That Different Man by Brian Clark



Newspaper reporter Richard Callaghan should determine what’s occurring when he begins getting mysterious migraines and individuals are treating him otherwise; by Brian Clark.

Excerpt from an article within the Nationwide Register, headlined Goodbye Mr. Hyde:

by CAMILA MARTINEZ

Medical Reporter

The annals of medical historical past are stuffed with tales about brain-damaged sufferers who’ve undergone dramatic character modifications, and normally not for the higher.

Maybe essentially the most well-known case is that of Phineas Gage, an American railway development employee who miraculously survived after an explosion drove an iron bar straight by way of his head in 1848. Though most of his psychological schools remained intact, the previously courteous and deferential man grew to become foul-mouthed and insensitive.

Then there’s Mary (recognized solely by her first identify), a sort, easy-going lady of 42 who would continuously remodel right into a belligerent, vulgar character who known as herself Courtney and spoke with a British accent. Mary had no reminiscence of what she mentioned or did as Courtney. The elimination of a benign mind tumour banished Courtney ceaselessly.

However can mind harm flip somebody – at the very least quickly – right into a kinder, extra beneficiant, extra empathetic particular person? Can Mr. Hyde flip into Dr. Jekyll?

Think about the case of R.C., first documented by neurologist Dr. Suresh Patel within the Journal of Behavioural and Mind Analysis. R.C. is a middle-aged skilled who lives in a small Canadian metropolis. Patel describes him as being small in stature however having a formidable mind.

Patel writes that R.C. was not well-liked at work, though he was revered for his ability and experience. Colleagues characterised him as smug, brusque, overbearing, condescending, sarcastic, insensitive and exceedingly stingy.

Final summer season, R.C. started to expertise extreme and chronic complications, and his household doctor referred him to Patel. Different signs arose within the three weeks between the referral and the appointment, together with dizzy spells and reminiscence gaps.

After which issues acquired actually unusual…


Chapter 1

Copy editor Richard Callaghan appeared up from the pc display screen, lifted his glasses and rubbed his eyes. He let loose a sigh that was a chronic growl.

None of his colleagues requested what was unsuitable. They knew higher.

Richard stood up, crossed his arms and appeared out over the newsroom.

“Mark! A phrase please!”

Mark Reynolds made his approach by way of the maze of waist-high partitions in the direction of Richard’s desk. As normal, the rail-thin reporter appeared like an unmade mattress: tie askew, shirttail out, wrinkled pant cuffs drooping round his ankles, hair usually chook’s-nest disarray.

Richard did little to cover his disdain at Reynold’s look, his face puckering right into a bitter expression as he watched the reporter strategy. Not that Richard was a vogue plate. He was wearing his customary bargain-bin apparel: white gown shirt, navy blue polyester slacks, purple rayon tie. However all the pieces was properly pressed and neatly executed up and tucked in. And his swept-back gray hair was a topographical surprise of immaculate comb striations.

Arriving, Reynolds eliminated a chewed-up pen from his mouth. “What’s up boss?”

“Sure, Mark, do you may have a replica of that memo?”

“What memo?”

“The one that claims we have stopped utilizing the English language in favour of no matter it’s you are utilizing right here. I did not get the memo however I am assuming that you’ve got begun to implement that coverage.”

Reynolds rolled his eyes and huffed out a protracted breath.

“Is the sarcasm strictly needed, Richard?”

“What sarcasm?”

“OK, no matter. Simply inform me what’s unsuitable.”

“Properly, let’s begin with this lede,” Richard mentioned, trying down at his pc. “It says: ‘Metropolis council has modified course on its resolution to reverse the rejection of a housing venture that it authorized final yr.'”

He appeared up at Reynolds excessive of his glasses.

“Severely, Mark, it hurts my head to learn this.”

Richard closed his eyes, massaged his brow with comedian exaggeration and moaned.

“I am telling you, Mark, I am truly feeling an ache within the language-processing a part of my mind. I feel it is overheating. So please give the lede one other shot.”

Reynolds clamped the pen again in his mouth and trudged again to his desk.

“Then we’ll talk about the remainder of the story,” Richard known as after him. “And by the best way, attempt sleeping in your pyjamas subsequent time.”

Richard closed his eyes once more and resumed rubbing his brow, gently this time utilizing the ideas of his fingers.

“Present’s over, Richard, you made your level.”

He appeared to his left into the pudgy, spherical face of Blair Larrabee, his closest neighbour on the information desk. Richard dropped his palms onto his desk and flashed Larrabee a half smile.

“You recognize,” Larrabee mentioned, swivelling his chair to face Richard, “Mark’s writing has improved fairly a bit recently, and he actually does attempt exhausting, and it does not actually assist -”

Richard minimize him off. “Sure, I do know, however did you hear that lede? I imply, come on. He is acquired to be taught. We’re not right here to mollycoddle them, Blair.”

“I am not suggesting you mollycoddle them, Richard. I am simply suggesting that perhaps sarcasm does not need to be your default setting. It does come off as kinda imply, you understand.”

“What sarcasm?”

Larrabee sighed. “Richard, Richard, Richard, I swear, generally you might be not possible.”

Larrabee’s cellphone rang and he swung his chair again round to reply it. Richard appeared down at his pc display screen and moved on to the subsequent story within the queue. He began studying and, virtually subconsciously, started massaging his brow once more.

The headache was actual and it was getting worse.


Chapter 2

Richard Callaghan acquired to maintain the home within the divorce. Patty had little interest in staying in Dalesford.

There have been many causes for his or her breakup, however the principle situation was easy and irreconcilable: she needed children and he did not.

And they also had parted, and Richard now lived alone on the sting of city. He preferred the three-bedroom, vinyl-sided bungalow on Hogan Road. It was simply the precise dimension. He particularly preferred the big lot and the privateness it afforded. He had a nod-and-wave relationship together with his neighbours.

The house was like a furnishings and equipment museum. None of his stuff – range, fridge, TV, stereo, sofa, chairs, mattress, dresser – was newer than 25 years outdated. He drove a 1997 Honda Civic.

