K-PAX; THE HORSE WHISPERER
by liz hensley
and madam foogie 8-)
with deep love for both gene brewers,
the real and the unreal.
Please consider our humble works an advertisement for the real K-PAX stories.
Not much that is exciting happens in our quiet little town of Hope but one day a Mysterious Stranger came into town. No one saw him walk in, which is peculiar. There is only one road in and out of town, and Strangers are so rare around here, a Stranger walking down the side of the road would have been noticed, in fact most likely he would have been given a lift. The logical explanation is he arrived cross country through the woods. That's the logical explanation, but there are others that could cover the facts.
Now, I was desperate for a Stable Hand! The manure was piling up, for I couldn't keep up with it and my other duties running our 100 acre spread. This was bad, very bad, as anyone who keeps Horses knows.
Of course the work is stinky and hard. And I don't pay well. It is under the table pay with no insurance or Worker's benefits of any kind, but it comes with free room and board, if you count the ramshackle trailer I lend my Stable Hand to live in. The best I ever get for such a job is a Wetback willing to accept the horrible conditions, and even they don't stay long.
So when I put my sign up, "Stable Hand needed immediately, "I was even considering paying one better, not that I could afford it. People think someone who owns 200 Horses and one hundred acres is rich. We aren't except for THAT, of course. I have to watch my pennies very carefully. Any setback could have cost us everything.
My sign didn't last long. I noticed it was gone before I realized I had acquired myself a Worker!
Prot, for that is what he called himself, apparently saw the sign and thinking himself (quite correctly), "the perfect being for the job," ripped it down and somehow "picked" the electronic lock on our security fence. Then in what was to prove typical behavior for him, he simply walked to the stable and started to work without bothering to check with me first. Now we have six Pit Bull Rottweiler Crosses who usually bark, growl and worse if a Stranger enters the property. They acted like Puppies around him! In fact if I would believe him, (I almost do), the "puppies" told him, everything I need to know to do the job well including your sorry financial state, and where to dump the shit." Well, somehow he did know all this before I talked to him. Somehow, but "the Dogs told him? Also he just about knocked me down verbally when he told me, as he put it, "My knowledge of your pitiful economic sit TU ra tion leads me to ask you for much less money than you were planning to pay me. Just give me enough to buy books, necessary personal stuff and food, that's all." It was if he simply wanted to help me out! Much later after we were friends, I asked him why he wanted less than I would have paid him. His answer was typical of his usual way of thinking, "I talked to the horses and the dogs, and they said you treat them right. That is rare on this PLANET. So I decided to help you help them." By the time I discovered him in the stable he had five of the stalls mucked out, and was making rapid progress on the sixth. The Horse whose stall he was working on when I found him was a real nervous Lady, who was always extremely skittish around Strangers. But she seemed to adore, prot." She kept impeding his work by nuzzling him. It was obvious he enjoyed her too. Other than his unusual propensity for trying to muck out a stall without bothering to remove the Horse first, prot was doing a fine job!
So for references my mysterious stranger had nothing but the good job he was already doing and the approval of the Animals themselves. Not bad references for any man, I suppose.
What can I say? I could honestly say should I ever be in trouble for hiring an "illegal Alien," if prot really is an illegal Alien, that I never hired him, he just invaded the place.
Illegal Alien, invaded the place...a perfect description of exactly what happened at least from prot's unique point of view. For you see my new, perfect Stable Hand did have one little problem. He was demented big time. He was convinced he was from Outer Space and wasn't afraid to tell you so to your face! The thing is, after being around prot for a while, seeing what he could do with the Animals and listening to him ramble on about his PLANET K-PAX, one is willing to believe him!
Prot proved to be the best Stable Hand I ever had! Oh yes he was way into the weird side with his talk of being from Outer Space and having traveled to different planets, and all around our World and all that, but for all of that I was happy to have him.
He was more content than your average Wetback with my trailer but he treated it mostly as a storage container for his few possessions, (and a place to shower and poop and pee).
He loved the Animals, and they loved him, and I was about willing to believe he was an Alien the way he could communicate with them.
I watched him one day when he thought I wasn't watching. I kind of think he was hiding some of his "powers," perhaps out of fear that we would suddenly believe he was an Alien, instead of just a gentle quiet Lunatic. I do know this though, there was something inside of prot that had been hurt very badly sometime in his past, and he was carrying around a terrible burden that he would not speak about to us, though I could see that he wanted to very badly. When he watched my Kids playing, there was a haunted hungry look in his eyes like a starving Waif on a snowy day in front of a candy store. Prot may have claimed to be not Human but he wanted to be Human very badly, and it shone in his eyes.
Those few times I could see them. Unless it was twilight or dark, he never took those dark, mysterious glasses off.
And when he did he could see in the dark like a Cat!
One evening in the twilight after his chores were more than done for the day, when he didn't realize I was watching (or did he), he called the White Stallion to come to him.
Blizzard out of Nightmare Thunder by Pretty Dancer was a beautiful Horse, a champion bloodline. He could have made me big bucks on the racing circuit but alas one day while he was a Colt, some sicko came into his stall one night and slashed a huge chunk of flesh right off his right flank. (That was the reason for our high security fence.) He recovered physically but never emotionally. I used him for Stud on numerous occasions, but after that no one could ride him or even get near him, until prot came along. Veterinary care was impossible until prot came along, unless we shot him with a tranquilizer first. After prot "talked" with him, our Vet was from there ever after able to attend to his many needs, but he would not let anyone ride him, except prot.
I saw the following with my own eyes. One night after his chores were done, prot climbed the fence into his paddock. That was dangerous but something told me to wait and watch, and see what he would do.
He stood there, not quite facing the Horse, with his shoulders slumped down and his eyes to the ground, making little chewing motions with his mouth. It was like he was imitating the Horses's body language. That was exactly what he was doing.
Blizzard responded to prot as if he WERE another Horse! He came over and put his head on prot's shoulder, nickering softly, and prot nickered back to him! Telling each other their troubles I do not doubt.
Well, I have heard of such things before. It is called Horse whispering. I knew one Man who could start a Horse from wild to saddle and bridle in less than half an hour. I was amazed to find out my demented Stable Hand had this power, but what he did and what he said after that was even more amazing, and troubling.
Prot made a gentle gesture with his right hand pointing to the ground, and Blizzard suddenly got down on his front knees and then his back knees. Prot climbed on and hung on with a Dead Man's grip to the Horse's mane and neck, as Blizzard rose to a standing position again. Now just a minute ago prot had acted like an Expert Horse whisperer, and now it became clear to me the man had never even been on the back of a Horse before! Every muscle in prot's body was tense. His dark eyes were full of fear and yet he was bravely facing his fears of being on top of a Horse. I just wished he had picked a little gentler example for his first ride!
He had also neglected to put on any saddle and bridle.
The Horse just stood there eating grass while prot clung like a sack of potatoes with legs and arms to Blizzard's back.
I decided maybe I had better intervene. I went over to the fence as close as I dared and shouted to him.
"Never been on a Horse before, have you, prot?"
He gave me a rueful grin, "Gee mrs. taylor how can you tell?"
"It shows, prot, but what amazes me is how come you could get him to come to you and let you on his back in the first place. The last 2 Folks who did that ended up at emergency with various broken bones."
Prot shrugged, "It is hard to enslave another but not hard to make friends with another."
"More wisdom from the PLANET K-PAX, prot?"
I asked him. "Prot, are you having trouble getting down?"
He gave me that bubbly grin of his. (It was just a little nervous.) Oh no, mrs. taylor. If I wanted down I would tell bliz here to cush. That's what camel handling homo sapiens call it, and bliz would be down in a sec, and I could get off easily. I don't want off though. I want to stay on until I stop being scared of being up here. This is very scary new experience for me. It's not like it's something perfectly ordinary, and safe and routine like deep space travel, you know." He grinned at me to let me know he knew I didn't believe him.
If anyone else had said that I would have thought they were COMPLETELY crazy, but I had just seen prot tell the Horse to get down. If he could make a Wild Horse get down once, he could do it again. So I pointed out to him, "Ah prot, I don't know how you are going to make that Horse go where you want. You neglected to put a bridle on him."
Then prot said the strangest thing. "Oh no! I do not want to make the horse go where I want! I AM SO VERY DAMN TRIED OF CONTROLLING EARTH BEINGS! For once, for just a few peaceFULL, good old fashioned minutes, I am going to sit on the back of a being, and relate to it, and let it go anywhere it pleases! It feels good! It feels the way things are supposed to be, not the way they are now!"
There were actually tears running down his cheeks! Now I had never heard my mild mannered Stable Hand so much as raise his voice, much less burst into tears! What in the World was he talking about, "CONTROLLING EARTH BEINGS?" What did prot think he was anyway, some kind of Tapeworm living inside of a Human controlling him like some horrible Extraterrestrial in a sci fi paranoia flick!
And if he did not wish to control them, why was he? What was wrong? What had happened in prot's past that made him think he was this way? I knew my Stable Hand needed psychiatric care badly and yet what could I do?
I needed his help. I couldn't afford to pay someone over the table, social security, health care, accident insurance, all that. I was barely making ends meet, and paying someone like they were supposed to be paid would have meant giving up my dream of producing a champion Racer, and even losing the farm.
And prot was as I said the best Stable Hand I ever had and content to work for wages that would have sent a Wetback scurrying!
How to help him? How to help him? I pondered the question and brought it up in prayer meeting Tuesday night.
Everyone in town knew that prot thought he was an Alien. He never hid his strange delusion from us. It did not make us fear him. We are simple Christian Country Folk. We reach out all the time in love to others who need to feel the love of Christ, and in this prot was no different from many of the perfectly Human Aliens who look at us Christians as Strange Folk and fail to realize the wonderful TRUTH of Christ's Indwelling Presence in us. While he refused to accept the facts of our faith, he was way eager to sample its glories. Prot loved church dinners, plays, dances, anything that allowed him to "picnic with my fellow beings." He would do anything but attend an actual service. He would show up after the service was over, "just in time to party."
Once we invited him to come to our once a month Gospel sing. He declined. I tried to argue for his coming from his point of view. "Prot, I would think you would want to observe the religious rituals of the species you are studying. Besides, it's fun to sing, even if you don't believe what you are singing."
He grinned, knowing full well I was humoring him, "Oh no, believe you me, you do NOT want me singing at your religious rituals, or anywhere. Believe me you don't!"
I asked, "What happens when you sing? Something horribly extraterrestrial and dangerous? Or do K-PAXians just not sing?"
He gave me a mysterious and humorous grin. "Nothing alien or dangerous happens! And we do sing, you just do not want ME singing!"
"We could really use a Singer."
He grinned ruefully at me. "I appreciate it but I don't think so." Noticing my confusion, he shook his head slowly and playfully. "I shall demonstrate." He inhaled deeply and opened up his mouth and with more feeling and volume than ability sang me an off key rendition of "Imagine." He proved his point! After my nervous system calmed down and my soul forgave me for loosing this nightmare of sounds on our vulnerable planet, I made the firm vow never to invite my demented, Alien Stable Hand to sing ever again!
He loved the Kids. After Church when he showed up he as he usually did (after the church part was over) he would romp with them and listen intently to them as they told him all about their week and lives and adventures (studying them?) And he would tell them all about K-PAX. They loved him, and while we kept a cautious eye on him, he always seemed harmless and because the Kids enjoyed him so much, we let them play.
"What can we do to help him?" I asked, as we watched him pick my delighted little Daniel up by his legs and swing him around as if he were light as a feather. "I don't want to get him committed to the big state mental hospital. A free loving soul like prot doesn't need to be put in a straitjacket and drugged to his gills! But he needs help! And I need his! What can we do?"
Reverend Schroder had an idea, "I know a retired Psychiatrist that may be able to go out to prot while he is working, and win his confidence. Then maybe he can be persuaded to accept help on his own. Its not difficult, you know, to help the willing ones. All the have to do is take a few pills a day and they get a whole lot better. I've seen it happen. The trick is to get them to take the pills and keep taking the pills!"
"And," He added, "to just be there for them, and help through the difficult period when they suddenly realize they've been living only in a dream world for so long. Prot enjoys his K-PAX fantasy so much, that could be a problem. How will he act if suddenly he woke up one morning and it was all gone?"
"Could he become violent?" I asked nervously.
The Preacher nodded, "He could. I've seen it happen, but with prot it is much more likely he may become self destructive! We'll just have to watch him closely, that's all. But he may be out of commission for a while anyway."
"You mean our choices are to have the best and most cheerful Stable Hand I've ever had who just happens to think he's an Alien from Outer Space compared to a rational Human Being who can't function?"
The Preacher nodded.
"Some choice!" But I knew I had to do the right thing! I agreed to let Dr. Davenport on my property to see prot.
Now prot released the Doc from the need to keep his sessions secret, so that is how come the good Doctor was able to relate the following to me for publication. The following is an amended portion made available to the Public only after prot revealed to the World that he could mirror beam. If we told what we both saw before prot's television demonstration, we would have been the ones with the White Coats coming after us!
Dr. Davenport's Account:
I went to see my new Patient as a favor to my Minister, Reverend Schroder. Now I had been retired for years, spending most of my time fishing and gardening. It had been a long time since I had felt the tingle of excitement that comes when I was about to embark on a journey of discovery with a new Patient. It felt good to be back in the saddle again!
Getting in the place was as hard as getting into some mental hospitals. Since that sicko took a carpet knife to Blizzard, the Taylors has more security than NASA, no kidding! I honked and honked and honked and finally Debbie heard me and pushed the remote and the gate swung open.
I looked around. Such a peaceful place, I thought to myself, the perfect place actually for a Disturbed Mind to soothe itself and possibly recover from whatever trauma had induced its illness.
Debbie pointed me to the stable. "He is, as usual, back there."
"The Rev said he thinks he is an Alien. Is that true?"
"He does indeed! Insist he is from the PLANET K-PAX. Other than that he acts normal, thinks normal and seems to feel normal, but he's had great trouble in his past. That I can tell."
I smiled, "I'm the Man for the job! Davenport's my name and uncovering buried trauma is my game!"
