throat and yelled, "Cut!"
He caught his breath for a few moments than said, "Okay people, that's all I've got! I hope you've made your decision about which ward I belong on. And I sure hope it isn't ward five, and that you've enjoyed yourselves! I know I have! That that that's all folks," (he did a perfect imitation of Porky Pig). Then he gestured for Roman and Milton to come join him. They all took each other's hands and bowed, Broadway style, low to the ground.
Then prot looked at Milton, and I swear there was some kind of unspoken telepathy between them. Milton leaped onto his unicycle and prot pushed the elevator button. Milton rolled into it playing Yankee Doodle as he rolled into the elevator. How does one manage to balance on a unicycle while it is not being moved forward? Milton can do that. But how? I could see from prot's puzzled expression that he wondered about that too.
Then prot stood there with full dignity and said, "roman, I am ready to go now. Please take me back to my room."
Roman went into his orderly mode and escorted prot into the elevator. There was no doubt in my mind or any one else's from looking at prot's body language that he was being anything at all now but a compliant mental patient going back down to his ward in full submission to the orderly who was supposed to be in control of him, except he was grinning and the orderly was chatting comfortably with him.
So we avoided a most unfortunate trip to Ward 4,
What happened after prot/robert left was most interesting indeed.
We had to put the table and the chairs back ourselves, and there was toilet paper everywhere. One little mistake prot, next time clean up after yourself!
We finally sat down and looked at one another with slightly scared looks in our eyes. Just what had we just seen and heard?
They say revenge is a dish best served cold, But justification without any revenge being required is an even sweeter dish served cold. Dr. Goldfarb actually apologized to me for all the years she had called ME crazy for my descriptions of interacting with prot.
"Gene, I'm sorry. I never realized what you were going through with that, er super looney! He isn't dangerous, I see that now. He IS harmless but perhaps ONLY because he THINKS he's harmless. But he is very manic and delusional, and definitely a multiple, and yet, he had us all going for a while. And he is funny and friendly! That's so unusual! Just how did he communicate with Milton? And how did he get us to participate in the toilet roll fight? I haven't done anything like that since I was a Brownie Scout, but say it was fun!"
Other staff members were nodding in agreement. They couldn't figure out what had possessed them to act that way, but it HAD been fun....
I rubbed it in, "Now Goldfarb do you see why I keep being folie a deuced and talk about him if he is really is from K-PAX? I have absolutely NO idea how he communicates with Milton, or with the ward cats, or the schizophrenics, or the autistics, or my no longer neurotic dog, all the creatures at the zoo, Moby the Dolphin,.... or my suddenly well behaved kids and grandkids! He just does, that's all, and when I ask him how he does it he just says we could do it too if we wanted to badly enough. All we have to do is unlearn everything we've ever learned and start over again."
Goldfarb swallowed and nodded, "Ah Gene. What if he really.....ahh noooo.. I won't even go there. Just keep doing the best you can with him!
Thorstein had a different idea, "He's faking it. All if it. He isn't crazy at ALL. All this time this malingerer has been milking us for free room and board. Robert Porter killed a guy remember? This has all just been his clever way of avoiding a prison sentence."
I shook my head. "Thorstein, if I didn't know him like I do, I have to admit that would have been what would have gone through my mind, now after seeing how well prot can fake all kinds of mental illness. But remember, I've had him under hypnosis. He goes under so willingly I know he has never tried to hide anything from me, except Robert's last name, and that was understandable. I was there when Robert finally manifested himself. I know beyond all doubt that prot/Robert was and to some extent still is a very sick person. It was just they have unusual strengths to draw upon, too."
Plus, Thorstein there is a sweet, strong integrity to prot/Robert. Yes, I had seen prot tell what I call Santa Claus lies to comfort a hurting being," (Yikes! I was starting to think like him), but I never could see him bilking the system for 6 years.
And I added , "A malingerer doesn't spend five years stiff as a board in a catatonic ward."
I have heard of similar things...Thorstein snorted.
Goldfarb came to my rescue, "Oh come on Thorstein. Catatonia isn't much fun. If he can fake more amusing mental illnesses why sit around being fed intravenously for 5 years?"
I nodded, "Prot has to be by his own admission the most orally fixated patient I have ever had. He wouldn't pass up any chance to have a meal. I'll believe he's an alien from the planet K-PAX in a voluntary host/symbiont relationship with Robert Porter before I would ever believe he faked catatonia for 5 years. That was five long years without a banana. Prot doesn't want to go one day without one!"
I expected them to look at me like I was crazy, at this last slightly loopy statement just like they usually did. Instead both of them were nodding in agreement! Goldfarb even added, "I doubt Robert would have done much time in prison. Heck, he'd be out by now. If he ever would have spent time in prison at all for murdering the man who raped and killed his wife and daughter. There is such a defense as 'justifiable homicide,' and it is a whole lot easier to convince a jury and a judge of that than that you are unable to understand right from wrong because of mental illness.
"Plus" I added, "prot has willingly revealed to me on numerous occasions that he does understand right from wrong, probably better than anyone sitting in this room, and there is no way as his psychiatrist I could go on a witness stand and testify that this man is in any way incompetent, delusional yes, but not incompetent. If he wanted to fake insanity he isn't doing it very well. Mental illness yes, but not legal insanity."
It was only then that I all noticed a little spot of red on Thorstein's deerierre. It was a peppermint! My mouth opened in amazement, I pointed. They looked at me, looked where I pointed and then everybody checked their own posterior extremities". All of us had a peppermint candy stuck there!
I burst out laughing. "Prot did it to us again! He did it to us again! While we were distracted by the toilet paper blizzard prot put one in each chair. I know exactly how he would explain it to us too, He'd calmly state we all looked hungry so he left each one of us, "with a tasty treat for later!"
Goldfarb started laughing again. Oh my goodness prot is wonderful! " She was barely able to speak! She was practicably rolling!
And most of the staff joined her. We all chuckled. Finally with tears of laughter in her eyes she stated, "Now, Gene I understand. He is impossible. Just keep doing the best you can with him. Tonight I am prescribing a heavy sedative."
"Oh come on Goldfarb! Prot and Robert sleep like kittens."
"Oh no, not for him, for myself."
Robert strode into my office. For a minute I thought it was prot, because he had a big grin on his face. But his glasses were off. Somehow I knew this wasn't going to be an ordinary session!
"I found out what Thomas's problem really is, Dr. Brewer. You aren't going to believe it, but from where I've been sitting, watching the three of them argue, and argue and argue, and ARGUE, it is obvious."
"Three of them?"
"Prot, Thomas and Thomas's alien."
I stared at him hopefully. "That's wonderful Robert, and I must admit I am surprised! I expected it to be prot who would make the breakthrough. But you did! How, and what is it?"
Robert grinned. It was like looking at prot's near identical twin. They were almost the same, but not quite. It was more like they were close cousins. Identical cousins, a pair of book ends different as night and day."
"Oh prot never will make any break through with Thomas. He never will. He might get somewhere with Charley though."
"Thomas's alien. I named him."
"You named him Charley?"
"Well why can't an alien have a normal name for once? He has a last name too."
"It isn't, 'Horse' is it?"
"Oh no, I wouldn't be that cruel. Its Johnson of course, like Thomas. I suppose we could call prot's last name Porter."
"Well that would simplify things enormously when he has to fill out commitment papers and other legal documents." I was speaking with my tongue firmly in my cheek, but Robert either didn't catch the joke, or else he didn't care. He didn't quite have prot's dry sense of humor. And ridiculously, there was some truth to what I had just said. prot/Robert's voluntary commitment papers were signed simply, "prot," and we were always holding our breath some organization like the American Civil Liberties Union wasn't going to contest us for holding a mental patient, "prisoner" on such shaky grounds. The fact that prot and Robert liked MPI and knew they needed to be here would not stop an organization like that."
I was also a little bit worried that Robert was accepting Thomas's figment as real.
"So what's the problem with Thomas?"
"It isn't schizophrenia, and it isn't an alien invasion. Charley is really quite nice, he's just socially inept like Russell. Thomas's problem is bigotry. Thomas just really hates and fears aliens, I'm trying to reassure Thomas that its fun to have an alien in your brain!"
"You are! I thought that was prot's job!
"Oh prot will never get anywhere with Thomas.
Thomas hates his guts just because he's not from Earth,
and prot doesn't like Thomas because he keeps it too
cold for him in our room. But prot is working with Charley,
giving him interpersonal therapy, and I am working with
both Charley and Thomas. I am sure at least I can get
Thomas to trust you soon. I stand guard for Thomas at
night so he can get some sleep without fear of "Charley
taking over his head." Just the fact he's getting sleep is
helping him enormously. Robert yawned as if right on
cue. "I'm the one that needs sleep real bad, and can't get
it!" Because the minute Thomas is asleep Charley does
take over and we've been playing checkers and other
games together while prot and Thomas sleep, but I
certainly won't tell Thomas that. He wants to learn
everything about Earth Life. Reminds me of the good old
days when prot and I were young. Prot asked those kinds
of questions too. We had some fun times Doctor. I never
told you about those. In therapy it seems all we have time
to talk about are the bad times. Charley will take much
longer to trust you. Right now he is terrified of
psychiatrists, but I'm working on him too. Prot and I are
both trying to reassure Charley you are an ok guy."
I felt like had walked into a episode of Outer Limits. "Why Robert would that be? Why wouldn't any Alien trust me? I like Aliens! I have had lots and lots and LOTS of experience with Aliens! I am Doctor Dolittle to Aliens! Robert, I need a vacation!"
Robert stared at me a little dubious. Was his psychiatrist cracking up? He decided to ignore my outburst. He continued seriously, "Charley saw, 'One Flew Over the Cuckoos nest.'"
Oh of course, I said sarcastically, I suppose this was because TV waves go into, ' higher overtones don'tcha know.'"
Robert stared at me, "Huh?'
"If you can be silly I can be silly. Prot said that to me to explain how he could watch TV from light years away."
"I don't know anything about that. Charley saw Cuckoos nest on TNT years ago, the first night he was on Earth. It was just about the first thing he learned about Earth people, that we don't take very good care of our mental patients, so he's terrified to be here too. How was he supposed to know that was just a stupid movie? He didn't know what to think of this savage world he had chose to visit, and like prot he can only leave at a preset determined time. I don't even know if his beings have TV."
"Oh of course. Silly me."
I added, in what I hoped was a saner sounding voice, "And so, why does Thomas hate aliens?"
"Because the only sci fi movie he's ever watched in his entire life is, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."
"So what you are saying is that Thomas's alien is real, and they both are having troubles relating to one another and to mental health professionals because they pick poor choices of what to watch on TELEVISION?"
Robert's grin was a lot like prot's. "Yep, Doctor that's
about it. Charley of course needs to learn a few manners.
Like you don't just barge into someone's brain without
knocking. Jesus knocks, and prot knocks. Neither one of
THEM go where they aren't invited. I invited prot in, and
I've never regretted it."
I was about ready to go "oh wee oh." And head back to Bill Siegel for a nice long soothing psychiatric session of my own. I spoke slowly, hoping, not, to, be, too, encouraging of this new confabulation of.... ROBERT'S!!! But I needed to clarify it. "Jesus doesn't go where he's not invited?"
"Well that's what Russell says when he comes up and visits us. It makes sense to me. Maybe Jesus is from K-PAX."
How nice that Russell visits you, but Jesus is from K-PAX!!???
Robert seemed to think the first question was the most important one to answer
"Russell visits Ward Three all the time now. Prot insisted on it. We miss the fun times on Ward Two. Milton goes up there a lot too. He showed everyone on ward 3 how he rides his unicycle. And he tells jokes. He gets us in stitches. Even some of the autistics and catatonics smile."
I felt like I was in some kind of a silly nightmare. I tried to steer Robert back to the second thing he said, " Jesus is from K- PAX? Did prot say that to you?
Ah no, and I didn't say Jesus is from K- PAX. I said MAYBE Jesus is from K-PAX. There is a big difference between believing and wondering about something."
I had to admit there was. Maybe Robert hadn't quite gone around the bend after all, but if he had, I could see why. How would YOU like to live in a small room on a locked psych ward with a paranoid schizophrenic and two, "aliens," one of which lives in your brain?"
Apparently the worst thing about living in a locked psych ward with a paranoid schizophrenic and two aliens one of which lives in your brain is boredom!
I found this out because of what Robert said next. "I got bored last week and borrowed Russell's Bible and read the Gospels. That's what got me wondering. Think about it. Jesus hates sex enough to be born to a virgin. He likes to eat and drink so much he gets accused of being a glutton and a wine bibber, So he definitely has what you call an oral fixation, and he's such a people being, he's a friend of tax collectors and sinners, just like prot likes the outcasts of our society, mental patients. Prot says 'if you have more than one thing and someone else needs it, you should just give it to em. Jesus said 'if you have two coats give one of them to he who has none.' Prot said, 'If something needs doing, you do it.' Jesus said, 'if someone asks you to go one mile with them, you go with him two.' Both prot and Jesus can make animals obey them. Both think of us as children. Both can cure mental illness, and both bring a lot of people hope. Both think of all life in whole universe as being neighbors to one another. And Jesus said, to the highest government official that he ever met in his entire life, 'I am not of this world, if I were of this world, my servants would fight.' Russell told us that in Revelations it says Jesus said, 'Behold I stand at the door and knock and if anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in to them and dine with him and he with me.' I know prot enjoys it when I eat. Even when I'm in dominant position, I can feel him back there, in my brain, going, "Yum."
I gazed at Robert. His argument was logical, and yet based on a bizarre premise, that mind indwelling aliens were real, but with prot around, I suppose it made perfect sense to Robert. If prot could folie a deuce us, imagine what it must have been like for Robert who had to live with prot right inside his own skull 24/7! "What does prot think about this theory of yours?"
"Oh he doesn't agree. He says, 'No dremer would eat fish.'"
"Well, Robert, I don't know whether to be relieved about that, or worried. That's all I need, for the two of you to develop different and completely incompatible religious beliefs! On the other hand, at least ONE of the two of you is keeping in touch with reality. I just didn't expect it to be prot!"
Robert grinned, "Prot also reassures me it isn't himself in some future backwards time travel trip. He said this to me when I suggested this to him, "Robin, I just barely put up with needles. If any of you (pax-o expletive deleted) homosapiens come at me with nails and a hammer, I'm outta here!"
I couldn't help it. Freud forgive me but I started laughing.
Robert grinned. "Well Doc, here's another theory. look at it from your point of view. What if Jesus the Carpenter and Jesus the God started out as just some kind of multiple?"
Now that was a theory I could live with. Maybe Robert HADN'T entered some new phase of mental illness.
"Of course," Robert continued, "I know prot is not going to end with me either so Jesus if probably around yet too. Maybe Russell is a multiple too and we just haven't realized it, except his persona is Jesus."
"But what about all the other people who say they have Jesus living inside of them?"
"Beings grow, Doctor. Think what even prot could be like 2000 years from now. Maybe Jesus can possess more than one person at once."
"Robert, prot is going to die with you, and you know it."
I had never seen Robert give me the full Cheshire cat grin before, but he did now. "Oh, are you sure of that? If I die first prot claims he will just switch to a different host. He says he will die someday for good, just not when I do. But what if he's wrong about that? You know he's an agnostic. And Jesus isn't prot, so maybe his life span is longer. Give Jesus a few more billion years of growth and maybe He WILL be able to create the universe!"
Robert smiled calmly. "Maybe personas are like human brain computer virus programs. Maybe they are generated by madmen like me at first but take on a life of their own. Prot sure seems to have a life of his own! Maybe they CAN jump ship when they want to or have to. And keep growing! That could explain a lot of history and a lot of insanity, couldn't it Dr. Brewer? But notice I said, 'Maybe,' Dr. Brewer. I'm not like Russell ,I don't believe I just wonder."
I was so flustered now I almost missed noticing that I had sort of the breakthrough I was hoping for with prot! He was now at least admitting to sharing a body with Robert! It was just prot's sudden partial acceptance of reality, such as it was, had come at the expense of Robert's!
Also Robert had also given me a better diagnosis for Thomas by accident. If Charley was real in the sense he could manifest himself to others, just like prot, he was a persona, not a hallucination. Hallucinations do not pop out and play checkers with people. Thomas Johnson wasn't schizophrenic! He, like prot/Robert was a multiple, except unlike blue bird and Robin, Thomas and Charley did not get along!
I kept trying to reason with Robert, "But if Christ is just a persona who keeps growing for a few billion years, Het would be at the wrong end of creation to start it all. He'll need to get back to the past."
I realized where what I had just said was leading but too late to recall my words. "Oh why oh why oh why did I have to say that?"
"Well prot and Charley both say reverse time travel is possible so that shouldn't be a problem. Stephen Hawking says time travel may be possible too."
I tried to call up every resource I could to coax Robert back to reality, "What does Giselle think of all of this?"
"Its going to be a chapter in her book."
Is it by chance affecting your relationship with her in any way?
Well she gave me a big kiss last night and asked if I could get a day pass out of here so we could go to a hotel. Can I, doctor? Huh? Can I? I am getting real sick of "As The Worlds Turn,"
"The alien/human soap opera I live in. The spats we are having about who uses the bathroom first. (Charley claims he has to do a 'number three' I don't know what that is but it takes an hour! ). How much light to allow into the room. Who gets whose body, and when, what to do about this autistic who keeps coming in and messing with our things. What to eat. Thomas likes meat. Charley is like prot, 'doesn't want to eat his fellow beings.' Also prot likes it hot, and I am from Montana and don't care either way because it gets both cold AND hot there, and apparently Charley doesn't mind it hot or cold either. But Thomas is from Michigan and he insists on keeping our room so cold the politicians would keep their hands in their own pockets!"
I laughed, So! Maybe Robert did have a sense of humor after all.
"Well, he's freezing prot out! It is a pathetic thing to see prot huddled in an almost fetal position with a blanket over his head and cursing under his breath in pax-o as he glares at Thomas! I know several of the staff think now prot really is disturbed after his Oscar winning performance even if he did demonstrate he could repeat it, and seeing him like that does not give them any evidence to the contrary. But he's just cold! That's all."
"But, Robert you do realize he's living inside of the one and only body you both own?"
"And he shivers and you don't? How can that be?" I was just curious to hear how Robert would describe it. I wasn't questioning Roberts sanity or trying to pop any delusions here. It is the very nature of the beast that multiples experience their doppelgangers as completely separate from themselves. They can see one another, talk with one another, and draw pictures of what each one of them looks like. In Robert's eyes he was somewhere else in that room, not huddling under a blanket shivering with prot.
Robert then confirmed what I just said. "Well Doc, I know you think I'm crazy, and at least I realize I am, but its just not me doing it. I can feel my body trembling yes, but I'm not cold and I don't even think of myself as sitting on the bed. I can be standing next to prot or even in our little bathroom. It's just not me shivering on the bed, It is prot."
Robert looked at me like he was afraid I was going to call for a strait jacket and Thorazine. I met his gaze calmly without any show on my face that I thought he was crazy, because I knew he wasn't.
My look reassured Robert and he continued,
But Doc, I've been a multiple most of my life. I'm used to it. I realize it seems crazy to you, but I really do function very well, or at least I did until the tragedy. I had friends, did well in school, was well liked. I knew not to say a word to anyone about prot!"
I reassured him, "You don't have a psychosis, Robert. I know you are not schizophrenic. Multiples are usually considered legally competent to handle their own affairs. Many of them marry and hold down perfectly normal jobs and raise families as I am sure you will do again some day. They go to church, coach little league teams, pick up litter, plant gardens and are almost always very artistic. In fact the lack of artistic skills in both you and prot is the only real aberration I see in either of you, other than prot thinking he's from K- PAX!"
Robert gave me a bit of insight here, "Dr, prot is his OWN work of art, and I would sooner break a stained glass window than destroy him. If I made him, I deserve the Golden Bull Goose award for being the most creative madman of them all."
This set me off! I had visions in my mind of such an award show. Dr. Thorstein would be the MC. He opens the envelope and says to his audience. "And now the Golden Bull Goose Award for being the most disturbed goes to Daniel "Thorazine butt" Samson. He has to be kept in a strait jacket and under heavy sedation at all times, and has the world wide record for the longest word salad in history. Mr. Samson will you please accept your award? Oh, I forgot. You can't take it from me, you haven't gnawed through your straps yet today. Ok, we'll let your orderly take it for you, and you can have it on a shelf back in your padded cell. And now the Golden Bull Goose Award for the most creative multiple goes to, (opening the envelope), Robert Porter and his persona, Prot! (They both stand up, and hug Dr. Thorstein, who takes this show of affection a bit stiffly with either homophobia, xenophobia, or lunaphobia, I am not sure which. Then they take their award from him and jump up and down doing a victory dance and high fives together, and then they and wave widely at the studio, prot grinning like he always does when he's happy. The audience of course consists of all the inmates of MPI including the ward fivers! Then as prot and Robert take a deep bow we all stand up and cheer for our own!
I finally came back to reality. Robert was saying, "Hey doc am I losing you here? You spaced out on me."
"Oh sorry! What were you saying about prot?"
Robert looked very, very tired. "How do we know he isn't from K-PAX? I mean I know Paul and Henry are part of me, but prot is certainly very different! Do you know what I mean or am I headed for ward 4?" He looked at me a little worried like I just might do that to him
I shook my head helplessly and shrugged. I told him, "I remember myself at a certain staff meeting six years ago. The conversation went like this, I said "How do we know the only thing wrong with him is that he isn't...from the planet K-PAX. I won't traumatize you with what response that got me! But THEY don't have to deal with prot on a weekly and daily basis. You and I do."
Robert looked very relieved to know his psychiatrist was as crazy as he was!
How was I supposed to cure Robert of this delusion if I couldn't cure myself?
Robert continued. "That's a relief! But I have other things bothering me, Doc. Then there is the ever eternal, soon to be famous if Giselle has her way, never ending 6 way Thomas, Charley, prot, Russell, Milton, and occasionally me discussions about the meaning of life! Then to get relief I come to you for therapy and here I get psychobabble to go with the deep philosophy and the word salads from the other denizens of three. Doc it's been weeks since I've heard a normal conversation!"
"Its worse, Robert. You've forgotten how to carry ON a normal conversation! By the way, what does Russell think of this theory of yours that Jesus might be from K-PAX?"
Robert gave me a sincere look, or at least I think it was a sincere look. I was beginning to wonder. "I wouldn't mention a word of it to Russell, Dr. Do you think I'm crazy?".
I looked at Robert.
He looked at me.
We both started laughing. I decided I just didn't want to know how serious Robert was about all this but I agreed the poor fellow needed a vacation from Ward Three. And quickly! And so did I!
Suddenly prot popped out, or at least he tried to. I had never seen the two of them do such a clumsy transfer. Robert, I suppose, wasn't through speaking to me and prot wanted to speak to me too. They popped back and forth for a few moments and finally prot took dominant position. I don't think he forced himself into it. It was more like just the two of them were going, "no you go, no you go, no you go I insist, well one of has to go! And prot finally said, "the heck with it, I will," and did.
Prot was squinting painfully. I dimmed the lights. "Hi, prot. Long time no see."
Now gino that isn't true. You saw me just last night in thomas's room remember? By the way you can cut back on the peppermints. I'm kind of getting tired of them. Have any jelly babies?"
"Jelly babies?" I was really tired.
I then received a lecture on what a jelly baby was, "make sure you read the ingredient list carefully I'm not sure yet whether it's jelly as in jam or jelly as in dead suffering animal."
"Well, prot, I think I know of a British specialty store I'll see what I can do. But why do you want them?"
Prot grinned, "I know of another doctor who swears by them as a way of cementing friendships between humans and aliens. I am at the point where I would try ANYTHING with Thomas. "
I wasn't going to give him a chance to confabulate about any alien doctors that prot may have met in his numerous, "travels" about the galaxy. Whereever the jelly baby fixation came from, it would be hopeless to trace it to any possible pay dirt concerning any trauma in prot's childhood. He had NO childhood being only a persona in a multiple (no childhood, thus no childhood trauma). His childhood was completely delusional and he had confabulated for himself a happy one. The power of belief is incredible! Russell had once told me calmly, "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he." Prot believed his childhood had been normal and uneventful (by K-PAXian standards), and thus he acts perfectly normal and undisturbed (when he isn't trying for an Oscar nomination). Prot had actually been one of the rare patients who had been right when he had insisted to me so many years ago, "My trouble is with EARTH, gino, not with my childhood."
Thus I didn't pursue this new jelly baby fixation and went right to more current concerns. "So, prot, I understand you have a cold /hot war going on in that room of yours."
Prot frowned and nodded while giving a little shiver. "I'm afraid so, gene. I am only flesh and blood. I do have limits to my endurance, and cold and I are not friends!"
A little cabin fever too?"
"Prot gave me a whew look, "a little?!!!!"
"I was about to suggest to Robert that you, he, and I take a vacation somewhere for a few hours. I don't mean out of New York, but somewhere in New York. What do you think of that, prot?"
Prot's eyes lit up, "Geno, you are a Geno- e-us."
I was really tired, and it was making me really slow on the uptake. It took me a minute to realize this wasn't a new K- PAXian term for me. Prot was simply making a play on the similarity between genius and my name.
Prot continued, "I know just where I wanna go too. And robert will loooove it, (here, "love,' was pronounced like my brother-in-law the astronomer does),and so will thomas, charley, milton, giselle and russell, and so will you."
Prot was grinning at me impishly. Like a little kid who KNOWS grandpa will give in to any demand because the kid has grandpa wrapped around his little finger.
" Whoa hold on. I wasn't planning on inviting the whole mental hospital!"