Till just lately, Richard had been a person of regimented routine. He rose and had breakfast at 8am, learn the paper till 10, cleaned the home till 11, took a stroll till midday when he had lunch, napped till 2pm, showered, then headed downtown for a 7½-hour shift on the information desk on the Dalesford Categorical.

However the complications had pressured him to change his habits. The mornings have been the worst. The ache was like a jackhammer behind the eyes, which means the home tasks usually did not get executed and he could not even have a look at the paper till the ache had began to ease, someday round 10:30.

However Richard nonetheless tried to get in his stroll, even when he generally took a shorter route. He most popular cloudy days; shiny sunshine normally aggravated the ache.


The day was overcast, with the solar often peeking by way of gaps within the iron-grey clouds.

Richard was about 10 minutes into his morning stroll, making his approach alongside Buchanan Road, when somebody known as out to him.

“Hey!”

He appeared to his left and noticed a plump outdated lady in a floral print gown. She was waving to him from the porch of a red-brick farmhouse, a broad smile creasing her chubby face. Richard knew the outdated home properly: it stood out as a survivor within the new subdivision. He cherished its steeply pitched gables, gothic home windows and quoin brickwork.

However he had no thought who the outdated girl was.

Richard flashed his palm within the air to return the greeting, however stored strolling alongside the sidewalk.

“I simply needed to thanks once more,” the lady mentioned as she hobbled down the porch steps to the entrance stroll with the assistance of a cane. “You recognize, for chopping my grass.”

Richard stopped and checked out her.

Previous, fats and senile, he thought.

“Ohhh, properly, you are fully welcome,” he mentioned with barely disguised mockery. “Completely any time in any respect.”

Richard smirked and continued strolling.

“Oh, and I’ve selected hunter inexperienced,” mentioned the aged lady, leaning on her cane.

Richard stopped once more. He turned and confronted the lady, tilting his head and narrowing his eyes.

“Look,” she mentioned, “if you do not have time now, that is completely all proper. I absolutely perceive. Like I advised you, I am fairly glad to rent a contractor to color my porch. It is simply that you just have been so insistent that you just needed to do it.”

Richard appeared previous the lady to the porch, which spanned the entrance of the home and consisted of 4 wood columns, lengthy sections of railings, a plank ground and bits and items of gingerbread. The white paint was peeling and cracking.

My God, Richard thought, full-blown Alzheimer’s.

“No, I will be glad to do it,” he mentioned. “Hunter inexperienced it’s.”

He stifled amusing and headed off down the sidewalk.

The girl mentioned, “You are such a pleasant younger man. Thanks, Ricky.”

He froze.

Ricky!

It was like fingernails on a blackboard. Nobody known as him Ricky! Ever! Not Ricky, not Rick, not Wealthy, not Richie, not Dick, not Dickie! His identify was Richard, rattling it!

“One thing unsuitable, Ricky?”

Richard hissed out a protracted, scorching breath and compelled a smile.

“Nothing in any respect. So it is hunter inexperienced, eh? I will keep in mind. Buh-bye now.” Then, as he began shifting once more, he mumbled beneath his breath: “Anile endomorph.”

It wasn’t till 5 minutes later, when he was turning onto Ballantyne Road, that it hit Richard.

How the hell does she know my identify, even whether it is that silly diminutive?

He slowed to a saunter and thought. There have been a few potentialities. She may have attended the general public assembly on the church corridor the place he had spoken out in opposition to the growth of the Townline Highway quarry. Or she may need seen his image on the weekly column he wrote for the Categorical.

OK, however neither of these potentialities would clarify why she thinks I minimize her grass and volunteered to color her porch.

“Oh properly, no matter,” he mentioned and quickened his tempo.

100 yards up the highway, Richard was Nathaniel Morgan Park, following a dust path by way of a grove of purple maples on his solution to a ingesting fountain on the picnic web site.

The dizzy spell struck with such sudden ferocity that Richard staggered off the path and virtually collided with a tree. He grabbed a maintain of it and held on, like a sailor hugging a mast on a storm-tossed boat.

He noticed a bench 20 yards away and lurched in the direction of it as his world spun. Anybody watching would have thought he was blind drunk. Rivulets of sweat coursed down his face, stinging his eyes and soaking his T-shirt. He collapsed onto the bench and virtually slid off the tip of it. He closed his eyes and felt like he was falling. Opening them once more and tilting his head again, he beheld the kaleidoscopic whirl of the tree cover – and threw up.

It was then that his spin-addled thoughts provided up an sudden thought: The outdated girl’s identify is Alice and he or she’s a widow and her husband’s identify was Albert and he died of a stroke.

The vertigo started to ease, like a merry-go-round slowly coming to a cease. He spit out a scorching clot of vomit and wiped his mouth.

“Hey, buddy, you OK?”

Richard turned his head – sparking one other momentary wave of wooziness – and noticed a tall, bearded man jogging alongside the trail.

“I am fantastic,” Richard croaked. “Overdid it final night time.”

“Been there,” mentioned the bearded man as he trotted previous.

Richard took in a number of deep breaths and willed away the final traces of nausea.

Alice? Widow? Albert? Stroke?

How did he know any of that? Had he truly met that lady earlier than?

No, he determined. It was just a few invention of his fevered mind.

Richard haltingly acquired to his ft. He swayed just a little however steadied himself. He spat once more and headed slowly again alongside the trail in the direction of Ballantyne Road.

One thing else to inform the neurologist, he thought.


Chapter 3

“So, who’s on the new seat right this moment?”

The query got here from Blair Larrabee. Richard turned to see his colleague take an enormous chunk of a meatball sub. Mustard dribbled down his chin in the direction of the fleshy expanse of his neck.

Richard waggled his proper index finger in the direction of his personal chin, and Larrabee took the trace, mopping up the trickling condiment with a paper serviette.

“It is Ryan Doyle,” Richard mentioned. “I’ve by no means met him. Have you ever?”

“No,” Larrabee mentioned, chomping down once more on the sandwich, expelling one other yellow runnel down his face. “Guess we are able to sit up for a lecture on Dalesford’s homeless drawback, eh?”