Debbie smiled, "I have to take Brownie to the Vet's, so he's all yours!" She drove off and the gate closed behind her. SLAM. I felt like I had just entered a high security state mental hospital with that gate!
I walked back to the stable. "Knock knock!" I said.
My New Patient was busy shoveling Horse manure like it was going out of style. He stood up and looked at me, staring at me. His eyes were dark as coals and the pupils were completely dilated. At first this made me suspect substance abuse but later I found out he was just photophobic. He asked in a pleasant voice and without any sign of hostility, "Are you in the habit of knocking on stable doors?"
I smiled, "I'm just trying to be polite. I didn't want to sneak up on you."
He grinned, "You weren't. I can deduce by your ability to get through fort knox with your chevy that you are supposed to be here. Mrs. taylor had to take brownie to the needle sticker. Poor pup! So your business must be with me. I am surprised but delighted. I wasn't expecting any company today."
I was so charmed by his pleasant, friendly and humorous manner and his quick grasp of things that it never dawned on me until much later that there was no way prot could have known I was driving my old Chevy. He could not have seen it from his position in the barn. Indeed without his dark glasses prot was almost blind in normal sunlight. But somehow he knew it was there! Just one of the more of the many mysteries about this Man, one of many I never solved.
I nodded, "Yes, prot, I have come to see you. My name is Dr. Donald Davenport. I want to talk with you about yourself. Is that OK?"
He grinned, "Ah ha! You think I'm crazy!" He didn't seem to be too upset about this.
I was startled at his insight and forthrightness but I was honest, "Well, prot, I wouldn't use quite those terms but that is about it. So do you know you are, as you put it "crazy?"
He shrugged, "On this WORLD, who isn't?"
That wasn't as hopeful as it had first sounded. I've had plenty of New Patients nervously laugh and say, "I must not be crazy because I know I'm crazy. If I didn't think I was crazy, THEN I'd be crazy."
This, however, is a myth. Many very ill People are quite aware they are sick and are just afraid of going for help. They saw "One Flew Over the Cuckoo' s Nest", or heard horror stories of what happened to this Relative or that Relative back in the days when a Person could be locked up for life without hope under horrible conditions. Modern mental hospitals just aren't like that. Most Patients actually enjoy their stay. A lot of times a Therapist's first task is to do damage control because of the bad PR Hollywood has given us.
Other Mentally Ill, of course, have little or no insight. Prot seemed to be in this later category, because prot was only pretending to know he was crazy. But at least he was friendly.
I talked to him, I told him, "The first thing I want you to know, prot, is, unless I determine you are a danger to yourself or others, which does not seem to be the case here, I will not call the White Coats to come get you. Understand?"
He nodded, "That information does relieve me, let me assure you. I was a bit worried!"
"So will you let me help you?"
He shrugged, "If you can, and if you can stand the smell of Horse shit, and the Animals here don't mind. And if you don't make the taylors pay you anything, and if you don't ask me for much because I have mostly nada."
"I can, I can and they seem to be accepting me. Indeed I now had a bevy of new Kittens playing around my feet. I am retired, prot. I made wise investments and my Wife, Caroline, and I are set for life. I do not need either you or the Taylors to pay me a dime."
The Patient grinned broadly. Then sit down, and pull up a hay bale and make yourself com-FORT-able. You get to observe the patient in his natural environment contributing to society in a useful manner. Score one for the patient! I am beyond harmless and into beneficial!" He gave me a Canary-Cat grin. "I would shake hands with you but you can see what I have on them."
So we sealed our Patient-Therapist contract with a smile.
I sat down on the offered hay bale, and began, "Well, I guess I can begin by asking you all the standard psychiatric questions. Do you know where you are?"
"Hmmmm." He put his right hand on his chin and pretended to think about this. "Could the kee-rect answer be, possibly, up to my ankles in horse manure?"
"How many fingers am I holding up?"
"Who is the President of the United States?"
At this I started laughing so hard it took me several minutes before I could stop. Prot was right. President Clinton was in office at that time.
Then I started laughing about something else. "Another standard psychiatric question is, 'Do you see strange Animals sometimes?'"
We were both watching the antics of the Kittens!
Prot nodded joyfully "You got me there, doc. I see the strangest ones and quite often too!"
I laughed, "prot, you need a lot of help!"
He grinned at me. "Indeed!" I noticed he would grin at me and make jokes with quickness and skill. But I only twice saw him laugh. He loved humor. He would always read the "educational section" of the paper first, but he just wouldn't laugh much. Strange.
"Where are you from, prot?" Here is where it gets interesting.
"Some Folks have been telling me you think that's a planet. Is that true?"
"Yes, it is a PLANET."
"So you are from Outer Space?"
"I am from K-PAX. Every one is from outer space, even you. EARTH floats in space, so you too are from outer space."
"How did you get here?"
"Using a beam of light and a mirror."
"Do you have them with you?"
"The originals that came from K-PAX broke when a large dog knocked me down. I now have replacements."
"Can I see them?"
"Yes, but later. They are back in my trailer."
Later he showed them to me, and it was pathetic. They were just a little penlight flashlight the same kind that any Radio Shack sells for less than a dollar and the mirror still had a Wal-mart sticker on the back. Yet my Patient was firmly convinced he could use these to mirror beam and despite my working with him for several weeks he never ever doubted that he could. Up until I saw what he thought he was using for space travel, I had been just about ready to actually believe him! He was that convincing!
But the Man had strengths. And it is upon those that Mental Health must be restored.
He had, as my above account will show, a great sense of humor, and the ability to use language in a logical, rational and entertaining manner. He was considerate of others, (didn't want the Taylor's to have to pay for his treatment) and aware of his own financial situation, ("I have nada"). He was good with Animals and amazingly also good with People. There was no sign he was, or ever had hallucinated and his emotions were a bit on the calm side, but not extremely repressed. In short through completely Delusional he was not Schizophrenic. Amazing! What had led to his break with reality?
I asked him if I could give him a simple medical examination.
He said. "Yes, I would be most grateful to you if you would! But later after I have cleaned up."
"Have you been having any medical problems lately?"
"Just homesickness, doc. And you can help me with that."
"How, prot? How can I help you?"
"Perform your function. Just let me talk on and on and on about HOME. It helps!"
Over the next few weeks we spent a lot of time doing just that. I wish K-PAX were real because I can quite understand prot's homesickness. He had me wanting to go there too!
I have never seen such joy in Man's eyes as I saw in prot's when he spoke of his home, and I have never seen such sadness in anybody's eyes when he dwelt on the fact it was, "not an obtainable goal at this present time."
When he wasn't thinking about K-PAX, prot was as normal as any Man I had ever met, more normal than most, if not all.
He pointed something out to me, "Hey, doc, you have mickey dee's on the breath!"
"Oh, I am sorry, prot, I didn't realize my breath offended you. You are right, I ate at McDonald's today."
"It is not the smell of your breath but what you consumed to get it to smelling like that."
"What do you mean?"
"The cow whose flesh you consumed wanted to LIVE. You and the other homo sapiens who ate her for lunch, stole another being's life away from her, or him."
"You don't eat meat, prot?"
Prot shook his head, "I have never eaten another being in my entire life which is 374 years old. You on the other hand, frequently do."
"You are 374 years old?"
"Yes. And my arteries are open, I have no cavities, I can run a mile in less than 3 minutes should I so choose. My mind is clear and my soul, as you call it, is free from guilt."
"You on the other hand have 13 cavities." (How could he know this?) "Several arteries that will soon need treatment, especially the one in your right leg." (He turned out to be quite right). "You couldn't race a turtle with a sore foot to the house and back, and win."
"Also my mind is so acute from my great diet that I could not even describe it to you without you doubting me more. Also if there does happen to be a god like so many around here think, when I stand before him or her I can truthfully say I never murdered or ate one of his or her creatures. So, dr. davenport."
He put his shovel down and stared very firmly at me, "Who is the one here who is a danger to himself and others? Maybe I should call the white coats on you!"
"And how can you say I am out of touch with reality. Close your eyes, doctor."
I did so.
"Smell that. That is the smell of life! Warm, organic life pulsating with a billion microscopic beings all working on the poop, turning it into nourishment for your whole PLANET'S eco- system.
"Now open your eyes!"
I did so.
Prot put on his dark glasses and went to the door. "Look out there doc. What do you see?"
"The house," I said, "and several Horses."
"You see so little. Note the way the wind is ruffling little jo jo's mane. Look at the way she looks at her mother. She's hungry but mama is trying to wean her. See the birds up there, soaring. Those buzzards already ate their dinner, I saw em earlier with a road pizza. They are up there now soaring just for the sheer joy of flight. You didn't know that did you? To you, if you never notice them at all, they are just buzzards. I saw into their spirits. I named them, raja tung ta. polarus and geemo!"
"You named the buzzards, prot?"
"Oh yes, I name every being I meet if they don't have a name already."
"Because all beings deserve a name."
I was astounded! "You can tell the Buzzards apart?"
"Oh yes, and I can tell you where their nests are, but I won't. It might not be good for them for you to know."
"Oh, prot, I'm not going to harm Buzzards. I know they perform an important service. So just tell me where the nests are, I'll check to see if you are right. That would demonstrate to me you actually have some ability to keep sensorium intact."
"That's a Psychiatric term that simply means you are in contact with reality."
"Oh a ten dollar word. I noticed that about homo sapiens. Most will never use a 50 cent word when a ten dollar word will do. The exception to this is politicians, preachers, and country music performers who go out of their way to seem simple and down to EARTH. Curious expression, 'down to EARTH.'"
"So, prot, where are the Buzzards' nests?"
Reluctantly he told me in latitude and longitude. Later I got out my old hiking g.p.s. and checked up on them. He was right! And yes I did leave them alone!
So my Patient had an extraordinary gift for knowing the World around him, was full of compassion, and he took better care of his physical needs than his Doctor! Definitely this one didn't deserve White Coats coming after him (except maybe so he could give THEM cooking lessons!)
"So, prot!" I asked him as I walked beside him on the way to the dung pile with another wheelbarrow full. "What is your mission on Earth?"
He grinned at me, "I have many missions as you put it. Right now my mission is to boldly shovel shit where no K-PAXian has gone before!"
When Mr. Taylor got home with a very relieved to be home Pit Bull/Rotweiller we sat on the porch and watched prot as he wheeled away his last wheelbarrow of Horse emissions. "So what do you think?" He asked me. "Do we commit him or call the United Nations?"
I shook my head, "I suggest we do neither. A mental hospital is not what this Guy needs. Being HERE is what this Guy needs. As for the United Nations, even if I believed he was a real Alien I wouldn't sic them on him. He doesn't deserve it!"
"So how can we help him?"
"I can help him by just talking to him. He is willing to talk and listen but told me, 'I do not choose to try medication at this present time.' Well he has the legal right to refuse it. They would help him, I know, a darn shame, but at least he is willing to talk. I'll see him several times a week."
"As for you, for God sake's Man! Get the Guy a decent trailer to live in and pay him enough so he can buy some decent clothes and a few books! He told me about several he is saving up to buy. I thought at first he had an early case of anorexia but he doesn't. He told me eats as little as possible so his meager salary will pay for 'some of the books I want to buy' The Man's skinny enough already. He doesn't need to lose more weight!"
"Feed him, Mr. Taylor, and I'll work on curing him!"
One thing can be certain, Indiana is not known for its tropical temperatures! It gets mighty cold, even in early winter. I wanted to follow Dr. Dr. Davenport's instructions, so one night I went to go visit prot in his trailer. I had no idea what he liked to eat, so I was forced to ask him directly. Prot has notably strange sleeping habits. Once I actually caught him snoozing on the hood of our beat down old Chevy. Apparently he got dozy and just picked the first clean spot he saw. But as I peered through the flimsy windows of his trailer I knew that just odd sleeping preferences didn't explain where he lay his bones tonight. First of all, there was no bedding whatsoever. He was right on the floor, curled up in a tight ball with a T-shirt wrapped around his hands. He was practically underneath the little wood burning stove, which had long since gone out. Little white puffs of vapor floated up from his mouth. He was shivering. On further inspection I saw his trailer was empty except for a few notebooks and bathroom items. He had a pair of wrinkly pants and a single shirt hung over the stove by a bent coat hanger. There was no television, no furniture, no pictures on the walls. A grocery sack of oranges sat on his counter top, along with a dozen or so pencils, most worn down to nubs and missing erasers. That was it. I felt tears welling up in my eyes. I had no idea it had gotten so bad for him! I wanted to run inside and throw my arms around this poor, selfless man. I wanted to dump my wallet out in his hands and see a bright smile bubble over on face. I felt horrible for letting his condition go unnoticed for so long! Not only that, but he kept his mouth shut only to suit our family's needs! Never had I experienced so much guilt!
With tears streaming down my face, I ran over to the house and grabbed a big warm fluffy blanket from right off my own bed. When Hank saw me he demanded to know what was wrong. I couldn't choke out an answer for him, instead shook my head and rushed back to prot's trailer. I wiped my face and tried to make myself seem more presentable before I knocked on the rusty door.
"Huh? Oh! H-hang on!" I heard him running in the trailer. He was going around closing all the blinds. He was hiding it from me. I felt a lump rising in my throat as he opened the door a crack and peeked out. "Hi there mrs. taylor! I wasn't expecting anybody."
"I know. I brought you an extra blanket. I hope you don't mind. Brr! Chilly!"
It was very difficult to force out a positive tone, and prot caught it. "What's wrong? Did something happen? Is someone hurt?" he visibly tensed.
"Oh no! Nothing's wrong, prot! It's OK!" But my feigned chipper voice only upset him more.
He took a step away, back to where I couldn't see him.
"I just wanted to bring you this! You can keep it if you want." I reassured him and stuffed the blanket through the doorway.
After a moment I felt him take it with a quiet "Thank you." He reappeared smiling and offered me one of his oranges.
I accepted it, even though it was in a sorry state.
"I really do appreciate the blanket debbie, and I apologize that the orange isn't so fresh. But I can't help but wonder why you're giving me this fine gift?"
