Brain Case Part 5

November 18, 2009

Johann Johnson was a writer. He published his first book in 2112. It was about a guy, an olympic class runner. The character’s name was Tim Travis. In the book, he’s in this horrific accident…gets cut nearly in half and has to be put in a critical care pod. And I thought, jesus, that’s a pain that’d be hard to get over.

Not to get on a tangent, but sometimes I really wonder about who the asshole was that started putting the name “pod” in every goddamned phrase you can think of…critical care pod, ejection pod, etc. Seriously, in the world I was living in, I couldn’t get away from that damned word. When they took my brain out of my skull, it was put in a suspension pod. What’s wrong with the word “chamber”? Or “unit”? It’s like it was a federal law or something, everything having to do with containing a person had to have the word “pod” in it.

Anyway, they tried reattaching his lower body to this guy’s body, but they couldn’t do it. Too many mangled bits below the torso. So they give him a lower body transplant. The problem is, they can’t find a set of legs that match his old ones. They give him the parts of a guy that’s maybe 5 feet 6 inches, and it effectively ends Travis’ running career…though, honestly, getting cut in half had already effectively done that. But Travis freaks out. And, when he gets out of the hospital, the first thing he does is he goes and buys a gun, and walks into a random building and shoots everybody on the first floor. Then he walks into the building next door and does it again. And again, and again, working his way through five blocks of buildings before the police catch up to him. And he’s screaming at the police and he’s waving the gun around, and he shoots at the building across the street from where he’s standing. And that’s when the cops gun him down.

They rush up to him, and he’s bleeding to death, and he’s coughing and holding on to the gun, and he pulls the trigger but it’s empty. And his last words are “I’m done runnin’.”

Crazy shit.

I didn’t think Dr Stevens meant to give me an audio book to listen to that ended quite that way. Took her quite a bit of doing to get permission to let me listen to it in the first place. I dont know why that is. Strikes me as odd, though, that it would even be an issue. I couldn’t understand at the time why the hospital administrators even gave a shit about whether or not I got to listen to an audio book, but apparently to them it was a big deal. Honestly, when it comes down to it, I think Stevens sweet-talked the nurses into going along with it. Whatever. I’m just grateful that I finally got something that broke the monotony. The point is, I didn’t think she’d meant to give me a book to listen to that would give me the idea to go killing people, whenever I finally got a body transplant.

A few days after I finished listening it, Dr Stevens came in and had a sit down with me. She had her cup of coffee and her clipboard. “So, yeah. You’re probably wondering why I gave you a book about a guy in a similar position that ends in him committing mass murder.” she said. “Yeah,” I replied, “You might say that.” She just stretched her legs and kind of slumped down in her chair, took another sip of coffee and rubbed her eyes.

“You could take it in one of two ways. Escapist fantasy that you can use to precariously satisfy the daydreams youve been having, God, I’m not going to say this right. I’m alot better at getting in people’s heads, so to speak…sorry.”

“It’s okay”, I said, “Go on.” “You need to realize that you’re not crazy, first of all. Second, you need to be reminded that these fantasies you’re having….It’s a fine line between a fantasy and actually plotting to do something.” she finally said. Then she looked at me, right at me. She said “It’s fine to have a daydream about committing acts of violence. I think everybody does it. That doesn’t make it a good idea. I know you already understand that. I just want to make sure that you really get it.” That was the only lecture she ever gave me about my murder fantasies, and it was actually quite a bit longer and eloquent, but that’s what I remember, and even that isn’t word for word, but it catches the jist of it, at least…I think…I’m not sure. I’d like to tell you it word for word, but I’ve got a bad memory when it comes to remembering things people say. Be that as it may, certain things that happened are etched in my mind, obviously. It’s just important to me that I make it clear that I don’t remember word for word everything that happened. You’d think the exact opposite would true, what with me having to rely on my mind to get by. She did make a point of bringing up my fantasies, trying to find out if my attitude had become more nihlistic. After the 7th or 8th time going over them, I finally said, “Look, I’m rational enough that I know the difference between self-pity and plotting to kill people.” Because that’s what my fantasies were, really. They stemmed from me feeling sorry for myself. They came from resentment and irrational jealousy. I was smart enough to know that, which is why I always said they were fantasies.

She started bringing in audio books for me once a week. I’d never really been much for books. I never had the time when I was older, and I was never really into reading when I was younger. I was one of those kids that liked to go hiking, swimming…that’s the kind of kid I was. When she started bringing having me listen to stuff like Tom Sayer and Catch 22 it was weird at first. It was like I’d been living my life with a bunch of different worlds floating around me, and I never noticed them. And then when I did, I felt like an idiot, or felt like I’d been blind or something, and that I was just now noticing this stuff made me realize what I’d been missing. I know that the fact that the audio books broke the monotony of my life, and gave me something to focus on, that made me really become attached to them. At any rate, they grew on me very very quickly.

Listening to the audio books, ultimately, was a way of living precariously through them…Helped me picture a life beyond the walls I was forced to stare at. Some days, I’d be listening to them and could almost see what was happening in full detail, instead of my little room. In a weird way, fiction reminded me of what it meant to have a real life. There’s a nice bit of irony for you.

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