Richard nodded, selecting to disregard the mustard leakage this time. He appeared up on the newsroom clock: 3:55pm Doyle was scheduled to seem earlier than the editorial board in 5 minutes.

“Editorial board” was the grandiose title for an advert hoc group, composed of newspaper staffers, whose solely perform was to collectively interview visiting VIPs. So as soon as a month, some public determine dropped by the Categorical newsroom to spout off about one thing or different and reply questions.

“Oh, there he’s,” Larrabee mumbled as he completed off his sub. “Seems identical to he does on TV.”

Richard glanced up from his pc to see managing editor Glenda Stone escorting Doyle by way of the newsroom. The customer was a solidly constructed six-footer who was carrying worn denims, a denim shirt, a severely distressed leather-based jacket and a dirty Dalesford Tigers baseball cap pulled tight over a riot of purple curls. He wanted a shave.

“My God, have a look at him,” Richard mentioned. “Simply because he runs a homeless shelter does not imply he has to appear like a vagrant.”

“Come on, Richard, he does not appear like a vagrant,” Larrabee mentioned. “He is just a bit ragged across the edges.”

“Ragged across the edges? The person’s a bum. I imply, simply have a look at -”

Richard stopped. Doyle was waving at him and making his approach by way of the newsroom maze in the direction of his desk, Stone trailing behind. A foolish grin lit up his face.

“Properly look who it’s! It is my outdated pal!” Doyle trumpeted in a thick Irish accent as he arrived at Richard’s work station. “You’re employed on the Categorical, do ya? Cool!”

For a second Richard could not converse, his mouth hanging unhinged. A crowd began to collect round his desk.

“There’s one thing I would like you folks to know,” Doyle mentioned, addressing the throng. He pointed at Richard and beamed. “Your colleague right here might be the most effective volunteer now we have down on the shelter.”

In responses that have been comically simultaneous, Richard mentioned “I’m?” whereas at the very least two of his co-workers mentioned “He’s?”

Apparently not listening to Richard’s remark, Doyle pressed on.

“Oh yeah, he is nice. A little bit of a thriller man, however actually nice. He cooks, he cleans, he does all the pieces. He is simply so laid-back and easygoing. The fellows name him Mr. Cool.”

Just a few folks tittered.

“No, I am completely severe,” Doyle mentioned. “He is Mr. Cool. I imply, he is acquired to be the serenest dude I’ve ever met. Serenest? Hey, is {that a} phrase? I suppose you folks would know, eh?”

The copy editor in Richard lastly compelled him to talk up.

“Sure, serenest is an appropriate superlative for serene, however I would not advocate it. It is too awkward. I would recommend most serene. For one factor -”

Richard appeared up on the faces within the crowd round his desk. They have been all watching him. Mark Reynolds stood on the again, a closely gnawed pen clamped in his mouth.

“Anyway,” Richard mentioned, “I feel you may have me confused with another person, Mr. Doyle. I imply, I do not imagine we have ever truly met earlier than. And I do know I’ve by no means been to your shelter.”

Doyle’s smile light barely and his eyes narrowed.

“Is not your identify Ricky?”

“No, it is Richard.”

“Properly, similar factor.”

“No it’s not the -”

Richard checked himself. “I simply choose Richard, that is all.”

Doyle let loose a brief snicker and folded his arms.

“Properly, sir, all I do know is there is a man who calls himself Ricky who has been serving to out down on the shelter for the final couple of minutes. And you are a useless ringer for him. By no means did catch his final identify. We do not also have a cellphone quantity for him. We normally preserve contact data on our volunteers, however like I mentioned, this man’s a little bit of a thriller man.”

He shook his head and slapped Richard playfully on the shoulder.

“All proper, so it isn’t you then. I suppose you oughta know, eh? Let you know one factor, although. I would say you’ve got acquired a twin strolling round city.”

Richard heard somebody within the crowd whisper: “This one have to be the evil twin.”

It seemed like Mark Reynolds.


Chapter 4

Richard did his finest pondering throughout his morning walks. The day by day complications had left him just a little muddle-brained at occasions, however he was assured he may nonetheless purpose his approach out of an issue.

It was a shiny day, however darkish sun shades and a ball-cap visor pulled low made the glare and his head ache tolerable. A light-weight breeze rustled the pines, elms and birches alongside Hogan Road as Richard set off down the sidewalk.

So, he thought, now two folks he had by no means met earlier than (as far as he knew) had greeted him like a long-lost good friend and known as him Ricky. clarify that?

He had, at the very least initially, felt assured in dismissing the primary incident as being the product of a senile thoughts (even when the outdated girl had by some means managed to get his identify form of proper). However Ryan Doyle was more durable to clarify. He is likely to be scruffy and perhaps even eccentric, however he actually wasn’t senile.

Was it attainable, Richard puzzled, that his double actually was questioning round Dalesford doing good deeds? Richard as soon as met a person who appeared eerily like him. It had occurred at a marriage reception, and he had discovered the expertise profoundly unsettling.

However what have been the chances that this “twin” would share his first identify (though preferring the despicable sobriquet Ricky)?

Properly, I suppose it is attainable, he thought. Richard is a standard identify.

However was that the most certainly reply?

“Come on, man, work the issue,” Richard prodded himself as he detoured round a tricycle parked in the course of the sidewalk.

OK, what makes essentially the most sense? Two folks I do not know every struggling a delusional episode? The doppelgänger principle? Am I simply dreaming the entire thing?

Or…

Or…

Might all of it by some means be associated to those rattling complications and dizzy spells and –

He stopped in his tracks on the Buchanan Road intersection. Throughout the road was an indication that learn, Coming Quickly: The West Dalesford Recreation Centre. Behind the signal, graders have been at work. That they had already cleared half the lot.

“How lengthy’s that been occurring?” he mumbled.

He stood staring on the development exercise, attempting to recollect the final time he had walked this route.

Was it yesterday? The day earlier than? The day earlier than that?

He did not know. His morning constitutional continuously took him this fashion; it was the quickest solution to the park. However generally he headed elsewhere.

