75
 

"What do you mean he’s 'incommunicado'? This is an emergency!"

"We heard about the fire. We think you father did, too. Since last night he’s been totally withdrawn, talks to no one but himself. I’m fairly sure a phone call—even one from you..."

Cut off by a resounding CLICK, Doctor Grant gives vent to a consternated snort; his patient's so-called progress more aptly labeled relapse—Tardive Dyskinesia, coupled with trauma, having greased the slide toward madness—is hardly an endorsement for 'remedies' he prescribed. How to re-establish a therapeutic dialogue?

Has someone just
walked into our room?

Seems so.

Who?

 Grant.

 Ignore him.

Stuy-Rem’s right eye joins his left in counterfeiting sleep.

I hear noise.

His standard

greeting.

Can we sing?

To drown him

out?

Let’s do.

♫ I went to the

Animal Fair

The birds and the

beasts were there

The big baboon

by the light

of the moon

Was combing his

auburn hair ♫

Still yabbering is he? ‘Fraid so. Anything new, anything interesting? Possibly. Oh? He’s espousing a theory. Some trendy drug therapy perhaps, a pharmaceutical cocktail that just came onto the market—side-effect-free, of course, except for the piddling two percent that develop gills and fancy themselves amphibians? No; he may be onto something. Grant? Fat chance; the man’s imagination is criminally subpar. Chimera. I beg your pardon? He’s positing a suspicion that we might be a chimera. As in body of a goat, tail of a serpent, head of a lion? As in housing tissues of diverse genetic constitution. Really. What, pray tell, could have prompted No-Great-Shakes Grant to postulate such a novelty? Shall we tune in and find out? Well, I’d rather you summarize; he may falter if we show him genuine attentiveness.

Opening his eyes—a droll expression (between grimaces) spreading across his face—Stuy-Rem guardedly attends the words of his psychiatrist.

DOCTOR GRANT

I’d have to run tests, naturally, but if borne out, the twin you’ve always—intuited (?)—may have been absorbed.

In our mother’s womb, I take it; an egg that split in two? No; two separate eggs. Fraternal not identical? Explaining, if he’s right, the double DNA; mine from the twin who died. Mine from the twin who lived? Ours from the combination. Which took place? “Pre-partum."

Drollery turned to derision, Stuy-Rem re-submerges.

♫ The monkey,

he got drunk,

And fell on the

elephant’s trunk

The elephant

sneezed and fell

on his knees

And that was the

end of the monk

the monk

the monk... ♫

 

*

Preoccupied, heretofore, with how Suzette must be maintained (how to mix her compounds, how to regulate her system, how to run her apparatus) Rockefeller finds himself at a loss, a near total loss, once taking her out of context—laboratory to living room a stultifying leap for cataleptic house guest and hapless host alike, the latter utterly ill-equipped to meet even simple needs, from nutrition to respiration (she might starve, might  again cease to breathe) causing him to rue the very impulse that first got him involved. Lust, admittedly. The irresistible prospect of sex with a perfect stranger: perfect in complexion, in compliance, in anonymity—albeit brainless, helpless, disabled, and randomly unresponsive. If only she were physically flawed, as well, her lack of personality might suppress his ardor, but every inch of Suzette is a sensual incitation, no matter she be a shadow of some enigmatic self... a human being in any case... in his care... in his home, the home of Rockefeller's childhood (bereft, for as long as he remembers, of any female personage: no wet-nurse, nanny, or babysitter having ever crossed Willeston Quay’s threshold; and though Rem had placed his son, perforce, under others' supervision (delivering him and retrieving him to and from various accommodations) home had been reserved for the two of them exclusively; friends (what few they boasted) were entertained off site; isolation (tacit or explicit) was the status quo enforced; thus seeing this female stretched out on the parlor couch wrapped loosely in a plastic drop cloth is a shock on several levels:

  • Rem would disapprove

  • femininity looked incongruous

  • Fell had doubts himself about committing improprieties

  • home was not the place for indulging certain...

Stirring within her impromptu sheathe, Suzette shows signs of life, rising from her stupor to a state of pseudo-consciousness. "Eyes wide shut" might best describe the cast of her facade—beautiful though it be in unblemished splendor, innocent vulnerability, enthralling opalescence, like pristine snow where not a single footprint mars the picture-perfect surfaces, swells and hollows sculpted into will-'o-the-wisp-like drifts, forms enticing contact tentative yet obsessive, Rockefeller aching with unrequited passion .

Or was it unrequited? When yielding to temptation had he inexcusably sinned, violated, taken craven advantage of a poor defenseless creature whose anatomy sans an intellect could do nothing but submit, endure his unsolicited fondling shy of reciprocity, neither gooseflesh raised nor nipples roused implying acquiescence, pleasure pathetically one-sided, hers estranged from his? If only he could mend what Rem had disconnected, reach perchance to teach Suzette’s sequestered wits, render null and void his father's techno-alchemy, then, and only then, would conscience lose its sting.

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