"And I didn't just ask you to 'invite the whole mental hospital.' I just asked for, thomas, charley, milton, giselle, russel, robert, myself and you. Oh and roman can go too if you think I'm going to give a "repeat performance," again." Prot looked a little embarrassed to bring that up. "I'd like his company anyway. He is my friend."
I sighed, "Why Russell, prot? You and him don't even see eye to eye on how the UNIVERSE is constructed!"
"And like YOU see eye to eye with me on that?"
He had me there.
"But really prot, why Russell?"
"Because everybody in this hospital, myself included underestimates his potential for healing. And by that I mean both himself and others."
My mouth fell open. "You aren't falling into Robert's Jesus theory are you? Please not the both of you!"
Prot grinned, "No I am not, nadda chance, but russell is more all there than we have been giving him credit for, and he has nothing. No one ever comes to visit him, and no one but the patients wants to spend any time with him. Which doctor is doing one on one psychoanalysis on him, like you do with me and robert, and like we are doing for thomas and charley? No one."
"We gave up long ago prot. He isn't helpable."
"Ever think of getting russell a shrink that shares his religious beliefs? Ever think of just putting him on some pills for his depression instead of on antipsychotics? Ever think of trying interpersonal therapy using as a carrot to keep him cooperating with it the very truthful promise that it would make him a better witness for his good friend, jesus? You are treating him like he is a delusional. His big problem is he just can't relate to his fellow beings. According to you I am delusional, but I have friends, love, fame, and respect. I consider myself a successful critter. Why? Because I know how to communicate the love I feel for my fellow beings, and thus I get love back. Russell feels and needs love too but he doesn't know how not to quit hollering at all of us."
Now that actually was as a good idea! "I'll look into it, prot." But why take him where ever it is you want to go?"
Because no one ever takes him anywhere at all. How do you expect him to learn to be normal or learn to have fun, if in his whole life he's never been anywhere normal nor had fun?"
"Some people find this mental hospital fun."
"Oh gene. gene. gene. I do, robert does, but being locked up in even the best of looney bins isn't every body's cup of tea."
I had to admit that was true. Ok prot, we take the preacher. Where is it you want to go with this human and alien menagerie of yours?
Prot grinned, "To the lion king musical."
"Prot! the Lion King musical! That isn't cheap!"
" Well I'm not cheap either but I'm sooo gooood."
I started laughing.
"Not easy, either, but sooo gooood."
"All right, prot. I can't justify spending hospitals funds for it, but I can get Karen to cooperate. She knows how much I love you guys. I mean other people pal around with their friends from work. So why shouldn't a psychiatrist?"
Prot grinned, "I should point out here Gene, in order to help zee doctor gain insight, that most head shrinkers prefer the company of others with the same sanity level as themselves. I've noticed you actually prefer the company of the patients. That says something about you. I'm not sure yet what, but something!"
Prot stared at the ceiling, "Ah ha! I've got it. It
means you have good taste, a high IQ!, and a warm
I was about to bask in the glow at this compliment when prot added....
"Or else you are crazy too and haven't realized it yet."
Humans use humor as an anxiety fighting mechanism. Up to a point the more anxiety a subject causes, the funnier it is. This will explain why I guffawed HARD at that statement.
When I could finally talk normally I explained to prot. "I'll have to clear it at staff meeting too. And you know as well as I do, that'll take some doing!"
Prot grinned, "I'll get russell to pray about it.
"Will that help?"
"Immensely! It'll keep him out of every body's hair for hours!"
I grinned and glanced at the clock.
"Therapy time's over prot."
Prot was surprised! His eyes grew wide. "I actually didn't notice this time!"
I stared at him a little concerned. "Should I be worried?"
"Yes! Living in an iceberg is messing up my fop wa."
Prot looked exhausted. 'Don't ask me gene, please. I'll feed it all to you next time. I'll tell you everything! What difference does it make? I could mirror beam across the room at that tv appearance I'm going on and you still wouldn't believe I was an alien. Your own defenses against reality are just too darn good. So I no longer fear messing up my most precious sacred relationship with you. I'll prove to you I can fop wa, but right now, I'm just too dammed exhausted. I can't sleep when I'm cold! Prot actually turned around and looked at the clock! "Besides as you just said our session is up. Was up five minutes ago. I'll have to apologize to milton for taking up some of his time." Suddenly prot sneezed.
"I prescribe an electric blanket!"
And for that prot actually hugged me! Then he suddenly went back into nondominant position so it was Robert who finished the hug, (which didn't seem to embarrass him any. Robert was definitely a heterosexual but not a homophobic one).
Then I did something I haven't done in a long time. I told prot, "Don't go. I need to to talk to you and Robert for a while yet. Milton can miss his hour without any harm. His condition is neither getting any worse or better, but you two are at a crossroads. It could go either way."
I dismissed Roman other than to tell him to tell Milton, "sorry but an emergency came up and we'll have to reschedule your session at a later time. I then turned my attention back to the dynamic duo.
"Sleep deprivation is NOT something to be taken lightly, and I am seeing serious signs of it in BOTH of you."
Prot shrugged, "I sleep at night while robert works with charley and robert sleeps during the day while I work with Thomas. What's the problem gov ve nor?"
I stared firmly at them. "Ok you two. This is reality time now. Prot you KNOW you are sharing your body with Robert. You have admitted as much to Robert himself. You even did on Ward Five and I don't think it was all play acting. Betty has heard you saying you were an alien symbiont to several of the patients. And I have seen signs for myself that you know, so why won't you admit it to me?"
Prot was astounded! "You know?"
"Well of course I know! My beings don't raise no dummies either! How could I possibly not know that you know! Prot I know you know because I know you are just not THAT crazy!"
Prot said in his little boy's voice. "I was afraid you would be afraid of me. That you wouldn't wove me any more!"
"That's mot shit prot! Why would I not. 'wove' you anymore?"
"Well, leaping into a person's brain or gut, I won't tell you where I am, is just as reprehensible in this culture and many others as leaping out of one. I thought you would be disgusted and frightened of me."
I stared at him open mouthed. Poor prot! He truly believed he was an alien symbiont, and all this time he hadn't been able to tell me because he "woved" me enough not to want to frighten me!
Sometimes you have to work with a patient's delusion instead of against it. I had at least a partial goal. They were both rational enough to comprehend the seriousness of their new problem, sleep deprivation, and they both realized they shared one common body. Multiple or alien symbiont? It did not matter really. What my two patients needed now was several good night's sleep!
"Prot, I would wove you if you were ten foot tall with fangs and covered in purple scales."
Prot nodded, "Yes you would, as long as I was in my own body, dear friend. But I'm not. I'm a body snatcher, a puppet master, a .... he apparently didn't have another homo sapiens term for it, a +***...jrnt!"
The readers will have to bear with me on that last one. It was such a non human sounding word I could not hear it correctly even after playing the tapes of this session over and over again, and I certainly couldn't figure out how to spell it. But what ever it was, it was reprehensible to prot, and he thought I would think he was one, or thought himself he was one.
Robert popped out now. God bless him! Sometimes multiples are their own best therapists. "Oh prot! Robert said, "I am sure Dr. B doesn't think you are a body snatcher!"
Prot popped out, "But that is exactly what I did to you! It was reprehensible behavior. I should have just let you die! That's what you wanted to do and that was your right!"
Robert again, "No prot. I wanted to die then but like so many people who try to commit suicide and fail, I'm glad you saved me now! And I'm sure Dr. B doesn't think you are a body snatcher!
Prot insisted, "Well I was!"
I said, "Well you aren't NOW, and when you did do it your motives were based on pure love for Robert, not some horrible alien desire for world domination. The so called megalomania portion of that powerful psycho-drama you pulled on Ward Five says it all. "Lonely little Robin, will you be my friend because I'm lonely too."
I continued "Even the staff doesn't think you are a parasite. They are using the word symbiont when they describe your own viewpoint of the situation. Even they know you are Robert's friend. And I know prot, and you are MY friend. I got up and went over to prot. I bent down and gazed right into his dark eyes. Now then, if I thought you were going to leap out of my chest, or Robert's, would I dare get this close to you? Prot you are my friend, and I do wove you!"
Suddenly I had a little grin out of him. "The feeling is mutual dr. And he stood up, and gave me a hug. This time Robert didn't finish it for him.
So I had my breakthrough. I suppose most psychiatrists don't suddenly start crying tears of joy in front of their patients but prot and Robert were patient about it. I finally managed to gain control of myself and then I attacked the sleep deprivation.
"Prot and Robert, no more placebos. You two are exhausted from lack of sleep. You can't be running your one body night and day. It needs to rest too. Tonight I'm bringing the two of you a real sedative and I know I won't have any trouble getting you guys to take it, because you know I'm right!"
Prot had no objection to this but Robert brought up an angle I had forgotten about.
"So you are going to leave Thomas to the horrible fate of having no one to guard him from the big bad Charley?"
I hadn't thought of that. But now, God bless him, it was prot who came to the rescue with an idea. "Doc, charley just needs to see that I too am affected by medication. If you medicate me first, and charley sees for himself, that we are BOTH sent off to the land of nod by the medication, maybe then he would allow himself to also be sedated, and that will also sedate Charley. Because he's got the same problem. It's thomas all day and charley all night. It was just compared to what they were getting before robert started guarding thomas, it is better because before that neither was getting any sleep at all!"
Prot yawned, "And you are absolutely right about the sleep deprivation! I am living in Alaska! "
Robert asked nervously, "it will be oral, won't it? You know prot and I both hate needles!"
"Yes you cowards, it will be oral because I want all four of you to take responsibility for taking the medication yourselves. If we can manage to get Thomas to cooperate, that is. I don't know how long Thomas may need to be on them, perhaps for life, but that's not a bad fate. How horrible is it to have to swallow a couple of pills a day? As for you two, I want you on for a few weeks, at least until Robert can carry on a rational conversation and prot can fop wa again."
Somehow I got the impression they were both grinning at me.
And yes I was late going home that night, as I explained into Karen's voice mail, because "I, have to shop for an electric blanket for a cold extraterrestrial, and then tuck him in all beddy by" I actually hope the telephone company monitors my calls! Is there such a mental state as wishful paranoia?"
I showed up at ward 3 in time to spot the ward 3 head nurse standing outside of room 5 listening to prot and robert singing. She had a disapproving frown on her face.
They apparently were trying to sing a duet because half the time it was Robert on key. (He actually has a fairly nice melodic bass voice). And half the time it was prot way off key!
Now both of them are vegetarians and they both like to eat. Which makes the content of their song a little easier to understand.
"Peas peas peas peas, Eating gouber's peas!
Goodness how delicious, Eating gouber's peas!
And Millions of peaches Peaches for me Millions of peaches Peaches for free!"
The ward 3 head nurse was not happy. "Doctor I can't believe you only have this deeply disturbed individual on placebos. He needs something far stronger."
I told her, From this point on you can dispense with the placebos. I have some antidepressants for him. They will be self medicating."
She snorted. "Antidepressants! He needs to be on the most powerful antipsychotic we have!! Listen to how out of control he is!"
I listened. Now they were singing, "Imagine." It was obvious from the words that a lot of K-PAX came from that song including prot's own name for his people: dremers. But what was wrong with his singing it?
I said to the head ward 3 nurse, (who shall remain nameless). "Now. It doesn't seem so out of control to me. What is so out of control or crazy about singing for goodness sakes, even if prot can't carry a tune?"
She then gave me this horrible laundry list of prot/Robert's psychiatric "sins."
1. He will suddenly start giggling at nothing.
(I doubted that. Knowing prot the way I did I suspect prot was making deliciously wry comments, which of course Robert really was hearing. Prot was a persona not a hallucination).
2. The prot persona sits around with a blanket over his head glaring at Thomas, who does the same thing. They are both very very disturbed.
(Or cold, I thought to myself.)
3. And Robert dances sometimes too while he and prot sing! He doesn't do it very well. He looks completely looney. I would think mental patients would want to act as normal as possible so we would decide they were better and release them to a lower ward.
"Nurse, what exactly is normal behavior? Is singing and dancing really abnormal?"
It is on a mental ward!"
"Why Mrs. (Name withheld), they live here! If they don't sing and dance here, where can they sing and dance?"
She looked at me thoughtfully.
"You never put a cd on and danced in your home?"
"But others don't see me there."
"Well pity the poor mental patient. They have absolutely no privacy! They get to choose between never singing and dancing, or letting others see their uninhibited so called crazy behavior, behavior that we all do when no one is looking, or only our friends are looking. Some choose to be inhibited. Others let caution fly to the winds. I have noticed that the ones who get better are the ones who throw caution to the winds and dance and sing like only God is watching and not the whole ward."
She gave me a thoughtful look. I should have quit while I was ahead but I had to add "Plus the main reason prot and Robert are here are to demonstrate to Thomas that it is fun to have an alien in one's brain.
The nurse looked at me like I was in deep need of medication.
I tried to save myself. "Nurse how can I ever integrate them if they are terrified of each other?"
As I turned to knock, a thought came to me. Visiting a patient's room was a great idea for gaining a patients trust. One we really should have thought of earlier. Instead of having burly orderlies dragging quite naturally resentful patients to our office, a strange and frightening environment for many patients, have the doctor pay a neighborly call on the patient in his own environment, thus forcing the patient to follow the laws of etiquette and treat the doctor like a guest! So simple! Why have we be doing it the wrong way around all these years?
So I knocked and went in. Despite what I had just said I couldn't resist a gentle jab at my favorite patient(s). "No wonder the nurses on 3 think you are nuts!"
Thomas looked at me leerily. "I agree with the nurses!"
It felt like the middle of winter in Nome Alaska in their room. No wonder poor prot was cold! I don't understand how come Robert was handling it. Especially since he was in the same body. Go figure.
I handed prot his electric blanket.
"Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy! He tore off the plastic wrappings like it was a Christmas present, and threw the blanket over his head. "When does it get warm?"
I grinned. "You clown! It only works when it is turned on and plugged in, but I'll get back to you on that."
I turned to Thomas and said. I have a present for you too. I want you to start taking these. I held out a brand new bottle of a very sedating antidepressant. I explained to him, "For long term insomnia, antidepressants are much more therapeutic than sleeping pills, and much safer."
I had even wrapped a little red bow around it. "I want you to take two of these a night, one for you and one for Charley."
Thomas of course was terrified. "If you sedate me Charley will take over, or prot will!"
Prot said, "now why would I want to do that? I already have the bestest most loving, cutest, funniest, smartest nicest, host in the known UNIVERSE!"
Robert popped out, "Why thank you prot!"
Robert was blushing.
See that Thomas? I pointed. A blush reaction is not the result of terror. Robert likes having prot in his brain."
You are as crazy is he is. Get Charley out of my head!"
"Well I can't do that Thomas, but I can sedate him for a few hours so both of you can get some real sleep."
He looked at me in terror. "If I'm sedated Charley will take over!"
"No he won't and I can prove it to you."
Prot said "He's going to prove to you that these pills sedate aliens too. Cause he's gonna sedate me first, and then you will see for yourself, if you are sedated Charley will be sedated too. Then ALL of us can finally get some rest!"
Thomas actually looked at prot like this was a good idea. I stood there holding my breath. It could go either way now. Finally Thomas said, "Maybe but I want to watch prot fall asleep first!"
Prot yawned, "Oh yes, please! Do I EVER want that, the sooner the better!" Hurry up, doctor!"
I pulled prot and Robert's pills out of my pocket, and not wanting any sibling rivalry, I had tied a red bow around their pill bottle too.
I explained, "Take two every night about an hour before bedtime. That's right, one for you, prot, and one for Robert. That makes up a total of one hundred milligrams a piece, about right for this medication for the one body you both own."
Prot grinned, "Do I have to give you the whole, "push it back in my throat, drink a whole glass of water, lift my tongue and point routine. or will you accept that I am actually taking them?"
"Just swallow them prot and Robert."
Prot chucked his down so fast if I hadn't known his positive attitude towards medication, I would have been suspicious.
Robert popped out and rolled his around in his hands studying it. I realized this wasn't reluctance. He just had never seen a "happy pill" before and wanted to see what it looked like. Then he shrugged and swallowed it, and gazed at me, looking intently at my face for a, "you were a good boy" facial reward, which of course I gave him.
Prot popped out and chirped, "See there, Thomas? That was easy! You can do it too!"
Prot explained, "It isn't a chemical strait jacket Thomas and Charley, it is a warm, comfortable soothing chemical sweater. And you are just gonna loooove putting one on every night!
Bless that prot! I continued with his analogy because it was so perfect! "And Thomas and Charley, I am handing the sweater to put on yourself! We are not cramming these down your throat. You are in control! You will always be in control. After a few days of these, if they don't happen to be the right ones for you, and that happens sometimes, quite often unfortunately you tell me 'No' and I won't ask you to take them any more. I will just ask you to try something else. Really though, the worst that usually happens is your mouth may get a little dry. Bad reactions do happen but they are very rare."
All that will happen is I will ask you to try another one, and if necessary another one until we find the one that is right for your own unique brain. There are dozens to choose from so it may take a while but I guarantee when we find that one your serotonin hungry brain will take to it like a thirsty camel sucking up half the oasis. (I had got that phrase from a delighted patient).
"I can't let Charley out long enough to take his!"
I soothed him, "Thomas he is in your brain, you take the both of them, they''ll effect both of you. I could have prescribed a one hundred milligram capsule but I thought I'd let prot and robert each have the fun of taking their own."
"I'll think about it but definitely not until I see prot is asleep first!"
"Fair enough, but it'll take a while." Prot or robert yawned, I wasn't sure which. I had a feeling it wasn't going to take as long as he/they thought.
"Are you gong to tuck me in Dr b?" Prot was feeling childlike.
Now I knew this was coming! I teased him. "I thought you said dremers don't tuck their kids into bed, when you are sleepy you just sleep."
"That was on K-PAX. Gino this is EARTH" How does this thing work anyway?" prot was fiddling with the little knob.
"More primitive electrical equipment to learn to handle. ay?"
Prot grinned, "Yup."
I pointed out, "Read the words under the knob and switch, silly. Turn it off and on with the switch. Then turn the knob to the right and it gets warmer. Turn it to the left and it gets colder. Very complicated! And oh yes, it only works when its plugged in!" And I did so.
"Capn I dinna think you are gonna believe it, but we DO have enough powerrrr this time! So tuck me in."
Well why not? My "alien patient" had never really had a real childhood, just a confabulated K-PAXian childhood that for the most part satisfied his psyche, but surely somewhere in prot's delusional mind there must have been a tiny corner that longed for some real nurturing experiences.
So as if he were a young child, I tucked my alien into bed on ward 3 that night, with his brand new "baby boo blue e-lec-TRIC blan- kit." Prot was the epitome of gratitude, as he always had been for any little thing, I or anyone else had ever done for him. For an agnostic prot sure knew how to count his blessings.
Then, "You brought me candy, fruit, and a baby boo blankey. Now where's my bedtime story?"
"Oh prot, I will tell you a bedtime story!" I took out the electric blanket instructions and said in a soothing voice, "Once upon a time in a little mental ward in Manhattan there was a cold alien and a warm hearted psychiatrist and here is how the rest of this story goes, 'Warning! Do not use on people who lack ability to feel heat! Warning! May cause electric shock if submerged in water. Do not use if cord is damaged or substitute a different cord.....Substituting a different cord could cause damage to the blanket, or a fire, and will invalidate your 60 day warrantee. Company is not legally responsible for fires or other damage to property or persons that may occur if a different cord is substituted..."
Thomas watched this. "You are BOTH crazy!" he exclaimed in sheer disbelief.
I just kept on reading in a soothing voice, "Do not forget to fill out the registration card that came with your fine quality product. Filling out the registration card will facilitate a product replacement if you must evoke your 60 day warrantee......
Thomas couldn't help himself. He started to giggle.
As prot drifted off to sleep to the lull of a thousand product safety warnings he said dreamily as if under hypnosis "Gene, don't bring up Lion King at your next staff meeting. I have an idea that will help persuade them but we'll need to handle it at our next therapy session. See ya tomorrow night, Dr. b, and prot drifted off to sleep a happy trusting child-like grin on his face.
"Yes tomorrow night, I promise!" And then I groaned! I suddenly realized I had just committed myself to nightly group therapy sessions with my two "aliens" and their human "hosts," at the time when I desperately needed to be home with Karen, and getting some rest of my own!
Well, prot stayed asleep, and he wasn't shivering any more and this time Robert stayed asleep too.
I turned to Thomas. Now you see! Both Robert and prot are having their best sleep in days. These pills will do that for you too."
He looked very suspicious.
I explained. "Thomas, the human brain is made to wire itself up correctly only if certain conditions are met during its early developmental stages. If certain kinds of stimulation are missing, certain neural pattern pathways just don't form right, if at all."
Most multiples are very intelligent. I was assuming he could understand what I was trying to say to him. At least he was listening.
"For instance," I said, "There is a condition called partial developmental prosopagnosia. Babies who don't see well for the first few weeks of their life often never learn to recognize human faces or read facial expressions very well. They go thorough life surrounded at all times by the equivalent of faceless strangers. It gets in the way of their social development and often gets them labeled weird. They can go decades without a proper diagnosis, if ever. The few I've met had to diagnose themselves. But that's not your problem."
"As I am sure you know, if a child's brain doesn't get intellectual stimulation, mental retardation can occur. I know that's also not your problem, Thomas."
I went on, "But I bet you didn't get a whole lot of cuddling in your childhood, did you Thomas?"
"I got plenty!"
Dead end. The patient couldn't face reality, but wait. "Ah Thomas were there any stressful periods during your childhood?"
He nodded, "Until I was about 7 I was sick all the time with food allergies. My gut was on fire all the time, I never felt well at all in any way. Food allergies make your whole body and mind punk, Dr! After they found out I couldn't eat wheat or milk, they took me off of those and a few months passed and my gut calmed down, then I was all right."
"Was it painful, Thomas?"
"Yes, Doc, all the time!" And I was so always very tired and cranky!"
"That was it Thomas. No matter how much your mother and father, and other loving relatives hugged and cuddled you, the pleasure sensing part of your brain simply could not wire itself up right, because you were in pain, and it didn't feel well, and thus it had no pleasure to stimulate it. I dare say if we gave you the right brain scans we could actually see the brain damage this caused."
Thomas was actually nodding. And here I thought just a few weeks ago we had an unreachable paranoid schizophrenic on our hands!
Thomas, I can't go back in time and fix your gut, and don't let prot convince you any differently! I grinned a little. I didn't know which was more delusional, prot's belief that he could mirror beam through space and travel backwards in time or his belief that I could cure anything! It is nice that a patient trusts you, but wow! I hit mega-trust with prot and it made me suspect sometimes there is actually a reverse mental condition to paranoia. Too much trust.
Thank God it had been me he had chose, to help him!
I went on, "I can't go back in time and cure that gut so your brain's pleasure center wires itself correctly Thomas, but these soothing little pills will go to whatever you do have of your brain's pleasure center and help it along a bit. Sure they are a crutch, but if you are limping, only a fool doesn't use a crutch. Why crawl when you can pick up a tree branch and suddenly be able to at least walk a little?"
I actually saw a look of hope on Thomas's face!
"Ok Doc you made your point. I'll try the pills."
"They may take a few days to reach their full effect" I warned him as I fetched him a glass of water.
Thomas took his medication and I felt like snoopy dancing around ward 3!
"Now Thomas lie down and go to sleep. I'll tuck YOU in."
He looked at me like I was a little nuts but he complied. I did indeed tuck him in and as he lay there I continued to talk soothingly to Thomas. He didn't know it but this was his first hypnosis session. Don't fight the medication! Let it work for you. You will be feeling so much better so very soon. Let it work....
And more to that effect. As he drifted deeper into delta waves I gave him a couple of gentle suggestions about "You can trust me, and I really want to help you, I really do!" And then. Finally! He was asleep.
And so was my other alien/human combo.
I tiptoed out of the room and asked the nurse not to wake them up at the ususal wake up call.
And I caught a very late train home, to my incredibly understanding wife and went to bed, and of course, didn't have time to get enough sleep of my own before that dam mot shit, alarm clock woke me out of a badly needed R.E.M. cycle. Physician, heal thyself!
It is almost amazing what a few night's sleep can do to restore the human soul, and the alien soul too, apparently!
Prot strode into my office grinning wider than usual (if that were possible). He took his glasses off and sat down and for once didn't look for the white spot, or even for his fruit. Apparently he wanted to demonstrate, "Fop wa" to me in a conscious state.
"How do you feel, prot?" I asked, but the answer was obvious. I just wanted, for my own sake, to hear it out loud in his own words.
Prot grinned "like vitamins could take me! The funny thing is, coach within minutes of my being asleep the blanket gets too hot for robert and he take control and kicks baby boo right off of us!
It does help me fall asleep though, that is something and I thank you thank you thank you thank you! Apparently I just need to be warm to get to sleep. After that I can shiver while somnambulating for the entire two hours it takes for me to wake up fresh as an alien daisy."
I had covered up the little white spot anyway with a silly cartoon. A man's car was smashed beneath an equally smashed flying saucer. The driver of the car was scolding a contrite looking little green man. "So, it WAS an accident and you DO come in peace. But how am I supposed to explain this to Geico?"
I had to point it out to prot because he wasn't looking at the spot.
Once it was pointed out prot expressed
his ususal dry glandless amusement.
Prot seldom laughs.
For a short time I erroneously put this down to the emotional repression being required to prove his alieness to himself. A slight hint of the Mr Spock syndrome. "I am an alien. Aliens do not laugh. Therefore I do not laugh. If I did laugh, this would prove to me and everyone I am not alien therefore I must never laugh."