For the lifetime of him, Richard could not recall the place he had walked the previous few days, though he was fairly positive he had gone someplace. The final tour he may keep in mind clearly was the one when he had met the outdated farmhouse girl, and he wasn’t positive how way back that had been. It felt like a dense fog had seeped into his reminiscence financial institution, leaving nothing however faint, misty traces.

Along with his whirling thoughts nonetheless trying to find solutions, Richard managed to get his ft shifting once more. A couple of minutes later the farmhouse got here into view. He seen two issues immediately. The primary was that the proprietor was nowhere to be seen. And he was grateful for that. The second was that the porch was gleaming beneath a recent coat of paint. It was this second commentary that introduced him to a halt.

“OK,” he murmured, “what does this imply?”

He closed his eyes and massaged his temples. He virtually did it with out pondering as of late.

All proper, it is easy. She determined to rent a portray contractor in any case. In fact she did. That is the logical clarification. No thriller right here in any respect.

“Proper then,” he mentioned to himself and began strolling once more. “So that is what hunter inexperienced appears like.”

Ten minutes later Richard reached the park and determined to relaxation for some time on the bench within the stand of purple maples.

A pair of blue jays began to jeer at one another. A fats bumble bee droned previous. The breeze whispered by way of the tree cover.

Relaxed, Richard stretched his legs out in entrance of him and crossed his ankles. He seen a spot on his proper working shoe. He lifted his proper leg and crossed it over his left to get a more in-depth look. It seemed to be a tiny paint stain. He acknowledged the color immediately.

Hunter inexperienced.


Chapter 5

The outdated wood floorboards of the newsroom started to shift and shake, and Richard appeared up from his pc display screen to see Blair Larrabee steering his cumbersome kind by way of the rabbit warren of partitions.

“Sorry I am late guys,” he mentioned, slumping into his saggy chair. “Accident on Westchester. Rossi’s there.”

He turned to face Richard.

“How ya doin’?”

“I am fantastic,” Richard mentioned as he checked the story queue on his pc for one thing to edit.

After a second, he realized the inquiry was greater than a conversational icebreaker. He turned to see that Larrabee was nonetheless him and had a involved expression on his face.

“One thing in your thoughts, Blair?”

“No, I simply needed to see the way you have been feeling.”

“Properly, like I mentioned, fantastic.”

Larrabee nodded his head slowly. “It is simply that you just weren’t… properly… you were not actually your self final night time, Richard.”

“No? Who was I then?”

Larrabee shifted in his chair, which creaked in protest.

“Properly, it was after deadline and we have been all shootin’ the shit,” Larrabee mentioned. “You began to get this dreamy, spacey look in your face. Your eyes have been kinda glazed and also you had this actually crazy grin. You have been shifting and responding to issues on this kinda slow-motion approach. There is a phrase for that. Um… let’s examine… ah… by no means thoughts. Would not matter. Anyway, you provided to deal with everyone to beer and nachos at Sheahan’s. None of us may make it, however…”

He leaned ahead and tilted his head to the aspect. “You keep in mind that, do not you?”

For a second Richard could not reply. His scalp prickled and he broke out in a clammy sweat.

Holy shit, I do not keep in mind any of that.

He cleared his throat. “In fact I keep in mind. I used to be simply feeling just a little drained, I suppose. You recognize what it is like generally after a protracted shift. You get just a little bit punch-drunk, just a little goofy.”

Larrabee scratched his chin and thought of this for a second.

“Yeah, I suppose. However once you talked about the beer and nachos, you stored saying, ‘It is on Ricky. The whole lot’s on Ricky. Ricky’s choosing up the invoice tonight.’ Bear in mind?”

Richard swallowed exhausting and choked out a “sure.”

“I as soon as known as you Ricky – I feel it was my first week right here – and also you took my head off.”

“I am… I am positive you are exaggerating, Blair.”

“Nope. You took my head clear off. I needed to get my mom to stitch it again on.”

Larrabee laughed awkwardly.

Richard simply stared at him. He mentioned, “I used to be simply kidding round – with the Ricky factor. That is all. I nonetheless choose Richard, in case you do not thoughts.”

“Yeah, positive. No drawback. Humorous factor, although.”

“What’s that?”

“Properly, keep in mind that volunteer that Ryan Doyle was speaking about, the man who appears such as you? He was known as Ricky.”

“Sure, Blair, it is humorous all proper.”

“Anyway, you appear to be your outdated self once more, eh?”

Larrabee turned to face his pc and booted it up.

Richard felt like his tingling scalp had set his head on hearth. Sweat trickled down his again and his tongue had was a dusty mat. He stood up and navigated his approach by way of the labyrinth to a water cooler, the place he rapidly downed 4 paper cups’ value and splashed just a little on his face.

By the point he acquired again to his desk, he felt just a little higher.

“Blair?”

“Yeah?”

“Phlegmatic.”

“Pardon?”

“Phlegmatic. That is the phrase you have been searching for. Or maybe languid.”


Chapter 6

The meals financial institution had been packed when Richard arrived. He had flitted about nervously, attempting to get somebody’s consideration, waving the letter round like a flag, solely to be advised – politely however firmly – to line up like everyone else.

And so he had.

The letter had arrived that morning simply as Richard was making ready to move out for his morning stroll. He was going to go away it till later, however the identify on the envelope – Serving to Fingers Meals Financial institution – aroused his curiosity. He slit the letter open and skim the contents, then rapidly forgot about his stroll.

As an alternative, he jumped into his outdated Honda Civic and tore right down to the meals financial institution on Steadman Road, cursing all the best way.

“Fucking Ricky. Fucking Ricky!”

And now he was standing in line – behind a grizzled outdated man with a palsied tremor and in entrance of a sad-eyed younger lady holding palms with just a little boy in want of a face material.

Richard appeared down and realized he was carrying his “strolling garments” – a worn pair of sweatpants and a light I Love New York T-shirt. He hadn’t shaved but that day, both.

I appear like everybody else in line, he thought.

He pulled the letter out of his pocket and skim it to himself once more.

“Pricey Mr. Callaghan: Phrases can’t adequately categorical our immense gratitude to your splendidly beneficiant donation of $5,000. Your present arrived when the meals financial institution was desperately wanting inventory. I’m glad to let you know that the identify Ricky Callaghan will ceaselessly be included on our Donor Wall of Fame. Once more, bless you to your generosity! Yours Sincerely, Jill Henson, supervisor.”

