Roast Pork ... Hard Fork
Roast Pork ... Hard Fork
“What have we got?” The two psychiatrists stood looking through the one-way glass at the patient.
“Traci, we haven’t a clue. A couple of cops found him wandering around downtown, muttering incoherently to himself. They ran a blood test … no drugs or alcohol. Since they brought him over, he just sits there, rocking back and forth, whispering to himself.” Dr. Jack Miller was the Head of Psychiatry at the Florida Institute of Mental Disorders. Dr. Traci Longhorn, an expert on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, had been called in for a consult.
“Was the straight-jacket necessary, Jack? And the padded cell?”
“I’ll let you come to your own conclusion.”
Longhorn leaned closer to the speaker mounted on the wall. “What is that he keeps saying?” she asked.
“Well, it’s hard to make out exactly but I think he’s saying, ‘Roast pork … hard fork.’”
“Roast pork, hard fork … what does that mean?”
Miller shrugged. “Don’t know. By the way, at the precinct they gave him a pen and pad of paper,” Miller nodded at a pad of paper resting on a table adjacent to the one-way glass enclosure. Longhorn picked it up and started flipping through the pages. She glanced up quizzically.
“Twenty-one. Written over and over.”
Miller shrugged in response. Longhorn paused. “Jack, I need to talk to him. What’s his name?”
“We don’t know. He wasn’t carrying any ID. The cops ran his prints but came up empty-handed … he doesn’t have a record.”
Longhorn gave Miller a farewell nod, opened the door and entered the cell. “Good morning.”
The patient stopped rocking and muttering and gazed up at Longhorn. “My name is Dr. Longhorn. I was hoping I might join you.”
The patient stared at Longhorn for a moment and then recommenced his rocking and muttering, “Roast pork … hard fork.”
“Roast pork, that sounds good. I love roast pork,” Longhorn proffered.
The patient glanced at her. “Pork … Jaynie.”
“Pork … Jaynie. Could you be more specific?”
“Pork … Jaynie.”
“Did Jaynie make you a roast pork?" Longhorn queried. The patient didn’t respond but the look in his eyes spoke to something almost … primal.
"Did you ... pork Jaynie?” Longhorn queried.
A look of what might have been confusion crossed the patient’s face. “Jaynie … pork.”
Longhorn thought for a moment. The technique was to keep repeating back the patient’s words until something coherent emerged. “Did Jaynie make you pork and give you a fork?"
The patient hesitated. “Twenty-one.”
“Is Jaynie … twenty-one?” Longhorn inquired.
“Jaynie … fifty.”
“Are there … twenty-one forks?”
The patient’s face went blank for a moment. “Whales … Witnesses… Dev’s.”
Longhorn needed to find a thread upon which she could pull. “Whales witnessed devs. Devs – do you mean … devils?” The patient reflected for a moment and nodded in the affirmative. The rocking recommenced. “Bots.”
“Bots … do you mean robots? The whales … they witnessed devils and robots?” Longhorn probed.
The patient continued rocking and after a moment, "@theycallmedan...meme."
Now we’re getting somewhere, Longhorn thought. “Well I’m glad to meet you, Dan. My first name is Traci.” And ego as a meme ... actually quite an apt analogy in this day and age. This poor man’s persona was subsumed beneath ... something ... and was struggling to re-assert itself, thought Longhorn. If she could just get him to latch onto a piece of the real world. “Dan, let’s get back to your relationship with Jaynie.”
“Roast pork … hard fork.”
Back-sliding thought Longhorn. Perhaps a different approach.
“You know, Dan … that’s actually quite poetic: ‘Roast pork, hard fork’ … it rhymes.” At the word ‘poetic' and ‘rhymes,’ Longhorn noticed fleeting flashes of … recollection. No, not recollection, something else. Flashes of ... defiance. Like a broken man remembering that once he was a lion. “Are you … a poet?”
The patient stopped rocking. Indeed, for a moment ... he stopped breathing. His eyes took on a thousand-mile gaze and then, softly, he began to recite:
Would you be the peer of Ol’ Shakespeare,
Would you dare to aim that high,
You’d risk the jeers of those who’d sneer,
Despite them … would you try?
Would you dare to strive for greatness,
Be Legend in your time,
Would you dare to be immortal,
Would you dare to be sublime?
Or would you do as all but few,
And do the lesser thing,
Good enough … but never great,
Make sounds but never sing?
Longhorn had studied poetry in college but the quote was completely unfamiliar. One of the Victorian poets, perhaps. “That was … beautiful.”
The patient looked up at her and whispered, “Quill Fire.”
“Yes. Yes, that’s exactly what it was. The fire of a quill. Who wrote it?” Longhorn inquired.
The patient stopped rocking. His shoulders subtly slumped forward while his eyes dropped to the ground. And then she noticed it: a solitary tear slowly making its way down his cheek. “You wrote it,” Longhorn whispered.
Almost imperceptibly, the patient nodded.
Again he began to rock. A few moments passed and he whispered, “Free flags … @BernieSanders.”
“Bernie Sanders … so you're interested in politics. Are you a Democrat?”
The patient continued to slowly rock. “Free flags … retaliation … war.”
Longhorn sat back. What had happened to this man?
The patient broke the silence:
“Greatest of tables, few more enfabled,
Than tables that Ol’ Jaynie sets,
Greatness, a choice; she finds it her Voice,
Flawless, delicious vignette.”
“Did you write that too?” Longhorn asked softly.
Rocking, the patient nodded.
And then, in a whisper, “Dan … Voice … soon.”
“I’m sorry, Dan, say again,” as Longhorn leaned forward.
In his eyes, a glimmer of hope. Longhorn had long ago learned that hope was the most potent medicine known to Man. “Yes, Dan, you’re finding your Voice even as we speak. And soon, you will have found it completely. And, as once you were strong, strong again you shall be.”
“Roast pork … hard fork.”
PS: Three hurrahs for @jaynie's husband who is, reportedly, a notoriously good sport. Very forgiving too.
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You guys know the QuillDrill. Be verbose ... but articulate.
And remember ...
Go Love a Starving Poet
For God's sake ... they're starving!