Monday, February 04, 2008

What's the answer?

"What's happening? Something is wrong." I knew the voice on the phone; I'd been expecting the call since the woman who owned the place Daniel had last stayed had run into me at the market and said he was phoning daily and she didn't know what to do. Give him my number, I said. I'll talk with him.

He was calling from San Francisco. "Have you ever been in San Francisco?" he asked. Yes, I told him. Lots of people, right? Yes, he said, and he said "they are reading my mind. I try to keep my thoughts quiet but they are reading my mind and they are scaring me".

We had a long conversation. He hadn't eaten for days, he hadn't slept for three. Well, said I, just that will make you extra vulnerable. But I knew that wasn't what was needed. Where are you now, I asked?

He was in a bus station. He had a bus ticket in his hand. Where had it come from? He didn't know. He said one of his demons had been torn out of his body in the park. He said he felt pains in his stomach. He said he was scared.

I gave him the phone number of the mental health outreach worker he'd met at my shop. I told him "when you get to the town at the end of your ticket, there is a clinic there. Maybe you should go in and talk to someone there".

So he showed up a few days later, in the company of a young couple; I'd met the girl before; she often comes and curls up in the big armchair and reads interesting books while my dog sits at her feet and the rain pours down outside. Didn't know her new friend. Felt good that Daniel was at least hooked up with some friends.

But a few hours later he came to me and said that people look at him funny. They are reading his thoughts again. He can only sleep if he hangs onto someone else, otherwise he will fall through the center of the world. "What's happening?" he asked again.

You know, there are questions to which I don't have answers. I gave him a new sleeping bag, because somewhere he'd lost his. I gave him some clean dry socks. I said I'd look for some boots, since his are wearing out.

I looked over at Dina, the girl with the huge dark eyes who loves to sit and read poetry. She smiled. Neither of us knew the answer, I think.

Daniel said "the father sits on my back, and the sister is by my side. They are trying to eat my heart" is what Daniel said. Oh, said I. Here, have a banana, take some more fruit for your friends.

And the rain keeps falling.

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