Of course in due course of my analysis of this patient I soon figured out there was nothing repressed about prot's lack of laughter. Nor was it due to mild depression which had been my second suspicion.
Humor is a defense mechanism against anxiety.
Prot felt little anxiety, thus he seldom needed to laugh.
What kind of a humorless world was K- PAX?" I have wondered in my more folie a deuced moments. It was, according to prot, a world where there was no native word for 'war, or 'weapon,' or murder, or even friend or enemy, (without enemies there was no need to have a word for its opposite state).
K-PAX was a world where there was no family ties, which at the same time had plenty of pleasure center stimulating physical closeness. Any K-PAXian of any gender or even species could, if it so desired, snuggle up to any other K-PAXian. With no lust for sex cuddling was as easy to get as crack in the more wretched areas of our world.
No hunger. Food was always around
No work schedule. "If it needs doing, we just do it."
No need to miss sleep for any reason, "If you are sleepy you sleep."
No houses to require upkeep. With no rain and no predators everyone slept outside of doors.
Prot had once referred to K-PAX as Dog Patch.
Prot had liked his early days at Long Island when he was still thought to be psychotic because he had been given Thorazine and other neuroleptics. Prot said, "I liked taking Thorazine, the oral form, not the needle form, because it is soooooothing. It reminds me of how I feel when I am home." Darn it! the one patient in all of psychiatric history who actually liked the stuff and it was useless in him because his delusion was not due to schizophrenia but due to his need to confabulate a past for himself!
And prot had confabulated for himself an ideal childhood in an ideal world a soothing place with little anxiety. And belief is a very powerful thing. So he acted normal, slept like a baby (what little sleep he needed), was friendly and socially skilled beyond even my professionally trained abilities, and experienced little depression or anxiety, and thus, alas, the one snake in this mental paradise was, he seldom needed to laugh.
I never knew whether to envy my "alien" friend or pity him with all the depths and anxieties of my own very human heart.
Which is why I told him the following.
Prot, you don't have to demonstrate fop wa for me. When you were last in here you were exhausted from sleep deprivation brought on by cold. It may have affected your judgment and I so I free you from your promise to reveal your alien powers to me.
Now prot had been right about his ward 3 Thomas's demand for arctic temperatures. An electric blanket had solved prot's developing neurosis. Sleep deprivation has led to more mental illness than any other one causative effect, and apparently this was true for dremers as well as humans!
An electric blanket had nipped prot's sleep depravation caused neurosis in the bud. But anyway back to the fop wa demonstration.
Prot, you don't have to prove anything to me any more.
That actually surprised prot. He gazed at me open mouthed. "Did I just hear what I thought I heard, or am I hallucinating? I bet I'm hallucinating. Doc I KNEW it would happen sooner or later. You've driven me crazy!"
"Very funny prot." (Humor yes, laughter no) "You heard me right. You don't have to prove anything to me."
I had his full attention now!
"Whatever changed your mind? You've been bugging me for YEARS to prove to you my world is real!"
"Yes, prot, there was a time when I would have given half my salary to bring you to a point where you would trust me enough to demonstrate your alien powers. You would fail of course, and that would shatter your delusions. Then I could have gently helped you put you yourself back together again in a more reality oriented way."
Prot was grinning at me. He didn't believe a word of this.
"But, prot, now I know the time of your departure is close." (prot had written down on my yellow tablet his departure date, i.e. the day integration with Robert would occur.)
"My friend it doesn't matter what you are or where you are from. Either way Robert will be cured. I just want you to be your nice calm, collected delusioned but happy self for the few weeks we have left! I don't want you shattering now, old friend. Leave us in peace as a whole being. I will feel my job is done."
I was actually fighting back tears!
Prot sought to relieve my grief by distracting me.
"Easy, gene! I do not actually believe you think I would ever do anything that would leave me in the vulnerable position of shattering myself by doing something that would beyond all shadow of a doubt in my mind, or yours, leave me with absolutely no escape route to retreat to, to defend my alienness. He grinned and said cheerfully. I am too good a lunatic for that Dr. Gene Brewer. IF I am crazy, I am a genius at it! I won't trip up so easy."
He continued. "I think it's the opposite, my good EARTH friend. You are afraid I might prove I'm from outer space and that would shatter your mental universe so much you would be the one that would need to be put back together. Relax! I'm not that cruel! What I am about to show you will actually leave YOU with a BIGGER escape route to retreat to. It will provide you with an alternate explanation for why I know what the skies of distant planets look like, that does not involve me actually having to have physically traveled there. As for me, if I can't do it, I will calmly confabulate for myself the simple explanation that the arctic chill of room 5, ward 3 is still messing me up."
Prot grinned at me, "for surrre keptin the reason is this alien's been exposed to cold beyond his endurrrrance. I have my escape route all planned."
"Ok prot." It was my turn to grin. "What intrigues me is what you just said, that this could prove you are not an alien. I admit that would comfort me. So by all means precede with your demonstration."
Prot grinned, "take all your change out of your pockets."
I played along with him, "What is this, an interstellar mugging? I thought K-PAXians didn't need money!"
"Very funny. Nope, don't need it permanently. You get to keep the money after the demonstration is over. But TEMPORARILY take all the change out of your pockets and put it on your desk."
Prot then got up and moved his chair so it was facing away from me. He leaned back in it as far as he could safely go. (sometimes I think prot would have preferred a more traditional Freudian couch) and he closed his eyes tight, and he put his hands over his eyes. "Now geno I'm not peek ING. Point to a coin, any one of them."
I did so.
"A picture of honest abe for sure. Of course how do we know he really was honest? They didn't have tape systems back then."
He was right. I had been pointing to a penny.
"Do it again."
"A nickel" said prot correctly, "won't buy you a pickle any more but at least they still rhyme."
I pointed to the table.
Very funny. That's all the money you have left after the irs is through.
I touched a dime.
"Ten cents, not enough to turn on no matter what they say."
By golly prot could do it! I slyly took a dollar out of my wallet and pointed to that.
"Now gino, that is paper money. I have no idea what denomination it is."
How come you can do it with coins but not with paper? This was intriguing. It had to be a magic trick of some kind but prot was good at it!
"Because the coins are 3 dimensional and have shape to them. Shape I can sense. The words and numbers on the paper money have no three dimensional shape."
What difference would the shape of an object make to telepathic communication?"
Because fop wa isn't telepathy. It has to do with brain waves, but I am not reading your thoughts. I can sense emotions for a very long distance, that's how come I could and still can tell when Robert needs me whether I'm on K-PAX, FLORIN or disney world. But what you or any other EARTH Person is thinking I have no idea. Or else you wouldn't have had to hypnotize us to find out what happened to Robert. I would have known. Can't read my fellow K-PAXians that way either.
(I was thinking to myself as I wrote this, should I all-capitalize Disney world, and decided not to. Let at least some sanity survive!)
"I do better communicating in that way with animals. Even when animals are thinking what we higher beings do with words there is an emotional component to a furry being's consciousness that makes them easier to communicate with."
"So what are you doing if you aren't reading my thoughts?"
"Its just like what a dolphin does or a bat, except I'm not using sound waves. I'm using my own brain waves. I bounce them off of my immediate environment and can read the pattern that comes back to me. Its pretty accurate. I can do coins or even some of the larger viruses. I can't quite manage protoviruses."
Wow! When prot confabulates he REALLY confabulates, except he keeps proving that he can do what he says he can do!
"So what am I thinking right now, prot?" I asked.
"You are thinking, 'He can't possibly be an alien. He can't possibly be an alien.' That's how you comfort yourself. It's like your mantra."
"Prot, you CAN read my mind!"
This was about the third time I ever heard him laugh, a little bird like giggle. "Relax, gino. That wasn't me reading your mind, that was me reading your facial expression, but even if I couldn't fop wa it, I'd know you had that look on you face, and those thoughts anyway. You always have that look on your face when I do something oh we oh! You are completely predictable. I just know you well enough."
"Can you predict the future too, prot, like Cassie?"
"To some extent. There's a good chance its going to rain tomorrow."
"Not very impressive. That's what the weather man said on the TV."
"I know. I heard it too. That's how I know! I said I could do it, not by which means!" Impish grin.
I laughed, for a great length of time.
After I finally managed to calm down. I said, "So you can't read minds, just 3 dimensional physical objects?" As I said, gino, I can sense emotions. But that's about it. We dremers, have however, worked out a way to use our fop wa ability to communicate words and thoughts. That is one reason why we never got around to inventing radio except as a curiosity."
"How prot, if you can't read words, how can you communicate words?"
Prot took his glasses and started tapping the arm of his chair with them, quickly, tap tap tap, then slower, TAP TAP, then quickly again, tap tap tap.
"What did I just say?"
"That's Morse code for S.O.S. That's all the Morse code I know."
"Its all the morse code I know too, but what am I saying now?" He suddenly tapped the chair arm in several different taps of various lengths and volume.
"I have no idea, prot."
"I just said, 'prot, clean up needed on aisle three.'"
"I suppose this is some kind of K-PAXian code, but you have supermarkets on K-PAX?"
"Supermarkets aren't the only places with aisles that need cleaning sometimes. We have libraries, and aps that shit a lot!"
"You allow elephants to run around the aisles in your libraries?"
"Why not?" Prot asked this as if it were the most logical thing in the world. "It's their planet too you know."
I tried to get the conversation back to some level of sanity, at least by our ususal standards. "So I suppose you can use you brain waves to tap code a message to other dremers?"
"Or all other K-PAXians, to a lesser degree. The aps, korms and some other animals know some of it just as your EARTH animals learn occasional words of english. I used to be able to call biggle right out of the sky even if she was 500 jorts away."
"A korm, right?"
"Yep. By golly, gene, you are GETTING IT! I may not be able to handle it. Can I have a sedative tonight prweeeze!" (said like Roger Rabbit). "I don't think I can handle the shock!"
"Very funny, prot. You've given me a lot to think about."
I wondered if I ought to pursue the tap code angle. Not for any therapeutic reasons for prot. But knowing prot, he had it all worked out, as rich and detailed as his extremely poetical language and his entire world, ecosystem, evolutionary and social history. Maybe our planet could use the tap code. But oh well, we had the schizophrenic remains of our own non alien Ma Bell and a very good Verizon Wireless, so probably not.
"But how does this give me an escape route from me having to believe you are an alien?"
Prot grinned, "Think about it, geno. If I can fop wa close objects, just where does my power end? What is my range?"
It took me a few moments to get it, and yet when I did, the relief that washed over me was embarrassingly obvious.
If prot could use mind waves to far see, and it extended far enough, the whole universe could be an open playground to my savant patient, and he wouldn't have to physically travel off EARTH at all to know where K-PAX was, its orbit, or the orbit of any other of the 64 worlds he had "visited." Maybe when Robert Porter was catatonic, or even when he was just asleep prot was mentally winging his way around the galaxy boldly going where no savant had ever gone before!
Prot may indeed have explored the very real planet of K-PAX, not in a physical form but in a mental form. I felt a little ashamed of myself that this was bringing me so much comfort.
It showed on my face, which obviously prot could see. This embarrassed me. I was embarrassed by my bigotry that I could only feel comfortable with prot if he were human! But prot was understanding."Relax, gene. I still wove you."
I sighed, and asked something I had been wondering about.
You wouldn't by chance know how Cassie predicts the future?
Prot said, no, "Oh we oh! If any other dremers ever show up on this planet it will be to study her and try to figure out milton.
"By all means send all the dremers you can to figure out Milton. We need all the help we can get!"
I decided I needed to come back down to EARTH now, myself. I changed the subject.
You know some of the staff weren't too happy about what you did with the peppermints at after your little demonstration on, "ward 5," That red food coloring stains permanently.
Prot gave me a sincerely puzzled look and said, "'what I did with the peppermints?' Explain."
"When you put those peppermints on the chairs so that whenevery body sat down on them they got them stuck to their clothing. Those stains don't come out."
"Ah!" said prot. So that's what happened to the missing 12.8 peppermints. I thought he had just eaten them or shared them with someone."
Staring at the ceiling and counting on his fingers. The last time I had a peppermint I had 30 of those little hard kind left in my bag. I ate 1.2 Of them and that leaves 27.8 of them. So, then next time I have only 16 of them. I just figured Rob or Thomas or Charley had eaten some of them and I didn't worry about it. "So. You Rascal!" Prot closed his eyes. (I knew he was consulting with Rob). Then, (big grin). Rob says he wonders who got the partially eaten one!"
( As my secretary was transcribing this tape to the computer she suddenly started laughing hysterically. When I asked her, "what in the world?" she played back the tape and said, "do the math." It was then that I realized prot had miscounted his peppermints! Prot was definitely no Mr Spock).
"You mean it was Robert who placed those peppermints on the chairs?" I couldn't help grinning. Just a few short weeks ago this man was catatonic and now he was boldly participating in practical jokes against a whole room full of psychiatrists!
"Well, who else could it have been? It certainly wasn't I. I was too busy pelting my life-line-to- sanity with poop paper."
"You didn't do that, the staff did."
Well all right, get technical, picky picky picky! I was too busy MAKING the staff bombard my beloved psychiatrist with charmin extra soft. But the end results were the same. You got it and good!"
"Prot, you ARE showing signs of megalomania. You can't 'make the staff' do anything."
Impish grin: "OH yeah? Do you really think the stiff staff got that unstiff without a little help from Moi?" Innocent wide eyed stare.
Prot suddenly pounced on his fruit basket. He grabbed a pear and bit into it with the ferocity of a starving polar bear. For a few moments all I heard from him was munching and crunching. Finally he swallowed enough to talk. With his mouth still full he said, "Bet the next time you talked about me like I might really be from K-PAX they treated you with a lot more respect. (Burp.)."
I sat there amazed. He was certainly right about that! But how could he know any of that? A cold chill went up my spine. Oh wee oh. To myself I said, "get a grip on yourself. He can't possibly be a real alien!" "Can too." Prot continued, "Or else I just used fop wa. But I was getting REALLY tired of how they treat you gene. You are a VERY good psychiatrist. As you, yourself put it, you have the rare ability to enter the patient's world. A precious talent THIS lunatic appreciates. He pointed at himself with his thumb while still holding most of his pear. So I know they weren't treating you right so I did something about it. I 'folie a deuced,' them, as you put it, but gooooood! Because you deserve way better."
"But prot, how can you, 'make,' other people do something like that?!" Readers please note my own aberrant mental state here. I was sincere in my asking this question! I didn't do what I should have done which was try to gently coax my delusional patient to realize no one can mind control another. Instead I asked "HOW did you do it?" with complete sincerity.
Big Cheshire cat grin. "Its like hypnosis, gene. I can't actually make anyone do anything they don't really want to do!"
"They wanted to throw toilet paper at me?" I was grinning here, ruefully. There was so much insight into prot's analysis of the staff that it was amazing, and yet it was madness to think he could make them throw toilet paper!
Prot grinned, "Oh yes they did! Very badly!"
"They envy you. They envy not only your relationship with me, but the way you have with all your patients. They want to be like you, but they can't manage it, so they resent you. They are also scared of you a little because you can act just like us sometimes. My little ruse that they were under alien mind control allowed them the freedom to express it in a harmless way. All I had to do was give them a teeny-tiny little brain push and the rest of it, they did themselves!"
Prot grinned his very best Cheshire cat grin here, and that was all I could get out of him on that subject.
The weird thing is most of the staff was claiming that, "something possessed me and MADE me throw that toilet paper!." Now these were supposed to be sane reasonable mental health professionals, and they were talking like paranoid schizophrenics! If I myself hadn't been so often folie a deuced by prot myself, I would have been more worried about them than I was. At least most of them would say it with an embarrassed little smile because they knew how crazy it sounded, and they kept apologizing over and over again that, "I had been right," and "just do the best you can with him, sorry we thought you were going around the bend all this time," and other statements to that effect.
And then they would add, "And it WAS fun."
And they started treating me with a kind of awe as if I really was the one who made first contact with a real alien! I can't say I didn't enjoy it.
Then I asked "How did you control Milton? If you can't do telepathy, how did he know to come when he did?"
Prot grinned broadly, "I didn't, except verbally."
"How could he hear you since he was on the second floor when you were on the fifth floor?"
Again prot actually laughed out loud. "I'll give you a clue, gino. It had nothing to do with alien mind control."
"I just talked to him ahead of time. I told him what I wanted him to do, and we discussed it. Milton had a few ideas of his own. I didn't call him up to the fifth floor with telepathy. When I pretended to do that he was already up on the fifth floor, waiting in ela-vadar with his finger on the 'door close' button. He could hear every word we were saying. At the appropriate moment when I gave him his cue, 'Here comes my controlled human.' he burst into the room and did his bit."
I was flabbergasted, more amazed at this simple rational explanation than if prot had admitted to some new alien power. I really really was being folie a deuced by this patient!
Then prot jumped in with another good idea. Remember, doc, the other day when you were tucking me in all nice and toasty, I said I had an idea on how to make the staff less scared of me and robert and how to make them less leery of letting us go see lion king? Robert saw an episode of a team where they gave b.a. a hypnotic off switch. They could say the world 'eclipse 'and he would just go into a deep, peaceful sleep. I take it from what you told me and from what I have been reading that this is perfectly possible in a subject as suggestible as I am. Am I correct?"
I nodded. "You are such a good subject. It would actually be easy to do."
He went on calmly, "So, obviously the word 'eclipse' to an astronomy oriented mind like mine, is not the word to use, but you would do that for me, right?
"Yes." I was a bit amazed at the direction this conversation was taking. "If you don't mind!
So, prot shrugged. Do it. Give me and rob each our own separate hypnotic off switch, and tell roman and the other orderlies what it is and for goodness sakes tell the nurses on ward 3 especially, since they seem to be scared of me. Just don't tell the stiffs on ward five. You are the only psychiatrist that I trust that much!"
Prot went on, "Obviously rob and I can't know the word either. As suggestible as I am I'd be putting myself to sleep every second. It would be like trying not to think of purple aps or pink elephants. The harder I would try not to, the more I would do so.
"And be careful! I know several dozen languages fluently and snippits of thousands more. Don't pick something that means 'tv set,' in florin or I'll never get to watch star trek with my friends there ever again."
"Well how am I supposed to know which sound not to use since I don't know all these languages?"
Prot shrugged a little ruefully, "You've got me there! Just do the best you can and hope we get lucky!"
And then the rascal grinned at me.
Ok, Prot I need to ask your alter what he thinks about this. Robert?"
Robert made no appearance. I was a bit worried.
Prot yelled, "wake up you lunkhead!" Then Robert appeared. He seemed a little upset. Then he yawned. "I was taking a nap! What did you wake me for?"
I told him what prot had suggested.
"The ham! I was the one who thought of that! Go do it, then let me get back to sleep!"
Ok. I took the cartoon off the little white dot.
"1 2 3 4 5," said prot, and he was under instantly. I was about to put the less suggestible Robert under when he too, put himself under, "6 7 8 9 10."
It occurred to me I could have probably integrated them right then and there, but I didn't. Besides the legal problems we would have if prot didn't show up for his TV appearance they trusted me enough not to take advantage of them. Prot had picked his time to die (that is integrate with Robert), or, as he sincerely believed (or at least I hope he sincerely believed and wasn't just putting on a brave front), "go back to K-PAX." and there was no way I would take away from him the last sweet precious days of his alien existence."
Again I had to fight back tears.
So I gave the both of them a hypnotic off switch.
And no, readers I'm not going to tell you which two words I used!
Hypnosis is a strange and wonderful power and prot was a perfect 12, the best hypnotic subject I have ever worked with during all my professional years. And after what prot/Robert did, however they did it on 'Ward 5' this was somewhat comforting to me. If he could mind control us someway, at least he was perfectly willing, even eager to be 'mind controlled,' right back.
So now I had prot under with his hypnotic off switch easily installed, and Rob had been almost as easy.
What a shame to waste such an opportunity to tinker with their minds more! A gentle mad scientists glow went into my eyes, but at least there was affection there, too.
I wondered if prot could do fop wa while under hypnosis too. Or if it had just been a clever magicians trick. "Prot, close your eyes."
Ok gino," big sleepy, happy, dreamy grin, and he shut them tight.
I got up and walked around him where he couldn't possibly see me, and kept my arms at my side.
"How many fingers am I holding up."
I stood up, turned backwards and mooned him. I swear I did. It seemed the most outrageous thing I could think of to do. Surely he couldn't guess I was doing that!
"Now what am I doing?"
"Putting yourself into the proper position to take a Thorazine injection without a fuss. The orderlies and nurses will be very happy with your compliance."
Well from prot's viewpoint I suppose mooning was for that purpose.
I stuck my tongue out. "Now what did I just do?"
"Expressing an accurate opinion of homo sapien logic, culture and morality."
"More specifically please."
"You stuck your tongue out." Now prot's eyes were still tightly closed and unless he had a second set of eyes hidden on the back of his head somewhere he couldn't possibly have been watching me!
"Now you are staring at me with your famous, 'he can't possibly be a real alien' look on your face and your hands are at the back of your head, like you think that's going to help, but I could guess that."
"Ok prot, please stay under hypnosis but you can open your eyes now."
"I have another hypnotic present for you prot, and Robert this is for you too. Are you still there Robert?"
Robert popped out a minute. Yes, Dr. I was trying to get back to sleep but I'm still here!"
"Good, now prot and Robert both of you, Happy unbirthday!"
So why did I do the following? Partly out of curiosity to see how well it would work, partly out of compassion for my needle phobic patient(s), partly out of gratitude for their improving my relationship with my fellow psychiatrists, howsoever they did it, and partly out of a certain desire to show we humans too have our magical powers.
"Oh, by the way, prot and Robert your routine annual medical exams and flu shots are next week.
Still very deep under hypnosis prot/Robert jumped a little bit and a big frown crossed their face.
"But it won't hurt this time, you two. The minute the needle touches your skin a serotonin and endorphin cascade will occur in you brain like you've never had before. You'll be as happy as a pig in mud! But this will only happen during necessary medical procedures prescribed by a legitimate health care professional." (I wasn't taking any chances on prot/Robert becoming some kind of needle junkie).
A big grin crossed Robert's face. Then a look of gratitude, and relief.
Prot popped out with first a surprised look and then the relief spread across his face too as he realized the possibilities. "WOW Thanks!"
I was grinning too.
"Ok, prot and Robert you can both wake up now. "
Robert went. "10 9 8 7 6."
"Okeey dokeey doc!" Prot went, "5 4 3 2 1" fully awake, "Blast off!" and he jumped out of his chair.
"Session's over, huh?"
"How can you tell?
"The missing time period. It was 3:50. Now it is almost 4 o clock."
As ususal prot said this without looking at the clock.
"Several of the orderlies are out sick today, prot, so we are running really short. So do you and Robert mind going back to ward 3 without Roman today?"
Prot gave me a wry grin. "Oh gee, the mental patient doesn't get to be escorted by an orderly. Its a tough sacrifice but I shall adapt!"
I grinned. I knew that once prot had gotten used to the hospital rule that all patients had to have orderlies when going to restricted areas such as "Ward Five," i.e. the offices on the fifth floor, he had started treating it like being a king surrounded by his retinue. He was not the first mental patient I had ever seen who would do this. It is common. It is amazing the ways the powerless manage to obtain for themselves unofficial versions of power, at least in their own minds.
How else can you cope with the humiliation of having even your right to walk down a hallway by yourself taken away from you? How would anyone cope with having to be physically controlled by two brawny men who have the legal right to put you in restraints, sedate you with a needle in your butt, or even throw you into a padded cell? Either you resent their power over you and become more disturbed, or you accept it with grudging resignation, or like prot you make friends with your controllers and treat them like good friends, which of course they do become in time. I have had patients say to me, "Doc, the other patients are crazy, and YOU are crazy. The only time I get to talk to a sane person is when I'm being escorted by the orderlies. They do me more good than you do."
Bill Siegel used to say to me, "I can tell more about a patient's prognosis by the way he accepts that first escorted trip into my office than by any other test I give him. If he is struggling and cursing, 'get your hands off of me I can walk by myself.' I know I have paranoia on my hands. Whether it is reactive or endogenous has to be determined with questioning. In those patients the hospital experience itself has become an enormous stress and much more therapy has to be done.
"If the patient handles his escort-experience with embarrassed silence, but without hostility or too much distress he has a better chance of becoming well.
"But if you get of those rare patients that makes friends right away with his orderlies, you have on your hands either a person who is headed for super-normalcy, or else has an incurable pathology. I noticed right away that prot fit in that third category. I am just so very sorry it turned out to be for the second reason."
So prot/Robert went back to ward on his own and I called Betty and warned her what to expect from them during their flu shot. "I don't know who will be an dominant position, but both of them will be amazed and flustered. Neither Robert nor prot can remember a thing that occurs while I have them under hypnosis so whoever takes the shot is going to be amazed at his own reaction. For a change I am going to be doing the folie a deucing!"
Betty brought up a point I hadn't considered. "You know prot. He's going to want to explore this further. He'll say something like, " How about a tetanus booster while we are at it?"
I said, "Tell him no, sorry, you'll have to wait until your immune system gets used to the flu vaccine first." I am sure they really are overdue for a tetanus booster so they should have one in a few weeks, But if prot acts predictable and starts begging for every vaccine imaginable and there are plenty, hepatitis shots, lyme disease, the new chicken pox inoculation...etc, just put him off on those for now. However much they are going to enjoy the injection experience itself, their arm is still going to be sore."
To explain to prot/Robert what was happening to them, I bought a card for Betty to give to them from me. It was perfect. It showed a little alien on the front in a flying saucer and it said, "You may be an alien but to me you will always be an honorary human."
