Monochromatic Hero and Suicide

On Sunday, I painted my first monochromatic painting. It is an 11″ x 14″ acrylic on stretched canvas of André Trocmé in burnt umber. He is one of my heroes. That turned out so well, I followed it on Monday with an 11″ x 14″ painting of Bobby Glaeser in phthalocyanine blue. Bob was a classmate and neighbor of mine growing up. In early December 1974, a year and a half after we had graduated high school, he killed his parents, his younger sister Ann, and himself, with a 12 gauge shotgun.

trocmeAndré Trocmé was a Huguenot pastor in southern France. Before and during the Nazi occupation of France, he led his city and the neighboring city and surrounding countryside to give refuge to Jews fleeing Hitler’s genocidal death camps. It started with the boarding school his church ran. He did not believe in discrimination, so the school accepted Jewish students, who wore the school uniforms and lived lives indistinguishable from the Christian students. It grew into families sheltering families. He trained them on how to blend in and how to respond to the authorities. They set up an underground railroad to help families escape from France to safety in non-Nazi occupied countries. No one in their network betrayed a refugee into Nazi captivity. His nephew’s class was raided, where he was teaching a few dozen Jewish children. The Nazis seized the children to take them to a camp. Trocmé’s nephew insisted on going with them, as their teacher. He died in the concentration camp. It is estimated that they saved over 3500 lives.

I read Pastor Trocmé’s story over 30 years ago. It was also made into a movie.  As always, the book was better. He had with Dietrich Bonhoeffer and with Gandhi. He was a pacifist and had a strong ethical belief in honesty, charity and non-discrimination. He never made excuses for having to lie to the authorities. He felt that it was still sin, but to tell the truth would make him complicit in the deaths of fellow human beings, which would be a greater sin. He had been taught a hard lesson by his strict father, when he was a lad. He learned that it was not only right to do good; “it was essential to do the good on time!” It was his position that Hitler’s rule, the rise of the Nazis, and World War II was totally preventable, if only people of good conscience in Germany had done the good on time. Once he and his cohorts were in power, it was too late to stop him without doing evil and causing death and destruction. This is an important lesson and one that America needs to heed today.

We have both major parties putting forward the most despised presidential candidates in our history. Both are bigots. One is a capricious fool; the other is a shrewd politician committed to endless war. One would incarcerate Muslims and Latinos here; the other would (and already has) kill Muslims, Latinos and others overseas. They have 30% acceptance rating between them from the electorate. Yet people are deciding their votes on fear of one or the other, instead of doing the right thing and rejecting both.

It is time to do the good on time.

bobbyBobby was a good friend in grade school and junior high. His family lived two blocks away from mine in Golden Valley, Minnesota. We would bicycle together, sled and skate together in the winter, and sometimes camp out in our backyards together in the summer. He was a beautiful boy! He was handsome, with thick, dark hair, athletic and smart. All the girls loved him. Most of the boys wanted to be him. He did not appreciate all the attention. He was shy and became more withdrawn in his junior and senior year in high school; to the point of not allowing any pictures of himself to appear in the yearbook. This painting is based on his two pictures in the 1971 Robin. The pose is from the soccer team’s group shot, but his eyes were closed, so I looked at his yearly picture for details of his face.

The last time I saw Bobby was in the spring of 1974. I was visiting a few of my friends at the University of Minnesota’s main campus. At that time Pioneer Hall was for both men and women; every other room for each gender. I greeted Bobby as he darted stark naked from the showers to his room. I was shocked at this, not because of modesty, but his apparent lack of it. He had changed, and changed radically. Early December, 1974, we heard the news that Bobby had shot and killed his father, his mother and his sister, Ann, then himself, with a 12 gauge shotgun in the middle of the night in their Golden Valley home. A neighbor discovered their bodies four days after when North Memorial Hospital called her to check on his father, because he had not showed up for his on call assignment. He was a doctor.

Bobby’s case was written up in a feature article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He had suffered some sort of mental breakdown prior to this and had been in treatment. He left the treatment and had been alienated from his family. They reached out to him. He was home for dinner that night to discuss re-entering treatment as an inpatient. After they had all gone to bed, Bobby got his hunting gun and shot his parents and his younger sister while they lay in their beds. Then he shot himself.

