He came home last night with an office chair. The chair had a steel stem at the base which branched off in four directions. Each branch ending with a bulb shaped wheel. All but one; which he wrapped in gauze and tape. He placed it on its’ side in the living room like a wounded animal he had found, fixed and decided to foster. With plans, it appeared, to heal its broken foot and reintroduced it back into an office environment.
He then wandered off to bed, in his room, on the second floor near the bathroom in the centre of the house. This was appropriate, since, right now, he was the main attraction.
His name is Norbert, a soft pale man, standing from floor to unwashed hair at about five five. When we were first introduced he spoke with a voice that seemed tilted, slightly leaning in one direction, forced down at the end, each sentence lowering in volume to the point of silence. After a week or two I learned to communicate with him by just finishing his sentences for him, sometimes just repeating the whole sentence like I was translating a foreign language. His eyes protruded slightly, something like those bug eyed fish you got for your aquarium when you’re a kid. His eyelids held at half mast, he looked like he was either about to go to bed or he just got up, which was interesting since we only felt safe when he was sleeping.
At first Norbert was a welcome addition to the house. We needed a roommate and the last one, who I picked, decided it wasn’t for her and left as soon as she arrived. Filling the house was our responsibility and an empty room meant higher rent for all of us. So when Norbert showed up, quiet and unassuming we thought, perfect. He’ll fit in, like a piece of furniture, a comfortable mute piece of furniture, and initially, that’s exactly what he was.
Then it started.
His eye lids started to lift…just a little. He started to talk, a lot. It was as if his true personality was hiding inside his head, beneath his filthy hair, waiting for that perfect moment to surface.
One day, there he was, all words and teeth.
We knew he had definitely changed when he came home with a girlfriend, a mouthy speck of dirt. Chewing on this and that, throwing sentences at us like grenades in a war we didn’t know we were fighting.
Norbert was gathering support, people that would help him return to an underworld existence, one he knew he would always return to once he stopped taking his medication. These are the people that hear what we will never hear, and dream while awake. He was about to go way up and then, in the spirit of balance, way down.
Who cleaned my room and hid all my shoes?
Who got up at four in the morning and tried to make the Kitchen kosher, then hide all the pots and pans outside?
Who removed all the prayer placks from the doorways and made created a pile of wax on his desk, lighting it at night and humming loudly?
Once again…who keeps wrapping the shoes in plastic and hiding them…..
Eventually the odd quirky disturbances were replaced by more violent events.
Who swears loudly at night in his room while praying…
Who ripped the studio to pieces….
Who is burning objects in the kitchen and burying them in the back yard…
We started to sleep with our doors wired shut with wire hangers, the mood had shifted from curious to cautious, to dangerous.
How do you deal with a madman in your house? Well, there are no books to tell you what to do, no services, government or otherwise to advise what the best move is, so, seeing that this couldn’t be something Norbert developed during the short time he lived here, we guessed that maybe, just maybe his past would offer some advise.
We found his brother.
As the story goes, Norbert comes by his mental illness honestly, that is to say, genetically. His brother, who sounded weary and not at all surprised to hear from us told us that Norbert’s father, his father suffered from the same mental illness. He said, call the Clark, a mental institution, and they will tell us what to do.
We had to say that Norbert was a danger to himself and to us.
Now, that next part was to actually get Norbert to the Clark…not so easy.
Lacking any experience with this kind of problem we called Norbert’s brother and thankfully he told us he come over and take him to the Clark.