In the inside I wrote, "hypnotic suggestions are wonderful things aren't they? We humans have a little mind control of our own ;-)"
"And thanks, you two rascals, for raising my peer's esteem for me, how so EVER you did it."
PEOPLE WHO NEEDLE ALIENS, ARE THE LUCKIEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD!
Roman has the job of explaining what happened next:
When I went into prot and Robert's room prot was sitting with his eyes closed on his bed. He had his electric blanket wrapped around him, as usual because Thomas had it colder than the North pole as usual. I know from my experience with multiples that prot was consulting with his "friend," Robert. I didn't like to interrupt him so I just stood there and waited a while. Prot and Robert are usually both very good about cooperating with us orderlies escorting them, in fact they are fun, so I cut them some slack.
But it dragged on and on. Prot must have been having the longest conversation of his life with his other self. I finally had to announce my presence.
Prot opened his eyes and looked at me as if I were the boogey man.
"Oh come on prot!" I exclaimed exasperated. "It's just a little needle. Its not going to hurt that much."
"A lot you know! I am from K-PAX! We K- PAXians have much more acute senses than EARTH beings do! Needles hurt damit! I know pain when I feel it! Are you calling me cra ZY?"
I couldn't help laughing, "Well, prot, you ARE in a mental hospital!" I could a have got myself in booco trouble if my saying that ever got back to my employers but I trusted prot not to be that petty).
Prot threw his blanket over his head, "Go away!
"Now, prot, do I have to call for more assistance? If we have too, we'll sedate you and THEN take you to see Dr. Chakraborty and Betty and then you will have had two shots today!"
Prot sighed. He closed his eyes one more time, to make, no doubt one last in the electric-chair- already-appeal to governor Robert to be the one in dominant position during the needling. But Robert had a good thing with prot in dominant position and he knew it, and he was doing everything in his power to not go dominant.
I didn't bother to hold prot's arm as I escorted him. We both knew he was stronger than I was so it wouldn't have done any good. But prot also knew that I could call for more backup so both of us had a balance of power, not one he was happy with, but he understood it.
Prot was very quiet as we marched down "the green mile." His eyes kept closing because he was arguing with Robert, and I had to stop him from bumping into things. Later he himself told me what that "long terrifying walk" had been like from his and Robert's internal sense of reality.
Prot said to Robert. "You take the shot."
"Robert said: "No, you do! It's your turn"
Prot said "How can it possibly be my turn?"
Robert said, "I had the tetanus shot last time."
Prot said "that was ten years ago."
Robert said, "what difference does it make how long it was?"
Prot said, "I had to take all your shots while you were catatonic at long island psychiatric hospital; Thorazine shots every two hours in my big sore butt for two days until I finally got those neatly dressed apes trained to realize that I would swallow pills!"
Robert said "Well, while I was catatonic while you were on K-PAX they fed me every day with a big needle right here, or here! And they hurt!"
"I am not responsible for what happens to your body here on EARTH when I am on K- PAX!"
I just barely stopped prot/Robert from bumping into a crash cart! "Whoa there you two! Quit jabbering with one another! Prot open your eyes and watch where you are going!"
Prot came to a complete standstill and said something to Robert out loud so I could hear his question too. "Robert will you at least be adult enough to give me a fighting chance? Let roman toss a coin. If its head's I'll grit my teeth and be the jabbe. If its tails, you can be. At least give me a fighting chance! We are supposed to be friends. Prweeeze?"
Well, Rob agreed to that. In fact he took dominant position while I flipped a penny, so, as Rob put it, "Prot doesn't surprise us all with some alien power I don't know he has and control the penny's landing."
Well he must not have, because it landed heads.
Prot popped out and said RRRRRRRRGH! and he hit his forehead hard.
"Oh come on, that slap you just hit your self hurts worse than the shot. Come on!"
Prot put his head down and walked the rest of the way without protest like a little kid who had resigned himself to his horrible fate but only because he knew if he didn't he'd get both the shot AND a spanking.
The medical exam was easy. Prot liked Dr. Chakraborty and knew he wasn't the enemy today. As usual prot and Robert were healthy as a horse, except as Dr C put it, "Ah, prot and Robert, your blood pressure is up quite a bit today, but I know its just knowing you a getting a shot that's making you have white coat hypertension, isn't it?"
Prot nodded, a bit ashamed, but honest.
All too soon the dreaded moment arrived.
Betty dabbed his arm with an alcohol swab.
Prot looked like we had just killed him.
"That was just alcohol, you big baby. Ok here comes Mr. Needle!"
Prot almost fainted and I had to hold him up!
The needle touched his skin, and then the darnest thing happened! Instead of screeching, which is what I expected, prot looked like he was in ecstacy as the needle went in. Then a puzzled look crossed his face. "What did you doooo? Put cocaine in that needle?"
That was my thought too, but Betty started laughing. "Dr. Brewer played a trick on the two of you, you too, Roman. See what it says in this card he left you."
I peered over their shoulders as prot and Robert read it. You know what it said.
Then prot/Robert got a big grin on his face and hugged Betty. Then he hugged Dr. Chakraborty. Then he hugged me. I was a little embarrassed but after the way some patients treat me it was a refreshing change.
Prot started to open his mouth, But Betty said "No. You can have a tetanus booster next week, but only one immune system assault at a time to a customer. Now go back to your ward, you big babies! I've had 4 Year Olds take it braver than you did!
Like a meek little lamb, (now a happy little lamb) my two favorite lunatics returned to ward 3. As I locked them in prot said cheerily, "thanks for being seeing eye homo sapiens and mediator in our dispute, my old friend. Its nice to know we have friends like all you guys. For such carnivorous crea- TURES you can be like angels, sometimes. Of course if dr b and betty had been really kind, they would have told us ahead of time so we wouldn't have been so scared."
I nodded, "I hope you realize they fooled me too, prot and Robert. I didn't know anything was up either!"
"I believe you. If they'd told you I would have seen on your face something was up." He grinned his famous Cheshire cat special.
"Ah prot! You and Robert are the strangest patients here we have ever had, but I like you!"
"The feeling is mutual from the both of us, now get out of here the whole ward is watching our love fest and it is starting to embarrass robert."
I left for home that day with a giggle in my heart. What a tale I was going to have to tell missus and the kids that night.
Then I thought better of it, and kept my mouth shut. Tell my kids about prot's painless shot, and they would be demanding psychiatric care too!
Authors note, for all of us that are honest enough to admit shots cause pain at least in some people, (such as children who have more acute senses than adults), there are things that can be done to make it hurt less. Go to http://www.painlessshots.org
THOMAS JOHNSON FINALLY TALKS
It was time for prot and Robert's ususal session, so I was very surprised when Mr. Kowalski and Mr. Jensen came up to my therapy room several minutes late without them. "What's the problem!" I exclaimed, "Has he escaped again?"
"HOW WAS HE DOING IT?"
Roman shook his head and said softly, "No, Doctor B, I finally found them. Its prot by the way today who needs you the most. He's usually easy to find when it's his time to see you. He finds us. But this time we had to both hunt. Remember you told him and Robert if they absolutely had to they could go off ward 3? Well this was the first time they did so. They are out on the back 40, in a rather isolated area. Prot told us to tell you, 'I am more eager even than usual to have our session today, but I desperately need you to come down to us more than you need us to come up to you. This time let the orderlies escort you to us instead of the other way around!' "
Well! This should prove interesting. I tucked my tape recorder in my shirt pocket and grabbed my yellow pad and pen. Off we went.
I felt a little silly but I did need at least one of them to show me where exactly he was, so I let Roman 'escort' me to prot.
I only needed one orderly to just walk with me like a normal human being and simply show me where prot was, but neither of these two clowns could resist the opportunity to do things in reverse! So they both gave me the full orderly-is-escorting-the-patient treatment! In fact they held firmly onto my arms! "Give me a break you two!" I growled. "At least you don't have to treat me like I'm one of the reluctant ones!"
Rodrigo's eyes twinkled, "You are looking quite reluctant to me. What do you say, Roman?"
Confound prot's influence! Now even the orderlies were developing Cheshire cat grins!
Mr Kowalski nodded, "Definitely, he looks very reluctant to me, maybe even capable of violence. We'd better keep a tight hand on this one!"
Now I know how embarrassing and humiliating it is for the patients to be escorted. Some of the staff saw us and started laughing. I shrugged helplessly. I felt like explaining, "you know how it is, alien troubles." But I didn't dare. They already thought I was going around the bend myself because of my suspicion that prot maybe really was from K-PAX!
The patients thought this was hilarious too. Well, it was good to hear them laughing! I also could set a good example! "See!" I told em. "Quit resenting the orderlies. If I can go quietly, YOU can go quietly!"
Milton asked, "If you are going quietly, why are they hanging on to you so tight?"
Now how was I supposed to answer that?
They escorted me to a tree. And there was prot, sprawled out under the tree. He had both his hands cupped together in front of him in a horizontal position. He also had a solemn look on his face.
I'm thinking to myself, "some kind of K-PAXian religious ceremony? I thought he said they didn't have those!" Well I couldn't have been more wrong, and yet more right. In a way it was religious but only in the most practical way. And it left me in awe of my "alien patient's" humanity!
I am good at entering the patient's world. I sat down next to him. "So." I said. "What do you want me to do now?"
Prot gave me a sad look. "You wait with me until what must happen, does." He opened his hands a little bit so I could see what he had.
It was a baby bird, and it was in terrible shape. It was hardly alive. Blood was oozing from it in several places. Its rib cage looked crushed and it was gasping for every breath. At least one of its legs had to be broken, and one of its little fledgling wings was ripped right off.
"It is dying," said prot matter of factly, "just at the point in its life when it would soon have been soaring."
"I can see that!" To my credit it NEVER crossed my mind that prot might have harmed it. "What happened?"
"La Belle Chatte got it."
"Oh!" I felt bad. I know our patient hated the fact that he was forced to live on EARTH because of what he called our three-tiered eco system, plants/herbivores/carnivores, unlike K- PAX's two-tiered eco system, "plants and herbivores only."
So powerful has prot folie a deuced me that I felt like apologizing for my planet's savagery!
I bit my tongue. I didn't need to encourage prot any further. I was after all supposed to be healing him, not joining him in his madness! Yes, I enter the patient's world, but it is only supposed to be long enough to befriend the patient and coax him to come back with me to the real world!
I had come to the heart-breaking conclusion years ago, that while prot most sociably welcomed me to his WORLD he was not willing and never would be willing to come back with me to mine! We had however forged a common bond, our mutual desire to help his good friend, Robert. Robert was like a third neutral WORLD which we could both visit and agree about, or almost.
I know of course prot was really just a secondary dominant personality to Robert's non dominant primary personality.
Prot was convinced beyond any one's ability to be dissuaded that he was an alien symbiont living inside of a perfectly willing Robert.
And what did Robert think about all this? He swung back and forth between my world and prot's, like a happy star voyager, convinced one minute prot was right, and just as convinced the next that I was right. It just seemed to depend on which of us was talking to him at the time. Robert was still a little too passive, a little too content to be "possessed by an alien," and I did not know what to do about it, because I could see why. I liked, prot, too! As did most of the world! Robert just wanted to please both of us.
If they could have seen him under that tree that day, gently comforting a dying baby bird he could have run for president! Never mind the bit about nonamerican citizens not being able to run. We've have amended the constitution!
I loved talking to prot. Even back in the days before I had my diagnosis, when it looked like prot was incurably delusional, I had loved talking to him.
We came this close to losing Robert! The staff had been pressuring me for weeks to drop him to the one session every three-months schedule. "You need to follow the laws of triage, doctor. Other patients can be helped! He's just not reachable. Others you could really help you are neglecting, to spend valuable therapy time visiting K-PAX every week! You are doing it only because you enjoy it. It is like you are taking an hour-long vacation each week going to K-PAX with your patient!"
And I must admit there was total truth to this. Even if prot was mad, his madness was enchanting, heart warming and totally convincing. Talking with him was like talking with a real ET! I have so many patients that are horrible to work with. Prot always left me feeling like Captain Kirk had just discussed very deep things with Mr. Spock!
There is a part of each one of us, that needs wonder in our lives, longs for it, MUST have it; and will even make it up if it will come to us no other way. Prot fulfilled that need for wonder in my life. So while I was not helping him much, he was helping me!
Then I thought to try hypnosis and the truth came out!
Prot/Robert was multiple personality! All this time I thought I was dealing with one primary but delusioned personality. All I had been interacting with was a powerful projection from the real person deep inside of their common body! It was my duty now to reach and help that real person! Prot was now only my secondary responsibility. My duty was to help the primary to not need his projection anymore.
But it is very hard when you too are so fond of the secondary dominant personality!
Now prot didn't seem to want to talk much, and yet I could sense he wanted me beside him. So I sat there in therapeutic silence, next to him, both of us cursing the universe for its cruelty!
I watched the life blood ooze out of prot's "patient." Surely there is something in each one of us that lives on! For the difference between a being with a soul, and one without, is so obvious. Suddenly something very REAL was missing. Some very real thing is going somewhere!
One second it was alive, and the next it was not. The second it was dead, Prot calmly set it down, dug a little hole in the dirt with his hands and buried the bird. "There," he said matter of factly. "My fine relatives the worms gotta eat too."
He wiped his hands on his corduroy pants and leaned back against the tree. "Thanks for humoring me, doctor. I just do not think any being should have to take that big journey alone."
I was crying! Prot was as calm as if nothing had just happened. As his official description stated, "patient has near normal affect."
Near normal, not all the way normal. He should have been crying too, but he no more cried now than he laughed.
Prot tried to comfort me, not that his deeply disturbed philosophy succeeded. He put his hands on my shoulders and said, "Time will heal us both, only to have us ripped to shreds again the next time this happens, and it will happen and happen and happen, and happen! We will spend an infinity under this very same tree escorting this same baby bird to never never land, you and I together. It's locked into the matrix of existence now, and it cannot be undone!"
"Is that supposed to comfort me, prot!" I growled.
"No, but it is the truth."
"How can we bear it?"
Prot shrugged helplessly, "Simply by being there for one another. Life must help life. Nothing else helps, and that, not much!"
I put my hand on his shoulder, "It's ok, prot. When it's your turn to make that journey to never never land, or K-PAX, I will be here for you. I'll hold your hand every step of the way."
Prot gazed at me, "Don't get so maudlin on me, gino, or we will soon both be crying! I have quite a bit of time before my next window."
Now prot had written one of those, "windows," i.e. his time for integration, on my own yellow pad. So I knew the date which was the same day as his televison appearance. It was going to be close! Would prot even be around for lights camera action, or would a dazed Robert suddenly find himself on camera? I dreaded what was going to happen that day!
Prot went on. "That little bird was just about ready to fly and it got killed by the carnivorousness of this world!"
"I can see that." I knew prot was talking about himself here though he did not realize it. Robert had been about ready to fly when the tragedy had "killed" him.
Prot was speaking symbolically alright, but like many delusionals he was projecting his own troubles onto the Universe. But every once in a while when a madman does that, the analogy makes sense. It did this time.
"If you homo sapiens aren't careful, that's going to be ALL OF YOU in a few decades, if you even have that long! You are about ready to fly, to leave this NEST of yours, and yet if you don't change your ways, your own carnivorous natures are going to let 'the cat get you.' I see it coming and I can no more change it than I could keep the little bird from dying."
Prot was furious at his helplessness to change fate. His fists clenched. And darn it, so was I! Sometimes it is the world that is mad and not the patient! Sometimes as he said, "all we can do is be there for one another. Nothing else helps at all." For I certainly can't cure the world of its madness!
Strangely enough all the other patients were leaving us alone, letting us have as much privacy under this tree in the back 40 as if we had the security of my soft, comfortable office. It was like any therapy session except prot kept his dark glasses on.
La Belle Chatte came over and jumped in prot's lap. Prot stroked her black fur. She purred. "I do not hold it against her." he explained. She cannot help what she is."
Then prot dropped another bombshell on me.
"Thomas almost killed me in my sleep last night."
Prot said this calmly as if he had said, "I had a peanut butter sandwich for lunch." In fact with his passion for food he would have said that with more passion than just confessing to me his roomie had almost snuffed out his, supposedly, to him, potential 1000 year life span.
"What!" I was glad I was sitting down! " I am so sorry prot! I'll move you and Robert back down to two immediately and send him up to four. So sorry!"
Prot shook his head, "Don't be. We had a breakthrough in our relationship last night. He won't try to do it again. In fact he wants to talk to you about it himself tonight at what would be our ususal tucking in ceremony. His only one request though, is he wants it to be outside on the back 40 like we are here, and he wants it to be completely just you and him. No orderlies, no other staff members present, and certainly not Robert and myself."
"Prot you are asking me to risk my life! If he tried to kill you he might try to kill me!"
"How can you be so sure?"
I am sure, or I would not support his request, for surely I do not want you to die. Next to robert you are the best friend this widdle old alien could ever have." He grinned at me.
I grinned back. There are those who would consider me mad myself to trust the judgment of a man as "mad" as prot, and yet I did because I knew I could. I just knew that's all. In this sort of thing, judging character, prot has never been wrong.
Just don't ask him where he's from!
So that night Robert and prot tucked themselves into baby boo by themselves. Thomas went with me for a walk under the night sky, such night sky as we have in Manhattan. I say Thomas and not Thomas/Charley, because Charley was still too terrified to make his presence known. So Thomas had me all to himself that night.
It was one of those cold, crisp September nights that make one happy to live in the New York metropolitan area. I found Thomas a sweater out of the charity clothes donations, and buttoned him up like a young child.
He didn't have much to say on our walk to the elevator and down to ward 1. I unlocked the door to let him outside and for a minute I thought he was making an escape attempt because he ran out into the grass, but no, he stopped and lifted his head high to gaze at the night sky, such as it was. He lifted his hands high over his head like Pentecostal worshipers and said, "I understand now!"
I was delighted my patient understood, but what?
"What do you understand?"
"What they are."
"What 'what' are?"
I looked up at the sky. Now this was Manhattan. I couldn't see any stars. Could Charley? Had I another case on my hands of unusual vision or was Thomas just hallucinating he could see stars?
He anticipated my question, "You know you can't see them from here, but you have to have faith they are really up there. Not just the aliens these days, but the stars themselves. Strange isn't it? We live on the edge of the 21st century, on the edge of learning to travel to the stars, and yet, how often do we get to really see them? Very seldom."
I was delighted that Thomas was talking so rationally. Yes there was his little bit about the aliens being up there, but that was, I recognized, a normal religious belief, just as I had at times Christians in my care, who unlike Russell believed in God but did not think they were God. Not all beliefs are pathological.
I asked him, "Until something happened last night you did believe in aliens but you didn't seem to be happy about it. What changed your mind about them?"
Thomas grinned at me, not quite like prot's but a fair imitation of it for a beginner in protism. "You know I almost killed prot last night doctor. Don't play cutesy with me. I know you know, and yet you can also be sure I will never try to do it again!"
"Why?" I asked, delighted.
"Because of Baby Boo!" He stated. "He was chewing on Baby Boo!"
"Huh? I admit you lost me there. Why was prot chewing on his blanket?" I knew his oral fixation runs deep but usually he sticks to edible things.
"He was doing it in his sleep, just the corner of it like a little kid comforting himself through the scary night."
"Oh." I could see prot doing that.
"I almost used baby boo to kill him."
And I was going duh! We try so hard to keep our patients away from what might harm them, and yet in my kindness I had almost killed my friend!
"I was going to use the cord. I was going to strangle him."
"So," I said as calmly as I could, why didn't you strangle him?"
"Because he was chewing on baby boo. My little brother used to do that. We never really broke him of it. I think as a grown man he probably still does. At least that's what his wife says."
"So you decided not to kill prot because he reminded you of your little brother?"
"Yes," Thomas said, "And in more ways than that. They both love peanut butter. Neither can carry a tune and we are always arguing, just like Benny and I did. Prot acts exactly like my brother does. He even hates the cold like Benny did. That's why he moved to Florida."
Will wonders never cease!
Thomas looked up at the night sky and said, "I never really saw the stars before tonight, well I'm not now anyway but you know what I mean. I saw them as menacing if I thought about them at all. Things could be up there, unfriendly things. And yet now I know better.
He gazed at me solemnly I don't think aliens are monsters any more Dr. Brewer.
Then he broke into a grin, "And maybe psychiatrists aren't monsters either!"
Patient and therapist sat under baby bird's tree for a very long time. Thomas just talked and talked and talked. I ran out of tape. I ran out of yellow pad, but it didn't matter. He was talking to me now after all those weeks even if he was thinking of himself as a separate person from Charley. I still wasn't sure why Charley and Thomas had split off each other. No doubt they didn't know either, and hypnosis would be necessary, but at least one of the two personas was speaking to me. So I was later to go home that night than ever. I missed the late train and the later train and the morning trains that run after the late trains do. I apologized to Karen later. She was as ususal very understanding.
ROBERT PORTER ACTS UP
Budget cuts affect all businesses even hospitals, especially hospitals. We had been cutting back on the number of orderlies to save money for years. Then all it takes is a minor outbreak of illness and disaster hits.
Five of our regular half dozen orderlies were out sick with the stomach flu at the same time. So were eight of our regular nurses. The night shift was hit especially bad. We were forced to hire temps, temps who did not know the patients or the patient's conditions. In fact many of them had never worked with psychiatric patients at all. That explains the following.
I had to piece together the following narrative from Robert, Prot, the orderlies who made the big goof and several of the patients themselves including a catatonic named Katie who wouldn't even communicate with us until prot found out she was perfectly willing to communicate with pencil and paper! Conversations between prot and Robert obviously were self reported.
Owing to the collective nature of the report, I will dispense with my ususal first person account and tell most of it as most ususal narratives are told, from the fly on the wall omnipotent viewpoint.
All Robert was doing was fighting boredom. He was after all, a physically healthy male with a background in athletics. Prot and Robert were doing as they had been ordered. While I had told them that they could, if they absolutely had to, leave ward 3, for Thomas and Charley's sake I had asked them to do so as little as possible. Thus Robert did not have the ususal ward 2 access to the back 40 to walk or run off steam.
So one day when Burt asked Robert to demonstrate some wrestling moves, for Russell and Lou, who were also visiting them, Robert was more than happy to do so.
What a shame they forgot to inform our temporary orderlies and newbie nurses of their intentions!
Now our regular staff would have known that Robert liked to wrestle. They also would have been better at reading patient facial expressions and body language. It should have been obvious to them from Burt and Robert's playful manners and the other patients nonreaction to this socalled, 'fight' that nothing really violent was going on.
But they completely misinterpreted it.
So, as Robert put it, "There I was minding my own business. I had Burt pinned to the floor and we were both throughly enjoying it when these two big bozos, grabbed me by the arms and pulled me off of him!"
"Well that was a challenge! Three at once! Though Burt stayed out of it. I was winning too, when nursey jabbed me in the butt with a needle. The only consolation is, as my consciousness went swirling down into la la land was prot's delighted voice saying, "A necessary medical jabbing! Yay!"
"A serotonin cascade and heavy sedation at the same time is a very weird feeling let me tell you!"
I then heard Russel say, "Turn the other cheek! Turn the other cheek!" Then I got really really groggy!"
Lou verbally protested what they were doing to Robert and his only reward was a bigoted slur, "Get out of here you crazy homo or we'll give you a needle too!" That's not actually the term the orderly used but that is the only one I will use here. Consider it a "translation."
Lou had the sense to back down, "Don't hurt me I'm pregnant! But it was Russel's reaction to this that was amazing! He turned to the orderlies and gave them the wraith of God, and this time I think he really was giving them the wraith of God because what he said was, "let him who is WITHOUT sin cast the first stone!" But Russel was the one who got to turn the other cheek all right! The temp night nurse got Russell with the needle next! Why I am not sure. From what I gathered all he did was verbally defend his friends. Loudly, and in their face as ususal, but not violently.
Then other patients apparently didn't like it that these strange new orderlies and nurse that they didn't know or trust, were attacking their own without just cause. The orderlies suddenly had a riot on their hands!
With the exception of a few self absorbed autistics, all of all the mobile patients got involved, including visitors from 2. Only Thomas/Charley, and Lou had the wisdom to stay out of it. Milton, thank God, was on his own ward at the time.
Even several of the catatonics suddenly found the ability to move, one of them, Katie, has not been quite as unresponsive since. She actually pounced on one our poor temps and bit part of his ear off!
It took about 15 minutes of struggling, using every orderly we had, the stronger of the nurses, Dr. Schwartz, who had night duty that night, and even the two janitors to regain control. By the time they were done, half the patients on ward 3 had to be heavily sedated and placed in restraints. They were then hauled them up to ward 4.
Somehow during all this confusion, prot's glasses (which Robert had been wearing so prot could pop in and out), were lost.
The orderlies used bed restraints, and ran out of those. Then they were dragging old camisoles, (i.e. strait jackets) out of emergency storage, old baggy things we hadn't used in years, and 'dressing' our patients in them as if that "fashion" were back in style.
Robert was half conscious. He actually had a big grin on his face, (no doubt from the hypnotically induced serotonin cascade) as a temp came at him with a "camisole." Robert meekly put out his arms and assisted the orderly in "dressing him" like a four yearold allowing mommy to put a sweater on him. He just lay there on the floor of ward 4 with his eyes closed for prot's sake, grinning and hugging himself until the sedation took complete hold. Then he slept, but hardly long enough. Prot apparently didn't like sleeping any length of time and took control of their body and made it come fully awake much too quickly. This spooked our temp orderlies who were not used to the strange abilities of multiples.
