He would have to ask the doctor.
Door four. The man on the right was Doctor Emmet. A pen bleed in his pocket.
A shiny blue tie. The pale sunlight framed his hair into a halo.
First warm day of the year.
Like Spring where you come from?
Yes, like Spring. Could you tell me something?
Why is Mika here?
Well, mercury poisoning.
But this is a mental hospital.
"There is a specialist in mercury poisoning on our staff, Doctor Saher.
He has taken care of most of the recent outbursts of mercury poisoning.
A wonderful recovery rate. Your brother is suffering from some of the neurological
side effects of mercury poisoning. Excessive timidity, depression. So we
can deal with both of them here. Did you know that the amount of mercury
found in his urine sample indicates a level five times that of the permissible
level? It's true. Your brother is very lucky to be alive. Lucky to be alive."
Doctor Saher, a thin man, nodded. "He's very lucky, your brother---he
is your brother?"
Yes. Mika is my brother. Could you tell me how was he poisoned?
"Occupational. He was working in the ventilation section of a fluorescent
lighting factory which is really the worst part. And there was no proper
surveillance, no gas masks. I have asked the government several times to
quarantine that factory. Now, finally it has been shut down. We have had
flurries of poisoning, nothing so serious. Your brother was the worst case
I've ever seen since that fifteen year old boy that died around four years
ago--spasms, speech impediments, neurological problems, everything. He wouldn't
even talk to me for the first few days. Finally he wrote down your work
address. I'm glad you're here. Perhaps it will make him more cooperative.
Try to calm him--talk slow. He's very nervous. It's the mercury running
in his blood."
The mercury. He will have probably changed since you last saw him. When
did you last see him?
Seven years. I've called him occasionally and we write but he travels so
That's quite a long time. Could you fill out these forms--including his?
Then the nurse will take you to his room. Please come to my office afterwards
if you have the time. We can talk about it more detail then.
The forms were in thin translucent stacks. Eight pages of a smeared blue
type. I shuffled them, found I could answer nothing. We never spoke about
such things. A sense of cold emanated from the room. I was very tired.
"Could I see him later ?" I asked. " I'm quite tired from
the drive, I came by plane--I would like to rest--just a small rest---"
The nurse looked at him a moment and then told me that, if I wanted, there
was a spare bed in the next room.
"Thank you." It was strange lying in these beds. The smell of
medicine, ammonia masking piss. The blanket was the green of the sweater.
I do not want to die in a hospital. I tried to sleep.
Occasionally, the magnified echoing of footsteps startled me. The hollow
thud of aluminium bannisters. Water running through the walls. Steam hissing
in the radiators. An hour later, the nurse came back.
"Are you ready now?"
"Yes. Thanks for the blanket."
"Oh, that was nothing. Did you have a good rest?"
"Yes. I feel better. I'm ready now."
The door was already open and when I walked in there was a flood of sunlight.
All the curtains in the room had been opened. In the brilliance, a tall
black figure stood in relief. I had forgotten how tall Mika was. How tall
he still was. The light hurt my eyes.
The figure moved away from the windows and towards the opposite corner of
the room. The nurse tapped Mika on the corner and told him to call her if
he needed her.
"It's very bright in here."
- 0 1 2 3 +