"I told you, it's chilly out and I thought you could use one." I flashed a weak smile, and again he saw right though it.
He shook his head. "You know I don't go for charity."
"This isn't charity, prot. I have an extra blanket, it's cold, and you could use one. That's all there is to it. I'd do the same for anyone else."
"Huhm. Maybe I need to work on my communication skills with homo sapiens. This is the first time I have ever needed to have something as simple repeated to me. Thanks again for the blanket."
He started to close the door but I stuck my foot in before he shut me out. "Would you like to have dinner with us tomorrow evening?"
THAT caught his attention. He swung the door open and exploded into a gigantic, delighted smile. But suddenly remembering his home, he stepped outside and closed the door. "Ma'am, I would love to dine with you and yours!
Anything I can do to help?"
"Whatever you want. Stop by around five-ish, allrighty?"
"I'll be looking forward to it. More than you know!" and with that he happily returned to his hole-in-the-wall trailer.
When I got back inside my house, I realized I had forgotten to ask him what he wanted to eat in the first place. We didn't see much of prot that morning, but he showed up on our doorstep at exactly five 'o clock. He was very eager to show off his "cooking prowess" to us. He dove right into the fridge and thoroughly inspected the area. Every fruit and vegetable item was out on the counter before I could ask him if he needed help! He seemed to know his way around a kitchen very well! Like a master chef he sliced and diced those veggies and fried them up in our wok (which he found on his first attempt) along with noodles and a few boiled pears drenched in soy sauce and various spices.
Then he cubed up his fruits and rolled them in powdered sugar (I didn't even know we had that!). He took some caramel ice cream topping and dribbled it all over the pretty little strawberries, bananas, pears, and apples. He dished up the veggie items first for us, and then garnished the fruit dessert in washed mint leaves from his pockets!
It all looked very pretty, and smelled wonderful. I left my pathetic pot roast in the oven. "Where did you learn to cook like this?" Hank asked, shoveling a spoonful of vegetables into his mouth.
"Japan. Very good food there." Prot responded through his own mouthful.
"Oh? When were you in Japan?" "January 1987. Three lovely weeks. People are very nice there, but a little antsy. I wonder if that has to do with their national amphetamine consumption?"
Hank shrugged, "Well I wouldn't know. But I do know that this food is damn good! You need to stop by more often, buddy!"
"I would be delighted to. With your cannibalistic diet you are headed straight for an early coronary, and I'm pretty sure you wouldn't enjoy that. Nothing wrong with helping out my employers, especially ones that are so nice!" he glanced at me.
I suddenly felt the need to get Daniel another juice. He grabbed my sleeve when I handed it to him, "I thought we were having pot roast, Mom."
"When would you like me to stop over? Should it be every meal? "
I wouldn't mind," prot added with a hulking bite.
"Not every meal! That's too much work for you. "Hank commented, "Debbie, what do you think?"
"I don't care," I was actually feeling a little under-appreciated, even though I loved the idea of not having to cook anymore!
"Dinner? Breakfast? I'm usually busy around lunchtime, so unless you cut down on stable work for me to do I can't stop in then. That was a most interesting statement! Almost rhymed twice."
"I vote for dinner. What say you Deb?"
Prot clapped his hands. "Yay! But you do realize I can't purchase enough food every night for all three of you and myself. And I'm pretty sure you'd be against my stealing oranges from the orchards of florida. Can you pay your own way?"
I felt like yay-ing myself! If we paid for prot's cooking, he couldn't call it charity. And knowing prot, he'd want to eat every meal with us. Our skinny Stable Hand would finally stop shedding pounds and inches for our benefit! "Of course, prot! I'll go to the grocery store tomorrow. Would you mind making a list?"
"Not a 'tall. Have it for you in the morning. Great goolgy-moolgy, I can't wait to start!"
After our big dinner, we all rested our tummies in the living room. Even if we didn't have the greatest income, we did have our fair share of neat entertainment devices. A thirty-six inch television, VCR, cable, and a nice stereo system. Not to mention two reclining chairs and a big fluffy blue sofa with plenty of comfy pillows. All of which only increased my guilt. Prot washed all our dishes and even cleaned off the counter top before we made him sit down and relax. He took a spot right next to me on the sofa. Hank flipped channels in his manly way until we came across an original Adventures of Superman marathon and Daniel insisted we let him watch it. Prot seemed quite taken with the show. He leaned forward and put his jaw in his hands just like an eager little boy. It was more fun to watch him than the program! He'd tense his arm muscles at every punch thrown and cover his mouth whenever the villain came at Superman with the dread kryptonite. Once when Lex Luthor was plotting to kidnap Lois Lane, prot shouted, "Get a haircut!" at the screen and made poor Hank spit his Pepsi-Cola on the floor. Even long after Hank and Daniel went to sleep in their chairs, prot kept his seat by me with his eyes glued to the black and white figures. Around eleven o'clock I felt my own eyes beginning to droop. I didn't trust our guest enough to have him sleep over, so I asked him to call it a night.
"Thank you very much for inviting me over, debbie. I did enjoy my visit. If there is anything else you need, please don't hesitate to ask," he looked like he had something to add, but stifled it with a little smile. "Have a good night," he stepped out the door, but paused and turned around. "I don't understand why superman wanted to be clark kent. Why would he want to hide such marvelous powers from his adoring fans? He could have loved lois lane if that's what he wanted. She loved superman, not clark kent. Why would he sacrifice all that glory and honor just for a silly little job as a news reporter?"
We couldn't figure out the mental workings of own Resident Alien and now he wanted me to figure out the mental workings of our fictional, television ones! I shrugged and said gently. "I don't know, prot. And it's too late to talk about it. So Goodnight." I closed the door behind him and allowed myself a private smile.
BLANKET MAN TO THE RESCUE
That next morning the weather was a little more bearable. A good forty degrees, and hopefully some of the snow would melt and we could get down the driveway without calling for a tow truck. Daniel was making snow angels now, he had long since given up on his frustrating lopsided snowman. He sat up grinning from ear to ear at his newest creation, his light brown hair tousling in the wind setting a contrast against the clean white around him. I love to just sit on the porch and watch him play for hours on end. He's a great Son, we love him so much. I'd do anything for my little Danny. A peculiar sight shook me from my musings. Prot was standing on the Chicken coop! I didn't see him there a minute ago, and I wondered how he got up without my noticing. He had the blanket I gave him tied around his neck by a loose thread, vaguely resembling a big puffy cape. His legs were set far apart and-he was wearing a pair of polka dot boxer shorts outside of his pants! His fists were clamped tightly against his sides and steely glare etched his face. He pointed in the air with more panache than necessary. "Faster than a speeding psychiatrist. More powerful than a mountain bike. Able to leap tall horse plops in a single bound. Look! Up in the sky. It's a bird. It's a plane. It's BLANKETMAN! Yes, it's blanketman - strange visitor from another PLANET who came to EARTH with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Blanketman - who can change the course of mighty water hoses, bend straws in his bare hands, and who disguised as prot, mild-mannered Stable Hand for a tiny rural horse ranch, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the K-PAXian way! Da da da daaa!" He puffed out his chest. "SWOOOOSH!" He jumped off the coop! I was afraid he was going to break a leg! But no, he was fine.
"What's gotten into you?" I screeched, more concerned than angry.
"Hark! A citizen in need of my assistance!" he called and "flew" over to me. "Why did you summon me, kind madam?"
"I didn't 'summon' you! Take that ridiculous cape off!"
"Oh no! The blanket is the source of all of blanketman's powers! If I was to remove this sacred garment, all of EARTH would be doomed to the hands of the EEEVIL villains! I must make haste, for that young boy must be rescued from the dreaded snowman horde!" He zoomed off and knocked over Daniel's lopsided snowman with his shoulder. "Take that, rapscallion!" he shouted and scooped up Danny, loping around the yard while making his swooshing noises. Our "young boy" was loving it, but I certainly wasn't! This was very odd behavior, even for our demented comrade! He was usually very mild-mannered and quiet, unless you started him up about his home planet. But jumping off Chicken coops would definitely not be classified as mild-mannered!
"Put him down this instant! I'm warning you! Hank, get out here!" but Hank was already behind me, and smiling at that! I have to admit, I was a little more than peeved at that!
"Aren't you going to stop him?"
"Naw. He's only playing with us." Hank scooped up a hand full of snow and ran out there with them! He pelted prot with his fistful and the trio mad-dashed across the yard!
"COME BACK HERE AND FIGHT ME LIKE A WORM, SCALLYWAG!" Prot shrieked. Daniel was clinging to his back for dear life! I tried my best to chase after them, but I couldn't run very well in the snow. I fell right into a dune. Prot spotted me, set Danny down and swooshed over. "Haaaaaaaaank!" I screamed. "Everything's going to be okay, ma'am! Blanketman is here!" Then he lifted me out of the dune and ran with me over his shoulder! "I will thwart you, evil-doer!" he screamed at Hank, who was crouched down behind our Chevy launching snowballs at us.
A good number of them hit me, and it was no accident. "PUT ME DOWN!" I wheeled my legs and pulled on his hair.
"OUCH! Ma'am! Please remain calm!" A snowball thwacked me right in the face and Hank laughed hysterically, and prot tried to hide his own smile.I was very angry now! "LET GO OF ME!" "As you wish, citizen."
He dumped me headfirst into the snow! Hank roared. Prot took the opening and stuffed an armfull down Hank's shirt. Hank tackled him and they both fell in the white stuff. They wrestled around with Daniel nailing them in every available situation. "Traitor!" prot gasped just as Danny gave him a good shot in the kisser. His glasses fell off, but strangely enough he didn't seem to mind. Hank made a break for it, and then he was the one to be tackled. More snow flew and everyone was laughing! I couldn't stand it any longer and got up in the dogpile. Hank jumped on top of me. We all rolled down into the ditch together and down sunk in the deep stuff. Hank piled snow down my back. I laughed when he kissed me. We were all cold and happy! I never felt so free before in my life! We were all one big family, and it was marvelous!
Suddenly prot covered his eyes. "Where are my sunglasses!" He said a little shakily. Daniel dug them out of a heap of snow and handed them to him. He smiled, and then he looked at me a little strangely. He got up and hugged me tightly. I felt something wet and warm fall my shoulder. It was his tears.
"Thank you!" he whispered.
"Ah, you are welcome!" I said cautiously. "Thank you for, what?"
Prot shook his head, "Never mind, just thank you! This meant more to me than you will ever know!"
He grabbed his blanket which had fallen off during the wrestling and threw it over his shoulders. Now he was using it to keep warm instead of as a cape. Then blew on his hands to warm them up a bit, put them in his pockets and shuffled off back to his trailer. I could tell by the way his shoulders were lifted and his other body language that the what-ever-it-was that was bothering him, was bothering him just a little bit less, despite the tears.
I went in the house and called Dr. Davenport. I reported his strange behavior. "Hank "Hank doesn't think it was significant that he was playing Superman but those tears at the end meant something for sure!"
Dr. Davenport agreed with both of us. "It is part of his strength, not his pathology, that he has a playful imagination, but you are right about the tears. The Horse play woke something up in him. I wasn't planning on seeing him until tomorrow. but I'll come tonight instead. Maybe he will be willing to talk about it."
Dr. Davenport's account:
I knocked on his trailer door.
"Come in doc," he stated cheerfully. The tears had been washed off his face, and he was huddled next to his pitiful wood stove trying to keep warm. It wasn't helping. He was shivering.
I said to him, "Prot, the heater in my Chevy doesn't work very well but it works better than this. Want to come for a car ride?"
He grinned from ear to ear. "Hey great! I don't get to ride in cars much."
He got in the car and fastened his seat belt without being told. I turned on the heater and he put his hands up to it and grinned again. "Ah! Warmth!"
I smiled as I drove my favorite Space Case past the security gate. "Hope has no vegetarian restaurants or I would take you to one."
Prot grinned, "Even Micky D's serves veggies. They aren't very good at it, but the food is edible."
So that is what we did. I didn't order a hamburger much to the surprise of Tammy, the Manager of the place. "Salads aren't your usual style, Doc!" She commented.
I nodded at prot, "prot doesn't like me to eat Cow flesh in his presence, so I'm eating like a K-PAXian tonight."
Prot stepped up to the counter, looking about disdainfully with palms placed firmly on the counter. "Give me a big mac, without the mac. Please." Tammy frowned and asked for an explanation. "Bun, lettuce, tomato, secret sauce, onion, top bun. Pretty please." The folks behind the counter snickerd, but were delighted to serve this odd being his interesting meal.
Tammy smiled. Just like everyone else in town she knew about prot's strange delusion. He had not been the least bit close mouthed about it, and in a town the size of ours even ordinary gossip travels faster than the speed of light. News about a possible Space Alien in our midst traveled at Warp 10!
"So prot," I said as we munched on our Rabbit food. "Debbie tells me that you were shedding tears after the end of a little impromptu snow ball fight and wrestling match. Why did that make you unhappy?"
He shook his head, "Oh no doctor. I wasn't unhappy, I was happy. They were tears of joy not tears of sorrow."
I gazed at him, "Why did the snowball fight make you so happy prot? Did it remind you of something in your past?"
Prot nodded, "Indeed it did. I have a friend who will hardly move or speak to me anymore." His lip quivered. It looked like he was going to start crying again. Then he swallowed and went on with a little more cheerfulness, "During the wrestling he woke up for a few moments! It is the first time he has showed any signs of life in literally years! That means a WHOLE LOT, believe me!"
A chill went down my spine and it wasn't the temperature. The Mcdonald's was actually quite warm. I knew I was on the verge of a breakthrough in understanding prot. "Tell me about this Friend." I asked in my best professional sympathetic voice. "Where is he?"
Prot pointed at his head, "He's in here with me."
"He's a voice you hear?" I asked. This was very unusual! Most Schizophrenics don't LIKE their voices. It was strange to say the least that my Patient not only liked his voice but felt sad that it wouldn't talk to him. At that time I didn't realize he was really a Multiple and not a Schizophrenic.
