It’s time to take off the final mask. Over the past month I’ve claimed to be a host of various personalities: Tom Cruise, a boy dictating the stories of a ouija board and Britney Spears to name a few. In truth, my name is Simon Bridgeton and I’m a headache specialist from the Headache Division of Mayo Clinic’s Neurology Department in Minnesota. In my private life, however, my fascination, which has spanned countless decades now, is with neurological disorders. Hence my interest in the different people whom I’ve taken up as writers of this blog. I’ve been crafting these entries in order to obtain a more profound understanding of these deeply troubled people. (Does Tom Cruise suffer a species of neurological disorder and will there be a condition someday called, “Tom Cruise.”  ? ) 
    I also happen to fancy myself an amateur author. It is for that reason which I’ve written the following story.

Hope for Horror, Rest in Pain

     The rickety carriage rolled to a sudden stop in front of the dark mansion. I opened the small carriage door and lowered myself to the dark snow below. I reached into the pocket of my inner vest to consult my fob. 
      “It’s half eight now so I shan’t be more than half an hour, Yorik,” I shouted at my carriage driver who wrapped his arms around himself as if he were in a straight jacket. He had a similarly deranged look upon his face which had taken me years to grow accustomed to. For the first six months that he was in my service I would, were he to appear suddenly at my back, automatically strike at him with an umbrella or whatever was at hand. His appearance was like an insane phantom. In spite of the blows upon his person, he remained steadfast and explained that he was familiar with this response and apologized and asked if I needed any more tea or if I would like to go for a carriage ride through the Lake District. I would invariably soften my blows and then come to my senses. He was a good servant.
    “Yes, sir,” he said and as I walked to the large doors of the mansion I saw that he was consulting physic in the bottle. It was cold out and I did not wish to begrudge him such an indulgence.
    In the middle of the front door was a knocker in the shape of a devil’s head. It’s nostrils were grotesquely large and – given the flatness of the rest of the face – were the only surface upon which I could lift this curiosity. I put my finger in the devil’s left nostril, dug it in securely and lifted the knocker. I felt something prickly and painful on my finger and released it of a sudden and the knocker fell to the door with a loud crash. It opened slowly.
   “Doctor Mandlestrom ?”
    “The same.”
    The man, who had the look of a consumptive, extended an arm in greeting. 
    “And you must be Tom Cruiser ?”
    “Yes,” he said with a giant flash of teeth which seemed large enough to use as billiard balls in a game of snooker. (Although I myself detest the sport if it can be called as such.) Indeed when he opened his mouth to smile his entire visage was transformed from sickness to a strange sort of health. “Please do come in. The cold is particularly biting tonight.”
     He took me on a tour of his home while explaining how much he admired my work, my writings on eccentric maladies of the mind. I nodded graciously whenever I could but I was unnerved by his manner.
    “And this is my dining room,” he said and laughed maniacally. I had no knowledge of the cause of his bemusement but I tried to keep a pleasant expression upon my face. I thought of the last time I’d hit my servant and how profusely he’d apologized. This calmed my nerves.  
     “And now we come to the piece de resistance,” he said with a flourish of his arm that knocked a stuffed ferret dressed like Oscar Wilde straight off the mantle-piece. “As you see I’ve collected many a curiosity. There are stories behind every item in my home.”
   I smiled but was growing impatient to see a person in his company whom he’d written me about three months previous. A man of the most peculiar nature. 
   “I saved this ferret from certain death on the side of the road. It had been ridden over by a carriage and nobody was kind enough to stop to help it. I knew I was the only one who could give it CPR. Years later I had it immortalized as it’s favorite author.”
    We sat down at his large dining room table and I realized that here was a man who was perhaps more deranged than the creature he was claiming to harbor. Obviously, he spent too much of his time alone in this large mansion with nothing but echoes of his voice to give him companionship.
    “And where is this man that you wrote to me of. The man who thinks he’s a chair ?”
     “Why sir you’re seated upon him,” he said and threw his head back in hysterical laughter. 
    With a start I looked down and realized that I was indeed seated upon the backside of a man whose arms stretched up as if the arms of a chair. His forehead balanced upon the ground and he was perfectly still.
    “He was raised by chairs,” Tom Cruiser said to me laughingly. “He was abandoned by his pauper family and left in an equally abandoned warehouse of old chairs. Those chairs taught him everything he knows.”
    I pulled out my notepad and started writing feverishly.
   What a marvelous oddity !