His thoughts appeared unable to understand the determine.

5-thousand {dollars}.

5-thousand {dollars}.

5-thousand fucking {dollars}.

Then it got here out, virtually unconsciously, as a low grumble.

“5… thousand… {dollars}.”

The outdated man rotated and appeared Richard up and down with rheumy eyes.

“You say somethin’, Mac?”

“No. Nothing. Sorry.”

Richard groaned and checked out his watch. It was 11:30am. Forward of him was a large counter the place a frizzy-haired lady was handing out cardboard packing containers of groceries. There have been nonetheless six folks in line in entrance of him.

Then he noticed a well-recognized face. Jill Henson had emerged from a hall behind the counter. She was a tall, skinny lady of about 50 and he or she wore her gray hair in a ponytail. Her image continuously appeared within the Categorical.

“Oh, excuse me, Ms. Henson? Might I’ve a phrase please?” Richard known as out, waving.

Henson smiled warmly.

“I do know it has been a protracted wait right this moment, however be affected person. You are virtually there.”

“No, no, no. I am not one of many… I imply, I am not right here to… I am Richard Callaghan.”

“Oh, Mr. Callaghan!” she gushed, speeding to the counter and lengthening her hand. “It is so pretty to fulfill you.”

Richard approached the counter and shook her hand.

She leaned ahead and lowered her voice.

“You have been within the meals lineup, do you know that?”

“Sure, I do know,” Richard mentioned. “I attempted to flag down one among your workers after I acquired right here, however they only advised me to line up.”

“Oh, properly, I am sorry about that. It has been actually loopy right here right this moment.”

“That is OK. I perceive.”

She gave him a stunning smile. “However I am simply so glad you came over. If I had recognized you have been coming, I might have rolled out the purple carpet,” she mentioned with a theatrical sweep of her palms.

Richard contorted his face into one thing resembling a smile and appeared down on the counter.

Henson mentioned, “Anyway, Mr. Callaghan… ah…Hey, do you thoughts if I name you Ricky?”

“Really, I choose Richard.”

“Oh. OK. Sorry. I believed you glided by Ricky. That is the way you signed the notice you included together with your donation.”

“Oh. Proper. Really, that is what I needed to speak to you about, the donation.”

“Certain. Wanna see how your cash is being put to make use of, eh?”

“Properly, not precisely. You see, Ms. Henson, the donation was form of a… properly… form of a mistake.”

The smile fell from her face. “A mistake? What do you imply?”

“Properly, it is form of exhausting to clarify. It is simply that it should not have occurred.”

Henson stood gawking at Richard, her eyes large, her mouth forming an virtually excellent O.

“Mr. Callaghan, absolutely you are not telling me that -”

She glanced on the meals line and motioned Richard right down to the tip of the counter.

“Absolutely you are not telling me that you really want your a reimbursement,” she mentioned in a low however strained voice.

Richard appeared sheepishly down at his ft.

“Properly, I would nonetheless be prepared to make a donation,” he mentioned. “However I imply, $5,000, that is an terrible lot of cash.”

“Mr. Callaghan, I would such as you to take a look at these cabinets again there behind me. You see these cans of pasta and soup and greens and stew and tins of tuna and jars of peanut butter and packing containers of cereal? You see them? That is the place your cash went.”

Richard noticed panic in her eyes and a sheen of sweat on her brow.

“And I nonetheless do not perceive how somebody may donate cash by mistake. And you’ll’t anticipate us to -”

“Sorry to interrupt. You might have a cellphone name, Jill.”

Henson rotated to take a look at a white-haired man standing in a doorway alongside the wall to the precise.

“Please take a message, Arnie.”

“They mentioned it is pressing.”

She sighed. “OK, I will be proper there.”

Henson turned again to Richard. “Please simply wait right here. OK? I am positive we are able to work this out. I will be proper again.”

Henson adopted the person by way of the door. Richard leaned on the counter and exhaled slowly. He glanced on the meals line. The sad-eyed lady and the grimy-faced little boy have been being served. The boy gave Richard a gap-toothed grin and mentioned, “We’re getting Shreddies and peanut butter and a few stew and a few tuna and my favorite in the entire total world, pasghettiOs. Proper mother?”

The girl appeared down at her son and gave him a weak smile. “That is SpaghettiOs.”

“Oh yeah. ScettiOs.”

The frizzy-haired lady returned to the counter and handed the mom a field of meals.

“There ya go, Sandra.”

“Thanks, Trish,” the mom mentioned shyly.

“Oh, I virtually overlook.” Trish reached beneath the counter, got here again with a cellophane-wrapped lollipop and handed it to the boy. He grasped it with a pudgy hand.

“What do you say, Peter?” mentioned his mom.

“Thanks.”

“Oh, you are welcome, Peter,” Trish mentioned.

As mom and son turned to go away, the boy waggled his hand at Richard. He waved again.

A second later, Henson hurried again to the counter, her ponytail bobbing behind her.

“I am sorry about that, Mr. Callaghan. It could not be helped. Now, as to your donation, in case you may simply -”

“Hold it,” he blurted out.

“Pardon?”

“Hold the cash. It was unsuitable of me to… to return right here and throw such a scare into you.”

Henson launched a protracted puff of air and appeared to deflate with obvious reduction.

“Thanks so, a lot. I actually do not know what I might have executed if …”

She reached out and touched his hand. “It is a fantastic factor you’ve got executed. You are serving to an terrible lot of individuals.”

“Thanks.”

“I have to admit, although, Mr. Callaghan, I nonetheless do not perceive -”

He minimize her off. “Sure. I do not actually perceive it, both.”

All of the sudden, Richard felt the room tilt and he needed to seize the counter to regular himself.

“Mr. Callaghan, are you all proper?”

The episode handed rapidly, and Richard nodded.

“You positive?”

“Sure, I am fantastic,” he mentioned. “I ought to go. Sorry about all this.”

Richard turned to go away. He had gone only some steps when he stopped and appeared again.