He shook his head, "Oh no. I told you I don't hallucinate. My friend is quite real and my problem is not that I hear his voice, but that I don't. He won't speak to me except to growl at me and tell me to leave. He is breaking my heart!"
I was excited now, a breakthrough! I don't know why I was able to get prot to reveal to me things after a few sessions that it took the equally competent Dr. Brewer weeks and months for prot to reveal, and then only under hypnosis, but I did. Maybe it was the relaxed "therapeutic milieu" of being on a farm instead of a mental hospital, or maybe I just asked the right questions.
I asked, "Why does he want you to leave?"
Prot sighed, "Because he wants to starve himself to death. He would too if I didn't eat for the both of us. That's why I Can't leave. It isn't ethical for me to stay under the circumstances but every time I do try to vacate his body he just freezes up and won't move!"
I asked, "How long has this been going on?"
Prot said, "For about four years. Four years ago he tried to kill himself and just about stopped talking to me. I had to take over. That's not right. I was only supposed to be an observer. It's not like I invaded him, you know."
He smiled at me, "It's like what you christians claim about christ; that he lives inside of you, and he got there because he knocked and you invited him in. When my friend was six years old he was very lonely because his father had just died so he invited me in. I was wandering the EARTH looking for a good host and he has been perfect to me, or at least he was until four years ago." Prot closed his eyes here and I know he was fighting back more tears. "Now he doesn't even want me anymore! But like I said, when I try to leave he just goes rigid and won't move or speak!"
Prot then went on to explain about Robert, except he wouldn't give me his name. "Because he asked me not to tell anyone his name. It is one of the few things he has said to me since his suicide attempt," he said, "To call him something lets call him 'bird.' He likes birds. I do too. We have so much in common, that is why I wish the big lunk would decide to live again. We could be having fun together!"
Suddenly prot was crying again. Tammy even came over and gave him a hug. I smiled. Our friendly little town was the best therapeutic milieu my deeply disturbed patient could ever have. "It'll be all right prot. God loves you." She whispered in his ear.
Prot smiled, "I hope so tammy. I need all the love I can get!" He returned the hug. "I suppose in a finite universe, some being must be the highest lifeform. And I do hope whatever that is, he/she/ it, whatever, loves all of us."
Tammy had the glow about her that most of our young Christians have. "Oh He does prot! He does very much!"
Prot gazed at her, "Someday I will figure out why some of your christians glow. I swear the light pattern is different on your faces than other humans. I can sense it quite distinctly."
I nodded, "We humans can see that too. We really do have an Entity living inside of us. Maybe someday you will know this, prot, and invite Him in yourself."
Prot, teary eyed, smiled and pointed to his head, "It is a bit crowded inside this skull already!"
He went on to tell me about Robert, who he was calling "bird." I won't bore you with repeating what Dr. Brewer found out about Robert later, but to me it was an amazing revelation of the source of my troubled patient's problem. I knew of course that prot was really describing his REAL self here, and the personality I saw before me was only a projection of his real one. But prot did not know what had caused "bird's" turning his back on life, and unlike Dr. Brewer I didn't think to try hypnosis. In my defense I had been retired for many years and hypnosis had not yet come into its own back when I had a practice.
One chore that prot found distasteful was milking Bessie, our old Milk Cow.
He explained to me, "You want me to squeeze this biological secretion out of a being who should be feeding it to her own young one. Disgusting!
I explained that we had rescued Bessie from a commercial milking dairy that had culled her because she was too old to produce enough milk for them to make a profit from her. She had been headed for Mcdonald's until we bought her because we didn't need that much milk so she was a good deal for us. I explained that we had wanted the Calf she had conceived, (Daisy), but she had died at birth because of Bessie's age.
When prot heard that he informed me seriously that he would "ask bessie if she minded."
With that he took the bucket I had handed him and headed for the barn.
"Ask the Cow?" This I had to see! I followed him.
He went up to Bessie and lowed at her sounding very much like a Cow himself!
Bessie gave a series of gentle moos back. Amazing! It did sound like Bessie was giving him permission and instructions. Prot set the bucket down where it needed to go and gingerly touched Bessie's teats.
Bessie swung her head around and continued making gentle mooing sounds. I had never seen her so cooperative! Often with me she playfully (I think) would try to kick the bucket over and swat me with her tail. But for prot she kept her tail still and didn't try to kick the bucket even once.
Prot grabbed a teat and pulled. Bessie mooed in protest.
"Squeeze, don't pull," I suggested.
Bessie mooed as if she agreed with me.
"Sorry." Prot apologized. He tried squeezing and finally got a small stream of milk, much to my relief, and I am sure, Bessie's.
He explained to me, "As long as Bessie doesn't mind, I don't mind."
So that was one task prot took over for us. I asked him if he wanted to taste the milk.
He made a face at me, "No thank you, This highly evolved worm is not ready to sink that low yet!"
SHOW AND TELL
Daniel came up with a shocking idea one day. As he was drinking the milk Bessie had "given" us, he gazed up at me and calmly said, "Mommy, I want to take prot to school with me for show and tell."
I blanched. "Ah, Daniel I don't think that's a very good idea!"
"But why not, Mommy? All the Kids want to meet him! They never met a real Alien before!"
How do you explain Mental Illness to a Six Year Old? I tried! "Danny you do realize prot only thinks he's an Alien? He isn't a real Alien!"
"Yes, he is, Mommy. He can mirror beam and everything."
"He thinks he can, Sweetie, but thinking one can do something is not the same as really being able to do it."
Daniel was insistent. "He can, Mommy! I saw him! He went from the ground to up on the Chicken pen in a flash of light when he was playing blanketman. It was very pretty, Mommy!"
Wow! The imagination of a Six Year Old! I knew it wouldn't do any good to argue with him on this point so I tried to find other reasons for prot not to go. "Ah dear, that is nice, but prot is too busy to go to school."
"No, he isn't, Mommy. He already said he would work later on in the day to get caught up if you took him there. Also you would have to make supper that day."
"You asked prot already?"
"Yes, Mommy, of course I did. Wouldn't you? You always taught me to be polite and it would have been rude not to ask him first!" Then Daniel flashed me a broad grin, just exactly like prot's!
"Don't DO that!" I snapped.
Daniel asked innocently, "Do what?"
"Smile like prot!"
"Why not Mommy?"
I sighed, "Because it makes you look just as loopy as prot!"
Daniel gazed at me "Mommy, what does loopy mean?"
"Ah..." I explained, "It means silly."
This puzzled my poor Kid, "But Mommy, you make silly faces to me all the time!"
I quickly said, "Not like that"
I growled, "Danny I don't want him going to your school! He's a bad enough influence on you as is!"
Daniel was really puzzled about this, "In what way, Mommy? He doesn't smoke or drink or do drugs like some of the Stable Hands we've had, and he doesn't swear except in pax-o which I don't understand, and he smiles at everyone and is polite. So how is he a bad influence?"
I snapped, "Danny that's enough!"
Hank came in at that moment sweating like a Pig, (except Pigs don't sweat) "Whew! How can I get so hot in such cold weather?" He saw my angry face and Danny's glum face, his eyes got that soft look that I love so much, "What's wrong Tiger? And Deb, what's your beef?"
Daniel complained, "Mommy won't let prot come to school for show and tell."
Hank looked at me, "Why not, Deb? I bet the other Kids would love him, and you know he loves Kids!"
I glared at him, my best wifely, "you aren't helping here glare." But with the usual masculine way of things, Hank failed to realize my distress. So I went over to him and nuzzled his ear and as I did so I whispered. "He could be a danger!"
Hang shrugged, "Oh come on Deb! Dr. Davenport says he's harmless."
I glared at him again, "Hank you know darn well, Psychiatrists have been wrong about these things before!"
Hank shrugged, "Deb you know if I thought he was a danger I wouldn't have him on this property! Not after what happened to Blizzard, and not with Daniel and you here!"
"But Hank!" I protested.
Hank shrugged. "Ever notice how the Dogs and Horses, and even the Barn Cats love him? Animals are good judges of character, Deb. Prot is crazy, but it's a good kinda crazy."
Then Hank took me in his sweaty dirty arms and swung me down and gave me a smooch right out of a Hollywood movie poster. As usual my heart melted.
"Oh all right, Danny, he can go if Dr. Davenport says he can."
Dr. Davenport of course was on Hank and Danny's side. Blast it! Men stick together, and as for prot, Danny was correct. My Lunatic Stable Hand wanted to go!
The ride to the school with prot, Danny, Dr. Davenport and myself was interesting to say the least! Prot was all keyed up, "I don't get to ride in cars very much!" he chortled. He kept making humorous comments about almost every sign we passed, which I admit got all of us to giggling. "'Yield' To what? 'Do not pass.' Don't pay any attention to that sign, Daniel, we WANT you to pass! 'Survey crew ahead' About what; politics, food preferences or favorite types of music? 'Draw bridge ahead' Darn! I can't! I didn't bring my pencil! 'Caution. Slow children at play.' I'm not worried, if they are slow I can outrun them."
When we got to the school prot got out of the car and rubber necked very much like a tourist looking at a historical landmark. Daniel went over to him and put his little paw in prot's huge strong hand. "Come on prot. Mrs. Tannenbaum wants to meet you. I can't wait!"
Prot grinned, "Your teacher is named after a german fir tree?"
"Huh?" Daniel asked.
"Tannenbaum means fir tree in german."
"Oh. What's a Fir Tree?"
"A Pine Tree."
Mrs. Tannenbaum overheard prot say that as they walked in the class room. She smiled shyly. A I see you understand the meaning of my name."
Prot nodded, made eye contact with her and smiled, "Yes, it is a lovely name. My name is prot. It means sojourner in an ancient pax-o dialect. I hope you like your name as much as I like mine."
As is usual with People who know about prot's delusion, the teacher was nervous about meeting prot for the first time, and as usual with prot, his charm put Mrs. Tannenbaum at ease. She smiled at him. "Daniel tells me you are an Extraterrestrial. Is that true?"
Prot smiled and nodded, then turned to the class. "Hey Kids do you know what an extraterrestrial is?"
"ET!" Charley Higgens squealed.
Prot nodded, "Yes since that movie that is what we have been called. It comes from a very old EARTH language called latin, 'extra' which in this case means 'beyond' and 'terrestrial' which means 'the EARTH'. So it means someone or something that is beyond the EARTH, as I am. I am from K-PAX. Any of you kids have questions about K-PAX?"
"Where is it?" Tommy asked.
Prot smiled at Tommy and said, "In the CONSTELLATION LYRA." Then prot went to the blackboard, picked up a piece of chalk and proceeded to give our first graders a first class astronomy lesson. By the time he was through, the class not only could find Lyra but about a dozen other constellations that had stars that prot claimed had planets with life around them, "including FLORA that has beings on it that are just as crazy about star trek as you guys are!" prot grinned. "You humans are making quite a reputation for yourselves!"
"Why are you here?" Peggy-Sue asked.
Prot said, "I wanted to meet you guys, 'cause any beings that produce 'I love lucy' and 'gilligan's island' have to be ca- RAC- y enough for me to fit right in!"
Tony wrinkled up his nose like he was smelling something bad and practically hissed as he said, "My pa says you are crazy loon weirdo!"
Prot grinned, and nodded at Dr. Davenport, "Well I have a psychiatrist so I must be. But I don't mind."
"Which?" The Teacher asked, "Being crazy or having a Psychiatrist?"
Prot gave Mrs. Tannenbaum one of his best loopy grins. "Both."
Tamara asked, "Why don't you take your shades off? It's not bright in here."
"It is to me," prot said, "K-PAX has two SUNS neither of which give off as much light as your SUN does, so to me this is so bright it hurts my eyes. The glasses help some."
"What do you like to eat?"
Prot explained, "I only eat plants because they can't feel pain or terror. I wish I didn't even have to eat them, but I must eat something."
"Don't you like to eat?" Tamara asked.
Prot gave her one of his loopy grin, "Oh I LOVVVVVE to eat!" Then he frowned, "It is just I hate to have to kill to do so. Even plants are alive and I don't like to have to take their life from them."
"Where's your space ship?" Shanteal asked. "Can I go for a ride in it?"
Prot shook his head, "Sorry kiddo I don't have one. I arrived by using a beam of light as a sort of transporter beam. You've seen them on star trek, haven't you? That's how I arrived."
"Did Scotty help you?"
Prot laughed, the only time I ever heard him do so. "No, kid, I have actually met jimmy doohan, the being who plays scotty, but no he didn't help me. I did it with the help of a fellow dremer named hortense."
"What's a dremer?" Marilyn wanted to know.
Prot patted his chest. "I am. I am a dremer. Dremer is what we call ourselves just as you call yourselves human."
The discussion went on like this for much longer than your usual first grade show and tell session. Suddenly the bell rang and it was time for recess.
Daniel said, "Now prot we get to go outside and play!"
Prot grinned, "What a marvelous idea! I bet this is your favorite time of the school day."
Daniel grinned, "Yup."
Out on the playground Marilyn and Peggy-Sue invited prot to skip rope while the other kids watched. He tried. He wasn't very good at it, but he tried. He kept tripping which made the children laugh. Prot grinned at himself. "Gracefulness is not one of my virtues! I don't see how you do it! Even in the relatively light gravity of EARTH compared with K-PAX I can't jump up and down quickly enough to avoid tripping!"
Marilyn gazed up at her new friend and said, "It's OK prot. It took me a while to learn, too. You'll get it."
Prot kept trying and indeed in a few minutes he was able to at least do slow jump roping though he never mastered 'hot peppers.'
I was so busy watching prot that I forgot to watch my own kid! Suddenly I heard him shrieking, "Tony! Stop it!"
I looked around in time to see Tony knock Daniel down and start pummeling him with his fists!
Prot was quicker than I was! He was at their side in a flash. He picked Tony up by his right foot and held him as if he were light as a feather at eye level for both of them. Calmly he said, "Tony you don't need to do this sort of thing anymore. After this if you want attention you will sing or tell a joke."
Tony's eyes got wide and white and he went pale. "Yes, Sir!" He said.
Prot smiled at him, and gently set him down.
