Dr. Tarr – Part 2

Dr. Tarr’s Story — Part 2

Patient 07-65943
Age: 70+
Name: Guy Henri Tarr
AKA Boi Ling Tarr
AKA Shoo Tings Tarr
AKA Imas Tarr
AKA Roberts Johnson

[Transcript of audiotape 109-02]
 Dr. Ochs: You were reminiscing about the time when you were with the traveling sideshow. You talked about the Geeks, Crab Boy and Nate the Human Skeleton. The Lupin family. Your feelings on those times are clearly mixed. Would you agree?
 [The patient stares at me. His eyes are dull, though, as if there is nothing behind them. The look is very misleading, for what I had perceived as a certain lackluster demeanor was more of an inward vision not accessible by most subjects.]
 Patient: Yes, perhaps I would like to continue talking about those times. Those times so long ago. Long ago. That’s the key, isn’t it, Dr. Ochs? When you are young time is quite linear. The future is not something to think about too much. It is, after all, in the future. But it warps as you grow older, doesn’t it? It starts to fold in onto itself. It wraps you in a cocoon of thoughts that are time jumps into the past. One day you realize this is different. You used to have time jumps into the future. You lived a big part of your life in the future. There is an upside, though, isn’t there? You are definitely omniscient, aren’t you? You know what’s going to happen. Everything is going along just fine. Everything is going along, as it should be. Life is moving along in that linear fashion of your dreams, of your excursions into the suppositions of the future. Of the possibilities. Ah, but then reality starts to warp on you again. You can’t control it. It frustrates the hell out of you, but that doesn’t help the problem. You can’t decide what is reality. Damn! Caught in a David Cronenberg film. Ignominy at its height. I become an utterance in a Mamet play turned into a movie turned into a book.
 [The patient pauses and stares out the barred window. He does not speak for several minutes.]
 Dr. Ochs: What do you find so fascinating about films? You seem to make reference to them quite often.
 Patient: Yeah, I love to watch movies. Movies are just windows into alternate realities, right? According to Dr. Furstenberg of the University of Toledo, movies are the keys to the universe. Really. And I agree. You can find any situation in a movie. You can find multiple examples and perspectives on any situation. Movies are writing in shorthand.
 Dr. Ochs: That’s an interesting statement. By these “alternate realities”, as you call them, do you mean realities accessible by you? Invaded by you? Or are you freely admitted by those selfsame realities?
 Patient [excitedly]: Exactly! I can do that! It took me a while to figure out that not very many people can do that. I was overwhelmed at first. Overwhelmed. Let’s take the movie
“Spider Baby.” I can become Lon Chaney, Jr. as he becomes his character. I become the character. I live the part. I can live any part I choose. Isn’t that the object of movies? I know the common person can’t do this. I know that. I recognize my unique status in the Human Race. Homo Superior. I read too, you know. “More Than Human.” Sturgeon. He was one of us, you know. Kept it fairly hidden. On the surface anyway. Just like the rest of…them. Yeah, I was going to say ‘us”, but I really don’t think I’m in the same category; the same station as those others.
 [The patient lapses into a thoughtful silence as he studies an abstract painting on the wall. He abruptly looks at me with an intensity equaling none.]
 Patient:  Okay, yeah, don’t gimme that crap, ya know? I know everyone had the bad with the good. Relativity? Who gives a damn? Not me. Einstein was a nobody in my world. Don’t talk in theories, boy, talk in substance! All I know’s what I went through. I know others have experienced similar situations, similar conditions, similar … circumstances. But so what? That still don’t make them me, right? Okay, here ya go. You want to hear about those times. What a can of worms! What a Pandora’s Box of Inquiry! Let’s look into John Dee’s favorite mirror, okay? Well, hey, I hate to burst yer bubble, but it wasn’t all bad. Not by a long shot. Hey, from everything I’ve read, everything I’ve observed, all the TV I’ve watched, all the movies I’ve sat through, I know my life wouldn’t qualify for normal. But, hey. What’s normal? One of the age-old questions, right? Right?
