The disease was the colors of the night on my skin. It didn’t leave an inch, throbbing as it waxed and waned – a life that wasn’t my own.
I was its canvas and on me it revealed its visions – patterns, textures, smells and sounds; a language they could not comprehend.
They were the Red Coats, the White Coats and the Black Coats.
The Red Coats came with their incense, ash and incantations.
“The darkness and its afflictions have its roots in the mind…”, they said.
“…We come as allies to do battle in that realm.”
The White Coats came with their cold instruments, cautious wonder and ambiguous optimism.
” We are complex machines; prone to corruption from external agents…”, they said.
“…any machine can be repaired with a combination of proper knowledge and the right tools.”
The Black Coats did not utter a sound, nor did they move from where they stood – in full view of my bed.
“The are here waiting for Death”, Chagal told me.
He had a strange name. The word ‘strange’ means ‘unusual or surprising; difficult to understand or explain’ (sic). The word (his name) itself meant nothing, he had told me.
His father had written a story about a man by that name. The story happened as a consequence of his trying to understand what ‘evil’ truly meant. The dictionaries said something like ‘profoundly immoral and wicked’ (sic), but his father thought that there was more to it than that. The definitions of ‘evil’ and its surrogate opposites were fabrications, he believed – abstractions of a greater, singular whole.
Anyway, it was the only story he ever wrote and he never gave it to anybody. What he did give was the name of its protagonist to his son, saying its character needed to be redeemed.
I told him that was some legacy to live up to.
“My mother raised my anyway… and I’m no piece of fiction !” , he had replied.
And so his name was Chagal and he was my only visitor at the Old Hospital as I lay there with the Disease.