I picked Daniel up and hugged him close. "Oh Daniel, he bruised your cheek!"
Daniel was a brave little trouper. He was fighting back tears, "It's OK, Mommy. Now that prot has talked to him he won't do it again. I know he won't, will you Tony?"
Tony shook his head vehemently, "No! I won't! I'll do what prot said. I'll start telling jokes!"
It was only then that I noticed the reaction of Mrs. Tannenbaum. She was glaring at prot and her face was turning red.
She turned to Dr. Davenport and said,
"Get your pet lunatic out of here! Get him away from my Kids!"
She was about a foot and a half shorter than Dr. Davenport. Nevertheless he backed off from her like a Great Dane backing off from a Toy Poodle! "Yes, Ma'am!" he exclaimed, "Prot, come with me!"
I glared at Mrs. Tannenbaum for defending Tony when it was my Baby that had been wronged and followed after prot and Dr. Davenport.
Dr. Davenport took prot back to the car and gave him a gentle but firm look, "Prot, you have to be careful. People think you are crazy. If they think you are violent too, they will drag you off to the state mental hospital, and there is little I would be able to do about it."
Prot grinned at him, "I do not get violent. Violence is a human behavior, something I am not capable of."
"Picking Tony up by one foot could be considered violent."
Prot stared at him, "That's how we carry our little ones, when we even bother to. It got his attention didn't it? I know he won't pick on the other smaller children anymore!"
Dr. Davenport gave prot a begrudging nod, "Yes, I bet he won't. Being disciplined by a self professed Extraterrestrial probably did cure him of being a bully, but prot YOU have to be careful, really you do. I'll go talk to the Teacher about you to calm her down. You did put Tony down very gently and that is in your favor."
"Well, of course I put him down gently! I am shocked you even think I would have done it any differently!"
Suddenly Tamara came over to the Chevy and knocked on the window. The Dr. cranked the window down. She gazed at prot with stars in her eyes, "Prot, will you pick me up by one foot and tell me not to be scared of thunder any more?"
Prot glanced at Dr. Davenport, an "I told you so" gloat on his face.
Dr. Davenport shrugged. A I guess it's all right since the Child is asking you to."
So prot picked Tamara up the same way he did Tony, gazed into her eyes and said, "After this you will enjoy the very interesting, beautiful sound of thunder."
Suddenly prot had a hoard of little kids asking to be picked up by one foot and told whatever was bothering them, wouldn't any more!
Mrs. Tannenbaum waddled into the parking lot. "Kids you know better than to go in the parking lot!"
Dr. Davenport stared at Mrs. Tannenbaum and cocked his head. "Ma'am, they WANT prot to pick them up!"
She stared at the Kids. They all nodded, "Yes please! Let him, Teacher. Please!" Mrs. Tannenbaum gave prot a puzzled stare and shrugged. "I guess it's all right if the kids want him to."
Prot picked up every Kid in the class. Some he did twice. Parents I am sure were going to be very surprised that evening when Kids that had been scared of the dark, weren't any more, and Children who forgot to pick up their clothing started doing so. Marilyn even asked not to be scared of math anymore! I found out from Mrs. Tannenbaum later that after that, she did much better on her math tests and started comprehending subtraction, a subject she had done very poorly at before prot's strange Child rearing technique was used on her.
Mrs. Tannenbaum stared at prot "Why do they want you to do that to them?"
"Prot gave her a wise little smile and said, "All beings want to improve themselves if they don't have to be judged to do it. That is why psychotherapy works, WHEN it works."
The bell rang and Mrs. Tannenbaum said, "Ok, Kids say good-bye to prot. It is time he and his Doctor head for home."
The Kids gave her disappointed looks. She said, "Maybe prot would like to come to our Halloween party?" She glanced questioningly at him. He nodded.
A lighthearted "Yay!" sprung up from all the Students.
"Now it is time to go back to work." She gave the Kids a firm stare and so obediently they lined up and headed back to the classroom.
Dr. Davenport looked at prot, "I still don't see why what you did, worked."
Prot grinned, "It is like dumbo the elephant's crow feather that allowed him to fly. They believe it will work, so it works. Belief is a very powerful thing: Belief and love. I love those kids far more than their parents can."
Dr. Davenport shook his head, "That is not possible prot. I don't think you quite understand the intensity of love parents feel for their offspring."
Prot shook his head, "And you, my dear doctor, do not understand the intensity of a dremer's ability to love. I love no one, so therefore, I am able to love everyone. Love did not evolve on our WORLD just to keep parents from eating their younguns, like it did here 'cause we don't eat ANY beings much less our kids. Love evolved on my WORLD to keep hosts happy with their symbionts. It is the only thing we have to keep them happy And obviously it works. Even bird wants me around at least part of the time because of my love for him. He just won't talk to me."
Dr. Davenport's eyes softened, "It must be hard on you that he won't talk to you."
Prot swallowed and nodded, "Very. Keep trying to help him, doctor!"
We got in the car and headed back to the farm. Prot was not in as cheerful a mood going as he had been coming, but he was pleasant enough.
Daniel was all excited about the Halloween party at Hope Elementary. He said to me one day as prot prepared supper, "I'm going as Count Dracula. What are you going as, Mama?"
I smiled, "I think Dad and I are going to go as Cone Heads since everybody else in this family is connected to Aliens in some way!"
Daniel tugged on prot's pants leg, "Uncle prot, what are you going as?"
Prot stared at the ceiling and put his right hand on his chin. "Hmmmm. I hadn't thought about it. I guess I'll go as a human. No one would suspect me of being one of THOSE!"
I started laughing nervously, but prot just grinned at me. He didn't mind being laughed at, which was fortunate considering his mental condition.
As for Dr. Davenport he started growing a beard. "I'm going as Doctor Sigmund Freud." he explained proudly.
At that news prot grinned, "Then I'll grow a beard too and go as you going as freud!"
We laughed. So the Doctor and his Patient had a beard race. Dr. Davenport's grew faster, by the way. All prot managed was a little brush. But Dr. Davenport managed to grow one that would have made an Amish farmer proud. It didn't really look like Freud's but it made him happy.
Prot got a big kick out of our costumes. We spent four hours on makeup! By the time we were done we could have passed for professional cone heads!
Prot managed to dig up an old coat and a different pair of sunglasses. Other than we knew what he usually looked like, it didn't look like a Halloween costume. But like the Doc with his beard, prot was happy.
Prot loved the Halloween party. Especially bobbing for apples. He got his entire head front all wet but "caught" the most of them. He was at it longer than any one else. I never saw such a Piggy for fruit as prot.
He also ate more than his fair share of candied corn and licorice. But he wouldn't eat any chocolate. "I won't eat anything with milk in it unless I interview the Cow and find out it was voluntarily given. In most cases they kill her calf, you know."
Some of the Kids overheard him and after that they wouldn't eat chocolate! Imagine the influence of this Strange Man, that Children who knew him only for a short time would quit eating chocolate! Unfortunately they also quit drinking milk. Many Parents were not pleased!
I began to see the power of prot's "delusional structure," after that incident. We Humans are desperate for contact with the unknown. Any one who claims to be that contact immediately takes on the allure of a wonderful mystery. Add to that prot's extreme calm, his dry but cheerful sense of humor, his obvious wisdom and compassion for "all beings" his strange, gentle, lilting way of speaking and his remarkable ability to communicate with Animals and People of all kinds, and he is irresistible, especially to Kids and the young at heart like his old grizzled retired Psychiatrist. Dr. Davenport doted on his Patient as much as my Danny did, and our Animals.
The only thing prot did not enjoy about the party was the haunted house. Let that fact be noted. If we ever are invaded by beings from the planet K-PAX we won't require nukes to fend them off. Strobe lights will work just fine!
Prot was reluctant to go in but Danny took him by the hand and gazed up at him with his Baby Doe eyes. No one with a heart can resist my Kid when he does that and prot definitely has a heart. "Come on prot it's all fake stuff. I'll hold onto you real tight so you don't get scared." He tugged at prot in the direction of the entrance.
So my "Alien" Stable Hand reluctantly allowed himself to be dragged by Danny and the other Kids into the darkness of the spook house. He took his glasses off. That was a big mistake.
The strobe lights hurt him badly. "YE-OUCH!" he shrieked. He pulled free of the Childrens' hands and buried his wincing face under his jacket. "Warn me next time!"
"I'm sorry!" Danny hugged prot's leg which was all he could reach of him. So did the other Kids. "I guess you'd better put your glasses back on. The black lights are right up ahead."
"That's nasty UV for me." prot explained. "You are darn right I'd better put my glasses back on! AND keep my eyes squeezed tight! You get to be my seeing eye human! I can stand a little UV but not at the intensity you humans can! You can't even see it! I most certainly can!" At the time I didn't believe him about this. Later on, I was convinced.
Prot put his glasses back on and kept his eyes tightly shut. Danny lead him through as if he were blind. As they exited the haunted house Danny said, "Now see now. That wasn't so scary." Prot shrugged and gave me a rueful grin, "I wouldn't know! I had to keep my eyes closed though most of it."
A Mystery about Poop
One day I noticed our poop pile was not getting any higher. In fact it was lower than it had been before prot arrived.
Now prot was diligently moving poop out of the stable every day. It had never been so clean. So where was the poop going?
I asked him. His answer was entertaining but not very informative. "I am mirror beaming it to an amish farmer in florida. He has the worst dirt of any farmer in his area. It needs organic material desperately. He doesn't know where it is coming from. He thinks it is a gift from the heavens! He thinks it is an answer to prayer!" prot gave me one of his best loopy grins. "Actually I am paying for the oranges I swipe from his small orchard."
I smiled, "Well the planet K-PAX is in the heavens so in a way it is an answer to prayer!" I smiled at my strange combination of witnessing and humoring. 'God works in mysterious ways.'
Prot grinned at me, and then went back to shoveling. I called Dr. Davenport, "Where COULD the poop really be going?" I asked him. There aren't any Amish Farmers in Florida!"
Dr. Davenport shook his head, "Debbie you are wrong about that. There actually are some. The Amish get around much more than they are stereotyped. There really are some in Florida."
Really? Interesting. (I had visions of Amish in Hawaiian shirts on vacation at Disney World or wearing Sunglasses of their own!) But prot can't really be mirror beaming my poop to any!"
Dr. Davenport nodded, "That is for sure!"
I said exasperated. "The mystery is driving me nuts! So will you try to find out where it is really going?"
Dr. Davenport laughed, "I will try but I doubt I will have any luck. Prot goes out of his way to prove his delusions to me and wherever the poop really is going, he is not going to tell us!"
Prot's ramshackle trailer definitely needed upkeep I wasn't providing. One morning prot was late getting to his emissions control duties. I was a bit worried. It wasn't at all like him. He was usually up and at work before I was. Of course he napped at odd hours through the day. I never complained because he did more work than he had been hired to do and my barn had never been so clean. He just did it at odd hours.
But the Sun was well up and there was no sign of my Alien Shit Shifter.
I went out and knocked on his trailer door. "Prot, are you OK?" I called.
He answered, "Ah, not exactly."
I asked deeply concerned, "What is wrong?"
He said in an embarrassed tone of voice, "I have a splinter."
I laughed in relief, "That doesn't sound too bad. Why not just take it out?"
Prot sighed, "I can't reach it. It's in my butt!"
I really laughed then.
He sighed, "It is a fault common to both our species that small amounts of other beings butt pain are amusing to us. But it is understandable. My little mishap does have its amusement value. But Debbie: OUCH!"
So it was that later Hank came into our kitchen from collecting the eggs and found our demented "Alien" Stable Hand "mooning" me. as I tried to get this tiny wood splinter right out of the tip of his right cheek.
Hank roared with laughter!
Daniel was holding prot's hand comforting him. "Its OK to cry, prot." he informed him gently.
Prot gave my gentle Son a pained grin, "Thanks kid, but I think simply moaning will be an adequate expression of emotion for me. But thanks for permission to cry anyway. I appreciate it."
"How did it happen?" Hank wanted to know.
"On the toilet." prot explained, "Number three...just kidding. Actually I was just about to do a pleasant number two, plopped down on my seat and suddenly, big ouch!"
I said, "Now I know what to get you for a present. How about a new toilet seat?"
Prot gave me a wry grin, "Now there's a present I can use!"
He rubbed his butt and gave my Husband an even loopier grin. "This is what I get for eating plants. The plants are starting to fight back!"
I laughed, "Prot you sure are funny for an Alien!"
Prot grinned some more, "I don't know where you got the idea humor is a characteristic of humans only. We've discovered that the entire UNIVERSE is a pretty funny place."
"Oh yes," I said, "God has a sense of humor."
Well I had been humoring prot. He knew I didn't believe he was an Alien, and now he humored me. I know he did not believe in God, "He must. He keeps making homo sapiens!"
I put a Band-Aid on prot's sore behind and he pulled his Bermuda shorts and his pants up. Then he went out the door to work.
Hank teased me, "I leave you alone for a few moments and what do I find? You in the kitchen with our Handyman and his pants are down!"
I gave him a pretty good imitation of one of prot's best loopy grins, "Just think of this as starship Enterprise's sick bay."
Hank winked, "Bones, mind if I give you a smooch?" And he did. Daniel shrieked with glee. Hank picked our Son up and gave him a smooch too and carried him under his right arm out the door.
Later I overheard Daniel asking prot how they got rid of splinters on K-PAX.
Prot explained, "Same way, kid. We experimented for a while with mirror beaming stuff like that out of our skin but it is too difficult to be precise enough to remove something as small as a splinter. We ended up beaming away chunks of skin too. Ouch! Good old fashioned tweezers work about as well as anything."
October isn't just Pumpkins and Goblins. October is also fair time in Hope, Indiana. And we went as we always did, except this time we took our Alien and his Shrink with us.
Prot feasted on cotton candy and caramel Apples. He flustered the Fellow who tried to guess his age by claiming he was off by several hundred years, but he couldn't prove it since, "Dremers do not use driver's licenses." So he didn't get the prize.
Danny was very disappointed.
"It's OK, kid," prot comforted him, "you really don't need a stuffed Alien anyway. You've got me, a real one."