The first thing prot said was, "Where are my glasses?"
The orderlies had no clue as to what this strait jacketed madman was talking about!
"I need my glasses so I can open my eyes. Dammit it is too bright in here! Where are my shades?"
"Either bring me my shades or dim the PLANET! Prot was getting a little irritated now!, "I want to open my eyes. I want to LOOK at you! Can't scratch my butt, can't scratch my nose. Can't play patty cake with katie. At least let me see!"
This was one of those rare times when Robert actually had to take control and gentle prot! Robert apparently was forced awake by whatever prot had done to their collective body to fight off sedation so quick. So suddenly our amazed and clueless orderlies were faced with a perfectly happy Robert, occupying the same body that a minute ago had been angrily insisting it was too bright. Robert's eyes were completely open and he was smiling and laughing.
When I asked him later why this situation, suddenly finding oneself in a strait jacket on ward 4, was so funny he said, "Who hasn't had fantasies about that sort of thing happening to them? I have since I was 8 years old and realized most people didn't have aliens in their brains, and think people who do belong in mental hospitals. So in a way this was a relief to me. The reality of the situation was slightly better than the nightmare I had been imagining it would be like. At least I wasn't alone in a rubber room! You had us out in the main ward, where we could socialize. We just were in strait jackets, that's all."
(And I was thinking to myself, only because we ran out of space in the isolation rooms).
It took a while for the rest of our sedated patients to wake up, so for several hours Robert and prot had the confused, bemused and slightly terrified orderlies all to themselves. Robert took it upon himself to educate our newbies about multiple personality, 'syndrome." (Like many multiples he refuses to call it a disorder) and the basic humanity of the mentally ill (and their doctors(!) In general.
Robert would have seemed saner to them I am sure if prot and Robert hadn't kept switching positions in an sincere attempt to prove their conflicting viewpoints! For prot kept popping out and insisting he was really not a multiple but a visitor from K-PAX!
Well finally about 7 a.m. the rest of the patients started coming to. Needless to say most of them were not as happy as Robert to have a 'common childhood fantasy fulfilled.' They resented vehemently being in restraints and our newbie orderlies and temp nurses would probably have had to sedate them all again, but again Robert and prot came to the rescue.
Robert said, "There are still two forms of recreation left to us suddenly armless souls. We can chew on the straps, or we can sing."
He paced back and forth looking at each restrained patient. "Or at least the ones of us lucky enough to have strait jackets can chew. For those of you tied to tables there is still singing.
"How many of you know 'Lydia, The Tattooed Lady?' No? I shall sing it, and the rest of you can join in at any time as you catch the words."
All I can say is I am glad that it was Robert doing the singing. If prot had tried to help him with his full spirited but off key singing the orderlies would have sedated our dynamic due just to shut them up!
la la la la la la)
Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Lydia the tattooed lady
She has eyes that men adore so
And a torso even more so
Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclopedia
Lydia, the queen of tattoo
On her back is the Battle of Waterloo
Beside it the Wreck of the Hesperus, too
And proudly above waves the red, white and blue
You can learn a lot from Lydia
(la la la la la la)
When her robe is unfurled, she will show you the world
If you step up and tell her where
For a dime you can see Kankakee or Paree
Or Washington crossing the Delaware
(la la la la la la)
(la la la la la la)
Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Lydia the tattooed lady
When her muscles start relaxin
Up the hill comes Andrew Jackson
Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclopedia
Lydia, the queen of tattoo
For two bits she will do a mazurka in jazz
With a view of Niagara that nobody has
And on a clear day, you can see Alcatraz
You can learn a lot from Lydia
(la la la la la la)
(la la la la la la)
Come along and see Buffalo Bill with his lasso
Just a little classic by Mendel Picasso
Here's Captain Spaulding exploring the Amazon
Here's Godiva but with her pajamas on
(la la la la la la)
(la la la la la la)
Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclopedia
Lydia, the queen of them all
She once swept an admiral clean off his feet
The ships on her hips made his heart skip a beat
And now the old boy's in command of the fleet
For he went and married Lydia
I said Lydia
He said Lydia I said Lydia
He said Lydia
Needless to say this song did nothing to convince our terrified temps of prot or Robert's sanity but it got the other patients to laughing and that calmed them down, which was prot and Robert's intent. At least calm in the sense that they weren't quite so angry with us any more. Not calm in the sense they were being quiet. Soon most of them were singing along too!
I arrived on the scene about ten. I would have got there sooner but the stomach flu had me too and I would have called in sick if Betty's almost hysteric account of what had happened the night before hadn't forced me to the obvious conclusion I had better get to MPI fast!
So there I am on ward 4 facing an amused Robert, an angry prot and a room full of suddenly restrained patients who don't LIKE IT.
Prot's beef was quite understandable. He just wanted his glasses back!
I shrugged "I have every one we can spare looking for them. In the meantime I can buy you another pair of sunglasses prot!"
"Oh no, not like those," my "alien" insisted. Most EARTH SUN glasses either block ALL the ultraviolet radiation reducing my vision to subhuman standards since I rely on my uv vision to compensate for some of the other wavelengths you can see that I DON'T, or else they don't block enough and I am blinded by brightness. I need glasses that block only about 90 percent of the rays. Try and find em. I brought these from K-PAX, and had them made especially for my needs under EARTH conditions."
I shrugged helplessly. Then realized I had to sit down. There weren't enough chairs so I just plopped down on the floor, and fought back the urge to vomit. "We are trying, prot! We really are!"
Robert bent down to look at me. "Sir I would plop down on the floor with you, but if I do, I have to struggle to my feet again. Hard to do without the use of my arms, so forgive me for hovering over you"
"I quite understand. I'll tell the orderlies to get you out of that thing and you can go back down to ward 3 and look for prot's glasses yourself."
Robert shook his head, "Oh, if I have your permission, there is no need to bother the orderlies. I can get out of it myself."
"Huh?" I thought for minute the flu was making me hear things.
Robert suddenly flexed his muscles and did something and he wiggled out of the strait jacket just as easily as if it had been only a warm sweater.
"Where did you learn to do that!" I exclaimed, and apparently internally prot was saying the same thing.
Robert gave me a full Cheshire cat grin, "From reading magic books. I told you I was always scared some time in my life I'd be in one of these things so I read all about how to get out of them. "
And prot is saying, "I knew I picked a good host! I knew I did!"
Robert sat the "camisole" on the floor and sat down on it next to me, "You don't look so good. You should be home."
I gritted my teeth, "And I would be too if it weren't for a certain disturbance on ward 3 last night. Know anything about it?"
Robert nodded ruefully and admitted up front he had been the inadvertent ringleader.
I shut my eyes tight, trying to keep the room from
spinning. "Well, you and prot can go back down to 3,
but some of these others are going to be up here
Robert shook his head, "I am not going down until the others do! Look at Katie! She is finally beginning to come around! See her over there, she's watching every move we make and hearing every word we say! He waved and grinned at her, and praise be, Katie gave him a full grin back and she made eye contact!
I had to admit that was true, "But Robert, some of them are going to be here for a while."
Doesn't matter. I am loyal to my fellow patients. Robert stood up and picked up the camisole," He waved it and called, "Oh orderlies, I am getting violent again. Please assist."
They were more than willing to come over and hustle Robert back into the strait jacket, except Robert just held out his arms and made it easy for them. That spooked our temps more than if he had struggled, but I had seen such behavior before, many times. Many autistics, for instance, are self destructive, and know it, and since they really don't want to hurt themselves they will beg us to restrain them, and they become very calm and relaxed once they know they can't hurt themselves any more. Some even thank us.
Prot and Robert stayed on ward 4 for 4 more days while we used every method at our disposal including heavy antipsychotics and soothing words to bring our new residents of 4 back down to their ususal level 3 functionality. They all refused to leave prot and Robert until they were going down, and he refused to leave until the last one of them was ready!
Russel was the hardest. He just kept quoting scripture verse after scripture verse, "Let my people go!" Finally prot with his eyes closed tight said, "Russel I am sure glad I am not jesus! You aren't a really fun host for him, you know!"
That actually got Russel's attention. "Prot said, "Did you not say he likes to eat and drink? Doesn't that tell you something? The being likes to have FUN, russel, but all you do is rant and rave! Why don't you just relax and enjoy life once in a while so jesus can enjoy it through you. I know I like it when robert has fun!
He snuggled down lovingly in the back of robert's brain, "Pal you and I are winners! Poor jesus! Poor russel! You and I enjoy one another!"
Russel got a thoughtful look at this protism. After that we had far less trouble with him.
During all that time prot and Robert could have left, if they had just asked, and during all that time, Robert only let himself out of the strait jacket one other time, and that "just to scratch an itch in a place so private I wouldn't have dared ask the orderlies."
I had to admire the prot/Robert combo for their attitude. It wasn't exactly normal but it showed extraordinary compassion and solidarity with the sickest of the sick. No wonder they had such an influence over their fellow patients! Leaders are born not made, and even in a mental ward we have our, "alpha male bull goose looneys." Prot and Robert were exemplary examples of this. It explained prot's contentment to stay. Better a big fish in a little pond than a little fish in a big pond. By mental ward standards prot and Robert were successful beings. In fact by anyone's standards. There is many a ship's captain or an executive in a mega corporation who would have killed to inspire such loyalty in their followers!
We held an emergency staff meeting and decided that between Robert's singing lessons, good medication, and time, the threers could go back down again.
"Besides if we" (the ward 4 staff) "have to hear 'Lydia the Tabooed Lady' one more time WE will need sedation!"
No such luck, by then the regular ward 4 residents knew it by heart, too!
The plan was to escort 4 of them at a time using all our available orderlies while crossing our fingers that they wouldn't be needed elsewhere at the same time.
Prot and Robert had another idea about that. "Its conga line time!" prot chortled with his eyes tightly closed, "We go all of us, together! EVERYBODY line up. Katie, you get to be the engine. Katie, you know the moves. He started pushing her wheelchair. "Here, roman I can't see so you push katie and I'll grab you by the shoulders and be the coal car. Arnold you get to be the caboose! Everyone else, patients, orderlies, etc, get in the middle. OK, katie, move those arms! That's right! Arnold you KNOW when to kick. Your timing isn't right. Get in sync with Katie. Try harder! Now that's it!"
Prot started singing off key and we were then treated to blessed relief when Robert forced prot out of dominant position and took over, and sung in key, "dunt dunt dunt dunt dunt KICK dunt dunt dunt dunt dunt KICK!
And so they congaed down the halls of 4 into the big freight elevator, where the snake had to coil tightly, but it never quit dancing, and down to 3 where the conga line picked up several "cars" all of the orderlies on 3, (some of which were our originals by then), two nurses, and a janitor. If fact every one but Big Nurse joined in. She just glared at this uncouth and unsedated mass of mental patients acting perfectly normal!
Half an hour later with exhaustion setting in several of the cars quit. In 45 minutes only prot and Robert were dancing by themselves/himself. An hour later even they/he was done and prot took dominant position and promptly used it to take one of his famous K-PAXian naps.
Only Katie saw what happened next. For as ususal she had taken up her guardian-sentinel position at the doorway of room five. So I get the following part of the story from her yellow pad communications.
Prot slept under Baby Boo of course, with the well chewed corner of it in his mouth.
And Thomas just looked at him sleeping, and smiled a little grin.
Then he went over to prot's night stand, took out the missing glasses which he had been keeping "safe for prot," all that time and he put them on prot's sleeping face. ````
I took prot/Robert with me to the next staff meeting to let them try to explain their side of the ward 3 riot.
I didn't bother getting them an orderly. We were still dangerously short, especially after we were forced to fire some of the temps and had several of them quit. Fortunately some of the regulars had come back to work but they were still very wobbly on their underpinnings.
I was, too, which was why I gratefully accepted Betty's suggestion to use a wheelchair.
Which had an amusing side effect. As we were
waiting for the elevator one of the patients on ward 4
had some visitors. I never did find out who. I was just
too sick to care. But they thought my smiling, neatly
dressed, friendly pusher was hospital staff and that the
down cast looking (because I did not feel well) fellow in
the wheelchair was the patient.
They nervously asked, prot/Robert, "What is the matter with him?"
The elevator came and prot gently wheeled me in, and punched the fifth floor button. He said sympathetically, "He has the stomach flu."
These newbies to mental hospital visits were horrified, "They commit people to this insane asylum because they have the stomach flu?"
Prot chirped, "Nada. Number one. This is a mental
hospital not an insane asylum. Most of our patients are
quite sane, saner than the doctors quite often. Number
two. Many of us here committed ourselves. It wasn't
done to us. And number three. This is my doctor, I am
zee patient!" (Big grin).
The wife and children of the family backed into the corner and the husband bravely stood in front of her to protect her from this 'raving maniac.' In a scared little voice he asked, "And why are YOU here?"
Prot shrugged, "I don't know. Let me ask my host." He closed his eyes and consulted, or pretended to consult with Robert. He opened them and turned to our now terrified visitors, and said cheerfully, "The crazy EARTHling who lives in my brain says he hasn't the slightest idea why I am here and, 'Why don't I just go back to the PLANET K-PAX where I come from?'"
They all backed as far away from prot as they could get and still be in the elevator!
It opened. They rushed out as if it were full of
Prot called after them, "I would too but dr. b needs me and we are making such excellent progress!"
He patted me on the head!
I exclaimed, "I am trying very hard not to laugh. If I
laugh I might upchuck the lemonade that was my
Prot stared at me in surprise, "You had nothing but
lemonade for breakfast and you accuse me of being a
"Its all I could get down, and if I'm not careful it will come back up again."
"Oh," prot was sympathetic, "I will refrain from making
To my amazement and relief the staff was not the least bit concerned this time that prot/Robert arrived at the staff meeting without an orderly. They were more concerned with my obvious, "Unfitness to be here." "You belong in the bed."
Prot/Robert bent down and gazed right into my eyes just like I had done with Robert back in his catatonic days and added, "And we agree with their prognosis, doctor!"
I swallowed hard and managed to keep my breakfast down.
Thorstein was turning a nice shade of red in indignation
that prot/Robert would be so cheeky as to even dare to
have an opinion!
But other than that, they weren't upset with us. They
didn't even blame the dynamic duo for the ward 3 riot.
Apparently our usual nemesis, the ward 3 head nurse
had been on our side this time.
Will wonders ever cease!
Goldfarb spoke in her best soothing psychiatrist voice to prot/Robert. "We know its not your fault, prot and Robert. It was those temporary orderlies. They just didn't understand how normal mental patients can act sometimes."
Robert popped out and said, "Thank you, and I
promise you next time I decide to playfully wrestle
somebody I'll warn the sane people first..... if I can find
That got a chuckle out of everyone and sent me staggering to the bathroom.
Well, I had warned prot not to make me laugh. I
forgot to warn Robert!
After that my dynamic duo left, on their own, without either orderlies or wheelchaired doctor to be their "keeper." What a concept, people walking around on their own! Then Dr. Schwartz took the meeting in a direction I was not expecting it to go.
"I would like Katie to room with Thomas and
Robert," he said to me. He was obviously feeling
embarrassed, and I couldn't blame him.
"I'm not sure how good an idea that is," I muttered,
not wanting to squish his good intentions. I felt sorry for
Schwartz, he had been working with Katie for so long
and had gotten nowhere. It reminded me of my five
frustrating years with Rob.
Dr. Schwartz continued, "You've seen what progress prot/Robert has made with her. More than I have ever had. She identifies with Robert, and she is fascinated by prot. I'm not worried about Thomas, he's usually in control of himself and I am certain prot would defend her in any instance."
"Nothing is certain with prot," Thorstein snapped. I
had to admit he had a point, even though I knew it was
intended as a jab at my abilities.
Menninger piped up, "People! You're forgetting that Katie is catatonic. Therefore, she is to stay in the catatonic's ward! I do not think it's wise to place a woman who is suffering from this illness with two, no four, men!"
Schwartz was determined, "But you've all seen how
she's responded to prot! Seeing him on a regular basis
might just bring her out of it. If he can help Thomas,
why can't he help Katie?"
He explained what he had noticed. "When prot came kicking and screaming up to the third floor, it was as if Katie woke up. She started responding slightly to slight physical contact, at least from Robert. Sometimes she would even make a quick glance in prot and Robert's direction. I took it on myself to imitate Robert, as do most of the staff. I noticed he would grab her by the shoulder or hold her hand every time he bopped by, and when I followed his example she improved.
Eventually the entire third floor was slapping her on the back and giving her hugs, following Robert's example."
Dr. Schwartz grinned, "That is, except for the other
half of the multiple miracle worker. Prot's approach to
Katie is entirely different from Robert's but equally
effective. He treats her somewhat like the autists,
gently stroking her hand and speaking softly.
Whenever he or Robert stroll out of their room she
quietly follows their movements with her eyes. Once
while he and Milton were preparing their bit I actually
saw her crack a tiny smile. That was a huge step for a
catatonic! That's why I think the best treatment for
Katie, is prot and Robert."
"I've started wheeling her to the doorway of prot and Robert's room whenever it was convenient and they didn't mind. Just looking at them makes her face light up!
Everyone looked at me. Apparently, it was my decision. "Well....I don't much care for the idea of her there without supervision twenty-four seven. But I don't see why we can't allow her continued doorway visits. Perhaps group therapy sessions with the five of them?" I suggested. This would ease the work load off me and allow Karen and me some much needed family time. Harry and Paul hadn't made an appearance that I know of in several months, so they most likely won't be a problem. Prot is always overjoyed to help out anyone he can get his hands on, and I feel Thomas was also willing and ready. I am not at all concerned with Robert. He seems perfectly comfortable with Giselle as well as all the patients in two and three he's met. Charley is hesitant to make an appearance, but maybe with encouragement from fellow patients and aliens he would come around. I glanced at the other doctors. I could practically see their minds churning. Just a few weeks ago if I had used the word alien they would have laughed at me. Now they understood what I meant!
Schwartz couldn't hold it in any longer. "Doctor
Brewer, that's marvelous" he said quietly. Several
others nodded in agreement. Evidently they had the
same thoughts I had. But they had no idea what they
were getting themselves into.
Our first session certainly was crowded. We decided not to move to Schwartz's office because it had a skylight that would make Rob do all the talking and because Thomas enjoyed the view of the street from mine. Prot and Robert arrived perfectly on time, as usual. Thomas and Charley were trailing behind (with Roman behind them) and finally Katie was scooted in on her chair dubbed the "shrink drawn chariot" with Schwartz gripping her shoulder. Prot wheeled me in the "loony mobile," immediately snatched up a few pears from his basket and offered some to Dr. Schwartz. Thank God he took them! From then Dr. Schwartz and prot were simpatico.
I went over to Katie, crouched down at her eye level
and introduced myself. She didn't bat an eye. She
gazed at prot, and he also bent down and got on her
eye level still munching away on his pears. No one said
a word for several precious minutes.
Then suddenly prot got up and went over to me. He
reached for my top desk drawer. "Do you mind?" he
asked. I opened it for him and he rummaged around for
a bit. He came up with an extra black pilot pen and one
of my yellow pads. He took them over to Katie and
delicately placed them in her hands. She clutched the
pen tightly with her fingers and, if only you could have
seen it! She burst out with the biggest grin I thought her
face would break in half!
Schwartz almost fell out of his seat!
Prot gave us all a condescending grin, and threw up his hands. "Oh come on docs! If you would have just listened to her you'd know these are what she's been asking for ever since she got here,"
Once Katie had a method of communicating that suited her she was perfectly willing to tell us the story of her life. Of course she did not do this during this first session, but the following is a compilation of what she told us, both during group therapy and at other times when she wrote.
Katie has had quite a pathetic life. During her early childhood her mother kidnaped her and ran off to California. She was arrested and Katie was placed under foster care until her parents went though a messy divorce with five custody battles and a number of other arrests including (later divulged) physical and mental abuse from her father. She claims she is the most mature person in the hospital because she could never afford to have a childhood of her own. When Katie was fourteen her mother died of lung cancer, very soon after a vicious fight had occurred between them. Katie blamed herself for her mother's death, and nothing could change her mind. When she was twenty-one her father was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and she had to become his sole caretaker, since no other family member could stand his attempts at manipulation. She lived with him for a year until he committed suicide by overdosing on morphine. She had no idea he had a substance abuse problem, or where he was getting his supply. Because of this, her remaining family turned their backs on her. She pursued a relationship with her lifelong crush, and they hit it off for several months. They were engaged. But then one night she came home to see him sleeping with her half-sister. She came at him with her father's "Dirty Ernie," a semi automatic rifle he gave to her after a "genocide" hunting trip. Needless to say, her crush fled for the hills.
Eventually she got up the courage to attempt a new
relationship. This one lasted a bit longer, although they
were never engaged. Katie was strictly against sexual
intercourse before marriage. This was most likely the
cause of her past confrontation with her ex, and it
drove her newest object of affection up a wall. He
couldn't stand the wait so he promptly packed his bags
and left her. She found out that three days later he was
killed in a car accident. Again, she blamed herself for
his death and from that point on she vowed against any
relationships, of any kind. She spent most of the next
year alone in her dark apartment, refusing any visitors
and even throwing out her phone, television, and radio.
She decided communication was her problem, so in
her mind this was the way to fix it. Finally, the straw
that broke the camel's back came. She was walking
back from a quick visit to the store. It was starting to
get dark when she heard someone calling to her. She
assured me she did not go over, instead they dragged
her off into a dark alley. Although several witnesses will
disagree. After a few minutes of sexual "teasing," they
stripped off her clothes and attempted to rape her. A
neighbor saw her disappear into the alley and heard
her screams. He chased them off with her Dirty Ernie
and called the police. But it was too late. Katie had
already drawn herself up into a catatonic state. And
there was nothing we could do to change that.
Until Prot and Robert came kicking and screaming
onto ward 3.
I then turned to Thomas/Charley. "Thomas and
Charley," I said, "we put together this rather unusual
group therapy group for many reasons. One of them is
to demonstrate to the two of you that we psychiatrists
not only are on your side but that we can actually be
effective at helping. Here we have patients at different
stages in their journey towards mental health. We have
Robert and prot who are almost integrated back into
one person again, and we have Katie who is just now
starting the journey out of catatonia, after months of
being stalled in her tracks. Watch us help them and you
will begin to get an idea of how we can also help the
two of you to get along better and maybe start enjoying
I had made a terrible mistake. Thomas protested, "I don't want to be integrated into one person with Charlie! I am doing everything I can to avoid that! That is what I am terrified is going to happen!"
Prot had a CHESHIRE cat grin on his face. I knew
what he was thinking, without having any human mind
reading powers. "Doctor b is crazier than all of us if he
thinks me and robin can be integrated into the same
Robert didn't say anything. I do not know if this was
out of politeness, a desire to stay neutral, or
disagreement with me.
Dr. Schwartz cleared his throat. "Well! We certainly have a lively group here! After working with just catatonics this is a breath of fresh air! Katie gave him a hurt look.
They say we psychiatrists always know just the right thing to say to our patients. The above demonstrates we are as capable of putting our foot in our mouths as anyone. I could use as my excuse I was still just about to keel over. The fact that it was prot who managed to rescue this rapidly deteriorating situation is a credit to his ingenuity and quest for sanity, not ours. He said "Doctors, it is time YOU faced reality.
I thought he was going to give us a lecture about
how he and Charley really were aliens, not personas.
Instead he surprised us. "Doesn't it strike you as weird
all the patients on wards 1 2 3 and 4 are sick in the
head but strong in the tummy while all the patients from
ward 5 are supposedly mentally healthy but just about
to collapse from this so called stomach flu? And they
just keep getting it over and over again?"
He stared at all of us. "Unless the normal people around this place are hypocritical cowards who jab us loonies but won't take their own flu vaccinations, I find it highly unlikely that the entire staff has caught the so called "stomach flu."
"What is it?" I groaned, "some alien virus or
something?" Man I was almost out of it! Dr. Schwartz
stared at me open mouthed!
Prot was more in touch with reality than I was at that moment. He pointed out the obvious. "Now why must it be alien when EARTH produces so many beautiful little viruses and bacteria of its own?"
"Beautiful, prot?" Dr. Schwartz was not used to prot's lack of egocentricism concerning life.
"Yes, beautiful Dr. Schwartz. You have looked at
them under a microscope have you not? Beautiful, but
to many of us, deadly. It's not like they are out to get
us. They are simply following their genetic
programming to be fruitful and multiply, and they often
do so in such copious amounts it works out to their own
detriment, just like homo sapiens do, except YA'LL
should know better! They don't have brains, You do! So
what is YOUR excuse?"
He stared angrily at Dr. Schwartz, giving it to him
with both barrels! I felt sorry for him. I knew what that
was like to be on the end of one of prot's all so logical
and unarguable gentle tirades about the sins of the
"doomed" human race! But this was his first time and
the first time is always the most unsettling!
At least he had me to help him out! Where was a
second psychiatrist when I needed help with prot!?
I used diversionary tactics. "Prot, backtrack a little.
You said it is weird the patients are well but the staff
keeps dropping like, well like sick humans. We agree
with you. We have already called the health
department. They are coming tomorrow to investigate.
But I bet you already know what it causing it, don't
Prot nodded and grinned ever eager to demonstrate
to his beloved psychiatrist that he really could fop wa.
"Indeed I do. It's the coffee maker in the staff rec room.
Those filters are contaminated with salmonella.
Somewhere between their creation and the hospital's
acquisition of them, somebody with it coughed or
Dr. Schwartz, unfamiliar with prot's abilities, tried to
bring the patient out of his delusions that he could
know this. "Prot you can't know something like that."