The four of them had a joint memorial service at Valley of Peace Lutheran Church. Their were four, beautiful Christmas wreaths on stands in the front of the packed church. Pastor Stine gave this horrible message. He said, “Heaven is God’s gift to us at Christmastime. Bobby gave his family their Christmas gift early.”

I got up, then and there, and walked out of that church! What an ass! This was the same ignorant pastor who had kicked me out of confirmation class one month shy of completion for asking too many questions about heaven and hell, and how one gets to heaven, after my best friend, Steve Rainoff had died by falling through a skylight, chasing a soccer ball, in a locked school in New Jersey.

In the spring of 1975, the Mpls. paper had a feature article on Angel Dust. The authorities had just seen a rise in its use. The symptoms of its use and long-term effects sounded just like Bobby. I have always wondered if he could have been exposed to that, and that is what changed his personality so never know.

I painted his portrait in monochromatic phthalocyanine blue, from a happier time in his life. Bobby was a beautiful boy. He had all the advantages. That could have been me.

Godfather, 4438 Shoreline Drive

godfatherI am the youngest of four siblings, yet my memories have always gone back further than my sisters and brother. This is a painting of the house where I lived for my first six years (June 1955- June 1961). It still stands. The outside finishes and windows have been updated, but it is still the same tiny Dutch Colonial. It is almost totally obscured by trees on Google Earth.  When we lived there, those Google Earth shots would have been impossible! The place was literally crawling with children! (also skipping, jumping, climbing, hiding & seeking, chalk drawing, running,etc.) 1955 was the crest of the Baby Boom after all. Crystal Lake was across the street. That is where the Ericksons, Hostermans and DeLays lived.

Our house was at 4438 Shoreline Drive, Robbinsdale, 22, Minnesota. Postage stamps were 4 cents. Flags had 48 stars. Everybody liked Ike. Our phone number started with KEllogg 7. I knew all this when I was three. My earliest and most powerful memory was being held in the arms of my godfather, Gordon, when I was just two years old, in the dining room of that house. He was looking out the door to the screened-in porch. I remember the feel of his laugh, and that it was one of the few times I felt truly happy and safe in that house.

Not long after that party, Gordy committed suicide. It wasn’t clear that he intended to. There was no note. Gordy had the form of acrophobia that would cause him to have a strong urge to jump from open heights. I have it, too. It is actually an idea, seemingly hardwired in the brain, that the scariness of being on the precipice would be relieved, if one would only throw oneself on the wind and fly.  Gordy flew. His wings burned up like Icarus’ in the Sun.  I simply never saw Uncle Gordy again; never smelled that smell; never saw that smile; never felt that embrace; never felt that laugh again.

That’s me, in the red jumper, asleep in Gordy’s arms. My therapist asked me, yesterday, when I showed her this painting, “So safety must be a big concern for you. What do you do to make sure you are safe?”

I asked her if that was a trick question.

We had much tears. The fact of the matter is, I have had little consciousness of safety since we moved away from that house. First Gordy disappeared, then we moved away from the Ericksons.

When a man strung out on heroin pulled a gun on me, I was too numb to be afraid. My safety is not on my radar. It was beat out of me at an early age. I just calmly sized up the man, determined what his real motives were and helped him achieve them in a way that was best for everyone concerned. It involved me driving with a gun poked in my ribs for 17 miles, but he got into rehab not prison, and, as a side benefit, I got to live.

(If you want to purchase this painting, or others by me, visit www.shoutforjoy.net)

 

Let me take you down ’cause I’m going to

I went for my intake interview at  a different psychiatrist and psychotherapist office on Thursday. It ruined me for the rest of the day and Friday. We’ll see how today goes. The last time I had such an interview was two years ago. That morning I was feeling pretty good and I just didn’t want to ruin it, so I didn’t get into everything. The interviewer was in a hurry and didn’t probe either. As a result, my diagnosis wasn’t correct. She diagnosed me with severe depressive disorder but missed the CPTSD. This time, I determined to be completely open, no matter what it did to my day, and my interviewer was in no hurry and really probed. It got me thinking about all those I have lost to suicide and murder, and the times my life has been threatened and all the bullying I have endured; the friends I have lost. I will attempt to go through the list.

