I wonder, Flask, whether the world is anchored anywhere; if she is, she swings with an uncommon long cable, though
― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale
For the following two weeks, Paul and Cecilia were inseparable. Paul was encouraged at her daily progress, both from the medication and talk therapy. After each of her sessions with Dr. V, Paul and Cecilia would go downstairs for their respective cups of darjeeling tea and cafe con leche. Paul would talk about the Riemann hypothesis, thinking that discussing it would likely help him find the key to solving the proof. Cecilia told Paul every detail of her life, explaining what she’d blurted out in their initial conversation. Paul wrote everything down in his notebooks he’d taken to New Bedford. Cecilia’s rational mind slowly began to return.
“I have met and developed a relationship with another of your patients, Cecilia Vasquez. She has become the love of my life. As you are likely aware, she was under the delusion that she’d been blown up at the United Nations Building last year. I’d like to accompany her down the street to that building, so she can began to understand that it never happened.”
Dr. V tried to keep a calm face, as he listened to his brightest patient explain his strategy.
“Paul, I strongly advise against you going out of the hospital. I am fairly certainly you’re not ready to take that step, and I fear something unfortunate may occur as a result of your leaving here.”
Paul replied, “I understand your concern, Dr. V, but Cecilia and I are now strong enough to handle this. The buiding is only a few blocks southwest of here – as soon as she sees it’s still standing, and we discuss the impact of that reality, we’ll come right back. I certainly don’t want to jeopardize any of the good work you’ve done with both of us.”
Once again, Dr. V kept a stoic facade, but he was growing more alarmed every time Paul spoke.
“Paul, please trust me on this. While I have no legal right to keep you here, I’m fairly confident you’re still not well enough to venture out. Please – give the medication time to work. It often can take months before its full effects are realized.”
It was then that Paul realized that Dr. V was just being conservative. And when the doctor had pointed out that Paul could not be legally restrained, that was the clincher. Paul went to Cecilia’s room and told her to put on her coat – they were going to the UN Building!
They took the bus from NYP to the UN Building. Paul had slipped a few dollars into the pocket of his coat before leaving. This was money left over from the limited allowance Dr. V gave him for drinks and snacks. Forty minutes later, they emerged from the bus to see an intact building, standing there with flags waving in the wind. Cecilia looked up at the windows of the building.
Paul looked up at the windows of the building as well.
“They didn’t rebuild it, darling. It was never destroyed. How can I make you understand that you just imagined what happened to you?”
Cecilia said, “Let’s go inside. If we can return to the General Assembly Room, I’ll sit where I was when the explosion happened. I’d noticed a flaw in the curtain to the left of the podium, before Ishmael touched the detonator of his suicide vest. If that flaw is still there, then I will believe you. But I’m certain it will not be there when we enter the room. After all, why would they reproduce a flaw in a curtain when they rebuilt?”
Paul and Cecilia entered the building and went through the security check. They went to the General Assembly Room, which was not in use at that moment. Only a few people were milling about, mostly staff and the security guard at the door. Cecilia went straight over to the seat and looked at the curtain. The flaw remained, just as it was before the room blew up.
“But how is this possible? I simply don’t understand. This cannot be true. Paul, if this is true, then everything that happened to me for the past 11 years of my life is a lie. Do you see that? If the explosion did not happen, then none of the things I told you about happened. My life is simply a psychotic nightmare!”
Cecilia began to loudly wail and keen, rocking back and forth in her seat. Paul attempted to comfort her, but she pushed his hands away and continued to wail. Then she began to scream. She got up, and lifted up the chair. She wanted to know that it was real, but instead, ended up throwing it against the wall. At that point, the security guard came over to Paul.
“Is everything all right? You seem to be upset.”
Paul replied, “My friend here is having a hard time. We just need a moment to recover our emotions.”
The security guard knew from experience that the look in Paul’s eye didn’t bode well, particularly when Paul glanced at the revolver on the guard’s hip.
“May I see some identification, sir?”
