Saturday, June 16, 2012

Memory: An excerpt from "Devil Slayers"

It's not formatting with line breaks. Sorry. Maybe the photos will remedy that. Outside, a gaunt, white-haired man in his late fifties, glances up at a windmill in the daybreak as leans over a wooden fence for a bucket of goat’s milk left a moment before. He passes into a red barn, where he eyes a somewhat abused 1959 Triumph motorcycle standing in filtered sunlight, sitting on the tarp next to a tool box. “Looking good, Rosie,” he says to the vintage bike. He puts a handful of pesos into his battered blue jeans from the dresser of a small converted loft, adorned with a mirror and a silver crucifix. A made-up twin bed sits in the corner. An antique book sits on the pillow. On his way through the yard, an eight year old boy comes up to him. He seems to have Down’s syndrome. “Senor Quijano!” he says. “Vamos a pescar?” *”Soon, Emmanuel, “he replies. “I am glad you are using your words now! But you remember the promise I made you. If you will use the bathroom like a big boy, and keep using your words to talk to your mom and dad, I will take you fishing again with your brothers. “ “Bueno,” says Emmanuel, smiling lightly. “Trabajo con mis palabras hoy?” “After lunch,” Quijano replies, “like every Thursday.” * *En Espanol; es translado---Ed. He walks into the back entrance of the kitchen, where a cook puts on a huge stew pot to boil. “Buenos dias, Al,” he says. “Buen mattina, Isaac!” he replies genially, sitting the pail down on a counter. He reaches for a plate, which he fills thoughtfully with hash browns, chorizo and a corn cake made with sun-dried tomatoes. He slips two cups of black coffee onto the tray, then slips into a panel in the wall, revealing a dumbwaiter. He crouches inside it, tittering, then pulls a rope that releases a counter-weight, taking him up a floor, inside the wall. He steps out of the wall with the tray, just outside Dr. Simon’s office. Dr. Simon sits within, meditating with an empty mind when he senses someone approaching the door. He rises, crosses the room, and opens the door before there is a knock. “Buenos dias, Doctor,” says Al, smiling. “Ah! Well! Good morning, Senor Quijano! How are you?” “I had noted you arriving so early lately---or, at least, found you already hard at work, without note of your entry---breakfast begins by sunrise, and while everyting is hot and fresh…?” “How thoughtful of you,” replies Simon, taking the cake in his hand. Dr. ERIC SIMON: Senor Quijano---Alonso, you have been a faithful addition to our community efforts as well as some aid in the daily functions of the clinic… ALONSO: I am not the miracle worker, Dr. Simon! I merely empathize with those who need a little help breaking the clouds overhead…or at least, to provide an umbrella! There’s no wholeness without the sun. There is a sense of well being found there, encouragement to most all growing things, substantial at the tiniest level. They are difficult times. It seems, outside of the peace of this sanatorium, there compete many different realities of facts. Pardon me: I was trying to follow politics when this occurred to me. But wholeness requires a perspective on what is really happening. SIMON: Consider that what we know is really happening, in the present, is actually what has just happened in the instant before. ALONSO: Always, you share your clever thoughts with me, Dr. Simon! Then all is memory, and in memory, then, is wholeness. They walk together down a flight of stairs. SIMON: The work of wholeness we promote here in these cases involves the resolution of what body of our time we will choose to activate as our memories---which, born of the past, are always known as the present, wherein anything is known. ALONSO: So our choice of memories, then, makes us who we are? It does follow! When memory is weakened, the resultant state becomes dementia. The wall of self we build requires the mortar of our memory to stand in time. SIMON: And the existence of memory requires the quality of time for it to be known. They arrive in a recreation room, where three or four people sit scattered about while a video presentation of Chicano murals plays on the television, itself a model several years out of date, but still serviceable. A sandy-haired man sits in the corner playing a piano piece in A minor with a serious look on his face. ALONSO: We know memory, which is no thing at all, by its qualities, one of which is time. Whether it is hallucinatory or not, Memory is the prime determinant of consciousness. And its other quality? Our selective process, through which we sort out what is not important to remember; for to remember all too much seems a burden found only on the backs of patients of such a place as this asylum. SIMON: Yes, the totality of one’s memory at one time without discrimination would make for a cognitive helplessness. We find together the keys to banishing the sensation of such excessive dissonance, and so some of our patience find barriers between themselves and wholeness dissolving, and life, more appreciated and enriching. ALONSO: Every difficulty is for our advantage, and in our questions lie answers to infinitely more glorious triumphs than life before, in some Golden Age armada or in some melancholy wandering, knowing the pits of rotten peaches. SIMON: The trained memory, then, makes, from the quintessence of impressions, one, assembling all important facts that pertain to one’s True Will, which ably discards the rest. A Mexican doctor in her mid-50’s walks up with an armload of charts, peering from her glasses at these two. ALONSO, somewhat uncomfortably, bows slightly towards her and says, “I beg your pardon, Dr. Leones, we were discussing no thing.” DR. PATRICIA LEONES: I hope your True Will, doctor, will involve your further, more …invested participation in the volunteer hours for the clinic. DR. SIMON: Good morning. I …would that I only had more time to give. I note your own dedication to the program. I am pleased you value my involvement, as you have noted often of late that you do not find my documentation satisfactory in recent cases. DR. PATRICIA LEONES: I have a board to which I answer that does not want a reputation for witch doctoring, when funding depends on the absolute legitimacy of our clinic. (Quijano demurely excuses himself to attend patients.) DR. PATRICIA LEONES : I am concerned about recidivism in the long term, but only whatever follow up we can manage will inoculate me with your undeniable optimism—an odd quality, considering your, to put it bluntly, brooding demeanor. If you are implying I find your apparent short-term successes encouraging, you know that I do. I am making these volunteer appointments out of my own personal time I could be giving to my family. But our social work sector is already in over their heads. DR. SIMON: I have one such out-patient consultation scheduled at the day’s end. DR. PATRICIA LEONES: Yes. Vesta Gemini, amnesiac, survivor of a brutal kidnapping and mass execution. Still without fundamental knowledge of herself before the incident. Someone you deem fit for society. DR. SIMON: In this case, she has to make her own decisions. The quality of her decision making is on par with societal norms---if not somewhat more enlightened. At any rate, I do have an exercise prepared to aid her in crossing the threshold, as she has succeeded in finding employment, her own dwelling place, and some crucial peace of mind. DR. PATRICIA LEONES: She is telling us ahead of time she wishes to diminish, if not discontinue, therapy, save for some continued occasional appointments for evaluation of her recovery. Is she afraid of what she will find? Is she participating in this suppression? DR. SIMON; What do I know about that? These things, an individual must find for one’s self in time, uncovering honesty, in what we have been, in what we are to be. That is a natural party to sanity. DR. PATRICIA LEONES: There is one thing, Dr. Simon. (she takes off her glasses) I do not discriminate in segregating cases by gender, and I have observed some…affinity between some specialists and effective treatment. I trust you will maintain your utmost professional manner with Ms. Gemini. DR. SIMON: I feel…obliged, then, by your trust. And wish you well on your rounds this fine sunrise.

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