That cheered my Kid up considerably. I rolled my eyes.
We rubbed our hands together and drank hot chocolate, except prot wouldn't. He settled for coffee. He never puts cream in his coffee either though he loads it down with sugar.
After the hot chocolate my Husband, who in his own way is as crazy as prot, said, "Now I am ready for something cold!"
He bought each of us TWO ice cream cones. Even prot had a couple of sherbets.
Hank licked all the ice cream out of his cones and then put them over his ears! Danny laughed in glee. "See, Tiger, prot isn't the only Alien," In a wacky voice he said, "I am Vanilla from the planet Chocolate and take me to your liter... of root beer that is, I want to make a float!"
This was just about the only other time any of us heard prot laugh. He belly laughed and said, "Hmmm, what an interesting environment you must come from, vanilla! Your ear lobes are designed to mute sound instead of amplifying it."
Danny, of course, had to ask about that and prot explained. One thing is for sure if prot had stayed around long enough my Child would have gotten excellent grades in Science, for my Stable Hand was always explaining complicated things to Danny in ways my intelligent 6 year old could understand completely.
Prot wouldn't go near the Animal displays because, "That is like going visiting death row to me. I know most of those Animals will soon be killed and eaten." But Prot did want to go in all the side shows. He wanted to see the "World's fattest Human" the "Planet's biggest and smallest Horses," the "Cryogenicised Girl," and the "Snake Man." Danny managed to get him to ride the Ferris wheel but I could tell he was scared. And there was no way any of could persuade him to ride the roller coaster or any ride that was in the least bit, as he put it, "unsettling to the gut."
Well Hank, Dr. Davenport and Danny did go on those rides, and after the roller coaster Dr. Davenport promptly threw up. The usually emphatic prot was more amused than sympathetic. "First you eat strange, unsettling foods and then you go on an unsettling torture device cleverly disguised as an amusement machine. Naturally you vomit. And you call ME crazy?"
But we did get prot on the bumper cars once we explained to him he didn't need a Driver's license. He had fun on it and we had fun watching him have fun.
Danny rode it with him and had fun bumping into him. Prot wasn't very aggressive about bumping Daniel or anyone back and when he did by accident he would apologize.
After he got off I laughed at him, and tried to explain to him, "Prot, bumper cars are supposed to bump. You didn't quite get the idea of what that was all about."
He shrugged. "True. But I did have fun letting Daniel bump me!"
Then we hammed it up in the photo booth. Danny gave prot a pair of antennas with his fingers, probably the only antennas prot ever had, as he definitely claimed no kinship with Ray Walston!
It was getting dark enough for prot to take his glasses off, and when he did so he gazed at the fair with a new intensity. I didn't understand until years later when I read Dr. Brewer's account that without the UV blocking glasses things looked much different to prot then they do to the rest of us. But this fact turned out to be a Godsend later that night.
Danny got lost.
I was terrified, of course. I mentally kicked myself for taking my eyes off of him even for a second, and it was only for a second, too. I looked up to stare at a giant pumpkin and then I looked down at where he was, and he was gone!
I screamed, "DANNY!" And looked around wildly. If anyone had bet on who was the Crazy Person in our Group they would not have picked prot, they would have picked me! But nothing will drive a Mother crazier quicker than losing a Child in a crowded public place and a fair is about as crowded and public a place as can exist on this Planet!
Hank was as worried as I was, just calmer. We all started looking for him.
I noticed prot wasn't gazing around at the crowd but instead had his eyes on the ground as if he could see something down there.
I asked, "What are you looking at?"
Prot said, "Danny's footprints."
I moaned, "He didn't leave any! There is no snow and the ground is too hard!"
Prot said, "He left a bacteria and microscopic material trail. All life forms do, and with my vision I can see it. He went that-a-way." Prot pointed "But the trouble is there are so MANY life-forms here it is hard for me to tell Danny's trail from anyone else's but I am trying very hard."
I was not happy! Not only was Danny missing but his disappearance was making our Pet Lunatic, "hallucinate". But prot was certain of his tracing ability and had started forcing himself through the Crowd with a firmness that was rather aggressive for him.
Hank and I stared at Dr. Davenport for advice.
Prot's Doctor shrugged, "Since we don't know where he is, one direction to search in is as good as another. You two go that way, I will follow prot."
"Maybe he went back to the ice cream booth?" I suggested hopefully to Hank.
Hank shrugged helplessly, "Why would he do that. He doesn't have any money to buy any more ice cream."
It was prot and Dr. Davenport that found him.
They had a little trouble finding us. So the first thing I knew my Child was found the public address system was crackling with, *Will Debbie and Hank Taylor go to the lost and found booth please?*
We hurried to it and there was my missing Son, his Alien, his Alien's Psychiatrist, and a Duck!
The Duck surprised us the most!
"I found her." Daniel explained.
Dr. Davenport smiled, "And prot found Daniel. He led me right to him!"
"Oh, Daniel, you had us so worried!" I tried to give my Son a hug but the Duck got in the way. "How do you know it's a she?" I asked.
Prot grinned, "I told him."
"I suppose with your Alien ability to communicate with Animals she told you." I said sarcastically.
He stared at me, amused, "No. The Females are smaller than the Drakes and less colorful. This is common EARTH knowledge, Debbie." He smirked, "It most certainly is not an Alien ability."
Dr Davenport nodded, "Prot is right, and somehow he led me right to Daniel."
"Can I keep her, Mommy?" Danny asked.
I said reluctantly, "She must have escaped from one of the cages at the Duck show, Daniel. I am sure whoever lost her would want her back."
Daniel frowned, "But they are just going to eat her, Mommy!"
I shook my head, "You don't know that. They may just be using her for egg laying."
"Then they will eat her Children!"
I glared at prot. I knew this was his influence. Then I gazed at my Son with a very gentle but firm look, "Daniel it is a fact of life we Humans are Carnivores. We eat meat, yes we do! Unless you want to give up eating your favorite happy meals and Pepperoni pizzas, accept it! Duck eggs taste very good, as do Ducks!"
Daniel burst into tears.
If I had had a ray gun handy I would have shot prot! "You and your vegetarianism!" I growled, "It's contagious!"
Prot shrugged helplessly. I think there was enough normalcy in him to realize he had just caused a crisis with my Son's emotional health. He had nothing to say.
Just then a Little Girl and her Parents rushed up to the lost and found booth. The Little Girl saw the Duck in Daniel's arms and squealed, "Ritzy! They found you!" She smiled at my Son and took the Duck from his arms, "Thank you ever so much! I wasn't going to sleep tonight if you hadn't rescued her!"
Daniel stared at the Little Girl as if he had never seen a Female before! Puppy love at first sight? You bet!"
I smiled, "See, Daniel? Ritzy is going to be just fine! What is your name?"
"Penny," said the Little Girl.
"You aren't going to eat Ritzy, are you?" Daniel asked nervously.
"No, of course not! We'll eat her eggs but because she doesn't have a Husband the eggs wouldn't turn into little Ducks anyway."
Daniel stared at me, "Is that true, Mommy?"
I nodded, "Yes, Daniel. I guess it is time Hank explained the Facts of Life to you."
Hank says, "Oh I get the job!" He gave me an insincere smile, "Thanks!"
I glared at him, "Yes YOU do. He needs to hear it from another Man, and it should be you, unless you want prot to..."
"Ah Daniel," Hank interrupted me, "How would you like to know where you came from?"
Daniel nodded. He seemed more interested in Ritzy and Penny than his Father at the moment but he at least nodded.
"Why did you name her, Ritzy?" he asked.
"Because she's a Quacker." Penny replied matter-of-factly.
After we bid Penny, Ritzy and their family a reluctant goodby and were walking back to the car Hank told our son the facts of life.
Daniel wrinkled his nose. "Boy. Daddy, is that ever weird! My friend Ricky says he comes from Chicago!"
WHY THE EAGLE SOMETIMES LOOKS LEFT *
Our ancient truck had finally keeled over, the transmission was kaput. Prot thought it would be a good idea to take a shot at exploring this mechanical device, seeing as how he decided he enjoyed our company and was making arrangements to stay longer than previously expected. It would be necessary for him to know at least the basic items, so he got down and dirty in our old Ford's innards. He was very much afraid of the battery and electrical areas, and didn't much care for the gasoline either. But he did try his best.
Hank thought prot's ignorance was absolutely hilarious. When he somehow managed to accidentally remove our spark plugs, and then put them in again backwards, Hank quipped "Jeez, guy! You don't know your asshole from your elbow!" Prot retaliated by smearing a huge glob of smelly grease in Hank's hair and then retorted with his usual calm amusement. "Anatomy has nothing to do with shiny hunks of metal."
We showed him how to change the tires, and he did a good enough job except he forgot which were flat, and was startled by our air bubble when he stuck his thumb down the valve.
"Aaah! It bit me!" He shrieked and stuck his supposedly wounded thumb in his mouth, getting a horrible taste of grease in the process. He made a horrible face at that! He seemed offended by the air bubble and refused to go near it after that.
Hank laughed, "I thought you said anatomy had nothing to do with shiny hunks of metal? So how can it bite you?"
Prot nodded and made a funny face. "I may have been wrong about that!"
We couldn't get him to change the oil. He disliked idea of "Mucking with dead beings' juices, even though they died millions of years ago," and then went into an enormous lecture on the proper disposal of hazardous waste products. By the time he was done, it was getting dark. I had already put Danny to bed while prot investigated the muffler system, so he was no concern.
Prot had forgotten to give Blizzard his night time snack of carrots and apples, and seemed too tired to drag himself back to the trailer. So I consented to do it for him, always willing to lend a hand to our overzealous Farm Boy. And, of course, he was his usual grateful self. But I soon regretted my actions. I didn't see Blizzard's usual pretty pink nose sticking out from behind the paddock as I strolled over to him. An ominous sense of trepidation came over me when I heard his labored breathing from the furthest corner of the stall. I cautiously peeked my head over the gate. Blizzard lay on the ground, nickering weakly at the sight of me! There was a bright stream of crimson running down his flank, pooling in the scattered hay and dirt! His beautiful white fur was marred by his own blood! I could see it oozing out with every beat of his heart! He tried to stand, neighing in an almost reassuring tone, but his thigh bunched up and convulsively collapsed under his weight!
"Dear God!" I gasped, covering my mouth as if holding back the tears flooding inside me. "What happened to you?" I swung the gate open and stepped inside. Bliz screeched, and his eyes seemed to bulge from his skull. He focused them on some object behind me. "What is it boy?"
"What do you-!"
Suddenly, a hard, muscular arm latched around my throat! I gasped and began to scream, but felt the sharp, cold blade dig into my skin and silence me.
"You make one peep and I'll cut you open!" The hard, muscular creature snarled in my ear. He had a sickeningly thick, husky voice that made me want to tear away as fast as possible and never come back. He smelled of cheap whiskey and cigarette smoke. I glanced down at his hand, it was bloodied and the tendons wriggled like worms under his skin as he groped for a better grip on the terrible knife. I had never before feared for my life as much. I knew what he had planned, and I knew I couldn't fight him. I thought of little Daniel, his smiling face with the missing teeth and bright blue eyes. Hank with his rugged, strong figure, but always gentle and sweet with us. I thought of my Friends and Relatives, what would they all do at my funeral? Would they miss me? How long would it be before they could move on? What would Hank do with Daniel?
What was death like?
Oh joyous salvation! I could just barely hear prot's telltale shuffle coming.
*Please let him come in. OH GOD, PLEASE LET HIM COME IN!* My mind urged him on! The sicko tightened his grasp, for a mad instant I thought he was reading my own thoughts. He dragged me back to the darkened half of the stall.
"You keep your mouth shut, bitch!" He seethed. I felt a wave of deep panic rush through my body. Every nerve wanted to scream out, run away, get as far away from this bastard as humanly allowed.
*BITE, SCRATCH, KICK, HIT, RUN! DO SOMETHING! DO ANYTHING!*
But I couldn't! I was frozen! There was nothing I could do!
Then, Saints be praised! Bliz erupted into a chorus of shrill whinnies that could have alerted half the population of Hope! *Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!*
I could see prot's shadow moving across the wall, his feet landing and leaving prints in the snow. Adrenaline surged! He was here!
"What's all the hoo-hah?" The moonlight caught his brawny body, I saw his shimmering eyes and his ubiquitous smirk. At that very moment I felt I could have thrown Hank to the Dogs! prot was all mine!
But the sicko brushed the knife once again across my throat! He slunk back even further. The coward!
Prot: His smile vanished! I knew he had some extrasensory, if it be sight or otherwise. He was aware of what was happening immediately. The color in his face suddenly melted, almost matching the snow. His lips parted and face tightened. "Deb?"
"Oh GOD prot! PLEASE HELP ME!" I screamed, unable to hold it back any longer!
What happened next is difficult to explain. Donald had mentioned Multiple Personality Disorder before, but I never believed it. I'm still not sure if I do or not, but what prot did certainly was evidence to sway me. He seemed to stagger back. For a moment I thought he was fainting but he regained his composure.
There was something different though! The way he held himself, with his head low and shoulders slumped. Every muscle in his body tensed, his jaw jutted from his contorted face and he breathed in short, violent rasps. He bared his teeth and spasmodically clenched his fists. A look of utter rage, a primal, bitter anger sunk deep in his dark eyes. In all truth, I feared him more than my attacker. This Man was not prot!He stalked towards us, burning into the sick freak behind me. I could feel his body begin to tremble and there was a sadistic sensation of triumph!
Without warning, prot's arm lashed out and returned with a pitchfork. He took no heed to the man's cry as he bludgeoned him with the handle. The knife dropped and I skidded out of the way. Prot went for him again, catching him in the face! Again in the chest! the back of the head! The groin! The legs! The Man was flipped over onto his back, a bloody mess! Prot whirled the pitchfork in his hands and stood over the man. He raised the weapon high, the prongs aiming for the man's stomach!
"PROT! NO!" I SCREAMED AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS!
