Updated: Oct 27
Excerpt from The Perfect Stranger, Chapter 3.
By Gregory SETH Harris
The patient groaned, clutching the table edges as spittle spewed from his mouth, running down his cheek. The libarian leaned closer, placing his ear as close as he dared for fear of becoming infected. “What was that? Speak slowly.”
The seminary student swallowed saliva, choking, coughing, struggling for breath before murmuring, “Mer-re-ac.”
“Merreac? Merreac?” Neimann’s eyes brightened. “Ah, Meriac! Yes, that forerunner of our own demicratic system. ‘All men six feet tall are created equal,’ they claimed, the proof of which being self-evident in that each person being of six feet in height had exactly seventy-two inches.
“This is rather serious,” Neimann informed the surgeons, that moment returning to the operating table. Dr Cataract twitched his nose as if detecting an offensive odor.
“Meriac built a great empire on that principle,” Neimann elaborated, “drafted a constitution, got their God to notarize it—all the while enslaving anyone having merely two feet. And, they overran any civilization w/ the gall to feel ten feet tall, slicing those who refused to capitulate into two relatively equals halves, making two fives—then, calculating two plus five equals seven (that is, one more than six), they declared this a blatant sign of hubris, if not downright witchcraft. Anyone caught thus, was burned @ their steaks...& all reasoned out w/ perfect mathematical precision.” Neimann glanced @ the patient.
“Someone, my dear Erle, should have directed you to al-Ishrag’s Breaking Wind of Reason.”
The libarian bent low, his lips nearly brushing Erle’s ears. “You see, my dear Erle, reason is merely a tool human beans use to justify whatever it is they desire. Everything begins w/ DE-ZI-ERR. We want something; we convince ourselves it’s our right—our divine right—to have it. If necessary, we juggle words, alter definitions, reinterpret sacred texts—texts we ourselves write & edit, then attribute to our Gods...&, if anyone dare dispute our alleged logic, we bayonet them into agreement.”
Neimann stepped back to allow Drs Buncle & Oswald room. The four literary surgeons circled the table, each respectively clutching a scalpel, a pair of forceps, a can of soda, or a pick ax.
“And that’s not the worst of it, my friend. Should our infallible reason still fail us, we fall back on anti-reason, on the irrational: faith, passion, God, majority rule, or that most universal of all lines of reasoning: i’m-bigger-than-you-so-you-better-do-as-i-say—something i’m sure they never bother to elucidate @ Seminary U.”
Neimann signaled the four masked men to begin, looking on as four sets of surgical eyes exchanged questioning glances.
“Where should we operate?” each seemed to ask.
“Obviously he needs to have his head examined,” Dr Cataract suggested, his forehead already sweating profusely. “Shouldn’t we start there?”
“With all due respect,” Dr Oswald proffered, “I suggest we cut away the heart. His heart is obviously the culprit.” Referring to the most recent issue of his favorite medical comic, Dr Oswald proceeded to explain how the heart, thru a complex network of electrical impulses regulated by neurological synaptic connections, was attached to the mouth.
“The heart drives him on, but should he taste whatever it is his heart so desperately desires, he soon tires of it. Then his heart tells him to find something else. As long as the heart is in control, he will never be satisfied. Ergo, removing the heart is the most equitable corrective.”
“Yes, but what about the feet?” Dr Scurvy interjected. “Everything begins w/ the feet. Because we have feet, we have mobility. What is mobility? Freedom! Freedom to go anywhere, even places we don’t belong. Remove the feet, you restrict mobility. Perhaps he’ll stay away from the places that fed him the forbidden fruit which has him so sick to his scrutinizing stomach.”
“Then why not remove the stomach?” Dr Buncle challenged. “Or the ass, for that matter? The patient is obviously an ass. He places his trust in his mind. Using his mind, he convinces his mind that the mind is not to be trusted. Where’s the sense in that? He’s an ass, i tell you—i say remove the ass.”
“Or the fists.” Dr Cataract offered, being the only attending physician w/ a psychiatric degree from the University of Froid. “After all, babies form fists long before they extend handshakes. The clenched fist is the first act of rebellion. Amputate the First Cause & you truncate all that follows.”
Neimann bit his lower lip, exchanging a pensive glance w/ the bloodshot eyes of Dr Buncle. “I think it’s clear, gentlemen,” the head physician concluded. “The only way to be sure we extricate the insidious cancer is to amputate the whole person.”
All heads concurred.