I sprang to my patient's defense, "Indeed he can! Tell
the health department to check the coffee filters first.
Dr. Schwartz stared at me, "You know gene, this group therapy idea came just in time. You are so folie de deuced by prot that you are beginning to believe that he has alien powers!"
"Fifty bucks says prot is right!"
"You are on!"
And prot chirped "And when we win gene, you take
giselle and I out to dinner and robert too, if he will go!"
"Fair enough! I chirped. Though where we can all
eat for fifty bucks beats me."
"I know places!"
"You do, prot?"
"I was in new york for a while before the police got
And Dr. Schwartz was watching this exchange with
amazement. He said, "And Gene if I win you two have
to see separate therapists for a while. You have
ceased to be good for each other. Prot needs help and
now Gene, you need help too!"
"Ooh! That's quite a proposal, dickie!" Prot started, which got Katie to smile, "gino and I are very fond of one another. If you want to up the anti like this, you'd better make it so ALL of us get a WHOLE meal for free! Me, rob, gene, giselle, you. None of this fifty bucks piddle squirt!" He grinned from ear to ear. I had no idea what "piddle squirt" was, but I nodded in agreement.
"Fine. A whole meal. Doesn't bother me a bit,
because I won't be paying. Gene, I really feel sorry for
you. You just can't come to grips with reality!" he
So confident was I that prot was right and so
confident was prot, that he was right, that we agreed to
do this. Prot came over and stood beside me and put
his hand on my shoulder, and there we stood, patient
and therapist united in our concept of reality against
And little did I know, but this little exchange was
being watched very carefully by the one completely
silent member of our group: Charley. Psychiatrist and
alien on the same side? The concept was very new to
this persona, but since his paranoia was due to a
misconception, (i.e. the false ideas he had learned from
Cuckoo's Nest, and not due to bad biology), he was
gradually learning his fears were false.
The humor of our being united against Dr. Schwartz
did not escape me. I started to laugh, bad mistake!
Up it all came.
Prot didn't even try to avoid the stream. How often does life give you a friend like that, that they won't even try to avoid your vomit? He grabbed a sheet of my yellow pad and tried to clean it off my face while ignoring his own soiled arms and shirt.
"Poor gene!" His dark eyes were full of sympathy.
Then Dr. Schwartz did a most unusual thing. "Prot,
I am going to ask you to do something we don't usually
ask our patients, but I think it is necessary. If I gave
you the money could you buy yourself a train ticket and
take Gene home? Gene has his annual pass."
Prot and I stared at him in surprise! "Sure." said prot.
You mean without an orderly, or a security guard, or
anyone to make sure this lunatic doesn't try to escape,
or try to bite someone?"
Dr Schwartz nodded, "I am counting on that obvious love you feel for your doctor to keep you on the straight and narrow." He sighed, "We can't afford to spare an orderly right now, or else I'd have him take Gene home. Just wheel him to the depot. Dr. Brewer knows which train to take, and you just follow his guidance and keep you mouth shut. If any one asks you where you are from, suddenly you don't speak English. Got it?"
Prot asked,"And why should I do that?"
Because telling people you are from K-PAX is not
what your doctor needs right now. He doesn't need a
crowd of people gathered around you, whether to haul
you off to still another hospital, or even to listen rapt at
your every alien nugget of wisdom. He needs to go
home! If you attract attention he might not make it!"
Prot nodded. He did understand that.
"Sure I can handle money well enough to buy a ticket.
I wandered all over your WORLD for 4 years and nine
months, remember? While I don't like the stuff I have
had to deal with at times. I can earn it, and I can spend
it wisely. So, yes."
Dr Schwartz didn't look convinced.
So prot wisely came at it from an angle Schwartz
would believe, "And I have been taking those life skills
classes the psychiatric social worker penny carlson
teaches on tuesday nights. Mostly elementary stuff, but
I actually did learn a few things, and I taught a few
things too. Penny still likes meat but I think she'd stay
away from beef from now on, at least. No more
hormones for her and her kids!"
That convinced Dr Schwartz
I happened to glance at Katie.
She was staring at her hero(es) with a very hurt look
in her eyes.
"Ah prot." I pointed at Katie. "I think your comment about being a lunatic and biting people hurt Katie's feelings!"
Prot spun around and gazed at Katie. "Oh my! I'm
sorry, katie! You had a perfectly sane reason to bite
that orderly. As for being a lunatic, don't be so
sensitive, please. I was referring to myself not you, and
I did not mean it in a derogatory manner. I am crazy
Katie gave a little grin. I guess this meant prot was
I spoke up, "Robert, we haven't heard from you this
session. Have you anything to say?"
To my disappointment Robert did not pop out.
Instead prot closed his eyes, consulting with his
friend."Robert says he is afraid to say anything."
I was disheartened at that," Robert it is ok. Dr.
Schwartz is just as much your friend as I am. You can
talk and show yourself in front of him."
Prot grinned, "Oh no, doctors, it is not that! Robert
says, 'this is just the "EVERYBODY put your foot in
your mouth therapy session, and he doesn't want to be
So prot and I got cleaned up as much as possible. It
was easier for him. He was home. He had clean
clothes to change into. I didn't. Then Dr Schwartz
handed him exact change for a train ticket (what an
insult), and let us out of the gate.
Prot stood there on the sidewalk, outside of the hospital, an impish grin on his face. "I know how we could save a few bucks. There is a dollar store around the corner. I am quite sure I could pick up a mirror and a flashlight real cheap."
"No prot! Don't!" I exclaimed.
He stared at me in surprise, "You have been
bugging me for years to prove to you it's real and now
you stop me?"
"Prot, either one of two things will happen. Either
you will actually be able to do it and I will be terrified, or
you won't be able to do it, and YOU will be terrified. I
can't deal with either of us falling apart right now. Take
Prot got a thoughtful look on his face, "A good point. Oh well." Then he grinned as the possibilities sunk in, "I have never been on a train before. This should be fun!"
It was, too. Prot didn't have to say a word. All he did was grin at people, and the whole car we were in turned into a fun ride. I was sick, but not sick enough not to notice that.
But before we got home, Dr Schwartz's worst fear was realized, but only in the concrete, not in the abstract. Prot couldn't keep his mouth shut but the panic Schwartz anticipated just didn't happen.
Actually it wasn't his fault. Several people
recognized prot from Giselle's article and they
approached him with questions, not the other way
around. They struck up a quiet, unintrusive
conversation with my "alien" patient. I knew the mental
patients accepted prot, but now I was amazed to find
out that perfectly normal people were also perfectly
willing to take prot at his word, that he was an alien, but
at the same time not panic or even think of calling the
Air Force. If they were humoring him they were doing a
good job of it. As a psychiatrist I am very good at
recognizing duplicity in people. I saw none here. Folks
really believed he was from K-PAX and were as calm
about it as if he'd said, "I'm from Montana."
We reached our destination. Prot politely bid his
new faithful followers adieu, and wheeled me off the
train and the few blocks to my home, and we arrived
without incident except Shasta Daisy went wild when
she saw her friend again.
He helped me out of the wheelchair and helped me
get my coat and tie off, and my shoes, and put me in
bed and tucked me in all beddy by and stayed by my
side until I was asleep. When I woke up he somehow
sensed it and was at my bedside in a flash with a bowl
of hot vegetable broth. He wanted to spoon feed it to
me but I protested that much babying and fed myself.
To my delight I was able to keep it down.
He grinned at me, "I was tempted to make you white
rice, salt and corn starch soup, but I thought better of it.
You are not in the mood for a joke."
"I am glad you didn't! That mixture sounds awful! Why that mix?"
"Because that is everything that is in chicken soup but the chicken. Even for you I am not being an accessory to murder. I was going to say, "Maybe the magic of the soup is in its other ingredients, not the chicken, but you are just too sick to be up to a mouthful of corn starch and salt."
"Thanks. I appreciate your restraint. Then I passed
Needless to say when Karen got home that night she was very surprised! Prot was relaxing in my big easy chair with his feet up watching the Discovery Channel, and reading Oliver Sack's "Awakenings," during the commercials! "What are you doing here? Did you escape?"
Prot grinned, "Nope I just fulfilled my alien destiny and abducted your husband!"
"Oh no! Where is he?"
"Relax. He's in bed. And he is going to stay there
until his tummy and he are friends again. Patient's
Karen immediately realized that she and prot were
on the same side, and after that she was a lot less
leery of my 'alien patient,' not that she hadn't been
understanding before, but in some ways she was
jealous of the amount of time and mental attention I
had spent over the years trying to figure him out! But
now they were allies in the game of, "keep Gene in bed
until he's well."
Dr Schwartz called that night to inquire if we had
made it safely home. Karen took the call, "Oh yes, they
are both here. Prot has already eaten up a months
worth of popcorn, three bags of Doritos, and a quart of
salsa, but he's behaving himself. And acting normal.
He's got the remote and won't give it to me. How more
normal behavior can that be?"
Dr Schwartz must have been laughing. Karen grinned
and added, "I am sure prot will behave himself. Can I
keep prot a few more days to make sure Gene
So that's how we had prot as a house guest for almost a week.
During which time he pruned our hedges, planted
begonias, taught the neighborhood kids how to find the
constellation Lyra, taught one little girl how to do her
multiplication tables and also unfortunately, how to
burp on purpose, and he reorganized my wife's spice
rack in a" more efficient manner." She appreciated this
only weeks later when she realize this new way really
was better than merely by alphabet. Prot had put the
most used spices closer to the front. And he taught
Shasta Daisy not to chew up my couch cushions. I had
been trying to teach her that for years!
Of course, during all this time, Robert made no
progress or appearances because however outgoing
he had become at MPI, he still wasn't to the point
where he felt safe leaving the hospital.
As for me, I felt even more fondness for prot than ever. How was I even going to be able to do it when the time came for prot to go back to K-PAX, i.e., integrate with Robert? I felt like I was plotting the murder of a friend!
OVERWORKED, UNDERPAID, AND HUNG OVER
When I was finally well enough to roam around on my own, prot insisted on taking me for a walk. I didn't see a problem with it, seeing as how he pretty much knew the neighbors and got along with them. He told me it would be good for both of us. So that day I took the strangest and most humbling stroll of my life.
It started out normal enough, prot pointed out cumulus clouds and variations of flowers. He showed me a species of edible clover and stuffed handfuls of them in his pockets. The children across the street joined us, including the little girl prot educated. She was delighted to show off her new talent, and soon her siblings joined in. I couldn't help but laugh.
Eventually the children tired of the walk and prot took me out to the large grassy area just outside the country club where Karen and I frequently took picnics. He gave me a mischievous look.
"Speed it up!" he grinned and sprinted down the hill. A small part of me was afraid he was making a break for it, but of course he wasn't. He ran much faster than I thought he could and I wasn't in the best shape. Thankfully he slowed down so I didn't have to over exert myself and finally stopped dead still.
Suddenly, the most incredible thing happened. As if out of nowhere, an enormous flock of birds appeared. Birds of every kind! Sparrows, crows, pigeons, robins, seagulls, blue jays! Birds were everywhere! It looked like a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock movie! I instinctively dove to the ground and covered my head with my arms. It was so terrifying and yet so fantastic! Prot was running with them, chasing them up and down the field. They buzzed by him and by me. The air was filled with screeches and chirps. Dirt and dust blew up around us, enough to choke the air! The wind was ruffling up and down my body, ballooning out my shirt and sending my hair flying! I wasn't sure what prot was doing, I couldn't hear him over all the shrieks and chirps. But he did not seem pleased.
It died down as soon as it had begun. The birds flew off to wherever they came from and prot was at my side immediately. "There is no need to be afraid, dr. b. They're gone," he said quietly. I stood up and glared at him.
"Next time you do that, give me some warning first!" I shouted. I wasn't angry, just swimming with adrenaline! I felt like a little helpless little boy who was lost in a crowd of strangers.
"I didn't do it," he simply stated and started back home again. I ran to catch up with him with a good amount of dirt in my mouth and everything gritty. My mind was still reeling from the magical experience. "But you always do it!" I exclaimed without thinking.
"Sorry doc, they just kind of showed up. All I wanted to do was give you a bit of a cardiovascular workout, and suddenly I'm bombarded with kamikaze feathery beings! I must admit, I was as startled as you," he said, seeming a little embarrassed. "But it certainly was something to remember!" he added as we climbed up the hill and onto the street. A mob of gaping neighbors stood on their porches and hung out their windows. The entire block must have seen it, including Karen, who was running down to make sure I was okay. She leapt up and hugged me.
"Oh sweetie! Are you hurt?" she cooed. I reassured her I was fine and she gave prot a dirty look. He offered her a clump of clover, apparently in apology. She hesitated, unaware of the K-PAXian custom. This was a big mistake. His eyes narrowed and he sighed loudly. "Here! Take the rest of it!" he growled and threw the contents of his pockets in the air. "Mot shit, I don't want them!"
I was shocked at this. Prot had NEVER turned down a veggie food item! Especially in this kind of situation. Of course it wasn't entirely his doing, even if Karen didn't know she had just made a devastating faux pas. I didn't know what to do, stand by my wife or comfort my patient. He exhaled loudly, shook his head, and shuffled up the street. I followed as best as I could, despite his quick step. "I'm sure the birds weren't your fault, prot," I reassured him. He kept his eyes fixed to the ground and his speed up.
"I just don't know anymore. I can't understand your PLANET," he picked up his pace even more. I tried again. "I'm not upset at you. I know it wasn't your fault. Karen didn't mean it." He snapped something in pax-o and shooed me away with his arm. He was practically running by now. I decided to back off and let him go on his own. He needed to cool down, and I knew I couldn't catch him anyway.
When Karen and I opened the door prot was already on the phone. When he spotted us he lowered his voice. "Yes, I know. He's fine now. I don't think that is such a good idea. Yes, of course. Thank you," and he hung up abruptly.
"Who was that?" I asked. Karen had already made a break for the kitchen. Prot folded up his hands and let his shoulders droop.
"I've appreciated all of your hospitality, gene. But I think it's high time I move back to my home away from home. Robert's been pestering me quite a bit anyway. I just called betty to hire a taxi for me."
"Prot," I began gently "Taxis are not cheap. I could have driven you if you wanted me to."
"Sorry gino, I just think you need a little time away from me. So does karen," his perpetual smile had long since vanished. This was defiantly odd behavior from him, and as usual I didn't know what to do. He always seemed the most chipper being I have ever met, but here he was with submissive body language, refusing to look me in the eye. I tried the only sure thing I knew.
"Would you like something to eat?"
"I'm not terribly hungry, but thank you."
That was it. I took him by the arm and escorted him to my bedroom, locking the door behind me.
"I wouldn't be a very good psychiatrist if I couldn't read these signals, prot. What's the big deal? A few birds pop out and Karen won't take your clover. Suddenly you start acting like I shot your puppy! I'm not angry at you, so what's the problem?"
"It should be terribly obvious, doctor. I don't care about karen's attitude, she didn't know. Gene, haven't you noticed anything that's happened lately? The birds were just the tip of the iceberg! Everywhere I go, it's just more and more birds!"
He was far more animated than usual, with grandiose hand gestures and a nasty hissing emphasis.
"I still don't understand."
"You! mpi! Your family! The neighbor's family! Every
furry, feathery, scaly, fleshy being on this insane
PLANET! Almost everyone and anyone who can see or
hear or cares to! You've all made me into your savior!!!
No matter where I go or who I see, someone is there to
ask for help! Well, I'm NOT your savior! I'm not here to
be your savior and I don't ever want to be! YOU have
to learn to do it on your own! Because if ANY of you put
ME above YOURSELVES you're just going to forget
everything I've taught you and blow yourselves up even
faster! I'm not here to play god, I'm here to help my
host live a less agonizing life, if possible without losing
my OWN mind in the process!!"
By the end of his speech he was breathing hard and wide-eyed. I felt like such an idiot. Of course he would feel this way. Right there on the front of my book, entirely dedicated to him "Is he man, alien....or savior?" How could I have been so blind? Of all his some six years here he just bounced around the world, helping everyone but himself. Where was his reward? Even when he tried to help himself we just piled the load on him more and more. How many people has he helped so far? Or other beings? And what have we done to thank him? Of course we gave him shelter and food, but that wasn't enough. No creature can go though life being a savior, I don't care what planet he's from. The stress on him must be enormous, to have us think he could save us all. And if he couldn't, he knew we would be so horribly disappointed in him. Especially at MPI, whose inmates had so very little to live for. I now knew that his failure would be devastating for everyone, but mostly himself. I was glad to finally see him admit this, but it secretly hurt to know he was as fragile as any man. And what hurt more, was to know that I did put him above others. After all, what kind of a doctor puts a madman in control of a mental hospital?
"I'm sorry, doctor brewer. I didn't mean to snap at
you. It's just been bothering me for a while. I hope you'll
understand," he said remorsefully. He resumed that
awful submissive posture and headed for the door.
And I didn't know what to do for him.
The following two days I stayed home. Partly
because I still wasn't feeling so well, and partly
because I didn't want to see prot. It was horribly
selfish, I know. But seeing him only stirred up
feelings of inadequacy in my mind. I wouldn't have
been a very productive staff member anyway, I was
having a hard time paying attention to just about
anything that was thrown at me.
I seriously questioned my abilities, for the first time in years. And I wasn't the only one.
When I got back, everyone was in a bad mood.
Patients, staff, cats. Everyone was growley. Jackie
completely ignored everything, even mud pies and
her favorite stuffed animals. Russell was praying
more than usual, and not sleeping as much as he
should have been. He spoke of the Devil
constantly. Thomas took out his frustrations on the
nurses. No one could even walk past him without
verbal protest. Katie's notebook was filled up with
awful variations of "leave me alone", and none of
them were anywhere near so polite. Even Milton
put up his unicycle and funny hat. For an entire
episode of Jerry Springer he remained silent, a first
And prot still wasn't eating.
He moped in his room and absolutely refused to
give advice to anyone. Most of the time he even
declined making appearances, even with nurses
coaxing him, and Rob wasn't very pleasant either.
He ignored his closest befuddled friends, and
actually avoided Giselle, who seemed very hurt by
this and decided to leave early without taking her
interview with prot. I was beginning to worry.
"Why so glum, chum?" I asked him that next
morning while Thomas/Charley were out in the
back forty. He was still buried in his bed, even
though it was already eleven o'clock.
He didn't even look up at me.
"Hey, come on! Buck up! You're draggin' the
rest of us down!" I put my hand on his shoulder.
"He's already told you," Robert said harshly,
with sunglasses still on. I wasn't entirely certain,
but from his flushed cheeks I got the impression he
was hiding tears.
"We're working to change that, prot. I
understand you can't help us unless we help
ourselves. That's what I've been preaching since I
got my degree!" I tried to sound as pleasant as
possible without coming off as tacky or callous. It
was prot who grinned a little. Actually it was more
like a sneer." At least until I showed up, huh?"
"I know. I've been a dunce. I didn't think of your
feelings as much as I should have. But if you don't
want to help, you don't have too. Its entirely up to
you, as it always has been. I just thoughtyou
enjoyed helping others."
"I do. Just not constantly. I need some time to
unwind. If you need help, I'll be there. Just let me
have a break for a while, okay? I do have a life of
my own, you know." I remember thinking, 'join the
"Of course, Anytime you want. The doctor is out!
Just cheer up a teensy bit please. Have you seen it
out there? Its a zoo!" That got a smile out of him. I
patted him on the back and left him to his whatever
Lunch was pleasant for a change. I passed on
the cottage cheese, I had chicken noodle soup!
Betty was so very kind to bring it for all the
recovering head shrinkers. "There's nothing better
for a runny tummy than Mama's home made
chicken soup!" she chirped as she handed it to me.
I felt a little put off by that statment, but ate the
stuff anyway. And it was good.
After I finished, Betty gave me a memo from Dr.
Chakraborty. "You'll like this even more!" I gave
her a pointed glance for reading my memos and
thanked her for the soup.
Got the results in, it was the coffee filters.
This will not be pleasing Schwartz.
I laughed! "Poor Ritchard, you have no idea how
much the two of them can scarf down!" I chortled
to no one in particular and dashed off to his office,
all set to share my happy news with him.
"Did you get it yet?" I asked, poking my head in
the door. His office was sickeningly tidy.
"Get what?" he grumbled without looking up
from his stack of papers.
"Uh-oh! I think you did! Is someone grou-chy?"
He snapped his head upright, scowling.
"Fine. You win. Very good, very nice. Alien
powers. Humph. Probably just a lucky guess. I'll
write you a check. Fifty dollars, was it?" He took
out his checkbook.
"Oh no, no, no, no, no. It was a WHOLE meal. For
ALL of us. Me, you, Giselle, prot, Robert. That was
the bet. If you don't believe me, check the tapes.
When do you want to go?"
"I don't care. Whenever," he actually pouted with
his arms crossed. It was amazing how
unprofessional a professional could really be!
"I'll rally up the other guests and see when they
want to. You just sit tight and keep that pen ready,"
and I practically snoopy danced out, my ego was
Prot was in the quiet room with mountains of
books set up around him. For a moment I thought
of Howie, but he looked up at me with his Cheshire
cat grin and invited me to sit with him.
"Nocturnal animals," he said pointing to a picture of a fruit bat "very interesting. This one especially." I couldn't stand it.
"We won!" I poked him with my elbow.
"Of course we did. You didn't expect me to be
wrong, did you? That sure would be a kick in the
butt! When do you think we should head out?"
"That's what I came to ask you. Tomorrow would
be healthy for my schedule, okay?" It would be
almost painful for the reader to understand how
much work I had to do.
"Fine by me. I'll be looking forward to it. So will
rob," he said with a suggestive quirk of his
eyebrows before going back to his books.
Giselle already knew about the bet, as did most
of the hospital, and was very happy to know we
won. I called her and told her not to eat for a day,
we had to suck Ritchard dry! She laughed and
agreed. I couldn't resist the compulsion to rub my
hands together like an evil villain plotting my
Thursday night, I was all ready. I was to pick up
Schwartz and the dastardly duo, Giselle decided to
come in her own vehicle. I expected a normal hum-drum Toyota or whatever, but she actually drove a
jet black 1957 Ford sedan. Fins and all! I was glad
she wasn't taking prot, or he just might decide that
mirror beaming was safer. Honestly, I would have
I was suited for the occasion (Oh dear, I've
come down with TPS: Terminal Punning
Syndrome!) with my favorite blue one and a very
nice silver tie. The attire wasn't formal, I just felt
like getting fancy that night. I thought I looked
pretty suave, even though Karen begged to differ.
The traffic was horrible and I prepared myself for a
lecture from Mr. Punctuality. He was too astounded
to gripe though, at the sight of my cool duds.
"Wow!" was all I got, and all I needed. Schwartz
didn't have a thing to say, and I am grateful! We
piled in, prot called shotgun, but the brown sweater
vested doctor overrode him, stating he wanted to
"keep an eye" on my alien buddy.
Our destination was the Asti, our Lower
Manhattan restaurant that is always oh so lively. If
there was anyplace prot would fit in at, it was the
Asti! He could sing his dremer lungs out and no
one would give him a second glance. I could even
Prot was the usual tourist, amazed by all the
scary skyscrapers and shiny lights. I could easily
imagine him in a Hawaiian shirt, snapping pictures
and oohing at every little thing. At the stoplights he
waved at the people in the cars enthusiastically. He
was one of those beings who likes to keep track of
the ones who wave back, and the ones who flip him
off. And he actually did! Only one did the latter, but
seven to the former, and the rest ignored him. He
did take note of one young lady "removing foriegn
refuse from her left proboscis cavity" though, and
declared it joyfully to us all. Schwartz was too
proud to laugh, but I knew he wanted to.
Dr. Ritchard Schwartz is a good man, even if he
does come off as a little egotistical. Everyone
knows he is one of the most dedicated doctors at
MPI. He would do anything for a patient, no matter
what the cost. But no one knows why he has the
letter T in his first name. He enjoys both the simple
things and the magnificent things in life. A proud
Giants fan with an ear for the symphony. He is well
balanced in every way. Ritchard is usually a
relatively soft spoken man, unless he feels strongly
on an issue. Then it's no holds barred. But, he
always tries his very best to come off as a kind and
dignified individual. He dresses comfortably, I can't
remember the last time I saw him in a tie. He
prefers sweaters and slacks. Like Giselle, he does
it mostly to put people at ease. His demeanor is as
neutral as possible, one of those folks who could
easily disappear in a crowd without anyone
noticing him. He has a crop of mottled brown hair
and a perfectly trimmed moustache that he hates
getting food in and combs almost constantly. His
eyes are a dull brown, but they've so nondescript
one wouldn't know it just from looking at them. He
wears an incredible amount of brown. When one
thinks of Ritchard Schwartz, one thinks of the color
We arrived late. Prot made sure we KNEW we were late, and informed me that my clock was off by three minutes. I thanked him for the great information, and did not reset it. We stepped in, Giselle was already seated at a booth and skimming over the menu. She was actually wearing a dress, the first time I'd seen her in one. It was pale turquoise cut low in the bust. I wondered if this was for Robert's benefit or prot's? Brown's Syndrome hit me, and I actually wondered if it was for my own.
When the patron spotted us he exploded into some unfamiliar tune. Two waiters joined in along with all of table seven and a chef.
"Oh gene....What DID you DO?" prot gaped,
unprepared for this unusual outburst. He scooted
over to Giselle and plopped down with a playful
little smirk. I sat next to Ritchard so we could get a
good look at the trio. Everyone was pleased to see
one another. We chatted about meaningless things
and looked over the menus. Prot was very happy to
see a salad bar set out, and practically drooled
over the fresh fruit glistening behind the glass.
