Prose Header

Erika’s Story

by Filip Šimunović


ULISES BELANO: She came back to me, as you know, with the medications you prescribed. My plan was to have her there for a few days while I arranged for some of her family from northern Germany to pick her up. So there I was, alone with her again, after a week of scraping shit, throwing out books that were destroyed in such a bizarre way, and pleading with roommates not to leave, to allow her to come, that it was all temporary and that she would be on medication.

PROF. ACKERMAN: And that is how it was supposed to be. So she came back, right? To the same apartment? How was it at that time?

ULISES BELANO: It was weird. All attraction I ever felt for her was gone, of course. But at the same time we were still a boyfriend and a girlfriend, I was the only person she had. I planned to get her on the next train to Hamburg as soon as I could get someone to get her off that train. It was weird.

PROF. ACKERMAN: I see. Did you keep yelling at her?

ULISES BELANO: No, God no. Well... a little bit. I mean, it wasn’t yelling, it was getting her to do things. Sometimes raising my voice was the only way the make her hear. I do not know. It is possible I did it all wrong.

PROF. ACKERMAN: Do you feel guilty for what happened?

ULISES BELANO: No. I do not think I feel guilty. Should I? Feel guilty and blame myself?

PROF. ACKERMAN: Not in the least bit. What was she reading?

ULISES BELANO: I was reading a lot of modern South-American poetry at the time, so she might have picked up one of the books. Rodriguez or Amaral. Perhaps Logiacomo — he wasn’t smeared with shit. I am not sure she knew what she was reading. She might have spent some time looking at those books.

PROF. ACKERMAN: Did she hallucinate during that week?

ULISES BELANO: I do not think so. I made sure she took her pills and she was rather on the down side. The stuff you gave her slowed her down. I made sure she took every last one of them. Sometimes she said some strange stuff, though.

PROF. ACKERMAN: Ulises, you and I have arrived at the most important part of our conversation. At the very pinnacle of our exchange. I need you to help me. It is a research project I’m working on. I need you to help psychiatry, help the world. We can solve this, you and I. We can do it. But you need to be focused and concentrated. Are you up for it?

ULISES BELANO: Sure. Up for being concentrated? I guess I am, Professor, yes.

PROF. ACKERMAN: You’re a smart kid. I don’t talk like this with everyone. I need you to think really, really hard and to come up with every single thing she said during her periods of hallucinations. Really, really hard Ulises! You don’t have to do it now, not all of it. Write it down at home and give it to me. Do it on your free time, whenever you can. But give me something now, please!

ULISES BELANO: Professor...

PROF. ACKERMAN: Please. Ralf.

ULISES BELANO: I don’t think I can. It was crazy. Aliens, Freemasons, stuff like that. There wasn’t a single thought behind that.

PROF. ACKERMAN: Yes, yes... I understand. That’s what it seems like — at first. And it’s not just you, you know? People don’t pay attention, they just don’t pay any attention at all. People are deaf! We are all blind, but I try, I try really hard not to be deaf as well. For thousands of years people have been dismissing what schizophrenics say as crazy. Most of my colleagues still do it, the fools!

But you see, Ulises, I believe these people are right in every damn thing they say. Let us think together. You are not a psychiatrist, but you have a quick mind. The logic of this is irrevocable. Just consider: the incidence of the disease — of what they call disease — is simply too high. There are too many, simply too many schizophrenics for all of them to be sick.

Some say one percent of the world’s population “suffers” from schizophrenia. That’s how they call it: suffering. But that’s not suffering. That is life, the real life. They have insight. They have the power to understand. They see things you and I cannot even imagine. They see the world, and they glimpse things beyond the world!

And that is why many of them kill themselves — it is the burden of seeing the truth that kills them. At the same time there are people who run the world, Ulises. How else do the wheels of history keep turning? These international conspirators make sure these people are locked up and drugged, to prevent the truth from surfacing. And we all know who they are, Ulises, we all know who they are...

ME (ERIKA): Professor Ackerman is a brilliant man! A scientist! A genius!

ULISES BELANO: Well, Professor, that is really great, and I completely agree, but think I should...

PROF. ACKERMAN: Do you know how long have I practiced psychiatry? For thirty years. In all that time, I had no other ambition in life than to develop schizophrenia, to become blessed by it.

ULISES BELANO: You’re doing quite well, I’d say...

