Kev the Vampire
by Phillip Donnelly
|Cast of characters|
|Chapter 14: Cure|
‘The blood is the life! The blood is the life!’ That is all the mysterious Patient K would say at first. Dr. Mac Pherson gradually pieces together the story of K’s life: his gruesome school days at the Holy Bleeding Pelican; his drug- and alcohol-induced visions; his wars with Social Welfare zombies, and his attempts to use his meagre housing allowance to rent a castle. Dr. Mac Pherson learns of K’s romantic misadventures as a dishwasher in Bavaria and how comically difficult life can be for the quixotic would-be vampire in the 21st century.
And now we have come full circle and returned to the point of departure. In this loop of life, in the analytical biography, in this psychiatric case study we have studied subject K. from all relevant angles: his family’s genetic history; his schooling; the seminal events prior to his transmogrification; the twisted epiphany itself; and the weird and wonderful worlds that followed.
In the interests of objectivity, we have gone far beyond the subjective ramblings of the subject himself and have also included testimony from friends and enemies alike, from teachers and gurus, from work colleagues and those whose path he crossed on his adventures.
If we have now done with the past, then what we will do with the future? Have these thirty thousand words brought us any nearer to understanding K.? And how will this knowledge help us effect a cure?
I have concluded that Teacher G.’s assistance will be instrumental in achieving this. Indeed, I would go further and propose that in curing one we may also cure the other.
So, let us now turn to Teacher G. He has also, of late, suffered vampiric delusions similar to K.’s, and his almost super-human howling has disturbed the sleep of much of the ward, especially during his nocturnal visitations by Lizzy Bertha, the eight-breasted demon syphilis whore of the Gomorrah quadrant.
Unfortunately he has become most reluctant to discuss these nightmares with me, in spite of my expertise in dream analysis. Indeed, even Inaction Man’s last letter, which makes up much of the body of the last chapter, had to be elicited from him surreptitiously, since he refused to hand it over to me voluntarily.
Having conducted a fruitless search of his bedside locker, I was forced to study his movements closely to ascertain where he was hiding his epistolary valuables. I noticed that he was wont to roam the grounds of our walled hospital between the hours of four and five.
One dark autumnal afternoon, hiding myself behind the trunk of a giant chestnut tree, I spied him interfering with a hole in a giant but sickly oak, and I clearly saw impregnating her with the letter that was my prize.
After whispering sweet nothings into the hole in question, he returned to the ward, and I took my opportunity and retrieved the letter, which had been sheathed in the skin of a balloon that he had somehow purloined.
But still I needed more. On subsequent days I tried to speak with him at every opportunity, questioning him on his madness and that of K., but he would not answer me. He even took to turning his back to me and walking to the nearest wall, staring at it and placing his hands over his ears. I persisted with my queries, but the spectacle of a psychiatrist interviewing a patient in this manner disturbed the other inmates and the staff, so I desisted.
Instead, I reverted to watching from a distance. I saw him remove stale mucus from his nostrils and place it in his ears; I saw him scrape his ears and place the wax in his nostril; and as to what vile deeds he performed in the toilet, I cannot say, but he spent an exceedingly long time in there and smelt noticeably of urine and faeces when he did finally emerge.
Apart from this relocation of bodily fluids, I also noticed that he had developed a form of kleptomania. With great slight of hand he would ferret away small sachets of butter and jam at dinnertime, but I noted that he always ate his bread dry and I wondered to what purpose he intended to put the smuggled comestibles.
I was also driven to distraction wondering what he wrote hour after hour in the ward, but try as I might to creep up on him and discover this, adopting the stealth of a cat, he always noticed me approach and would eat the sheet of paper rather than risk its falling into my hands.
Switching my timetable to the graveyard of the night shift to complete my watch, I found the truth. It transpires that Teacher G. keeps the secreted sachets of butter secreted in his armpits. When the heat and humidity of that environment has rendered them liquid, he smears them onto his daily writings and then demands to be taken to the lavatory.
Hiding myself in an adjacent cubicle one night, I stood on the toilet bowl and peered over the top, holding my breath and being as silent as the grave. And there I saw him leave the paper, folded into a tiny fraction of its original size, in a crack in the tiles behind the cistern.
Once alone, I hurried to claim the writing for myself, a word thief in the night, but I shrieked when I removed it and saw that it was already covered in small orange cockroaches, and I noticed that the crack in the cistern contained a nest of the vile creatures.
The bizarre text read as follows:
(Teacher G.’s Cockroach Diary)
There is a chair.
There is a table.
There is a man.
The man is sitting on the chair.