My best friend and playmate when I was three to five died in a plane crash in Peru on Christmas Eve, during my junior year in high school. My best friend in 5th and 6th grade committed suicide in 8th grade. My best friend in 8th grade committed suicide in 10th grade. My best friend in 9th through 12th grade, who was also my sister committed suicide when I was 47. Of the 100 kids in my elementary school 6th grade class, 4 were dead by suicide by Christmas of our 2nd year in college. One beautiful friend had murdered his sister and parents in the bargain. Another two were dead of fast acting cancers. By the time I was 30, 15 in my class were dead of suicide or overdose, and several more friends from junior and senior high school and from my sister’s class.

Then she asked if I ever had suicidal thoughts or thought about committing suicide myself. I know it’s a form question, but I had to laugh at it. Are you kidding me? With this background and having been held at gunpoint by a high ex-con, and threatened to be killed by a Mennonite pastor, and experiencing the probable murder committed by a bishop of his wife, the multiple attacks, slanders, jealousies from clergy because I was serving the poor; the attacks from the press, police, mayors, with more lies and slanders because I was serving the poor, being terrorized by a conman because we refused to be conned. Experienced 6 strokes and 40 TIAs from migraines after allergic reaction to antibiotic for infection I picked up on the street gave me kidney failure.

YES! I think about suicide. YES! I have suicidal thoughts. Do I have a plan? No. I have been hurt so many times by so many who have committed suicide, I do not plan to do it. Although I do not blame any who have done it. I understand and empathize fully. Each night when I go to sleep, I would not be disappointed if I did not wake up. Most mornings lately, I am disappointed that I did.

She asked me what my goals for therapy were. This was hard. It has been so long since I felt anything close to normal, I had a really hard time coming up with any. I think I told her, “I would like to not cry all of the time. I would like not to sleep so much.” She said to make them reasonable, attainable goals. I paused and said, “I would like for people not to be afraid of me.”

She then asked me a question that no one in my life has ever asked me. She said, “Were you always slow at school?” We had already gone over my educational level, which is confusing. I crammed three years of college into two, went to two graduate schools without a bachelor’s, and dropped out of both of them without receiving a master’s. I taught a master’s program, however, and received an honorary doctorate. I have been ordained five times in six denominations (none of which I asked for, one I wasn’t present at). Most people assume I have a master’s. Many assume I have a doctorate. I guess my demeanor, with my slow speech, and my occasional stall while trying to find the right word due to the stroke damage, and my brokenness due to PTSD made me appear to be mentally challenged.

Photo on 2015-09-19 at 17.17I laughed at the thought. Maybe I have finally gained the tools I sought in ninth grade when I found that all my knowledge and fast thinking were so useless, because I could not use them to help tutor the kid that was in the detention area with me for not getting his algebra homework, while I was there for outsmarting my enriched English teacher.

#PTSD

After my first Tweet using the hashtag #PTSD, a PTSD & CPTSD support site followed me on Twitter and so I followed it. (The quote comes from a tweet from that site.) I have learned that there are many more out there who are experiencing the same kind of pain as I am as a result of the same kind of abuse by narcissists and sociopaths as well as other violent and traumatic situations. I have known for over a year that something had snapped; that I was somehow different or damaged. It wasn’t until I was at the Orthodox Peace Fellowship Conference, last Fall that I could put a name to it. There were a number of military people there, and a major focus of the conference was addressing PTSD. An Orthodox Christian psychiatrist, who is also a four star general, gave a definition of PTSD by listing the symptoms. I had an “O shit” moment. He had listed several possible markers, saying that one didn’t have to have all of them, but a preponderance of them would indicate that one had PTSD. Well, I had all but one.

I have never been in the military, so it came as a surprise to me. However, I have had my life threatened on several occasions. I have been bullied and lied to and manipulated by narcissistic, if not sociopathic, clergy on many occasions. This is a pattern repeated over and over by those suffering Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Another note, though is that the 4-star general is trying to get the label changed so that it is not called a disorder. This is in line with all of the scientific literature in the field, as well. What happened with me and with all the others and with all of the soldiers who were programmed to kill is not a disorder, but a natural response and survival mechanism, without which we would not survive with our psyches intact in the battlefields we face. In the case of the soldier, it is combat. and he needs to be reconditioned and deprogrammed for his new environment. In cases like mine, I cannot go near sociopaths or narcissists until  or unless I am ready to boldly not accept their authority or judgment, whatsoever. This is a sticky wicket when there is ecclesiastical authority involved. But I have been told by an arch-priest who is also a therapist to stand up to bullies.