PROF. ACKERMAN: No, I was unsuccessful. There is a theory that schizophrenia is caused by too much dopamine in the brain. That is a substance that transmits information between certain parts of the brain. So I took drugs that stimulate its secretion. Nada. I got uncontrolled hand movements, but my brain remained as blind as ever.

ULISES BELANO: Professor, I really think I should slowly take my leave of this establishment, I have a lot...

PROF. ACKERMAN: No! You shall sit! Not now, Ulises, please wait. You can help me. I am blind, can’t you see? I am a blind man. Save me! Open my eyes! Ulises — tell me what she saw. Please, tell me. Tell me everything!

ME (ERIKA): The Professor’s passion for science is admirable. He is the greatest boss.

ULISES BELANO: Man, she was saying some crazy stuff about some conspiracy before her blood-and-shit evening, she came here, you drugged her, she talked about The Protocol of the Elders of Zion for a week afterward, and then she killed herself by jumping in front of a train. Now what the hell do you want from me? I need to go. I have stuff to do.

PROF. ACKERMAN: All right... All right. I understand. It takes time for all of this to sink in. Just, let’s finish this exceptional young woman’s story. How did she leave this world?

ULISES BELANO: I wasn’t there. Can I leave now?

PROF. ACKERMAN: How was it for you? Tell me this one last thing.

ULISES BELANO: Fine. Then I’m off, and you can get in someone else who’s more open to your science. It was the first day we left her unattended. All of us had things to do, she was quiet and peaceful for the past days, and we saw no harm in leaving her alone for a couple of hours. I came home, she was not there, front door was unlocked. I ran around the block like a maniac in pouring rain and got soaked to the bone. That was it, basically.

PROF. ACKERMAN: You didn’t find her, Ulises.

ULISES BELANO: Well, I obviously didn’t find her, Ralf! No, I did not find her. And you know what I did?

PROF. ACKERMAN: No. Tell me, go ahead and tell me. Open my eyes.

ULISES BELANO: I came home and had a warm shower, poured a nice tall glass of whiskey and sat down to read with a fresh pack of cigarettes. Cesárea Tinajero. The only published book by the greatest poet in the Spanish language.

Then the phone rang. I was angry because it interrupted me and I wanted to let it ring, before I saw it was an unknown caller. It was the hospital who found my number in her cell phone. Later they told me I was the only contact in her phone — and that she had me saved a hundred and forty times.

PROF. ACKERMAN: How did you react?

ULISES BELANO: I lit another Lucky Strike and finished my drink. I got dressed and went to the morgue.

PROF. ACKERMAN: All right. All right... You are a good man Ulises. You can help us.

ULISES BELANO: Us. So you’re not the only prominent expert with such ideas?

PROF. ACKERMAN: By all means, no... There are legions of us who are after inducing the disease in our brains. So far we have been unsuccessful. So far...

ULISES BELANO: Well, good luck to you and your friends.



PROF. ACKERMAN: Please, you can help. Write down whatever comes into your mind. You can’t even begin to comprehend the importance of this thing. Come and see me. You can move mountains. We can do it, together.

ULISES BELANO: Yes I will. Goodbye.



PROF. ACKERMAN: Come and see me.

This is where the transcript ends.

I remember: the young man with greasy long hair and a bushy beard opened the door, shut it with a bang, and left through my office without saying goodbye to the Professor or myself. He murmured very impolite things in German like “idiots, crazy assholes,” and then in Spanish: hijo de puta, aquí está cada uno loco... Very rude-sounding stuff like that. I don’t know if I spelled his Spanish right. I used a dictionary, but I was trained for German, not Spanish.

I know hundreds of people who would have been blessed after meeting such a prominent man of science. I think these Mexicans are primitive people.

Anyway, that was my story. I hoped you liked it. It was about a case of a young girl who committed suicide. It also showed what a great, beautiful man my boss is, and how uncultured and primitive the Spanish are. It covered all aspects — therefore I think it is a good story.

On the other hand, the plot itself is much less interesting than I believed at first. I also didn’t like doing it that much so I won’t write stories like this any more.

But I might make bags of money with the paintings I am doing. Oh — I did not tell you, did I? Since fitness is only three times a week I have taken up painting courses. Mondays and Wednesdays. Not bad, huh? They told us Picasso painted his whole life, even when he was ninety! Why couldn’t I start painting now?

I have barely turned forty.

Copyright © 2009 by Filip Šimunović

to Challenge 406...

Home Page