December 15, 2009

Beer As Dark As My Heart, Stave II

Mack's Bulgar adventures continue in the next installment of Beer As Dark As My Heart. Enjoy!

Stave II

"This story begins when I joined the Organization. The details of getting to the country are mostly mundane. There were medical exams and the question of psychological fitness, they called it. All the volunteers were submitted to the scrutiny of the Organization's alienist. That's where I first heard his name.

"This doctor was the last on the list of hoops through which I had to jump. I was already exhausted from the prodding and probing of the previous specialists and I had begun to feel like some sort of specimen in an experiment.

"She wasn't in the office when I arrived, so I looked over her bookshelf, stacked with the latest literature: Improvements and Developments in the Rorschach Technique, You Are What You Write, Reinterpreting Freud. One particular book caught my eye amidst all those scientific pamphlets: A Mad Soul: Man Outside of Society. As I bent to pick it up, the door began to open and I rushed to take a seat on the fake leather couch on the other side of the room.

"The doctor greeted me, shook my hand and sat down behind her desk in one uninterrupted movement. Even as she sat at her desk, she gave the impression of constant activity. Her smile stayed even as she spoke.

"'Tell me, then,' she pulled out her notebook, 'does your family have any history of mental illness?'

"'None,' I answered succinctly. My patience for this scrutiny had worn thin and I weathered the routine questions as best I could without betraying my growing annoyance.

"At the end she looked up and smiled. 'So where are they sending you, then?'

"'Bulgaria,' I said and she suddenly took on a serious countenance, her brows lurched toward the bridge of her nose, her eyes narrowed and her smile melted into a contemplative frown.

"'Be careful. They say things change out there.'

"'Change?' I asked.

"She stood up slowly and began to come toward me in deliberately measured steps. 'You will meet him, most likely. There is no reason you shouldn't know. I would love to meet him, to ask him some questions. I'm sure he's fascinating!' She stopped and leaned against her desk, her eyes gazing past me.


"'Keiter. He is a special case, they say. He isn't the only one. Many of them come back with...' she paused, looking for the right word '...complications, but he is something else entirely. Yes, something else.' With that, she retreated into her thoughts and I took the opportunity to leave without further discussion.

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