“Oh, one different factor, Ms. Henson. Do not forget to ship me a tax receipt.”


Chapter 7

The voice sounded distant, prefer it was coming from the tip of a protracted tunnel or the underside of a deep properly.

“Hey, Mr. Cool. Are you all proper? Mr. Cool?”

When Richard felt the hand on his shoulder, his physique shuddered and his eyes flew open.

He appeared up into the gaunt, acne-scarred face of a younger man standing over him, his sky-blue eyes large with concern. He had a blond buzz minimize and a strip of wispy hair on his higher lip that hardly certified as a moustache. Frayed denims and a light Led Zeppelin T-shirt hung off his skinny body.

“You OK, man?” he requested, withdrawing his hand from Richard’s shoulder.

Richard appeared round. He was sitting in a big room with a scattering of dilapidated furnishings: an historical leather-based sofa with torn cushions; a group of stained, mouldering armchairs; a few battered Formica tables surrounded by mismatched kitchen chairs. There was an outdated TV within the nook. Cracked and peeling linoleum coated the ground. Via a propped-open door, Richard may see an excellent bigger room, this one stuffed with row upon row of cots, only some of them occupied.

“Man, that was freaky, dude.”

Richard appeared again up on the buzz-cut child hovering over him. “Pardon?”

“We was simply talkin’ and also you kinda zoned out. You all proper now?”

Richard smoothed his hair again together with his hand. “Ah, sure, positive, I am fantastic.”

He appeared down and realized he was sitting in an armchair simply as filthy because the others. An errant spring was poking him within the again. Buzz Reduce slumped right into a chair a few ft away.

There was just one different particular person within the room, an outdated man with a swirling gray beard thumbing by way of a newspaper at one of many tables.

Richard knew the place he was. It may solely be Good Samaritan Home, the homeless shelter run by Ryan Doyle. What he did not know in the mean time was the time. Or the day, for that matter. Or how he acquired there. He wasn’t carrying his watch and a fast pat of his pants pockets revealed that he did not have his cellphone, both.

“Do you occur to know what day it’s?” Richard requested.

The child laughed. “What day it’s? Hey man, who’s the homeless man right here? It is Saturday.”

“And what time is it?”

Buzz Reduce pointed to a wall clock Richard hadn’t seen. It mentioned 7:30.

“And that will be pm, wouldn’t it?”

The child laughed once more. “Wow. Mellow Mr. Cool is simply too cool to know what time it’s. Yeah, it is pm.”

“Really, I am probably not too eager on that moniker.”

“Huh?”

“Please do not name me Mr. Cool.”

“Oh. OK, sorry. Simply Ricky then, eh?”

“Properly, to be sincere with you I would choose…”

Richard trailed off and expelled a breathy chuckle. “Oh, what the hell. Certain, name me Ricky.”

He slowly stood up – and instantly felt woozy. The room spun and his imaginative and prescient swam. He dropped again into the chair, closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Some form of chemical odor – most likely a disinfectant – was preventing a shedding battle in opposition to physique odour and the funk of stale tobacco.

Buzz Reduce leaned ahead within the seat. “Hey, Ricky, you do not look so scorching. You are white as a ghost. Possibly I ought to name for assist.”

“No, no, no, not needed, I will be OK. Just a bit lightheadedness. It will go away. I simply want to take a seat right here for some time longer.”

“OK, Ricky, lengthy as you are positive,” mentioned Buzz Reduce, settling again within the chair. “So, anyway, like I used to be tellin’ ya earlier than, it ain’t a lot.”

Richard took one other lengthy breath and massaged his temples. “Um, it is not?”

“No, only a basement condo over on Glenmore, a single room and toilet, what they name a bachelor. However it’s clear and it is furnished and it is all mine.”

“Sounds nice.”

Buzz Reduce grinned. “Because of you, Ricky.”

“Pardon?”

“And like I mentioned, I am gonna pay again each cent. That is a promise.”

Richard cupped his face in his palms and slowly shook his head. “Remind me once more how a lot I gave… um… that’s, how a lot I lent you.”

“Properly, it was $1,200. That is for first and final month’s lease and a bit extra for meals and garments.”

Richard moaned. “That fucking Ricky goes to ship me to the poor home,” he mumbled.

“Huh?”

“Nothing. Hear, may you …” He paused. “What’s your identify? I’ve forgotten.”

“It is Bob. Man, you actually are out of it, aren’t you? Do not you keep in mind? You known as me your palindromic pal.”

“I did?”

“Yeah. It is my identify, proper? It is a palindrome. I needed to look it up. It is one thing spelled the identical forwards and backwards.”

“Sure, Bob, palindromes are fascinating. Now, about this cash and your laudable pledge to pay it again. Might I ask how you intend to try this?”

“OK, properly, that is my different massive piece of stories. I acquired me a job interview tomorrow.”

“Ah, properly executed. Very commendable. What is the job for?”

“Cleanin’ places of work. So I determine I oughta be capable to pay you again 50 bucks per week.”

Richard nodded slowly and bit his decrease lip.

“Properly, Bob, that will be a superb place to begin at the very least. However you understand, somebody your age… how outdated are you by the best way?”

“Nineteen.”

“OK, so why aren’t you continue to dwelling at residence? It can save you extra money that approach. I did not go away my mother and father’ place till I used to be about 24 or 25.”

Bob crossed his arms, appeared down on the ground and grimaced.

“What are ya, senile? I advised you all about that,” he mentioned, trying again up at Richard, his jaw clenched. “You need me to let you know once more what my outdated man did to me?”

Bob appeared down once more and rubbed the again of his neck. He swore quietly. After a second, he lifted his eyes and his look softened.

“Sorry I known as ya senile, dude.”

“It is OK. It is how I have been feeling recently.”

They sat in silence for a second.

“You say your job interview is tomorrow, Bob?” Richard mentioned.

“Yeah.”

“You are not going to put on that, are you?”

“No. I acquired me a pair of tan slacks and a blue gown shirt from the Goodwill retailer.”

