Hi. This is Phoenix. I’m excited to present this excerpt from my new book, Contorted Royal. If you like what you read, you can find more information and where to get the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Contorted-Royal-Phoenix/dp/1507847491/ref=la_B00QEL41LS_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1433452274&sr=1-3
Contorted Royal is a rare book for me because of its emphasis on satire, but I highly enjoyed writing the book. The book is experimental in that it only follows one character perspective for each chapter. The book itself is about many topics that irk society at the very least, and aren’t discussed. The topics range from societal corruption/degradation, to mental illness, to family dysfunction. The book can be dark at times, but there’s always a joke or two, at the expense of the reader.
Anyway, this chapter speaks for itself, but suffice to say, what I find mostly enjoyable about this chapter is that it reverses our expectations of mental illness in general, via the character Alice, inspired by the mad, mad world of Wonderland, in turn inspired by Lewis Carroll.
I hope you enjoy the chapter.
Crazyland Crazies in a Mad, Mad World Madhouse
Alice was diagnosed with schizophrenia when she was five years old. Since then, she had been pampered for her charming gift, risen in rank in the court (considered to be one of the most important and distinguished and intelligent people in the kingdom), and was respected for her unique vision and gift.
Right now, she was talking to her unpsychiatrist, sitting in a room with a couch. It was odd, as the kingdom was generally very medieval, except for this one random room, specially furnished with a modern-day touch for Alice’s needs.
And speaking of modern: Alice was wearing a pink dress, and pink shoes.
“Things keep repeating themselves,” Alice said. “I’ve been in this exact same session for about a million times already, maybe more, maybe closer to an infinite number of times.”
“That’s a very peculiar delusion,” the unpsychiatrist said. “But a very beautiful one, I must say. What possesses you to think we’re in circular time?”
“Well of course, there’s no proof … but I wouldn’t be surprised if that is the truth.”
“Well, unfortunately we have no way to substantiate and prove your claim, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you were right. For now, we’ll have to consider it a delusion, but perhaps I’ll investigate the matter a little further. We all know how often your delusions become true, now, don’t we Alice?”
Alice nodded her head.
“You really are a strong and independent and intelligent young lady,” the unpsychiatrist said warmly. “How has your mood been recently?”
“Very happy,” Alice said.
“Excellent to hear. You aren’t too overwhelmed by being such a distinguished individual in the court, I imagine, that’s a job more for me.”
Alice drifted away a little bit. She looked at the hallucination next to her.
He was a boy named Ralph, about twenty years old. He usually just followed her around, like a loyal puppy, but he did talk to her. He had red hair and freckles, and he wore modern-day clothes: a black t-shirt with blue jeans, and white shoes. He was a good looking kid, if only a little imaginary.
“What do you think of all this nonsense?” Alice asked Ralph.
“I think it’s about as fun as it’s going to be,” Ralph said. “You do what you can. I know they give you way too much special treatment, but I think they mean well.”
“Well, thank you. You’re a sweetheart, Ralph.”
“You’re talking to your hallucination,” the unpsychiatrist said. “Ralph, is it?”
Alice nodded her head.
“He seems like a charming boy, from what you’ve described,” the unpsychiatrist said.
“I am somewhat charming, I’ll give myself that much credit,” Ralph said, beaming a little.
“Yeah,” Alice said, still a little distracted. “He helps me through my good times. I have a lot of those, as you know. Moments of complete and utter beauty and happiness, that nearly destroys the soul.”
“You do seem a little preoccupied, though, I’ll admit,” the unpsychiatrist said.
“It’s because we keep repeating everything,” Alice said. “To protect the secret life of the queen, I won’t tell you what happens to her, but over and over again, something happens. And The Jack of Knives … he’s trying to take over the kingdom—again.”
“That must be very hard,” the unpsychiatrist said. “To be in tune with such pointless and needless repetitions.”
“The Jack of Knives has a fairly good heart, but he’s better suited as a humble servant, until the time is right for him to rule. And plus, he’s obsessed with the idea of homicide. I don’t think he has it in him to really and truly kill someone—you know that takes a tremendous amount of effort—but I know that he’d kill The Suicide King if that’s what it took to rule the land. Not that it will work, of course. But still. You get my drift.”