The lighting was pleasant enough, and prot
decided to take off his shades. The first time I ever
saw him do that in a public place. Of course it was
foolish of me to think he did it only in my office.
The glasses he wore were a necessity for comfort,
and not for style. I was glad to see he did. I always
had a hard time distinguishing his facial
expressions with them on. Secretly, they always
gave me the impression that he was hiding
The Asti is a relatively good sized restaurant, with fish tanks and a relaxed atmosphere. Prot seemed extemely taken by the tropical fishes as soon as he saw them, pressing his nose up to the tank and making little lip and jaw movements as he watched them zip by. Thankfully, the restaurant wasn't quite as packed as I thought it would be, but there were still plenty of happy people dining, all ready to feel uncomfortable around our mental patient. There was lively opera music playing in the background, which helped the waiters and patrons at least come close to the songs they were belting out.
I always enjoyed this restaurant. It was a place
where anyone could cut loose, however he saw fit.
People were just more open minded here. They had
to be with all the goons singing and catching flying
food in their chops! I just hoped prot/Rob would
allow themselves to cut loose as well. They needed
a little fun time.
The Asti didn't always play opera classics, they
went for a little variety. While we waited the usual
livley music started up, it was "--------" one I almost
knew, thanks to Karen's peculiar tastes. And I do
emphasize "almost". I decided to sit this one out.
But prot took the opportunity and asked Giselle to
dance. She accepted with a little schoolgirl giggle.
Apparently dancing was not customary on K-PAX,
and prot had about seventeen left feet. He thought
it was hilarious. But to avoid further
embarrassment and bodily harm, Giselle led.
Thankfully the song didn't last very long, and we all
took our seats with bruised egos (and ankles for
"Wasn't that fun?" prot grinned.
"Oh yes!" Ritchard piped up with a big grin. With
his moustache it looked almost rabid. Perhaps
that's why he doesn't smile very often? It made
sense, if I had a creepy soup strainer like that I
wouldn't smile very often either!
Our waiter breezed up and gave prot a funny look. Prot retaliated with a jumbo sized smile and "Would YOU like the next dance?"
The waiter shook his head and chuckled politely.
"Ah Gene, you grace us with your wonderful
presence again! And you bring us other guests?
Who are your lovely looking friends?"
I smiled at him, "This is prot and Robert Porter,
they are patients of mine. And this is Giselle
Griffin, a newspaper reporter who is doing a story
on my friend prot here. This dapper gentleman is a
colleague of mine, Dr. Ritchard Schwartz. And he's
"Mama Mia! You are bringing your patients to us
now! You just introduced five people and I only see
four. Where is the fifth one?"
It was my turn to give the waiter a Cheshire Cat
grin. "Right here."
"Where, right here?" he glanced behind himself.
"He's in the same body with this friendly
"I am what you would call an alien symbiont," prot said cheerfully and matter of factly as if he had just said, "I'm a truck driver."
"I borrow my good friend robert porter's body when
I am on his PLANET and if I ever persuade him to
come to my WORLD, he will most likely borrow
mine. Even trade, no?"
The waiter cleared his throat and stared
nervously at prot, "Ah, you don't happen have your
ray gun on you at the moment, correct?"
Prot smiled reassuringly "Violence is foolish
human instinct, not to mention entirely self
destructive. Don't worry, I'm not planning on
mounting an INTERSTELLAR attack on EARTH any
time soon. I love my fellow beings, and would
never harm a single one. I only eat plant material,
particularly fruits, thus I am as harmless to a
human as would be a fuzzy fruit bat!"
"Ah a fledermaus. You like fruits, prot? I'm an
citrus devote myself. One of my personal favorite
drinks is the screwdriver. And I don't care what
anybody says!" he glared at the cashier, and I
wondered what was going on between them. "I've
never met a mental patient before, so, for you,
they're on the house tonight!"
Prot stared at the waiter, "This is an alcoholic beverage, I presume?" The waiter nodded.
"Usually I only let doctor b. give me mind
altering drugs, but alrighty. Tonight is a special
night because we are celebrating robert porter's
getting better!" He gave the waiter a toothy grin
and glanced at me. "If that's okay with you,
I assured him it was. Truthfully, I wasn't sure if I
liked the idea of his drinking, considering his near
virgin liver and how crowded this resturant was.
But I decided to let him go. After all, this was his
He turned his smile back to the waiter. "Well
then! Bring 'em on! After all I don't have to drive
home. Or mirror beam anywhere either!"
None of us wanted to offend our guest of honor, so we all ordered from the veggie section. I got myself a pasta salad, Giselle a hearty tofu dish, and Ritchard a Waldorf salad. Prot gave him a pointed look, aware of the eggs, but thankfully Ritchard caught this and asked for "no mayo", much to the dismay of our waiter. After a quick consultation from Robert, prot ordered the all-you-can-eat salad bar, which had become a recent addition for the restaurant in an attempt to boost sales and broaden the genre of diners attending. But with prot there, this would be a dangerous thing for the Asti!
"Just don't put them out of business!" Giselle
whispered loudly enough for the rest of us to hear.
"Mmmm....I can hardly wait!" he nearly salivated
right there on the table, licking his lips with a
While waiting we chatted about our tastes in music. Giselle divulged she was a closet country and western fan, although it did not surprise me.
"I don't know anything about all this Italian,
German or whatever-the-heck-it-is-junk, but it's fun
to hear Gene supposedly sing his lungs out
anyway!" She giggled.
"And I'm sure you'll be hearing it often enough."
Ritchard muttered. I would have chucked a bread
stick at him if only prot wasn't hogging them all to
"Oh come on. Don't verbally bash this fine
musical maestro here! He has the will to be the
next pavarotti! You shouldn't insult him like that."
he piped up in my defense.
"Thank you prot!"
"It's no problem. After all, it's far more amusing
to see you humiliate yourself in front of an
audience than just your family, staff, patients, and
Giselle broke out in fits of laughter. "Oh you are
so right, prot!" I could feel myself blushing, and
prot saw it.
"Okay, okay. Let's give it a rest, people. Gene,
you do sing with a level of confidence that I'll never
have, and I would gain no pleasure from squishing
that. Your vocal discharge is fine by me. If you
want to you can spout away, and I'll ensure that
you won't be embarrassed." There was that
Cheshire cat grin again. I wasn't sure what he
meant by that last statement, but I did appreciate
"If I feel the urge I'll let you know first so you can
proverbially shut me up, all right?" I produced my
own grin, even though I still felt the blood surging
in my cheeks. Prot didn't answer, because the
waiter was handing out our drinks. I was very
surprised by this, I didn't even notice him coming
over. Perhaps the employees of the Asti also knew
the secrets of mirror beaming? Prot examined the
strange liquid item closely before gingerly taking a
"Tastes very much like an orange with the skin still
on! Yummy!" he chirped and took another big gulp
of the stuff.
"Just show some restraint," I warned him with a more than authoritative tone. He shot me his cheeky smile which for some reason rubbed me the wrong way. Perhaps it was because he was being so irreverent in public, or perhaps because he was not displaying the doctor/patient behavior that I had become so accustomed to.
"Prot, I know you're enjoying yourself, and that's
fine. But please try to act civilized here tonight.
This isn't Ward 3B, you know."
"Act civilized? You're kidding, right? I'm not the one sadistically singling out which lobster is to bide another hellish night in the death-tank and who is to be steamed and cracked as a fancy meal for some overweight barbarian, gene." He took another drink.
"Mmm! That waiter knew what he was talking
about!" he smacked his lips, "And I don't see
jensen anywhere around here either, so I don't
expect to be restrained. But then again, you never
know!" He gave Giselle yet another loopy grin and
went back to his tropical fishes. I wondered what
fish, or lobsters for that matter, say to one another.
But I decided it would not be wise to ask him. He'd
probably give me his usual statement of "just listen
to them" or perhaps something a little more snippy,
considering the mood he was in. I'm sorry, but
when I listen to fish all I hear is "Blb-blip-blb-bibble-splash-gurgle." Maybe that's why I'm ready
to line up with all those barbarians so willing to
crack a fellow being open. I hate it when he has a
point, especially when it's aimed at me. But that he
The waiter brought us our food, and it was excellent, as always. Prot got himself a heaping pile of various fruits and scarfed it down before I could get halfway done with my dish. I was so glad Ernie wasn't there to see him! He fidgeted for a while before pushing the plate away.
"I'll spread out my courses, seen as how we'll be
here for a while," he muttered a little crossly,
possibly to Robert. I didn't want him to think I was
eavesdropping, but I wondered why he thought
we'd be here for a while.
Suddenly, lively music started up from behind us. Poor Ritchard nearly jumped out of his skin! The Asti's band had somehow, again, crept up without us knowing. It certainly was a blessing, I didn't want to talk with prot at the moment, and I'm sure he wasn't very interested in what I had to say either. That hurt, fish were better conversationalists than I! The song was Die Fledermaus, a comedy that I personally knew by heart. Thanks to our waiter, we now had entertainment that I could enjoy personally. I didn't have to tell anyone I felt the urge, because Giselle and Ritchard were already encouraging me! (They had caught me singing to it several times when I thought I was alone in my office.) In fact, it seemed the entire restaurant wanted me to get up there! I couldn't resist!
For most of the night I played the part of Falke,
better than usual if I might be so bold to state. It
probably wasn't the best idea to attempt to sing it,
but I had nothing to lose really, aside from what
was left of my dignity! So I stood from the booth
and burst forth into the German tune. And to my
surprise, Ritchard got up and sung it with me as
Eisenstein! I was so relieved that I wasn't going to
have to do a solo, and stunned that he knew it! A
few members of table three joined in as well, and
they didn't sing it the best either. It seemed as
though the people of the Asti all had about the
same abilities in the arts that night. So at least we
all sung badly together! The following is a snippet
of the opera, also transleted into English for
convience, simply to give the reader a taste and
possibly even broaden horizons:
EISENSTEIN: (to Frank) Herr Chevalier, ich grüsse Sie!
I salute you, chevalier!
FRANK: Merci, merci, merci!
Thank you, thank you, thank you
Auf Ihr Spezielles, Herr Marquis!
Especially to your health, marquis!
EISENSTEIN: Merci, merci, merci!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
FALKE: Auf Ihr Wohl, Chevalier und Marquis
To you both, chevalier and marquis!
EISENSTEIN: Merci, merci, merci!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
ROSALINDE, ADELE: Hahaha! Ha ha ha!
ALLE: Merci, merci, merci!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
FALKE: Halt, hört mich an, was ich ersann!
Stop, listen to what I've been thinking!
CHOR: Hört ihn an!
Listen to him!
FALKE: Ich seh', dass sich die Paare gefunden,
I see that pairs have formed
Dass manche Herzen in Liebe verbunden,
That many hearts in love are bound,
Drum lassset uns alle ein grosser Verein
So let us all form a great union
Von Schwestern und von Brüdern sein!
Of sisters and brothers!
ORLOFSKY: Eine grosse Bruderschaft, es sei!
May it be a great brotherhood!
CHOR: Eine grosse Bruderschaft, es sei!
May it be a great brotherhood!
EISENSTEIN: (to Rosalinde) Auch Ihr, schöne Maske, seid dabei!
You too, beautiful mask, are part of it!
ROSALINDE: Wo alle küssen, werd ich's auch müssen!
Where all are kissing, I'll have to as well!
FALKE: Folgt meinem Beispiel: das Glas zur Hand,
Follow my example: glass in hand,
Und jeder sing' zum Nachbar gewand:
Each turns and sings to his neighbor: 30.
Brüderlein, Brüderlein und Schwesterlein
Little brothers, little brothers and sisters
Wollen alle wir sein,
We all want to be,
Stimmt mit mir ein!
All will agree with me!
Brüderlein, Brüderlein und Schwesterlein,
Little brothers, little brothers and sisters,
Lasst das traute"Du" uns schenken,
Address each other with the familiar "Du"
Für die Ewigkeit, immer so wie heut,
For all eternity, just as today,
Wenn wir morgen noch dran denken!
When we think about it again tomorrow!
Erst ein Kuss, dann ein Du
First a kiss and then a "Du Du, Du, Du, immerzu!" Du, Du, Du, forever!
ALLE: Brüderlein, Brüderlein und Schwesterlein
Little brothers, little brothers and sisters
Wollen alle wir sein,
We all want to be,
Stimmt mit mir ein!
All will agree with me!
Brüderlein, Brüderlein und Schwesterlein
Little brothers, little brothers and sisters
Lasst das traute"Du" uns schenken,
Each address the other with the familiar "Du"
Für die Ewigkeit, immer so wie heut,
For all eternity, just as today,
Wenn wir morgen noch dran denken!
When we think about it again tomorrow!
Erst ein Kuss, dann ein Du
First a kiss and then a "Du Du, Du, Du, immerzu!" Du, Du, Du, forever!
Erst ein Kuss, dann ein Du "Du" Du, Du, Du, Du! Du, Du, Du, Du, Duidu, Duidu, lalalalala! Duidu, Duidu, lalalala, etc......
First a kiss and then a "Du" Du, Du, Du, forever!
We were enjoying ourselves immensely. Giselle, who didn't know any of the words and only select bits of the tune, managed to participate-- in her own way. Even under my ardent protest, she somehow managed to make fun of me at every turn! If it wasn't mimicking my vibrato, it was tickling me at my grandiose and dramatic arm gestures! But I knew it was all in good fun, so I got back at her with my Russell impersonation. Whenever she got close enough, I would produce projectile salavotory missiles! Of course I could blame it all on my crooning, so not to offend!
I underestimated the child in her. She was well
vested in the fine art of launching "lougie wads",
and with devastating accuracy. She very rarley
missed, but when she did, she was just so lucky as
to smack it into Ritchard's impeccably clean
moustache! His no diffusive affect promptly
departed, and he roared with over-dramatic fury. He
chased the squealing Giselle around the
restaurant, much to the delight of our fellow diners,
but certainly not to the employees!
Prot seemed to be keeping to himself most of the
time. He'd moved to the bar and I saw him
occasionally chatting with the tender, but that was
about it. I was not concerned, he seemed happy
enough. I even heard him in the chorus a few times
with that goofy lilt to his voice and his tone-deaf
attempts to sing over the crowd he could not be
mistaken. Once after bursting into one of my more
painfull octaves, I heard prot's giddy laugh from
somewhere in the back. Giselle joined in, and some
diners couldn't hold back their snickers. It took a
great effort, but a good artist is never distracted
and I managed to finish my bit.
We all had a marvelous time, the finale was
tremendous. As it should be, after three hours of
singing on end! Luckily, my vocal cords were
exercised often enough, so I didn't run the risk of
exhausting, as Ritchard did! The poor man was
practically croaking towards the end, but still held
his own and bowed with the rest of us. Giselle took
it on herself to boot me in the posterior, but being
the talented and ever-ready man I am, I managed to
stay on my two feet and few noticed her final
attempt to thwart me. Aside from prot.
"Ay! Play nice! But good shot, kid!" he
exclaimed loudly behind us. I turned to face him, in
contrast, totally unprepared for what I saw.
He was leaning against our booth, a half empty
glass of some odd drink in his hand. He had a
goofy-dreamy smile masking his face and his eyes
were bleary, unfocused. I recognized the loose
posture immediately. He'd gotten himself drunk.
"Prot!" I scolded, the only thing I could come up
with. I was genuinely shocked. Prot just didn't
seem the kind who would do this to himself, at
least not under my suggestion. I couldn't believe
the bartender let him go this far, either. But most of
all, I was disgusted at myself for letting him go
unattended, completely ignoring his actions. For all
I knew, he could have just walked out of here and
we would have had an escaped mental patient on
our hands! I had been unbelievably irresponsible,
unprofessional, stupid. I Felt like kicking myself!
Just what would my colleagues think of me,
bringing him back this way? I certainly couldn't
keep him at my house another day, not with the
previous incident. I had been too self indulgent,
anything could have happened while I was so
careless! At that very moment I wanted to obliterate
my medical license with a blowtorch!
"That's m' name, puddintame! Ask me 'gan and
I'll tell ya th'same!" he took another drink and bared
his teeth. He was horrible, sloppy, nearly
unconscious! I felt my anger boiling up. I snatched
the glass right from his hand and slammed it on the
"Thief! You shouldn't steal. G't your own!" He
grabbed for the drink. I pulled it away and dumped
its contents right on the floor. A passing waiter
scowled at me, but I didn't bother to apologize.
"We're leaving. Come on." I reached for his arm,
drooping limply on the upholstered seat without
the glass to hold.
"No!" He pulled away violently, falling aganst the
booth and tumbling head first under the table. He
"We're leaving right now. Come on Giselle,
"Not leavin 'ntill the bet's settled. A promise is a
promise...'s a promise."
"What do you mean, prot?" Giselle asked, leaning
over him sweetly. He struggled to pull himself
"Rob's not been out, like hes said he'd do. Said
he'd come out 'n be a pub-i-lic person. Hasn't ate,
thass the bet. Didn't do it yet."
"You want Robert out in public?" Ritchard asked
"Yea, but he's scared. Gotta be a punk 'bout it.
Punk! Not leabin' until he's had 'lone time with
Gizzy. Gotta be fair."
"Couldn't you just pop down for a while?"
"Tried, but he keeps shovin' be back up! So I'm
putting myshelf outta commission!" He grinned
broadly here, and suddenly burst into a fit of
giggles. "Neber had a hangover 'fore 'neways!
Nothing like ex...ex...'xperimantation!"
"I don't understand."
"You people neber do! Getting myshelf
in...in.....drunk 'nuff so that rob'll have to take 'troll
or'lse he'llve a passed out dremer'n his hands. Or
'least get really embarrassed. 'f I pass out, he'll
have to take 'troll by himself. So he'd better take it
'fore I drink 'ne more!" he crowed.
"Prot, this is inappropriate. You're making a
scene." I told him in the most controlled tone I
"Not yet I'm not. An' when I do, it'll be my
'ntention. Rob's gotta come out sometim' sooner or
sooner. Better be sooner." Giselle shook her head
and got down to prot's eye level. She called out to
Robert loudly, cupping her hands over his ear. Prot
winced, "Now who's making the scene!"
I'd had enough, the situation was quickly becoming out of hand. I grabbed prot under his arm forcefully, "Ritchard, give me a hand." I orderd. Prot squrimed aganst the two of us, pounding the booth with his heels and shouting pax-o in outrage. He managed to wriggle out of our grasp, wobbled backward, and plopped flat on his keister.
"Ow! My butt bone!" he whined.
Giselle sighed loudly and moved me out of her path. "Let me try, guys." She squatted down and again cupped her hands over his ear. "Don't shout this time!" he enforced. She whispered something, after a while prot began to look a little sheepish. When she was finished, he nodded and told her to wait so he could "check". He then rolled his eyes way up to the whites and kept them there for quite some time. Eventually he broke into a broad, loopy grin and slapped his thigh.
"Well feed me corn 'n watch me grow! He'll do it!
But ONLY 'f you take'im back. Alone."
Giselle nodded wisely and approached me.
"Gene, honey, Robert said he'd come out in the
trip back. But, you heard his conditions."
"No! Absolutely not. Robert and prot aren't ready
to be released into the hands of an untrained rep-"
Ritchard cut me off, grabbing my shoulder.
"Dr. B," he began quietly, "you've seen how Robert
and Giselle behave towards one another. You know
those two have plans. When they finally
do....partake upon them, Giselle will need to know
how to handle his behavior. I think we should let
her do it. You know, prove to us that she can
handle him. And to get Robert out in the open
could only have benificial results."
"I don't like it. It seems too easy."
Ritchard frowned. "Maybe you just don't like the
fact that Giselle came up with it first." Now what
was I supposed to say to that? I reluctantly
consented, but still didn't trust the situation. What
with Harry--and Paul! Robert was not a fully
integrated individual, and I shudder to think what
his alters really had the capability of doing. And
Giselle being like a daughter to me....But Robert
was cooperating, and this would be astounding
progress compared to just a few months ago. I had
to do it.
Giselle was down whispering to prot again. "That's
cruel!" he exclaimed.
"But very romantic."
"So tha' means you're into bondage?"
She giggled. He rolled his eyes.
"Only 'f I get to ask 'im or her if it's alright
She nodded and grinned, bounding over to
"Ritchie, would you take my '57 back to MPI?
Rob and I are going to take a horse drawn
carriage!" Dr. Schwartz seemed to like the idea of
driving Giselle's classic 'rod.
"Gene, is this okay with you?" she asked
Sounding peevish, "Do what you have to."
"Great!" She squealed and helped to pick the
lump of prot off the floor. He clutched at her arm
like it was the only lifeline he had to planet earth.
She staggered out with him, singing out a "See you
in a few!" as she made her way past a group of
oggling patrons. I heard her order prot "Now don't
barf on my dress." before she departed to whatever
the night held for them.
Giselle's Point of View
I was delighted to chauffeur my two guys home that night, albeit minimally put off by prot's decision. But it had results, so I have no real reason to complain. A few passerbys stared thanks to his present condition, but prot just smiled and waved pleasantly, as if he didn't have a care in the world. And he probably didn't!
Neither one of us were entirely certain how to
hail a carriage, so for about a half hour we just
walked around. This was the first time I really saw
the sojourner in him. He always seemed to know
where he was going, there was a certain yearning
in his eyes. I always knew he disliked staying put in
the hospital, and understandably so. It was great
strolling with him, he'd insisted on peeking in store
windows and would call out "Let's go look in here!"
His curiosity was marvelous! I felt guilty for
wondering about Robert's impending appearance,
with prot's zealousness I was afraid Robby might
just stave off indefinitely! I hoped that wouldn't be
the case, I was very much looking forward to
My legs were getting tired, and I refused prot's
offer to carry me, so we found a bench and sat. He
streched out, somewhat resembling a striped
orange tabby Betty had named Tiger. We sat saying
nothing for quite a while, before he stood up and
informed me he was going to go "find us a horse."
He took off down the street, stunning the fellow
night owls by making hilarious equine noises! It
was quite a sight, not only by the accuracy of the
call, but by his ludicrous drunken gait! I caught up
and steadied him before he careened into some
street person resting on the curb. And right then,
sure as God makes little green apples, a carriage
drawn by a gigantic Clydesdale came rocking
around the corner. Prot had a cute little "I told you
so" smirk on his face.
We stopped the driver and climbed into our box.
Prot was having quite a time trying to haul himself
up. Apparently he didn't see the step and was
trying to shimmy up the side. I pointed it out to
him, he paused, inspected it closely, and
sheepishly hopped aboard. It was quite an
awkward situation when he lost his balance and fell
face first into my bosom, although I was far more
embarrassed than he was (even though I thought I
heard a hint of a snigger from him).
"Where to?" Our driver asked. He was a happy
looking little man with a full white moustache and
cute little Santa Claus cheeks. He looked like he
came right out of a Jimmy Stewart movie! Of
course prot took it upon himself to make the
situation more uncomfortable. "To th' manhattan
ssychiatrik institut'! Where christ eats pamcanks
with napoleon and wher' cats'shall forever reign
supreme!" he screeched.
The driver gave us a sideways glance.
"That's right, please take us there." I told him in
my patented do-what-I-say firm tone of voice. He
shook his head and got the big horse moving. We
jiggled around for a while not saying much, prot
was obviously getting bored. He nickerd to the
horse. I watched in amazement when it cocked an
ear prot's way. He began making varous horsey
noises, grunts, snorts, stomps, neighs, et cetera
and the horse seemed to be giving him its utmost
attention as we bounced along. Finally he ended
his conversation with a sort of guttural whinny and
the horse stopped walking for a moment. Then it
bobbed its head and stamped its feet, nickering,
and started up walking again, although now more
of a prance. It seemed to be genuinely enjoying
itself, if that's possible for a horse. "What did you
say to it?" I asked, as foolish as it may sound. Prot
laughed boystorously. "Just tol' him one of Milton's
top of the line bawdy jokes. 'Dapted for horsies,
'acourse." He was grinning from ear to ear.
Then, surprisingly enough, prot's head dropped! From discussions with Dr. Brewer, I had learned that this was customary when one of the two had "popped down" and the other was preparing to make an appearance. I waited silently before, miracle of miracles, Robert lifted his head and focused on me! He looked painfully frightened, his face was ashen in the dim light and his facial muscles were tense. He looked around nervously, and eventually calmed himself, took a deep breath, and folded his hands in his lap.
"Hello Giselle, are you proud of me?" he asked
so quietly that I could barely hear him over the
clomping of the Clydesdale.
"Oh Robert! Of course I am!" I was so delighted
to see him that I couldn't resist snatching him up in
a big squishy hug! It took a moment, but soon
enough he got up the gumption to return the
embrace. I breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, Robert
was confident enough to make it out on his own! A
sudden thought flashed through my mind, was it
me that got him to do this, or prot?
It certainly didn't matter, because here he was
sitting right next to me! I took his hand in mine and
I saw a flash of a smile. He took another breath.
"I'm sorry for prot." he mumbled, gazing emptily at
"Whatever for?" I asked.
"He embarrassed you. Sometimes he can be
such a jerk. I mean, he's the best friend I've ever
had, but....I don't know." He squeezed my fingers.
"Rob, don't worry about it. He's a very
considerate friend, I know he didn't do this to
offend anyone. Nobody at my end is upset,
everyone will just be so pleased to know you're out
here! You did a very brave thing tonight, Rob." I
returned the squeeze. He looked at me, all dewey
eyed with a melty smile.
"I love you, Giselle."