“All proper, that is good,” Richard mentioned. “And keep in mind to shake palms firmly, look them within the eye once you speak to them and reply their questions as truthfully as you’ll be able to. And present confidence. That is the way you get a job – displaying confidence.”

“OK. Thanks, dude.”

“And do not name anyone dude.”

Richard acquired to his ft. He nonetheless felt just a little unsteady, however the worst of the dizzy spell had handed.

“Are you aware how a lot this job pays, Bob?”

“Ah, properly, it is minimal wage, $11.25 an hour. Plus, it is simply three days per week.”

Richard put a hand over his mouth and slowly shook his head.

“Ah, Bob, that is most likely not even sufficient to reside on. You could not pay me $50 per week. You could not even pay me $5 per week.”

“Properly, they mentioned if issues work out they may be capable to take me on full time. And the wage goes as much as 12 bucks an hour after a yr. That is if I get the job, o’course.”

Richard folded his arms and appeared across the room.

“Let you know what, don’t be concerned about paying me again for now. In case you get the job and in case you get on full time, then we’ll work one thing out.”

Bob jumped out of the chair and grabbed Richard in a bear hug. After a second, Richard hugged him again.


Chapter 8

Sitting at a small wood desk, Dr. Suresh Patel took copious notes as he requested Richard query after query about his complications. Richard sat in a padded inexperienced chair in entrance of the desk, fidgeting together with his palms as he answered the neurologist’s questions.

When Patel requested if there had been every other signs, Richard talked about the dizzy spells and reminiscence gaps. The physician paused briefly, and Richard seen a slight elevation of his eyebrows. Then he requested extra questions and scribbled extra notes.

Subsequent they moved to an examination room, the place the physician checked Richard’s temperature and blood strain; listened to his coronary heart; examined his head, eyes, nostril, ears and neck; and evaluated his motor perform, steadiness, reflexes, co-ordination, eyesight, listening to and sense of odor.

When the poking, prodding and palpating have been over, they returned to the workplace and Patel resumed scribbling at his desk. Richard sat within the chair and waited.

He preferred Patel’s thoroughness. He additionally appreciated the framed Oxford medical certificates on his wall. Patel was tall and lanky, and about 40. He had coffee-coloured pores and skin and jet-black hair and goatee. He had a gentle voice and spoke with a hybrid British-Indian accent.

Richard drummed his fingers on the armrest. After a second Patel appeared up and gave him a mild smile. Richard silenced his fingers and folded his palms in his lap.

“Um, physician, there’s something else I ought to most likely point out.”

That is when he advised him about Ricky. He advised him about Ricky portray the outdated lady’s porch. He advised him about Ricky’s beneficiant donation to the Serving to Fingers Meals Financial institution. He advised him about Ricky’s obvious post-deadline look within the newsroom. He advised him about Ricky’s volunteer place at Good Samaritan Home and concerning the lengthy dialog with Bob.

The extra he talked, the extra Patel’s eyes widened with curiosity.

“So, Mr. Callaghan, what you are saying is that you don’t have any reminiscence or direct data of what you do as Ricky.”

“That is proper. Um, though there was one event throughout a dizzy spell that some particulars concerning the outdated lady may need leaked by way of, so to talk. I simply dismissed it on the time and nonetheless do not know what to make of it. However aside from that, all the pieces I’ve discovered about Ricky has been second-hand. And it appears fairly clear that…”

He trailed off and pursed his lips.

“Go on, Mr. Callaghan, what appears clear?”

“Properly, it appears fairly clear that… properly… that Ricky is lots nicer than I’m.”

Richard laughed, and it felt cathartic. Patel smiled.

“Inform me, physician, is that this what they name dissociative identification dysfunction, beforehand referred to as a number of character dysfunction?”

“Properly, to begin with, that is a psychiatric dysfunction, and that is not my discipline. And even when it have been, I might hardly be ready to supply a prognosis based mostly on a couple of minutes’ dialog.”

Richard nodded. “What about mind tumours? Are they your discipline, physician?”

Patel hesitated. “Properly, sure, however why do you ask?”

“Is not it apparent? Complications, dizzy spells, reminiscence issues, behavioural modifications – do not these signs level to a mind tumour?”

Patel smiled once more. To Richard, it appeared just a little condescending this time.

“You’ve got been consulting Dr. Google, have you ever?”

“I have been researching my signs on the Web, sure.”

“Properly, Mr. Callaghan, I will likely be ordering an MRI mind scan. Till I see the outcomes, I am not about to diagnose your situation.”

Richard nodded. “Sure, in fact. That is sensible. However this has actually acquired me pondering, physician. You see, I have been pondering of Ricky because the alternate character. I have been pondering of him as that different man, despite the fact that he’s actually me, or part of me. However what if Ricky is the actual me, even when he did take years to emerge? That will make Richard that different man.”


Chapter 9

When a medical case is taken into account pressing, the health-care system can transfer with shocking pace, Richard found. 4 days after his appointment with Dr. Patel, Richard underwent an MRI scan with distinction enhancement. It revealed a nickel-sized mass in his left frontal lobe, the a part of the mind that regulates reasoning, behaviour, reminiscence, character, judgment and temper.

Judging by the well-defined borders of the expansion, medical doctors mentioned the tumour was seemingly benign, however they would not know for positive till it was eliminated and biopsied.

And so, 5 days after the MRI, Richard checked into Dalesford Basic Hospital to bear a bifrontal craniotomy.

The following morning he was wheeled into an working theatre and given a normal anesthetic. In 15 seconds, he was gone. A body was connected to Richard’s head with pins to stop movement throughout surgical procedure. A nurse shaved a slender strip of hair.

Then the neurosurgeon, Dr. Rachel Penmark, went to work. She made a coronal incision, chopping excessive of the pinnacle from ear to ear, and pulled the pores and skin down like a masks to show the cranium. She drilled 4 holes within the bone, then sawed between them to create a cranium flap, which was eliminated and put apart.

To realize entry to the mind, she used surgical scissors to open a thick membrane known as the dura, which she then folded again. Utilizing retractors to maneuver apart wholesome mind tissue, Penmark remoted the tumour and eliminated it utilizing a suction gadget. She then eliminated the retractors; sutured the dura closed; changed the cranium flap, anchoring it with titanium plates and screws; and folded the pores and skin again into place, securing it with surgical staples.