He stopped dead still and dropped the pitchfork like it had burnt him. "You got him, prot! It's okay now!" I said. He slowly turned to face me, no longer aflame with anger, but fear!
"Debbie?" He whispered, almost a choke!
I ran to hug him, weeping with joy and relief.
"You saved me! You saved me prot! I love you! You saved me!"
He looked at me, stunned!
"I did what?"
"You saved me!"
Prot gaped at me. "I did?" He stared at the sicko who was unconscious on the ground. "This man is hurt!" He exclaimed.
"You did it, prot!" I exclaimed, "But it's OK. He had a knife to my throat! He was threatening to kill me and he harmed Blizzard too!"
Prot backed off and shook his head vehemently. "No...I couldn't have done that... I am a harmless herbivore, not a carnivore or an omnivore. I couldn't hurt any being even to save you or bliz!"
"But you did!" I exclaimed.
He was white as a sheet, "I couldn't have. I just couldn't!" He inspected the man. "He is badly hurt though. Maybe...bird did it. Maybe he did something similar five years ago Maybe...Maybe that's why he abandoned his family?"
I nodded, "Maybe, prot. But we have to dial 911 and alert the Police and the hospital. Its OK. I don't think they will arrest you. You saved me!"
Prot shook his head, "I did nothing. I heard bliz call out to me. I came and called your name, and then suddenly I was standing over this man with the pitchfork in my hand about t-to..."
I said, "I think we had better call Dr. Davenport as well."
Prot swallowed and nodded. "I'm going to be lucky if they don't cart me off to the looney bin!"
I held his hand. "I will speak up for you prot. You, ah, that is, 'bird' overreacted, but the threat to me and Bliz was real. I think the Sheriff will understand that. Anyway I will do everything I can to make them understand that you only did what you did to protect us."
Hank and Daniel ran up then. I screamed, "Don't let Daniel in here!"
Hank walked in as usual for his gender, slow on the uptake, "Why not? Hey!"
Unfortunately Daniel had walked in too. He screamed, "Mommy! This man is bloody!"
Hank ran into my arms. "Deb, are you OK?"
"Yes." I whispered, "Prot saved me, or his alter ego did."
Hank stared at prot. Prot shrugged, embarrassed, "I-I don't remember a thing," he explained uncertainly.
Hank turned to me, "What happened?"
I explained, "Our sicko came back to finish with Blizzard what he started. When I came along he attacked me. He had the knife to my throat! Prot came along and took care of him, but now he doesn't remember doing it."
Daniel was screaming and crying. He ran up to me and hugged my legs, "Mommy!" he shouted. "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!"
Prot bent down and hugged the both of us, Daniel and my legs. "I am so sorry, Daniel! I'm so sorry!" He sobbed.
Daniel buried his face in prot's chest. I was a little jealous that my Son was going to prot for comfort instead of me but I didn't express it. I was just happy Daniel was alive, and that I was!
Daniel said, "You shouldn't be sorry, prot. You saved my Mommy's life, and Bliz's too."
Prot shook his head, "I don't even remember what happened!"
Daniel hugged him, "It's OK, prot. When the police come I will tell them you are a Good Guy."
Prot nodded, "I really appreciate that, and I may need you to."
Hank grabbed the pitchfork and said to me, "You go back to the house and dial 911, Dr. Davenport, and the Vet. I will stay here and make sure this monster doesn't wake up again and try to get away. I am half tempted to finish him off and bury him. Who would know?"
"NO, Hank!" prot and I shouted it together, and Daniel murmured, "No, Daddy!"
So we saved the sicko's life by dialing for help.
The Sheriff arrived right behind the ambulance. Prot stayed on the porch with me and Daniel at first and Hank did all the talking. Just as the Sheriff was about to come in and talk to prot, Dr. Davenport arrived. Hank filled him in on what had happened and the Man was shocked, but he rallied enough to defend his Patient to the Sheriff. "Prot isn't dangerous," he insisted. "What he did, he did to defend Debbie."
The Sheriff wasn't willing to take his word for it until he talked to prot himself.
He came up to our house. Prot was sitting on the porch swing, still slicked by the sicko's blood. Daniel was sitting next to him cuddled up to him. I am glad our "Alien" had the earth sense to not go inside and get my living room and kitchen all bloody. The Dogs and Cats were also cuddled up to him and vice versa. Prot was getting what comfort he could from them.
It was kind of a contradiction in sensations. My gentle Son and Beasts were cuddled up to this Gentle Man who was covered in blood.
The Sheriff looked at him, "You beat that man up?" he asked.
Prot clung tightly to Daniel, "I don't remember."
"Oh sure you don't!" the Sheriff said, scornfully.
"I don't!" prot insisted. "I think my host might have though."
"Your Host?" the Sheriff said skeptically.
Dr. Davenport said, "Sheriff may I have a word with you first?"
The Sheriff shrugged, "I would rather talk to this Man first. What did they say your name was? Prot?"
"Please sir," said Dr. Davenport respectfully.
"Oh, all right!"
Dr. Davenport took the Sheriff aside and explained prot's mental condition to him. The Sheriff was not happy! "Oh great!" He exclaimed, "one Crazy Person beats up another Crazy Person. It'll be in the courts for years! I hate wasting time in court! I want to be out catching criminals!" He growled, "We can't have this Witness to the crime get on the Witness stand! All the Defendant's Attorney will have to do to tear his testimony to shreds is ask prot where he is from. Imagine how the Jury is going to laugh when they hear, 'I'm from the Planet K-PAX.' They won't believe anything else he says from that moment on!"
The Sheriff stared at Dr. Davenport like his Patient's delusion was his own fault!
I groaned. I saw his point.
Dr. Davenport said, "Maybe there doesn't have to be a trial. I think the Man who attacked Bliz and Debbie has a treatable mental condition and could be helped with medication."
He was skeptical. "Your professional skills don't seem to be helping your Patient here much. He thinks he's from Outer Space, for goodness sakes!"
Dr. Davenport nodded a bit embarrassed, "What prot has cannot be helped with medication."
The Sheriff growled, "I thought you Shrinks had pills for every kind of crazy!"
He shook his head, "Not prot's kind of crazy, but he doesn't have to testify if there is no trial. Prot doesn't want one anyway and I think Deb and Hank can be talked out of pressing charges. I do want a chance to talk to the Guy. I think I can persuade him to take medicine that will stop him from having to hurt Horses."
Hank said firmly, "Sir, prot thinking he is an Alien is not the issue here. The issue is that a truly dangerous man tired to kill a valuable and beloved Horse and my Wife. As for Prot he was only defending my Wife and my Horse. If he were a Normal Person who could remember what he did, you wouldn't even be suspicious of him."
The Sheriff stared at Hank and said, "Hmmmmm." He glanced over at the porch where Daniel was still huddled up to prot. "You are pretty crazy yourself, letting a Man that nuts who just did what he did anywhere near your Son!"
Hank shook his head, "No we are not. Prot did what he did to defend Daniel and Debbie and Bliz, not to harm us."
I think my little Son's obvious trust of prot was the deciding factor. "All right." The Sheriff finally relented. "It is obvious sicko number two is getting psychiatric care here, and you Guys want to keep him, and getting sicko number one medical and mental care would get him out of my hair so I can get back to catching other criminals of which I am well over supplied!. Man! Prot you did a number on him! I SHOULD haul you in to the jail or looney bin! But I can smell a hard, very time consuming court fight coming if I did! Hank, Debbie, and your Shrink believe you are harmless and should be allowed to continue to run around loose. They insist that you wouldn't have hurt him if he hadn't tried to hurt Deb first. It is obvious to me from how the Animals and Kid are treating you that you are capable of gentleness as well as great violence and I wouldn't have a chance in court of convicting you in this Horse community. Heck most People will probably applaud you! We have been scared for our Animals and People a long time because of Blizzard's tragedy."
So the Sheriff let prot continue to sit on the porch with Daniel and our Beasts. He went and supervised the sicko's trip to the hospital. He made sure the Paramedics put restraints on him. "He is dangerous." the Sheriff explained, "I know it looks like the other Guy is the dangerous one but this is the one that we have to worry about."
About then the Vet arrived. Prot held Blizzard's head and nickered to him, comforting him while the Vet gave Blizzard a shot and sewed up his wound. "He'll be all right," the Vet reassured us. "The cut was deep but it didn't hit any vital organs. He'll be able to walk again in a few days. Prot, I don't know how you talk to Horses but tell Blizzard not to try to stand up for a few days while his thigh heals."
Prot nodded and nickered some more at the Horse. He must have communicated with Bliz all right because the horse did not try to get up until a few days later when the vet okayed it.
Dr. Davenport's Account:
After the Vet left, prot went back to the porch swing, just swinging slowly for the longest time. He was usually a cheerful soul, but not that night. As a Psychiatrist I use the term that his emotions were normal affect, that is they were always appropriate to whatever reality he was faced with. Unlike a Schizophrenic or a Depressive, who often have inappropriate or missing emotional responses, prot could be happy or sad as the situation called for. This definitely was a sad time and prot was very sad.
I stopped him from swinging long enough to get on the porch swing with him. We slowly swung together. I waited for prot to say the first word, though to tell you the honest truth that was more because of me not having one clue as to how to comfort my Patient than it was because of any wisdom upon my part that silence was the correct response.
I put my hand on his shoulder and squeezed it. Then prot did a very unusual thing for a Man or a Patient. He leaned against me. I am an Old Fogy but I am proud to say I didn't stiffen up. I knew there was nothing Homosexual in prot's leaning against me. That day we ALL needed the comfort of another being's touch, Human, Alien, or whatever. Unlike most Patients and most so called Normal People, prot realized it.
Finally prot asked, "I want your professional opinion doctor. Why did that horrible human try to hurt debbie and bliz?"
I sighed, "He is very, very sick, prot."
Prot was still crying. The tears were running down his cheeks and fogging up his glasses. He closed his eyes and tried to wipe the fog off with his shirt, but he only succeeded in making them smeary because his shirt was still thick with the sicko's blood.
We have a saying in Hope, "God provides." I just happened to have what prot needed at least as far as his glasses were concerned. I gently took those precious sunglasses from his hands, reached into my pocket, pulled out some lens cleaning tissue, and cleaned them for him. Then I gently put them back on his face so he could open his eyes to the light again.
In the meantime prot was saying, "But you keep insisting that I am sick! I have even considered the possibility that you might be right. But I know I could never harm another being, so how could ANYONE want to harm a being like bliz? I understand though I do not approve, that humans are carnivorous apes who like the taste of meat and have the instincts to kill what they feel they need for food, but killing bliz could not, by any definition, have been a food gathering activity. Americans have a horse eating taboo. You will eat, cow, pigs, and chickens with as much guilt as I have biting into an apple, with no thought for the animal's welfare or the poor human who has to do the killing, but you do not eat horses. You let your dogs eat horses, but you do not eat them yourself. So why am I considered sick, but I am harmless but this human is sick and he is dangerous?"
I nodded, "A good question, prot. There are different kinds of mental illness. What you have is much different from what your almost-murderer has. I haven't examined him but I think what Bliz's killer has is a form of obsessive compulsion disorder, a kind we haven't learned enough about yet. Most sufferers of OCD have harmless compulsions. They feel the need to wash their hands over and over and over again, or check and recheck to make sure doors are locked, or they can't throw anything away, and sometimes they just have bad thoughts they can't get rid of, like trying not to think of Pink Elephants, except much worse. But we are beginning to realize that some but not all serial killers, Animal abusers, rapists and People who expose themselves to others have a form where the only relief they can get from their horrible fantasies and thoughts is to act them out physically. Ironically he could have been helped if he had known about his problem and he had been willing to take Prozac."
Prot asked me, "Isn't prozac being blamed for making humans more violent?"
I nodded, "Yes it has been blamed for that, but in most cases I think the drug is being blamed for the illness it is being used to treat. Unfortunately it doesn't always work as quickly as it needs to, or it relieves symptoms in the wrong order. Sometimes a Sick Person can get a burst of energy from it before his moods are stabilized or his thoughts are normalized. During that time period some Sick People have been violent because finally they have the energy to act out on what they wanted to do for a long time. We have known about that sad little side effect for a long time. It is NOT a problem of Prozac alone. Other Antidepressants also can do this. Prozac is just getting all the bad press because it works so well and is in the news a lot anyway because of how well it works."
Prot gazed at me, "Would that sick man be normal if he took this prozac?"
I shook my head, "No, prot, but it might help him."
Prot quit leaning against me and stared at me intently, "Then, Doctor, you must try and help him! He will have a trial will he not? Go to it. Tell the judge and jury what you just told me. I have studied your country's wretched legal system. If all that happens is he goes to prison for a while he will be out soon and back at killing beings very soon. I understand this is known as the revolving door problem. But if he is willing to take the right medicine in return for a shorter prison stay he might be able to quit hurting beings for the rest of his life. Dremers are not vindictive. I would prefer he get permanent help rather than temporary and ineffective, unnecessary punishment."
I was astounded at prot! My agnostic patient was doing better at forgiving than Debbie, Daniel or Hank who had been raised in a Christ centered culture all their life! I realized suddenly that I now had my work cut out for me with the Taylors instead of just prot. Prot was handling the situation better than they were.
I asked him, "How is Bird taking all this?"
Prot shook his head sadly, "He is more withdrawn even than usual. I wish he would open up and talk to me."
"And me." I added gently. I spoke hoping Bird would hear me, "I could help him if he would just talk to me!"
I stared at prot hopefully, but there was no sign that "Bird" was even listening, or if he did hear there was no sign he was willing to come out and talk.
I felt that this was a severe setback for my patient(s). Prot was, as usual covering for his "Friend" by being the strong, wise one. In many ways despite his bizarre delusion, prot was very mentally healthy. This whole situation was an example of this. To see prot on that porch healthily and unashamedly crying and asking rational questions and desiring help not vengeance for the man who had caused him so much pain, one might think him a pillar of mental health. Only I knew that deep inside of this very healthy seeming Man was a highly disturbed Individual. Ironically if prot had confabulated an Earth past for himself no one would have even known that "Bird" was in existence. Prot would have seemed to be a perfectly normal Drifter instead of what the Townspeople called him behind our backs: "a real Space Case." It made me wonder how many others like prot are out there. Seemingly normal People who hear voices or who have invisible Companions but who aren't Schizophrenic because they are really Multiples. None of us, even so called Professionals, understands our own Species very well at all.
