28.3.07

Truth-telling




… Well, I did what you suggested. I told him the truth.

[ ... ]

Oh, he clammed up for a bit. Then started talking again as if he hadn’t even heard me.

[ ... ]

Repeated it, of course. I kept on repeating it every time he started off down that pathway.

[ ... ]

Again and again and again. It was like talking to a concussion victim. his mind would simply not change track. If there’s any way of shocking him out of it, it’s going to take a bit more than a few words from me.

[ ... ]

No, I’m not suggesting that. In any case, it’s not for me to suggest new approaches. My job is just to enforce the treatment the specialists have prescribed for him.

[ ... ]

Of course I’ve tried to tell them! And it wasn’t easy, either. They’re really not into listening to anything a nurse might tell them – let alone something that implies they haven’t been observing a patient properly.

[ ... ]

Oh, he’s nice as pie when they’re around – for those few seconds. He does what they say and lets them poke and prod. He’s the same with the meals-on-wheels and home help – polite and unobtrusive, the model patient. They won’t hear a word against him. Not that I want to say anything against him. Just let some of them know what’s going on inside his head.

But if they haven’t seen it or heard it, who’s to say it really exists? I’d be just the same if someone told me a long rigmarole like this! Especially if it was someone who was on probation to start with. I could lose my job over this, you know - just like that.

[ ... ]

And even if he does have a few delusions, so what? Does it affect his healing? I don’t know if it’s helping him or not, but I’d be pretty strongly inclined to argue not. Like you said last time, the better he gets the more danger he’s in. Augustus’s successor Tiberius never pardoned him, and it’s pretty obvious that any official figure who took up his case would be leaned on pretty strongly to shut up about it.

It’s one thing to bring someone back from the Black Sea, but it’s quite another to parade an old blind man in public and admit that he’s been in town the whole time and that the whole story cooked up by the Emperor and his secret police was a cynical lie.

[ ... ]

No, it doesn’t stop him hoping and scheming. At one point he mentioned having tried to contact a friend of his who knew Augustus’s widow Livia. But he reckoned she was almost certainly against him. He seems to have hopes of Tiberius’s nephew Germanicus, but of course you and I know that nothing much is going to come of that either.

[ ... ]

Well, I don’t quite know. I guess the blinding must be fairly fresh in his memory. He seems to flit in and out of different times, if you want the truth. It’s this thing of having to keep up a fantasy within a fantasy that makes it so complicated for him. And in any case, I can’t really ask without doping precisely what you advised me not to do – encourage him in his delusions.

[ ... ]

I suppose I could try and shape them a bit, but do you really think … ?

[ ... ]

Fair enough. One level of fantasy is more than enough. But he knows he’s blind, he knows he’s bedridden – the fact that he thinks he’s in Ancient Rome, under house-arrest, rather than in his pokey little bed-sit apartment doesn’t make all that much difference that I can see.

[ ... ]

You really are beginning to get into this, aren’t you? I don’t know anything about Romania, ancient or modern – I’ve never been there, never known anyone from there …

[ ... ]

No, I realise that he hasn’t either, and I suppose I could read up on it and cook up some hogwash, but what’s the point? What possible good could it do?

[ ... ]

I’m not sure that action is always better than inaction in cases like this. What if he has a complete meltdown and withdraws totally? I’m in pretty deep waters here already. What if it comes out that I’ve been talking to you about it? I’m not sure, but I think they could sequester your records if it came down to a professional malpractice suit. I just couldn’t survive any more of that shit … You don’t know what it’s like, having everything you’ve ever done or said gone over and used against you in front of a bunch of strangers.

[ ... ]

Yes, you say that, but you can’t really know.

[ ... ]

Fine, I’ll think about it, anyway. I guess I take your point. There’s more than one way of facilitating. I’m just afraid that this is the same train of thought that got me in trouble last time.

[ ... ]

How could it be passion? They needed what I had to give, that was all there was to it. If they could have shown I’d done anyone any actual harm, there’s no way I’d still be in the job. The fact that they basically understood what I was saying is why I was only sentenced to have to talk to you. It was actually the minimum penalty they could impose.

[ ... ]

I’ll think about it. I really can’t promise anything.

No comments: