THANKS FOR STOPPING BY

You’ll have to make special provisions for me. I’m not myself anymore. Something’s missing, something important. Maybe I’ve had a stroke, or a brain tumor. It’s probably too late to do anything about it, so I’m not going to waste time and money seeking professional help. I wouldn’t follow their advice anyway. I don’t trust doctors.

Oh sure, I trust them to cover their asses regarding liability by ordering a bunch of expensive, invasive, sometimes painful tests that would get to the bottom of nothing. No, I’ll go this one alone. But if you want to talk with me, I could sure use the company, as my world has gotten pretty small ever since I stopped being able to remember my name.

Didn’t we know each other thirty years ago? Weren’t you the Director of the Institute for Advanced Research and I was your star faculty member, the one who almost won the Nobel Prize but lost out to Dick Cheney and HR Haldeman? It all seems so familiar, yet vague, like a half-forgotten dream. You used to wear pink three-piece suits. On clothing-optional days I would show up for work in the nude, but then so did at least half the staff.

But oh those parties we used to have! The times we’d stay up all night around a campfire on the beach, boiling crabs and occasional house pets. By dawn we’d be coming out of our blackouts, unable to remember what we had done or said the night before. Those who had cuts requiring stitches, or broken bones had to wait for the ambulance, but the rest of us could stagger or crawl back to our vehicles. Yes, those were the days!

Now most of our old friends are dead or institutionalized. That’s what happens when you party that hard for that long. Me, I just got lucky I guess. Of course the fact that I became a celibate monk for almost a decade slowed down the progression in me. Well, to be honest, not really. When it came back after all those years of abstinence it came back with a vengence.

I woke up in a jail cell in Brazil. Brazil! How did I get there? Believe me, it cost me plenty to get out of that one. I’m still paying back the family members and old friends who intervened. Although I speak no Portuguese, the pictures the police showed me of what I did to those dogs and cats haunt me yet. For a while I used the “because I don’t remember it, it must not have happened” defense, but in the time since that unfortunate incident, I’ve had a few blackouts, some of which lasted days. Can you believe I came to on top of a Ferris Wheel in San Antonio? My clothes were all sticky. Fortunately, it wasn’t blood, but pancake syrup.

I decided it was time to seek professional help. I found a therapist I could barely afford and had a first session with her. She looked like a retired librarian who had seen it all and would be hard to shock. I told her everything. She took notes, as if she were listing lost and found pets, or compiling a grocery list for after she got off work.

“What do you think brought you to this state you’re in?” she asked.

“Evil? I suggested.

“Do you believe in demons?”

“Maybe. Maybe it’s angels disguised as devils. Maybe it’s those drugs I took forty years ago, but I get a feeling when I’m in the presence of evil. A bad feeling.”

“Do you feel this way often?”

“Often enough. Too often. Actually, I’m starting to get that feeling right now,” I said. She stopped writing.

“Do you think I’m evil?” she asked.

“I hope not.”

That ended up being our only session. I couldn’t make myself go back. I could tell that talk therapy wasn’t going to be enough, no matter what ended up being my problem.

I also strongly suspected that I was the force of evil to which my sensors were attuned.

Everything I have read about evil supposes that evil is cunning, with the exception of one book People of the Lie which suggested the great trademark of evil is stupidity. In fact, they say the stupidity evidenced by most evil people and their actions strains credulity. This I can believe, as I have begun to think of myself as stupid. When I was young, I thought of myself as clever, but now I realize those were simply delusions. I am now and have always been, dull of mind.

My most recent wife was even stupider than I am. Her intellect left so much to be desired that she could be easily entertained by the most common occurrences. She could watch water drip from a faucet and remain totally absorbed by the experience. Either she had the Buddha nature or was oxygen deprived at birth. I’m not sure which.

Unfortunately, she became depressed and refused to leave the bedroom. Sometimes she lay in bed, sometimes she lay under it, crawling through the dust bunnies and discarded clothing that lay in heaps around the room. The last time I saw her she was under the bed, talking to herself and making animal noises.

But we had had some good times during our marriage. I remember once skinny dipping in a canal at night. It was so dark we could barely see where the water began and the grass ended. Later, we found it was a sewage treatment plant, though the part we were swimming in was a water intake. I thought it smelled funny, and I haven’t been skinny dipping since.

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