 [The patient grows agitated for half a minute. The orderly takes a step forward ready to subdue the patient should he get too animated and agitated. Then the patient makes a visible effort to calm himself. He obviously wants to think, to attempt to believe he is in control. He closes his eyes, leans back in his chair and takes a long, deep breath. He appears to relax on the surface. His body language, however, reveals a different story. It is the story of a desperate individual who longs to be free from his present circumstances. He opens his eyes – eyes that drive a primal power deep into my brain.]
 Patient: I remember when I was sixteen. That was a special year. That’s what they said, anyway. A special year. So, anyway, I knew they were going to throw me a birthday party. They had thrown me a birthday party ever since I could remember. But this one was supposed to be special. Okay, here’s special. I already knew about sex. I was initiated into that part of the Human Condition when I was twelve. Lydia and Lyla Linstrom showed me what sex was like. Well, okay, I learned later that situation was a bit abnormal…and, I might add, after some worldly experience in the art of sexual practices, much more pleasurable than what would be considered the norm. And the Situation in the World? Jules/Julie kept me filled in on Current Affairs. “The War in Europe”, Jules called it. “The War After the War to End All Wars” as Julie sarcastically called it. Then the great prosperity. That was the late 1940s, 1950s and into the 1960s. That’s when I grew up. That’s the period that formed me. But not the normal part of that time span. No. I was drawn to the — how shall I put it? – the murkier side of the Human Condition. Wait a minute…I’m way off the subject, aren’t I, Doctor? Let us return to the subject being discussed. Let us get back to the time I spent in “Tarr & Gravel’s Traveling Sideshow and Menagerie of the Truly Weird.” One of the many good times…
 [The patient once again closes his eyes. He leans back. He relaxes fully. His face is devoid of all lines of concern. He has entered the World of Yesterday.]
 Patient: I was ten. Dr. Gravel let me out of the bottle. He had been letting me out more and more. I was getting used to it. I looked forward to it. I could stand up straight for long periods of time. I could breathe the air – even though it smelled of elephant dung and camel spit and carnie sweat. I had caught tantalizing whiffs of these aromas through the neck of my Bottle. Now I could see their sources, their Gods of Creation. Gods, yes. They were Gods because they could walk around freely. They could do whatever they pleased. Or so I thought. Ah, the underlying current of socio-pathological attitudes, nurtured by thousands of years of cause and effect, of the vagaries of All Things in Nature.
 Dr Ochs: Come come! Everything is “All Things in Nature.” I bring you to task on this.
 Patient [smiling appreciatively]: You are astute, Dr. Ochs, astute. You have climbed out of the Trap of Platitudes. You obviously think of yourself – you may indeed be – one of Homo Superior. As, as such, you at the very least deserve an explanation, albeit an abbreviated one, considering your station in the Human Race. So, here it is.
 Dr. Ochs: Pray, tell me, good sir! You seem to be privy to certain facts, certain conditions, regarding Universal Understanding. Don’t look at me in that manner, sir. You know exactly what I mean. You understand my referral. It is time you faced up to your visions of so-called “reality.” It is time for you to open mind to me!
 Patient: Ah, Doctor Ochs, you are on the Road of Enlightenment! I say “Good for you! Good for you!” Now, Doctor, now that we are on the same … wavelength, shall we say? Now that we are “attuned,” I can proceed. You will now understand. I have given you the ability to understand, to comprehend the underlying meaning, the metaphorical understanding, of my words. Here.
 [The patient suddenly lapses into an obviously faked state of catatonia. I am forced to end the session. I am sure I can detect the hint of a smile. He is playing with me. I stand.]
 Dr. Ochs: Tell Johnson when you are ready to continue with our sessions.
 [In my peripheral vision I see the patient’s eyes snap open. I ignore him as I exit the cell. His laughter follows me down the corridor like a raven hovering at my shoulder.]
[End of transcript]
to be continued…


Comments are closed.