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by Lopez
Rated: E · Novel · Thriller/Suspense · #1997376
Anette answers the question "What's it like to be a schizophrenic?"
"What's it like?" Annette said once again, puckering her lips lemonwise and then smiling. "It's not like anything else!" Big shrug.

Purine tried not to betray his disappointment with the feeble answer. He ate a tasty bite of hash browns.

"I guess I could say that before I met Tony LaVector, it was like a prison for me. And now, now it's the opposite of a prison. Whatever that is."

Purine chuckled. "Freedom, then?"

"No. I mean there's that, sure, but that's not it. Freedom is just the absence of prison, of chains. 'Shackles,' I heard Mr. LaVector once say. Yeah. Shackles. Because that's what it is, big heavy shackles; the way everyone clings to their names, their reputation, their identity. In one second I could transform myself into another person. It's not something I can do by willing it, and I don't mean that I have multiple personalities or something like that. I know what my name is. But what do I like, what pushes my buttons? All those are subject to change. At any time. It's like I'm a deck of cards that reshuffles itself...and that's not what normal brains are like. You, I know, are like this: you've dealt yourself a hand of cards from your deck. And you treasure each one of those cards, you feel like you have to hold onto them at all costs. But see, there's a game going on. It's real hard to have that strategy all the time and really enjoy playing. Maybe when you're done here, you'll be a little more like me."

Again a chuckle. She was naturally amusing to him, more now like an otter than a mouse. "I don't know that I'm here for...to lose myself like that."

She hit the table with both palms, not hard, just for emphasis. Nothing in her behavior struck Purine as schizophrenic. "You don't know it and you don't not know it!"

"Well," just not able to control the chuckling this morning. Is this how he comes off, as some pompous intellectual? "Well, I'll grant you that."

"Oh, you're interested all right. Wouldn't you just love to open me up?"


"My head silly." Fluttered her eyelids. "My head. See how my mind works. But that's you're first mistake. You think that by observing others you'll become a great thinker or psychologist or doctor, whatever it is you think you want to be. A politician maybe. I could see you wanting to be that. But once you realize what a wealth you have, what a library to study, what a great big experiment you are conducting just by being alive... I'll always remember meeting Tony. I was one of the first. Walked up to him. He seemed...he seemed real crazy at first, like he had this huge rage all bottled up in him. But then I blinked my eyes and I couldn't tell why I'd even thought that. He looked at me from across the room and I came over to him. He told me that somebody had been poisoning his coffee. I took a sec to sort of digest that, and then he said, 'The important thing to know is that I really don't care about other people.' That's how you get there. It doesn't mean you don 't have compassion. You can have as much compassion as your heart is capable of, but compassion isn't caring. They're two different things."

Purine felt something he hadn't for a while, something he hadn't felt since after the war, perhaps before the war. He felt intellectually challenged.

"I'm afraid I don't quite understand."

"Oh you will buddy," said Annette, nodding her head the American way, big ups and downs, not like in Asia where it begins with a submissive forward tilt, "You will buddy. You definitely will."

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