The words struck me, hard. All over the world,
time came to a screeching halt. I had never been in
a relationship where I cared for the other so
intensely. I knew he felt this way, thanks to prot's
incessant suggestion, but I'd never heard him say it
aloud to me. That very moment he did! There it
was, his beating heart laid out right in front of me!
But, enough to bring a woman to tears, his head
abruptly dropped to his chest. I was about to call
him back, but before I could get anything out, prot
lifted his face and grinned dreamily at me. "Yay
rob!" he cheered. I absolutely had to agree!
For a while we chatted pleasantly, even though I
found it difficult to understand prot's slurring. I told
him about the plans for my books, and he seemed
very happy at my success. We passed some berry
tree and he took a handfull off, stuffing the wad of
leaves, stems, and berries in his maw. I could hear
him crunching, and so could the driver who quickly
glanced back at us. Prot waved.
Eventually he tuckered out. Without asking my permission, he set his head on my lap and scooted his shoulders up against my belly. I wasn't sure how to respond to this, being both touched and unnerved by this out of character physical display of affection on his part. But moments later I could hear him softly snoring, and I realized I was simply looking too deep into it! Prot was tired and cold, so he decided to share body heat with a fellow being, a natural custom among K-PAXians.
But I couldn't resist running my fingers through
his coal black hair.
Dr. Brewer's Point of View
I was dreadfully worried for Giselle Griffin the
previous night, but the moment I saw them rocking
up in their rickety carriage with a happy looking
horse trotting in place, I knew what was left of my
brown hair had just gone to waste. Giselle is a very
competent woman, she obviously has the ability to
keep prot and Robert in check, and it was silly of
me to think otherwise. I rushed out to greet her,
and was rathar surprised to see prot contentedly
snoring away in her lap. But she grinned and held a
finger to her lips.
"Sssh, they've had a long day."
"They!?" I cried. She shushed me again and
nodded. Trying to be quiet, I offered to pay the
driver. Giselle would have none of it. She reached
for her purse--and prot snorted loudly, crinkling up
his nose in dissatisfaction. She payed the man (and
I secretly gave him a thirty percent tip). We called
out Roman and Navarro to help move the ungainly
lush so the gnome-ish driver could get back to his
rounds. Prot was so blitzed he didn't even flinch
when Roman accidently bumped his head against a
spoke wheel. I had to do all that I could to keep
The driver motioned me over.
"What's wrong with him?" he whispered.
"Well, I mean, one minute he's half passed out
giddy-like, and the next he's telling that pretty lady
he loves her clear as a bell."
"He told her what!?"
"He loved her, clear as a bell. That's weird, ain't
Missing his intention, "....Yeah, it is."
I shook my head, checked once more on the
lump snuggled in his bed snoring away, and finally
started home, at 4:17 in the morning.
That next day I arrived late, as expected by most
of the staff. I didn't even get a chance to move to
my office before a flock of patients stopped me, all
"What's up, guys?" I asked, doing what I could
to conceal how drowsy I really was.
Certainly not, prot! He's claimed the fountain as his kiddie pool!" Bert announced.
"Yup! He's in there now, splashing away like a duck!" Thomas added.
Milton jumped in "Why did the chicken cross the road?"
"It didn't. It was a duck in disguise! Har har har!"
I sighed and went to go investigate the next
Pandora's box. I pushed the door open, just about
smacking into Frankie who had a thing or two to
say about that, and went straight for our Adonis. I
saw a stream of water shooting up where there
hadn't been before. As I got closer, I could see my
very own "space case" patient lounging on his
back spitting mouthfuls water into the air.
"I thought dremers couldn't swim." I said,
bending over the guard rail.
"Most can't. I'm just laying here." he said
huskily, wincing a little.
"The brain has no pain receptors. You can
literally cut away someone's gray matter one piece
at a time, and he probably wouldn't even know it.
The membrane around my gooey stuff hurts, gene."
"Laying in our fountain won't help."
"Right, but it gets the vomit stink off me." His eyes widened "Oop!"
He was up in a flash, off to the bathroom. I
jogged behind him, and waited until he was done to
ask him if he was okay.
"Gene! My head is in a toilet! There is food
coming out where it should be going in! What the
hell makes you think I'm okay!?" He had a point, I
always thought it was just common courtesy to ask
someone that, but I understood how it could
"Want an aspirin?"
"Waste of a good product, no chance I'll be able
to hold anything."
"Okay. What's this about last night? One of you
said you....loved Giselle?"
He squeezed at his temples. "I can assure you
gene, I know nothing. Last night is just a big fuzz
spot to me, and I'm not about to let that happen
again. From now on, robert can fight his own
"You're not helping him anymore?"
"Of course I am. I'm just not going to be so self
"Good. Can I talk to Rob?"
"Revenge. He's making me take the body with
its hangover. That's what I get for being nice." he
scoffed in apparent disgust. "But don't worry, we
all know about rob's feelings for giselle. He'll do
what he can. Because," he attempted to chuckle,
"there's no chance I said that to her!"
"Okay, prot. I have Betty get you an aspirin a
little later, okay?" he gazed at me and nodded, still
doubled over the toilet. I thanked him for attending
our little dinner and closed the door behind me so
he could get some privacy. Forgetting the air
conditioning was on, the door was a little lighter
than usual, and smacked into the frame with a
Getting Ready for the Lion King
Our second group therapy session went better. This time it wasn't the official "everybody put their foot in the mouth group therapy session." We actually got Katie to walk!
While I was explaining to the group about the possible Lion King outing I noticed Katie was signaling to me with her pad. I walked over to her and bent down and read, " Can I go too?
I smiled at her, "Well Katie, I don't know how we can fit your chair in the taxi. Maybe if you were to walk I could convince the staff you were able enough to come."
She got this determined look on her face. Then she grasped the arms of the chair and struggled to her feet. She almost fell but prot/Robert caught her and helped her take a few faltering "baby steps" towards Dr S.
The whole room applauded
Then Robert took Katie in his arms and they did a clumsy waltz. Then Katie suddenly sunk to the floor. "Easy!" Dr. S exclaimed. "You've been off your feet for too long to start trying to run marathon!"
She looked up at her doctor and gave us the biggest grin
that I had ever seen on a so called catatonic in my life!
Prot and Robert started snoopy dancing around the office. It was crowded but they did the best they could! I smiled. I noticed that now that Robert was waking up, prot was acting a little more "human." There was definitely some bleed through there between the two personas. I smiled to myself. This was good."
The rest of the session was not quite as eventful. Then I turned my attention to Thomas/Charley and asked them, "Would you like to see Lion King too?"
I asked, " Can you behave yourself? Not start shouting and hollering at Charley while we are out in public?"
He said quietly, "I can try not to."
I asked, ""Can you speak to him?"
Thomas said, "yes, but I don't want to."
I said, "Please do so, find out for sure whether he is willing to behave himself."
He closed his eyes a minute then said. "Charley says he wants to see Lion King too, so he will behave himself and not try to take over my mind while we are doing that."
I smiled, "Good. Because I know Milton can behave himself, or if he doesn't people will just think he is a comedian."
Russell of course was the one that I was worried about the most. I was terribly afraid Russel would try to get ON the stage and start hollering at people to accept Christ. Actually prot's idea of doing interpersonal therapy on him, to teach him better social skills was a good idea. I wish we had thought of it earlier! Obviously due to his upbringing he hadn't had a chance to learn social skills! Prot was right, THAT was a bigger problem then his harmless idea that Christ lived inside of him. Many Christians claim that, but they don't spit in people's faces or holler when they state it!
Russell didn't even fit very well with other Christians. Interpersonal therapy was long over due.
The rest of our group therapy session was not quite as eventful.
Thomas and prot agreed to try to meet in the middle concerning their room's temperature. Prot agreed to wear a heavy coat and put up with the temperature at 55 and Thomas agreed to strip down to his boxers. That way they both looked weird but hey, they were in a mental hospital where a certain amount of weirdness is expected, and they would both be relatively comfortable
All that was left now concerning our Lion king trip was for me to convince the staff that it was a good idea.
I took prot/Robert along with me to the next staff meeting. This was getting to be a habit.
I let prot speak for himself. They were used to him by now! He grinned at them, "I want to take my friends to go see lion king, dr b has agreed to pop for it, and karen has agreed to let him. All that remains is to get the approval of you guys. Can we go, huh huh, Can we go?"
Dr. Goldfarb looked at prot with amusement as we all were. "Why do you want to go see Lion King, prot?"
"Unfinished business.." prot explained. One of the
reasons I came to new yorrrrk city was to see Lion King. I
did not get to because the police rescued robert and me
before I had the chance."
I noticed the staff smiled and nodded approvingly at prot's
description of the police as "rescuing' them. I did too. Prot
was refreshingly unparanoid and grateful for our help. He
was a welcome relief from many patients who are not as
But why Lion king, prot? Dr. Goldfarb asked, "Why Lion
King and not some other stage play?"
Prot smiled, "disney is just about the best you've got on
this WORLD. His organization is one of the first to realize
that furry beings are beings too with thoughts and feelings of
their own, and his movies have been useful in teaching that
truth to your species. The stage version of Lion King
reenforces that idea. I support it. I also just want to see it
because I know enough about it to know that it's gonna be
Dr. Schwartz of course knew about our plans. He stated, "I believe this trip would be good for prot and Robert and the other patients that are going. It would help them bond with one another and with Dr. Brewer. It would especially be good for Thomas and Charley, who are just beginning to trust him.
Thorstein of course was the holdout. He frowned scornfully and practically spat out. "We would be crazy ourselves to let this patient off the hospital grounds. He started the Ward Three altercation and no matter what you tell me I am not sure prot's so called Oscar winning performance was an act!"
Prot stared firmly at Thorstein. Dr brewer is in complete control of me at all times. So is Roman and Rodrigo and the nurses. Dr b show em our hypnotic off switch, just don't let THEM hear it."
So I whispered both hypnotic suggestions in their ear and they immediately went to sleep. They became perfectly relaxed and melted into my arms a big trusting grin on their face. I caught them as they fell to the floor "UMF! Prot and Robert you are heavy!" I snapped my fingers and woke them up again. They just lay there on the floor gazing trustingly up at me, smiling.
Dr. Goldfarb smiled, "How did you ever manage to get them to agree to that idea?"
I grinned myself, "They thought of it themselves They saw something similar on A-Team with Mr. T!" Dr Goldfarb started laughing and so did the rest of us including Robert and prot themselves. Only Thorstein looked like he had eaten a sour lemon.
Klaus Villers finally said, "Ok, you two clowns can go see Lion King. But two of the orderlies have to go, too."
Prot and Robert grinned again, "Great. I was hoping they could go."
Some of the staff looked surprised at that but I knew prot and Roman and Rodrigo liked one another. The other orderlies did not know them as well but they liked each other too. So this reaction didn't surprise me any.
So now all I had to do was prepare Russell and Milton. Milton would be no problem. Russell however was going to need some delicate handling.
I took him aside and explained to him, "Russel I am
thinking of taking you and some of the other patients to go
see the musical, Lion King. Would you like to see it? Its a
good clean family production. You might like it.
Russell smiled and said, "Whatever is true, whatever is
honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is
pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any
excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think
about these things.
I asked, "Can you behave yourself? This will not be the
time to be witnessing."
Russel nodded, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven."
I stared at him firmly "I'm taking that as a yes!" I told
him firmly. Don't disappoint me! The rest of the group is
really interested in seeing Lion King. We don't want you to
wreck it for the rest of us.
To this Russell nodded, "Do not merely look out for your
own personal interests but also for the interests of others"
"Right." I said, "Ok you can go. I stared at him firmly,
"but behave yourself."
Russell nodded, and then he actually smiled. It dawned on
me that I seldom saw Russel smile. Prot was right.
Depression brought on by lack of social skills was Russel's
That night right before I went to bed I ordered the tickets
from Ticket Master. Karen overheard me doing so, which
was fortunate. She saved me a pile of money.
She listened as I ordered the tickets. "Hello I would like to
order 12 tickets for Lion King please.
My loyal and respectful wife started laughing.
I glanced at her puzzled.
"Tell them you will call back." She said.
"Why?" I asked.
"Do so." She had that firm look no successful husband
ever ignores so I excused myself off of Ticket Master and
hung up. I stared at her with a puzzled look on my face.
"How many tickets did you just tell the man you wanted?
"My wife asked with an amused tone to her voice.
"Why that many?'
Well one for Thomas, Charley. Milton, Giselle, Russel,
Robert, prot, Roman, Rodrigo, Katie, you and myself.
Karen threw a pillow at me, and I threw one back. All this ended a few minutes later in the best romantic time I had had with my wife in weeks. That kind of made up for some of the times my obsession with prot had come between me and Karen.
THE CIRCLE OF FRIENDSHIP
I watched my patient's reaction to Lion King as much as I watched the play itself. Prot obviously was deeply moved. How could he not be with songs that seemed to fit his peculiar point of view so very well.
Who does this remind you of?
From the day we arrive on this planet
and blinking step into the sun There is more to see than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever get done?
There is far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high Through the sapphire sky Keeps great and small on the endless round.
Substitute the name "Robert" for "father" in the following and one can see how "Endless Night" perfectly describes prot's 5 years of silence from his friend, struggling to survive in a world he had no experience handling.
Where has the star light gone?
Dark is the day!
How can I find my way home?
Home is an empty dream
Lost to the night Father, (Robert) I feel so alone!"
You promised you'd be there Whenever I needed you! Whenever I call your name! You're not anywhere!
I'm trying to hold on
Just waiting to hear your voice!
One word, just a word will do
To end this nightmare!
When will the dawning break?
Oh endless night! Sleepless I dream of the day
When you were by my side Guiding my path Father, (Robert) I can't find the way!
You promised you'd be there Whenever I needed you! Whenever I call your name You're not anywhere!
I'm trying to hold on
Just waiting to hear your voice
One word, just a word will do
To end this nightmare!
And then hope at the end
I know the night must end
And that the sun will rise
And what the sun will rise!
I know the clouds must clear
And that the sun will shine
And that the sun will shine
I know that the night must end
And that the sun will rise
And that the sun will rise
I know that the clouds must clear
And the sun will shine
And that the sun will shine!
Yes I KNOW!
The sun will rise!
Yes I know
the clouds must clear.
I know that the night must end
I know that the sun will rise
And I'll hear your voice deep inside!
And how could two personalities forced by fate to live inside one body not be moved by the oh so fitting words to He lives in You
During this most fitting song, Robert made his second out of MPI appearance, if for no other reason than the glasses had to come off to make a little tear wiping possible. Once they were off Robert stayed out, and he stayed out for most of the rest of the production, with only brief pop outs by Prot. This continued even into the lobby and out into the night to wait for a taxi!
And the spirit of life, Calling Mama lela Memla!
And a voice!
Just the fear of a child Answers mamaleya! Ayi Mamela!
Wait wait wait! There's no moutain too great!
Hear these words and have faith OOOOOH.. Have faith!
He lives in you!
He lives in me!
He watchs over Everything we see!
Into the water
Into the truth
In your reflection,
He lives in you!
He lives in you
He lives in me
He watches over, Everything that we see.
Into the water,
Into the truth
In your reflection
I know Robert was affected by Simba's struggle to become King also . It was similar to the internal struggle that was going on inside of him, fighting to take control of his own body away from prot, who though not evil like Scar, nevertheless intensely wanted to live.
And just as Nayla and all his friends were there to help Simba become King again, Giselle and all the rest of us were there to help Robert take control of his own life and his own body.
And I think this powerful production helped both of them to realize that even after prot's "going back to K-PAX" or whatever euphinisem they chose to use to cope with prot's coming death and integration into Robert, prot would always live on, in the sky among the stars like Mufasa, or at least deep inside of Robert's heart. This was right where he was supposed to be instead of being dominant.
Afterwards I asked prot, as we waited for a taxi and waited and waited and waited. Where's alien mind control when you need it? "How did you know Lion King was going to be so moving to you?
I expected prot to give me some long winded explanation about 'su-PER-rior alien reasoning abilities, or using his fob wa to see it already, or something.
He simply said, "Oh I saw the cartoon."
In a way prot who had never believed in any concept of God before "found religion." that night, gaining strength for helping him cope with his rapidly approaching death. All the way back to MPI he babbled on and on about God "being genetic code anthropomorphized."
To my complete surprise this didn't offend Russell. In fact later when I asked him what he thought about prot's new belief, Russell actually replied with out quoting the Bible."
He said, "I've been praying for both of them for a long time. Its a start."
I also found out prot could speak fluent Swahili. He translated all the background chorus words for us. To top it off the music was so good it was affecting me so deeply I couldn't help singing. The taxi driver who had the unfortunate job of ferrying us all back to MPI was convinced I was the worst looney of them all!
When we got out at MPI, I never saw a taxi driver take off so fast in my life. He didn't even wait to be paid. (Well I saved 150 bucks.)
I looked at prot.
Prot looked at me, big grin, big thumbs up sigh, "That was so right!"
Then Prot and Robert started popping in and out of each other so fast I couldn't keep them straight but apparently they could.
Giselle looked at Robert There were stars in her eyes.
And Robert looked at Giselle. There were stars in his eyes too.
Then pro/Robert put on the most wonderful performance I have ever seen in my life. They started singing to us, together! Of course they couldn't really sing together so they were taking turns with their one body.
(On Key) Rob: "Prot lives in me"
Off key.) Prot: "Rob lives in me"
Prot? Robert, (not on key), "We're watching over everything that we see!"
Rob (on key) Into the psych ward.."
Prot (way off key): "onto the couuccch...."
(Not sure), In dr brewer's office.."
(Not sure), "We live in we!""
Thomas stared at them thoughtfully "They really do have fun together, don't they? Robert really does like having prot in his brain!" And prot isn't controlling him, at least not all the time. They are like two brothers sharing one car!"
Then he turned to me. Doc, I'll let you hypnotize me next session. Just like you want. I no longer think either you or Charley would take advantage of me anymore."
Well I had a break through.
Then suddenly, Charley made his first off ward appearance!
Before me Thomas actually turned into another person. His pupils didn't dilate like Robert turning into prot. Instead the opposite happened, the pupils contracted into small dots. Their collective body took on a tenser, more wary, heavily wired attitude. He gazed around him like he had never seen EARTH before, or humans either. He stared at each on of us intently, then tried to take a few wobbly first baby steps and almost fell, but Roman caught him. I noticed he didn't tense up and try to push Roman away but welcomed his touch.
Roman and Rodrigo helped him walk a few feet, and then he stopped and stared very intensely at me. "You took us to have fun!" He exclaimed.
I nodded, "Yes Charley it was fun for all of us."
"But you are a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists don't help beings have fun. Instead they put beings in strait jackets and shock them."
"Oh Charley that is true and not true. Sometimes mentally ill beings try to hurt themselves and we do have to put them in restraints. So its true but we do it only to keep them from hurting themselves, and we do ECT on certain depressives that don't respond well to other therapies, but we are only trying to help them, and often it does help! They are always scared of their first ECT treatment, but they often request the following ones themselves, because they discover they really do help, sometimes ALOT! Its a treatment not a torture!"
A plan was forming in my mind, how to get Charley over his psychiatrist phobia.
He didn't look too convinced but at least he was talking to me!
And then it was like for a few moments we ALL were in each other's brains. For a few seconds I actually saw the world as prot sees it, in all its ultraviolet fire and splendor.
All this was all so wonderful. I didn't care what others thought! I wanted to celebrate!
For about the 20th time that night I started to sing Hakuna Matata! And prot, and the others fell in behind me. We hakuna ma ta taed all the way back to Ward Three. Neither prot nor I can carry a tune, but that's ok because it forced the others to sing louder to drown us out. All the others joined us, all of us just a pride land full of sacred beings out for a little fun in their celebration and reverence towards the planet they were living on. Our very own interstellar circle of Life and friendship.
Our tune may be off but our timing was perfect. Prot/Robert had the movements of Timon down perfectly. I don't know how well I did as Pumba, but we sure put on quite a show! Everybody, staff and patients alike got this flabbergasted look on their faces when I got to the place where I was singing, "When I was a young ward hog," (The pun was not intentional. I swear it was a true freudian slip!) .
And prot shrieked, "Pumba, not in front of the kids!" as if he meant it!
To this day I kick myself that I didn't secretly take my recorder to the next staff meeting. It certainly should have been taped for posterity! It took me over an hour to convince everybody I didn't need to move into Ward Two myself! The other theory was I was under prot's "alien mind control!" I explained how everyone, aliens and humans both, were just under the influence of an even more powerful force than any form of mind control from anywhere in the Universe, music. I told them smugly, "We had all just been having a temporary, 'Disney Spell' though, 'post pleasure flashbacks,' could be expected." And staff and patients alike started calling me, "the young ward hog" behind my back." But it was worth it, because ....
As Thomas/Charley and prot/Robert were cheerfully locked back into ward three, Thomas had a big grin on his face, He chortled. "Ah, Charley now I really understand! You don't really want to hurt me do you? You just want to enjoy Earth life! You can borrow MY body once in a while. I no longer think you're going to keep it permanently.
Charley must have said something nice back because that
was the complete end of Thomas's paranoia. He was still
firmly convinced Charley was an alien. But the fear and
emotional disturbance were gone. He started allowing me to
hypnotize him, and soon Charley was too. Now Thomas and
Charley are the best of friends, the first step in the long
difficult road towards integration.
I also used my new influence with Charley to overcome
his final fear of psychiatrists. The best way I decided was to
let him see what we do. Except for the time I spent with
patients in therapy I let him follow me around all day.
I even let him sit in on a "therapy session" with
prot/Robert. I told them to go under hypnosis. Prot of
course did so immediately, "one two three four five" and
Robert then went six, seven, eight, nine, ten. While they
were under I asked them some routine questions that I
already knew the answers to. I simply wanted Thomas to see
what it was like.
I explained to him, "Even under hypnosis they can't be made to do or say anything they don't want to. It is just very relaxing. My patients enjoy it."
I even let Charley see electroconvulsive therapy. It wasn't
hard to find a patient willing to let him watch. We have a lot
of people who come into our ECT clinic on the first floor,
have their treatment and leave a few hours later. Most of
these are from the tiny minority of depressives and manic
depressives who do not respond successfully to
antidepressants or psychotherapy, but who do respond to
ECT. Of course they are scared the first time they have to
have this very useful therapy. Most everyone has seen that
blasted, Cuckoo's Nest movie, or some other horror story.
But from the very first treatment these people often feel
much better. They are seldom anywhere near as scared the
second treatment. Soon they become old hands at it, and let
us know when another treatment is needed.
I asked an old patient and friend of mine, "Dr. Sanders." if Charley could watch him get his ETC. Dr. Sanders is a Rabbi of a synagogue in the Bronx. He suffers from biological depression which he inherited from his mother and grandmother. They too were quick responders to ECT and since he knew this when his own first depressive episode hit as a teenager, he was not as scared as most of our first time patients were during his first treatment. He is 45 years old now and has had to have ECT about a dozen times a year since he was 14 years old. The treatments work and his congregation loves him. He has been instrumental in getting several members of his own congregation to go for help. Most of them did not need ECT of course. Most depression and manic depression responds very nicely to medication and/or to psychotherapy.
Dr. Sanders was perfectly willing to let Charley watch,
not that there was much to see.
We give our ECT patients an intravenous
barbiturate and muscle relaxant which puts them to sleep
temporarily. The only part of their body that shakes is their
ankle and foot and that is only because we put a tourniquet
around their ankle which cuts off the muscle relaxant, so that
we can gage how well the ECT is working. They wake up a
few minutes later in the recovery room and soon they can go
home, which of course is exactly what Dr. Sanders did. But
even Charley could see that Dr. Sanders came in depressed
but willing and unafraid of the ECT, and he left after his
treatment a few hours later feeling obviously much better.
The next group therapy session we had the happy but sad task of informing Thomas/Charley and prot/Robert that they could all move down to ward 2. I say happy and sad because Thomas/Charley and prot/Robert were happy about this but obviously Katie wasn't.
"I don't care!" she said. What made this amazing is, she
said it out loud!"
We of course could see that she did care very much.
Robert said to her gently, "Katie, we will visit you every
day. We'll spend more time with you then we did!
Plus Dr Schwartz comforted her, "You can see them
twice a week here in group therapy too."
But Katie was still not happy. She didn't say anything more to us out loud.
It wasn't long before both of them, Charley/Thomas Johnson were moved triumphantly to Ward Two with Robert Porter and Prot PORTER cheerfully leading the way.
All the Ward Two patients were so happy to see prot and Robert come back again! They fell in behind prot as he carried his note books, papers, baby boo, and other personal effects down. They were like groupies around a rock star, pumping his hands and hugging him, patting him on the back so hard I feared bruises, welcoming him back, congratulating him on his "mental improvement!" He dropped baby boo, his papers, and notebooks several times because of the press of people, and his laundry went flying, some of it never to be seen again! But he was as happy to see them as they were to see him. I felt the rise of the Gossamer Thread.
I held him by the shoulders and gazed in to his eyes and smiled at him and then gave him a bear hug and handed him his mirror and flash light back. Because mirrors have sharp edges and because batteries can be swallowed he hadn't been allowed these items on Ward Three. Knowing what I know he believes the mirror and flashlight can do for him I was surprised he didn't react more to obtaining them back in his possession. But he just smiled calmly and said, "Thank you Doctor for keeping them safe for me."
By sheer luck we actually had the same Ward Two hospital room available. This pleased prot no end. He loved that room because of the view. He could watch the sunset every night. "Gosh," said prot as he plopped down in his own bed, his hands behind his head and his feet on his pillow. (I have no idea why). He gave me a cocky grin. "is it ever GER-RRATE to be back home!"8-)