nonebusiness

This is where the graphic and caption come in. In the summer of 2012, when I was in the hospital with strokes caused by complex migraines, I had very strange auras with migraines. One time, I had what I call “Picasso vision”. This does not fully capture it, but almost. Every face I saw was terribly disfigured. It was so convincing that I believed it was real. It was happening in my brain, not my eyes.  One’s default setting is to trust one’s brain. One nurse’s aide’s face was so horrible, I thought, ‘How can she live with that?’ I know. I’m a terrible person. Then I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. My own face was equally grotesque. I thought, this disease has sure taken its toll! The only one who looked normal was my beautiful wife. I saw her through the eyes of love. Now, much of the way we perceive ourselves is taken from our read of how others perceive us. This works out OK if one has an unwounded psyche and is not exposed to narcissists or sociopaths. If one is, an extra wall of defense needs to go up and some reminding needs to be done, hence the caption: “What other people think of me, is none of my business.” The reverse of that, of course, is, “You can keep your opinion to yourself!” It’s to develop a bit of a thicker shell for those whose trust and loyalty has been betrayed.

For the mean time, there are places I may not go and people I do not want to see. I will never respect or trust those people after the level of lies and abuse they have heaped upon me. I do hope to be able to be in the same room without being in danger of a migraine causing stroke as I am now.

I the mighty robin, am quite a feeble bird.

3playmatesMy playmates for the first six years of my life were my sister Sue Ann and our neighbor across the street, David Ericson. They were two years older than I was. I was the youngest of four in my family. David was the youngest of four in his family. There were other children in the neighborhood, but these were my closest friends and constant companions. Our family built a bigger house and moved two miles away in Golden Valley, MN, the summer between kindergarten and first grade, but we stayed in touch. We spent 4th of Julys together and got together around Christmas and did some other outings, as well. We ended up going to the same high school: Robbinsdale Senior High.

When we were little and playing cowboys and Indians, David always managed to get killed right outside his back door. He would lay there for a moment then he would get up and run into the kitchen  and pour some ketchup on his face and lie back down; you know, to add bloody realism. The next time we would come by, he would still be lying there, but he would be scraping the ketchup off with potato chips and eating them. You just can’t waste food like that! There were children starving in Africa.

I have written about the Ericsons before. David’s parents, Les and Lois prayed for our family daily and brought us kids to church whenever my folks didn’t go, and to vacation Bible school, to their little Bible church in North Minneapolis. Lois particularly prayed for me daily from the time she heard my mom was pregnant with me until the day she died just a couple of years ago. I played with David’s toys while he was in school and my mom was working for the 1960 Census. The Ericsons’ house was the safest place I knew as a child. Playing with David’s Lincoln Logs in the middle of the living room floor with Mrs. Ericson in the kitchen was as good as life could get.

David grew up to be a serious, well-mannered, Christian, young man. He graduated RHS, Class of 1971. He decided to take a year off to do a short term missionary assignment with Wickliffe Bible Translators, helping his sister and brother-in-law, Jim and Carol Daggett, in Peru, instead of starting college. While there, he was accompanying a young girl on a flight to Quito, to get to a hospital for an emergency surgery. It was Christmas Eve. The flight went down and we did not know for weeks of what had happened. Finally, we learned that only one German girl survived. The plane had broken up in mid air in a bad storm. Pieces of the fuselage had fallen from the sky. Her mother died in the seat next to her. She was carrying her wedding cake on her lap. That may have helped save her. A tribe of natives who were known to be cannibals took her in and treated her wounds. She was finally found and rescued. So we lost David. He died on a mission of mercy. He was Les and Lois Ericson’s only son. Later that year, each of his three married sisters gave birth to sons.

When I was little I would tag along with Sue Ann everywhere. Of course, she was trying to tag along with our older sister, Alison, much of the time, so there were times they were trying to lose me. By the time Sue was in junior high, we were tight. I was a couple of inches taller than she was. She would take me to the 7th grade dances. Some people would assume that I was her date. Others would assume I was her twin brother. I would dance with all her friends. The 7th grade boys just sat there. I was in 5th grade and I was dancing with 4 or 5 girls at a time. I would help her with her math homework. By the time I was in junior high, she and I helped replace the useless student council with a Student Service Organization. We both served on the executive council. We were involved in the musical together. I was the third Ozian general. Sue Ann did make up.