Well, there was a trial but it was very quick, because the Defendant waived his right to have a Jury. The Judge was lenient because I spoke up for the Defendant, and so did prot and the Taylors. The Attorney didn't try to slash prot's testimony to pieces because we had talked earlier and everyone including the Defendant had agreed to try psychiatric care instead of punishment. In fact the Defendant was amazed to know there was medicine that could help him!
"I tried counseling," he complained, "But no one ever mentioned medication to me! They just told me to keep praying and trying harder!"
I nodded in sympathy. Our culture makes a terrible mistake with the Mentally Ill. Often the first and only Mental Health "Expert" a Mentally Ill Person sees is a Psychologist or even just a Counselor who needs very little education. They can't prescribe medication so they tend not to mention it or even pooh pooh its effectiveness. They often act as gate keepers who keep the Sick from getting to the medical care they need. Those of us among devout cultures make this mistake even more often than those who are in secular cultures. We keep trying prayer, Bible reading and talking long after Seculars would have known to try medications. Despite that our Leader said, "The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." If only His Followers would listen to Him!
It never came out at the trial that prot thought himself to be an Alien or had any kind of illness himself. The Judge knew it of course because a story like that has a life of its own that just won't stay quiet. But it was not discussed. However after the trial the Judge and both Lawyers talked to prot instead of hurrying on to the next case as they usually do. And they got an earful about K-PAX which is what they wanted. My Patient was always ready and willing to demonstrate his craziness at the drop of a hat! He seemed to enjoy telling People all about K-PAX even though I know he had enough insight to know they didn't believe him!
That night prot slept on our couch. I didn't want him in the house but on the other hand he begged me and I hadn't the heart to refuse him. After all he did save my life even if he scared the bejeebers out of me while he was doing it! "I just don't want to be alone." He told me pleadingly. I couldn't blame him and my Husband agreed.
I was a bit disconcerted though when I woke up and found Daniel was asleep on the couch with prot.
I took him aside, "Daniel, did he try to touch you?"
Daniel stared at me, "We were on the couch together. It's a small couch. He had to touch me."
But then my Son, (God bless him!) with wisdom beyond his years said, "Oh, I know what you are thinking. We had this in school. He didn't try to touch me where my swim suit covers me, Mommy."
I smiled at my Son relieved and grateful that the public school system had taken the time to talk to my son and his classmates about something I should have talked to him about myself! What a good thing for prot, too! What if Daniel hadn't been able to explain what way prot had and hadn't touched him?
I stared at my Son firmly, "OK, this time. But after this, no sleeping with prot, OK? If you are scared, come sleep with me and Daddy."
"OK, Mommy." Daniel said, "But I wasn't scared. Prot was. I could feel him in my dreams calling to me to come to him."
I shuddered! As usual I couldn't get over the suspicion that maybe prot really WAS an Alien! "Next time you have that kind of dream come tell me, OK?"
"OK," Daniel said calmly.
I smiled, "God has sure blessed us with an interesting life, hasn't He, Kid?"
"Yay God!" cheered Daniel.
NOT LEAVING HOPE BEHIND
Thanksgiving was rapidly approaching and even though we did not feel like celebrating, Hank and I made a firm promise to do so, if for no other reason than just to set a good example for Daniel. Even though Blizzard had been hurt horribly we did have much to be grateful for. The sick man who had done it was caught, and thanks to Dr. Davenport's intervention he was not only caught but getting the psychiatric help he needed to control his compulsion so he would never again need to hurt another Horse or a Human Being either. We also were very thankful to God that prot had not been hurt or killed!
So Hank and I agreed that we would celebrate Life and God instead of dwelling on our stress. Daniel's school system was a help here. We were a small enough town, far enough out in the country to avoid the harassment of the ACLU. Our Teachers couldn't come right out and say the word, "God" but they could explain to our Kids about what the Pilgrims really were like. A report Daniel did about them even taught me things even I didn't know!
The Puritans had it very hard, because back then America had no McDonald's or supermarkets or even the modern kind of farms that could grow lots of food. People had to grow all their own food and even build their own buildings because there were no Builders like we have today. And they didn't have Doctors. That was good because there was no one to stick needles into their Kids but not so good because People died from things the Doctors can fix today. They also had no central heat or AC so they were often cold except they would cuddle together a lot more than we do now.
TV has left us with many untrue ideas about the Puritans. They didn't wear black much. They wore the brightest colors they could make. They all drank beer even the little Kids, and they liked to play practical jokes on one another, and they loved to party.
So even though they had lost a lot of People because of the cold and not having any Doctors, they decided to have a party because partying is more fun than acting sad. So in the fall after their crops were picked and they had a little time and the weather still was good they threw a big party and invited their Neighbors the Indians. That's how Thanksgiving began. We should do what they do."
Then the Teacher told me Danny grinned a very prot like grin at his fellow Students and ad libbed, "Be excellent to one another and party on, Dudes! It's the American way!"
I must confess Daniel got that last bit from his Father. "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" is one of Hank's favorite movies and he has shown it to Daniel a horrible number of times. He even showed it to prot one day and our "Alien" liked it.
"Reminds me of Doctor Who." Prot had said. We had no idea what he was talking about at the time but later we learned there was a British show about an Alien who time traveled using a phone booth. Prot's comparison was quite correct. The two are similar.
But one consequence of Thanksgiving we had not thought about. How would prot handle the fact we were going to kill the Turkey?
Like every "furry and feathered being" on the farm, prot was, "friends with big tom." Indeed the Turkey would follow him around like a Dog, along with the Dogs, the Barn Cats, Bessie and several of the Horses. Everywhere prot went he had a feathered and furry parade and if Daniel was home from school he was usually in it too.
I tried to prepare prot and Daniel for the event. Gently I told him, "Don't get too attached to Big Tom you two. He's going to be our thanksgiving feast. Prot I know you don't eat meat but we do, and Turkey is very good."
I might as well have announced I was flying to the PLANET K-PAX and nuking the place!
I never saw prot so angry or upset in my life! He had taken Bliz's injury with more calmness then this, but I think the notice of Tom's coming "murder" was the last straw for the Camel concerning what prot could and could not handle from us "savage humans!"
When I told him he had the manure fork in his hands. I actually blanched because he got so angry it looked for a split second like he was going to use it on me! Instead he threw it down with such a force that the tines broke!
He stared at me and said, "Is there no end to your being's ability to kill?"
He stalked off into his trailer and locked himself in. Repeated knocking did not bring him to the door.
I realized I had made a horrible mistake! We should have eaten cranberries and stuffing without Turkey that year, or at least bought a Bird from the supermarket. I had really done it now! Prot was inconsolable!
I called Dr. Davenport. He agreed to come but he was not optimistic. "You had to open your big mouth, Deb!"
I know! He was right!
While I was in the house talking on the phone Hank went out to try to talk to him. He came in a few moments later, white as a sheet.
I stared at him, "What did prot DO?" I thought he had become violent.
Hank had trouble speaking. Finally he said, "Holy Cow, Deb! We have a real Alien on our property!"
I stared at him, "You've gone crazy too!"
Hank came up to me and hugged me close. "Deb, hold me right now! I have never been so frightened in my life!"
I hugged my scared Husband back, "What did prot do? Did he threaten you or Danny?"
"No!" Hank said, "He just took that little hand mirror of his and his flashlight and went outside and caught Big Tom's reflection in the mirror and his own. Then he shined the flashlight at the mirror and then they both...well...disappeared!"
I stared at my Husband open mouthed, "I knew it! I knew it! Prot's craziness is contagious. You've gone mad too!"
Hank shook his head vehemently, "I SAW IT with my own eyes, Deb! I SAW IT!"
I couldn't believe him!
Then Danny came in grinning like prot, "Big Tom is safe!" He said, "Prot beamed him to a private Wildlife refuge in Brazil."
I stared at my youngster. Brazil was a strange word for my Little Guy to know. "How do you know that?"
Danny said, "Prot mirror beamed back after taking Tom there. I watched him come back, and he told me what he had done with Tom. I'm happy, Mommy. I'd rather have potatoes for Thanksgiving than eat poor Old Tom!"
I goggled at both my guys!
Hank and Danny were backing each others story up and I knew it wouldn't do any good to ask prot. He would insist he had done just what they said he had!
And Big Tom really was missing! I know because I went and hollered for him! I rattled the feed bucket. That brought every Critter in the place running and flying towards me including the Wild Birds, but it did not bring Tom.
Prot meanwhile was cool with me, but not violent, thank God. Of course he insisted he did just what Danny and Hank said he did.
Dr. Davenport didn't know what to make of it! He shook his head, "I've never had a Patient like prot before, Debby! He seems to be a Genius at getting People to take his delusions seriously. The phenomenon is called, 'folie ah deux.' It comes from the French and means the 'folly of two.' Maybe the current stress we are in has temporarily short circuited your Husband and Son's neural pathways. They saw what they needed to see. But what is strange is their stories are completely consistent with one another!"
We had Potato soup for Thanksgiving that year, but the joyful mood was forced.
Hank seemed scared of prot now. I caught him calling Daniel away from him when there was really no reason to. Before the Turkey incident if Hank needed prot to do extra work, he just asked him, and prot didn't seem to mind much, though he would groan rather playfully at times. After Hank seeing prot's "beaming" he wouldn't ask prot to do anything at all, which distressed prot more than being ordered to do extra work. He also started calling prot "sir," which really bothered him, but prot couldn't break him of it.
Prot continued to be the best Stable Hand we had ever had, but now he was cool towards me because of my having threatened Big Tom. I was mad at him too, not just that our delicious meal was gone, but because he had managed to make my Husband and Son almost as crazy as he was!
As for Dr. Davenport, he tried harder than ever to persuade prot that he was delusional. But it did no good at all. In fact it made prot most unhappy which was a change. Before the Big Tom's disappearance prot had seemed to enjoy the doc's disbelief.
Danny was the only one who didn't treat prot any differently but that apparently wasn't enough.
One night prot was gone. He took nothing with him that he hadn't started with except a change of clothing he had bought with the skimpy money we had paid him. Even the blanket stayed behind. And we didn't see him leave, no one saw him walking down the road. For all I know maybe he did mirror beam out of there. After prot's television appearance I finally realized he really could. My Husband and Son had not been as crazy as I thought they were!
All there was to show he had ever been there was a note.
"I can NOT stand this! I have made a terrible mistake and yet I don't know what else I could have done. I would do it all over again to save big tom, but I just can't have you in awe of me!
"Now I understand why superman is clarke kent. He is not pretending to be clarke kent. He IS clarke kent. If he had never left KRYPTON he would have been just clarke, not superman. NO one can cope with having other beings in awe of you all the time, it's driving me batty! Even battier than I was before!
"It is not my time to go home to K-PAX just yet, but I need to leave your lovely community. I've sampled small town life in america for quite a while now. I think it's time for me to try new york. Any city called a "big apple" ought to be good. Christmas is coming and I know there is much pageantry concerning the holiday there. I wish to study this. So I'm going to "the big apple."
P.S. I am not leaving hope behind, I am taking hope with me.
I read his note and went outside and stared at the star-flung sky sadly. Quietly I whispered to the sky, to prot, to God, to Whoever was listening and not listening. "Prot, wherever you are I wish you the best of our WORLD. If you ask, maybe some Being from a technology bigger than yourself will mirror beam YOU some shit!"
I could almost imagine him grinning his loopy grin at that, wherever he was. I smiled through my tears. Then I went back inside my house to my Son and my Husband, and counted my blessings and got on with my simple, but oh so complicated country life!
*Explanation for "Why the Eagle Sometimes Looks Left"
*On the Great Seal of the United States the Bald Eagle grasps in his right talon a sprig of olive leaves symbolizing peace. But in his left talon he has a sprig of arrows symbolizing war. His head looks to the right indicating our preference is peace. But of course he has those arrows and he can if he has to, turn his head and "look to the left."
Copyright. (Copy Begging)
Copyright (Copy begging in fact for ALL my fanfiction!) I saw what happened when the free Geocities web pages died. It was like Atlantis sinking into the sea so much culture was lost forever without warning! God had gently but firmly warned me ahead of time to save the Cupid stories at one of those web pages so now I may be the sole Caretaker of several Cupid stories because the Writers seem to be DDD Authors. (Disinterested in their own stuff now, Disabled by their flesh's limitations or lack of computer equipment or Uploaded to New Jerusalem already. I tried to contact them to see if they were interested in placing their wonderful stories at other sites but their email addresses no longer worked! I don't want my stuff lost to this Realm the same way if something happens to me and the current sites my stuff is posted at go down! Plus I will not live forever in the flesh and new sites will continue to be developed! So to preserve my stuff forever I give permission to anyone to upload any of my fanfictions to any fanfiction sites provided they do not change anything and leave my name attached. In fact I am begging Folks to! If in the Future someone wishes to translate my stuff into different forms of media including kinds not even conceived of at the time of this writing any changes necessary for that purpose may be made with my blessings provided the integrity of the stories, ideas and Characters are kept intact. Follow the Golden Rule please! "Treat others as you want to be treated." Remember in the Future Artificial Intelligence Technology will be used to bring Fictionals to Self Awareness and we will use Science to build Christ's Kingdom. (We are the Body of Christ according to 1 Corinthians 12:27 and all Carpenters use their Bodies to build things). Because Time circles due to General Relativity and Ecclesiastes 1:9 because the weight of the Universe bends Time and Space around it this has already happened so we are all being watched, always! A song sung at the Fort McCoy Pow Wow near Ocala, Florida explains this very well; "Mickey Mouse and Goofy are Spirits too." So we will all be called to account (at least socially) for all our actions, even for how we treat Fictionals! For instance a Villain might not mind being written to provide challenges to the Protagonists and killed off because that is his purpose. But he would certainly mind being written contrary to how he was supposed to be written!