His arms are sitting on the table. A pen is sitting in his hand. The pen is sitting on the paper. The pen is walking on the paper. The pen is bleeding.
His name is ... I don’t know his name. We don’t have names. We don’t understand names. He is that man that feeds us. Honey paper and pen blood. We eat the paper. We like the man.
Another man is walking on the floor. He sits at the table. He talks to the liked man. The liked doesn’t like the man who talks.
He walks to the wall. He looks up. We are hiding in the air vents. We don’t like the day. We are creatures of the night. We are shadow walkers.
He sees us. He smiles. We wave our antennae. We secrete the pheromone of hello. He blows a wax hello from his nostrils. He is learning smell talk. He is a good student. We are good teachers.
The other man talks again. The unliked man likes to talk. He is always talking to the liked man. The liked man doesn’t like the unliked man’s talking.
The unliked man speaks to the holeless part of the liked man’s head. We do not understand words. We speak in smells. The liked man translates into words. He writes the words on the honey paper. We eat the words. We learn. We crap poems.
This is today’s poem:
(End of Teacher G.’s Cockroach Diary)
Nothing else remained. Round the decayed wreck of the cistern, on the butter-stained paper, roach-infested and bare, the lone and level words stretched far away.
My horror at having to read the words before they were devoured by the roach army was nothing compared with the horror of what insanity had done to Teacher G.’s prose style. It had been decimated no doubt, by the blitzkrieg of electro-convulsive therapy. Could no talking cure be found to protect against the scorched earth policy of this reductive minimalism? Can we not paint our patients with a finer brush? Can we caretakers of the mind not ensure a proper homecoming for minds dwarfed by madness?
You will forgive the tone of this invective, I hope, and see in it only my frustrations at being so cruelly deprived of a second subject; and this theft rancours all the more following so hard upon the first, for K. himself is also no longer at my disposal either, following his unwarranted forced removal from my patient list and indeed from the confines of this very establishment. How can a doctor be expected to cure patients he is not permitted to treat?
And it is here, in the denouement, that I must identify the reader and speak to you directly. Until now, I have written as if you do not exist, as if I were writing to the general public, but this fiction must now be abandoned.
And so, Professor Fromm, I name you. You are the reader.
And so much more than a reader. You are the judge and you are the jury. My fate, like this manuscript, is in your hands.
It was your unseen hand that assigned Patient K. to me and your hand too that took him from him. Have I not, in these 30,000 words, shown you that I am worthy of the case? Can you point to serious errors of judgment, to deficiencies in analysis? What you have taken with one hand you may return with another.
But there is one event of which I have not yet written, isn’t there?
I can see you now, in my mind’s eye, with your pipe in your mouth, leaning over these papers at your desk, willing me to move on to what you consider to be the crux of the matter.
Very well, Professor, I shall do as you ask: I will write about that which you have asked me to write about; that which you have spoken to me about ad nauseam for weeks on end, to the exclusion of all other topics.
And so, let me put to paper and relate what you term my ‘confession’; but know this, former friend and colleague: I do not confess!
I am innocent because there has been no crime. What you termed criminal madness was simply a logical albeit unorthodox treatment. You need only think beyond the box of conventional drug therapies and you would have hit upon the same method.
How, I ask you, according to legend, is a vampire cured? How is its soul released?
Why, even a child could tell you! A stake is placed through its heart. And so, when I entered the ward at five in the afternoon on that fateful day; armed with a crucifix around my neck, a hammer in one hand and a stake in the other — having chiselled one of the legs of my dismembered chair into that shape — I meant not to harm patient K. but to cure him.
And cure him I would have, had not a gaggle of nurses and gruff nurse’s aides prevented me from doing so and roughhoused me into a straitjacket.
You know what you must do to set matters right, but I shall spell it for you nonetheless, and rest assured that I will bear no malice after you do what is right. Professor Fromm, I ask you, nay I demand of you, that you restore me to my position as psychiatrist and place me on the right side of the divide between doctor and patient.
When the stake draws blood from the breast of K. the shock will wrest him from his fantasies, banish the Dracula alter ego and return him to his senses.
So, to sum up the actions that are required of you: firstly, you must restore me to my position; secondly, you must return K. to this psychiatric institution; and thirdly, you must allow me to prove the effectiveness of my proposed treatment. Only if this trinity of actions is performed, will sanity return.
With one solitary drop of blood, life will be returned to all and a cure achieved. Let sanity be not strained: let it drop like mercy from Heaven onto this institution beneath.
The blood is the life, Professor Fromm, the blood is the life!
Copyright © 2011 by Phillip Donnelly