Sue Ann & I became the ones that people would call if they were depressed and considering suicide. We appeared to be so stable. We were not always successful. There were attempts. Sometimes I would drink half a can of root beer, fill it up with six ounces of Scotch and drink that, just to go to sleep at night, in 8th grade. We played hard, too. We snow skied and water skied together. Sue Ann would waterbike while I would swim three miles around the lake in the summer. We read all the works of Hermann Hesse together, sometimes by firelight in the basement, while listening to psychedelic music on the Magnavox. I helped her on her English papers. She was a perfectionist, and I used to read dictionaries and the thesaurus. I tend to remember everything I read. She joined the yearbook staff in her junior year. I secretly helped her with that, even some of the all-nighters. I was still in junior high. The next year they had a poetry contest for the yearbook. I submitted a bunch of poems. They wanted to include several. Sue Ann already had me secretly working on staff. They made an exception and made me the only sophomore on staff and limited my published poems to one short one. We had the most intense year working together. The book won national awards, including one of my spreads, for which I had done the writing and she had done the most ruthless editing. I must admit, it is her voice in my head, editing, when I write. It is a painful process, but I tend to be succinct. I am told that people appreciate my style, even if they don’t always agree with my content.

We were so busy with things in high school that I didn’t see David much apart from family gatherings. We were all very involved with different things, but enjoyed our times together when we did see each other. It hit us hard when we got the news of his plane crash and we were in touch with his family daily, when it happened.

In the Spring of my sophomore year in high school I joined a fundamentalist, Baptist church, getting re-baptized with the whole born again thing. I was as serious with that as I am with anything in my life. We had our arguments over that, but she stuck by me. I still pulled all-nighters with her and helped her write some of her English papers for college. I even helped one of her girlfriends write a theology paper. It was kind of funny at one point. She had a prof. at Augsburg who was the husband of my British Lit. II teacher at RHS. They compared notes. I said there was good reason why our styles were so similar. Sue Ann had taught me how to write. And I edited her papers. They had a good laugh over a glass of Chardonnay that night.

By the time I was 21, three of the 100 kids in my 6th grade class had committed suicide. One had killed his sister and his parents with him. Another six friends from junior high and high school were gone by the time I was 24.

Sue got married in 1974. Bethann and I got married in 1975. Our friendship continued. She introduced Bethann to Creative Circle and I learned all sorts of needle crafts to help build the sales presentations. We stayed in constant communication, even though we were in PA and she and Bucky were in MN. Then communication fell off and I got a call from my older sister, Ali, that Sue Ann had checked herself into a rehab for alcoholism and was wanting everyone in the family to seek treatment as well. She had started the process by trying to do an intervention on our dad. While she was in treatment, she accused him of doing unspeakable things to us as children. My sister, Ali, would call me, at night, and ask me if these things were possible. She started the first phone call by asking me what the color of the living room was in our house on Shoreline Drive. That was the house where I was born. Then she asked me what my earliest memory was. I told her it was being carried through the crowded dining room in that house by Uncle Gordy. Uncle Gordy died when I was 2-1/2. I have the longest, most reliable memory in the family. She wanted to know whether what Sue Ann was accusing our dad of were at all possible. I told her, absolutely not! Apparently Sue Ann had been subjected to that regression “therapy” and given suggestions of false memories.

So I read the books about adult children of alcoholics that Sue Ann sent. When we visited MN and stayed with Sue Ann’s family, we went to AA with her. They would all come out and start chain smoking as soon as the meeting was over. It was like they had traded one addiction for another, or maybe for two: AA and smoking. She was more obnoxious about us joining AA than I had ever been about her being born again. But turnabout being fairplay, our friendship tolerated it. Unfortunately, she did have an addictive personality and that was a foreshadowing. We were out to MN for my dad’s wedding in 1994, we stayed at her house. Late at night she and her girls were talking to our girls about some of their Young Life activities. She said I could take part in the conversation. I said that of course I could. She talked about how they went out “witnessing” with a Muslim and a Christian paired together. I asked, “How could that possibly work, since Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.'” She went ballistic. It was 0 to 70 with nothing in between. She was going to throw us out of the house then and there, on the edge of Minnetonka, at midnight, at about 0°, with no car, before cell phones. Bucky got involved. We came to a truce after he scored a few points. We got to stay the night and catch a ride to the train station the next day. She never spoke to me again. That was just five months after our mom had died. (I guess we exchanged pro forma Christmas cards for the sake of our children, after that.)