Paul rummaged around in the pocket of his coat.
“I forgot my wallet. My friend and I are staying up the street at the hospital there, and I just forgot my identification. I’m sure if you call our psychiatrist, he will explain who we are and send an orderly to return us to the ward.”
“There’s a code 1 in the GA. Code 1 in the GA.”
Within seconds, three additional security guards came through the door, rushing to where Paul, Cecilia and the security guard stood. By now, Cecilia had calmed down and was now looking around the room in amazement. The first security guard took Paul by the arm.
“We need to get you some help, sir.”
He attempted to lead Paul to the door. Paul resisted, not understanding why they were pulling on his arm, when it was Cecilia who had acted out.
“Let go of me – I haven’t done anything wrong. It was my friend here that was acting irrationally. I’m fine. And now she’s fine. Clearly you can see that.”
One of the other security guards took Paul’s other arm. The third guard spoke into his walkie talkie, and the fourth guard grabbed onto Cecilia. When they arrived at the front door, there were three officers from the NYPD there. The largest of them took Paul and placed him in the back of the cruiser parked at the curb. Cecilia was forceably put into the vehicle on the other side.
Paul had begun to lose his composure. “Where are you taking us? We haven’t done anything wrong, officer!”
The driver nodded at his companion in the front seat, and began to drive the vehicle. They went two blocks north, and then south on second avenue. Within five minutes, they’d arrived at their destination. The two officers got out of the vehicle and forcibly removed Paul and Cecilia. Paul looked up at the building they were entering. It was Bellevue Hospital.
The policeman spoke to the clerk, saying that Paul had been acting irrationally in the UN building, had no identification and appeared to have left some nearby hospital without anyone knowing. So Paul and Cecilia were admitted as John and Jane Doe, and put in separate indigent wards, segregated by gender. They remained there for that afternoon and evening.
“I’m fine, really. I’ve been staying at NYP for about six weeks, taking my medication and working with Dr. V. Unfortunately, my friend Cecilia’s recovery hasn’t progressed as well as mine. It was she that was upset at the UN Building. But the security guards and police wouldn’t listen to me when I tried to explain it to them.
The psychiatrist looked at the admitting notes.
“You came here yesterday around 1:30 PM. Is that correct?”
The psychiatrist flips through the pages, and scans the notes.
“According to the admitting information, you were the only one brought here. Are you sure your friend was admitted too?”
Paul says, “This is a charity hospital, right?”
The pschiatrist replies, “Yes, when there is an issue with someone on the street, the police generaly refer them to us. But I assure you, sir…”
Paul snaps, “Then this is just a paperwork error. I’m sure you have a huge bureaucracy here, and mistakes will happen. Now, if you’ll just return my clothing to me, I’ll go find my friend in the women’s ward and we’ll be on our way.”
The psychiatrist replied, “My notes indicate you’re on a minimum 24 hour hold. I know Dr. V – I’ll contact him and let him know you’re here.”
Paul was becoming more angry than he’d been in months. “That is simply unacceptable! Call him now! Cecilia and I need to go back to NYP now!”
The psychiatrist said, “We can do this the easy way or the hard way. You need to remain calm while I contact Dr. V. Either you can take this thorazine orally, or I can administer it with a shot. It’s your choice. What will it be?”
As he began to get sleepy, he said, “Please find my friend Cecilia. When Dr. V comes, I need to be sure she goes back to the hospital with me.”
The psychiatrist promised to check and see if there was such a person at the hospital. Paul staggered back to the bed he’d been assigned in the ward. His last thought before passing out was about Cecilia. She’d been through so much, and now she was alone and likely scared in a strange place. Paul hoped this wouldn’t be a significant setback in her therapy. After all, helping Cecilia recover so they could be together had replaced the Riemann, Harper, Ishmael and Moby Dick as his prime obsession. He was determined to see that she was cured and that they be united as husband and wife upon their return to Miami. He knew Dr. V would come soon and fetch them. Then they would be together, and live happily ever after.