The process took three hours.


Chapter 10

Richard made the flip from Hogan Road onto Buchanan. For the primary time since his surgical procedure 5 weeks in the past, he was decided to finish his favorite strolling route, the one which took him by the park.

He had began strolling on his first day residence after a weeklong keep in hospital. It helped the restoration course of, Dr. Patel had advised him. His first stroll consisted of a gradual circuit of the rooms in his home, which lasted all of three minutes. Overwhelming fatigue and a crushing headache meant that was all he may handle. Just a few days later, when he felt barely extra energetic and barely much less headachy, Richard did two circuits. Then he added the basement stairs. After two weeks, he moved outside and strolled round his yard for 10 or quarter-hour. Quickly he was trudging up and down Hogan Road for half-hour at a time.

Now, Richard felt that his vitality degree had virtually returned to regular. The dizzy spells and reminiscence gaps he had skilled earlier than the surgical procedure have been gone. He nonetheless had complications, however they have been changing into milder and fewer frequent. The trigger, Patel had assured him, was now not the tumour. A post-operative MRI had confirmed that the surgeon had eliminated all of it. And a biopsy established that the mass was benign. No, these complications have been the lingering results of Dr. Penmark’s excavation of his mind, and they might finally fade away, Patel mentioned.

And as for Ricky, Richard was sure that he was historical past.

Richard paused and let an influence walker – a grey-haired lady who 10 years his senior – go him on the Buchanan Road sidewalk. He did not thoughts. It was a lovely September morning – deep blue sky, a number of tufts of cottony clouds, a mild breeze – and he was in no hurry.

He handed a Dalesford Categorical newspaper field and stopped to learn the principle headline: Council Approves Housing Venture.

“Now that is one boring headline,” he mumbled and continued strolling.

They really want me again, he thought. The plan was to return to work, half time at first, beginning subsequent week. He felt prepared.

The outdated farmhouse got here into view on the left. The aged lady was nowhere to be seen. Richard wasn’t positive if he was relieved or disenchanted.

He stopped in entrance of the home, and reached up and gently touched the highest of his head. It was one thing he did dozens of occasions a day, virtually with out pondering. He may really feel the plates and screws beneath his scalp.

A thought flashed into his thoughts: The place do alternate personalities go after they die? Does anybody mourn them? Do I?

He pictured a gravestone with the inscription, “Ricky Callaghan: 2021-2021. We hardly knew ye.

Earlier than he knew what he was doing, Richard turned and headed up the entrance stroll of the farmhouse. He climbed the steps and stood on the porch. He appeared on the paint job. Ricky had executed properly.

It was a beautiful spot to look at the world go by. There was a scattering of wicker chairs. Potted vegetation stood atop a few wrought-iron tables. Chrysanthemums, sunflowers and asters spilled out of hanging baskets. Decorative frogs, rabbits, sheep, pigs and chickens stood watch right here and there.

However one thing wasn’t fairly proper. He was no decorator, but it surely was apparent to him as he appeared round. Extra work was required.

Richard approached the entrance door and raised his hand to knock. He hesitated, dropped his arm to his aspect and took a step again. Touching the highest of his head, he once more felt the steel {hardware} beneath his scalp. The door to my mind.

He sucked in some air and slowly let it out.

“Ah, simply do it.”

He stepped ahead and knocked. Ten seconds later the door opened a crack and a fleshy face appeared. It lit up.

“Oh my goodness, look who it’s!” mentioned the outdated lady, throwing open the door. “How are you?”

“I am fantastic, thanks. How are you?”

“Oh, you understand, managing OK, I suppose. So the place have you ever been? I have not seen you in weeks.”

“Sure, properly, I had some well being points I needed to take care of,” Richard mentioned.

“Oh? Nothing severe I hope.”

“Properly, it was. However all the pieces’s fantastic now.”

“Oh good. Properly, would you want to return in? I will make some espresso.”

“I would prefer to, however I’ve acquired to complete my stroll. Physician’s orders. It is a part of my restoration course of. I will take a rain examine, although.”

“OK. I am gonna maintain you to that.”

Richard smiled. “The rationale I knocked is, I used to be questioning if there’s any paint left. You recognize, the hunter inexperienced.”

“Properly, positive. Do not you keep in mind? There’s a complete can left. You place it away within the shed.”

“Oh, in fact,” he mentioned. “That is likely to be sufficient. If not, I can get some extra.”

“Sufficient for what?”

“Might you please come out right here? I will present you.”

He held out his hand. She took it and stepped gingerly out onto the porch, supporting herself with a cane in her different hand.

Richard pointed at a pair of huge wood-frame home windows flanking the entrance door. Each have been bracketed by shutters. The frames and shutters have been coated in flaking white paint.

“I feel they’d look good in hunter inexperienced,” he mentioned. “The window frames and the shutters. And the door, too, now that I consider it.”

“Oh my, my, my. You’ve got executed a lot already. I can not ask you -”

“It is OK,” Richard mentioned. “It is actually only a matter of ending the job. I am truly stunned that Ricky… um… that’s… I am undecided why I did not discover this after I was right here final time.”

“Are you positive?”

“Sure, completely. In per week or two. I will be again to 100 per cent then. And I will come again and get it executed.”

“That is simply so good of you. I can not thanks sufficient.”

She appeared in his eyes and held her gaze for a number of seconds. The smile she was carrying faltered.

She mentioned, “You recognize, you appear just a little bit totally different to me by some means. I am probably not positive why. I do not need to pry however… are you positive all the pieces’s all proper?”

Richard nodded. “Sure, I am positive. However you understand, perhaps I’m just a little bit totally different. And that may not be so dangerous.”

Nonetheless holding his hand, she gave it a squeeze.

“Properly, this time I insist on making it as much as you,” she mentioned. “How about an important massive Sunday dinner? D’ya like pot roast, Ricky?”

He let loose a faint chuckle. “I do. However I simply have one favour to ask, Alice.”

“Certain, something.”

“Would you thoughts calling me Richard?”



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