She told my dad a completely different  story about what happened that night, a total fabrication. He wrote me lambasting me about it, without hearing my side of the story. I was completely blind-sided, since what I was accused of was so outrageous. Bethann had been there. She was equally shocked. My dad and I had had a rocky relationship. This was part of why my sister and I had been so close. It was part of our protection. My dad had physically thrown me out of the house when I was just shy of 16 just for asking him if he wanted to listen to a gospel quartet; actually it was at the lake place in Wisconsin, at night. My mom came after me and said, “If he goes, I go.” My dad said, “B.J., You know that isn’t fair. I will take you, even with him.”

Way to make a fellow feel loved, dad.

So, when I got that letter, I had had enough of the ups and downs, of the manipulations and intrigues. So rather than explain myself, I wrote my dad a letter telling him that he obviously had no interest in the truth. He had already judged and condemned me. I reminded him that he was a lawyer and he had taught me better; that people were to be considered innocent until proven guilty. I told him I had just had enough. I wasn’t  going to play his games any more. I would grieve for him now. I didn’t want to hear about it when he died. So I lost my mom, my sister and my dad, in the space of six months. I did wonder why my dad believed her implicitly, after that which she had previously accused him. Later, I did try to reconcile with him, but he would have none of it.

In late 2002, I got the call from my sister, Ali, that Sue Ann had been found dead. I’m glad she got a hold of me before I checked my email with the subject line “Regarding my sister’s death” from my brother, who was too cheap to call. I flew out for her funeral. It took my sister, Ali, and I several months to uncover that she had committed suicide by a drug cocktail. My dad had told my brother and brother-in-law and the kids to keep it a secret. Sue had become addicted to gambling and had embezzled money from her boss. Her boss had just called her to talk about this. She had just separated from her husband. It was her old girlfriends from college that had the super unlock her apartment after she missed their dinner date, who discovered her.

It was just so awfully sad. I wish we had not fallen out so badly. I am not sure why I am writing this now. I just know that I love my sister. She was a wonderful person. She was a wonderful and creative mother. She was beautiful and talented. She had painted herself into a corner and couldn’t see any good way out. She should not have been alone with her illness.

So my earliest playmates have been gone for some time now. This month is Robbinsdale School District’s all year, all high school reunion and my class’s 40 year reunion. I can’t afford to go. The people I most would want to see are all dead. This is not where I thought I would be.

I just remember being so much happier and four and saying, “Alison, can you help Sue Ann and me cross the street so we can play with David?”

feeblebird

“Crazy is as crazy does.”

A painting from memory of Brad, acrylic on canvas 11"x14" by Cranford Coulter
A painting from memory of Brad, acrylic on canvas 11″x14″ by Cranford Coulter

After serving on the street tonight with The King’s Jubilee, I had occasion to recall a homeless man, Brad, whom I met almost twenty years ago on a similar late spring evening. He was under 25, white, of slight build, literate. He had just found himself homeless. His mom had moved in with her boyfriend and there was no room for him. His dad had disappeared several years before. Brad was afraid of what might happen to him on the streets. Nothing in his life had prepared him for this. He felt completely vulnerable.

The next week, Brad came to eat with us again. This time, he was all disheveled and he was talking to himself and arguing with himself the whole time he was in the line. I was able to speak with him privately after everyone had eaten and the crowd had dispersed. He told me that a couple of the old hands on the street told him that the number one rule of the street is that you never mess with a crazy person. So he decided to start acting crazy as a defense, so nobody would mess with him. He learned to survive and cope on the street. I tried to direct him to programs that might help him get off the street, but space was very limited, and he didn’t fit into any of the usual categories.

After a few months, Brad stopped coming by to eat with us. A few more months passed and he showed up again. He was acting like a full-blown, psychotic, paranoid schizophrenic or someone on a very bad trip. The problem was he wasn’t acting anymore. He had fully inhabited the role he had chosen and had forcibly driven himself crazy; like method acting gone terribly wrong. I still see him from time to time. Some nights he is better than others. Instead of the frightened young man, he is now a quite aggressive 40 something man and is quite direct in asking for or demanding what he wants. It reminds me of a program I heard on the radio about bullies. A psychologist described aggression as preemptive fear.

The irony with Brad is that his crazy behavior is not irrational. On one level, it has served him well. He is still alive after spending almost 20 years on the street, because no one messes with a crazy person.