“And how does that make you feel?” the unpsychiatrist said.
“Rather frustrated, because I know what happens,” Alice said. “But that’s okay. We’ll just keep repeating things over and over again.”
Alice looked at Ralph.
Ralph smiled. Alice was always intrigued that even though Ralph looked like a fully-fleshed individual, there was also something ghostly about his appearance, like you could touch him and your hand would go right through him.
“Don’t let it get to you,” Ralph said. “There’s always a key to our most stubborn problems.”
Alice said to Ralph, “No, I agree, I just know what happens to The Jack of Knives and it isn’t a good fate. But what can you do? What can I do? And I feel bad for The Black Queen. Having to suffer that, over and over again. It’s terrible. She deserves better. And me always having this conversation with you,” Alice said, looking at her unpsychiatrist.
“And how does that make you feel?” the unpsychiatrist asked.
“He really sucks at his job, doesn’t he?” Ralph said, laughing amusedly.
Alice laughed as well. “Yes. Indeed. He does. He—”
Alice was going to say something more when a knock came at the door.
“Blasted it all,” the unpsychiatrist said, standing up to open the door.
The Black Queen, upon the door opening, barged into the room and said, rather frantically, “I’m losing my mind, undoctor. I’m going crazy! Over and over, I have to watch him die! Over and over! Like a bad movie! And it’s … it’s … I just don’t know what to do!”
“Just slow down,” the unpsychiatrist said. “Can’t you see I’m in the middle of treating myself?”
The Black Queen took a deep breath, and then looked around, saw Alice.
“Oh,” she said. “I’m terribly sorry. But Alice is the one I was looking for anyway.”
“We’re in the middle of treating my symptoms,” the unpsychiatrist said. “You aren’t allowed in here.”
The Black Queen grabbed the unpsychiatrist’s shirt in a frantic fit of anxiety: “But you have to help me! Or let me talk to Alice! Please! I believe Alice can give me insight into this terrible case of déjà vu masquerading as circular time, or whatever is going on. And my boyfriend! He died! Don’t you care?”
Alice looked at Ralph, whispered, “What should I do?”
“I’d stay out of it,” Ralph said. “You can’t help her right now. You’ve got your own unsymptoms to deal with.”
Alice knew that Ralph was right, but it still made her sad to hear this. She tried to smile at The Black Queen, but she didn’t notice, being so decayed in her frantic nature. The unpsychiatrist said, rather rudely, “Well, like I said, I’m busy. If you want help, you’ll just have to go out and beg for it.”
And then the unpychiatrist pushed The Black Queen out the door.
The Black Queen protested the whole way, saying again, over and over, “But please, you don’t understand, I need your help,” but the unpsychiatrist wasn’t going to hear it. He kicked her out, and then straightened his postmodern clothes, and sat back down.
“Sorry about that, Alice,” he said. “Anyway. What were you saying?”
“We live in anachronistic medievalism,” Alice said. “It’s very pseudo. We’re ahead of our time in some ways, and medieval in other ways. It’s a strange effect.”
“Very astute observation. I’ve often observed that myself, but haven’t told people, for fear of sounding crazy.”
“I don’t know the feeling,” Alice said, looking at Ralph.
Ralph had sat down in the corner, relaxed and looking handsome as always. Alice had a slight crush on her hallucination, but she knew she couldn’t do anything about it. He existed, but only in so far as existence would allow. He in fact begged the question of what existence meant, anyway.
Ralph smiled again at her, but Alice didn’t smile back. She was too distracted, by something that had bothered her from the beginning.
“Why are you helping me when other people out there clearly need it more?” Alice asked. “When the world has clearly gone bonkers? When Contorted Royal is clearly an untreated crazyland, with crazyland crazies in a mad, mad world that need to be in a madhouse?”
“Well, quite simply, because we don’t have the resources,” the unpsychiatrist said, rather primly. “I’d love to help The Black Queen learn to control her nervous breakdowns, love to help The Suicide King learn suicide isn’t the answer, would love to show The Jack of Knives the problem with his narcissism and hostile-takeover tendencies … but we just don’t have the resources. The king and queen are much too rich for the resources that we have to give, and The Jack of Knives would never seek out help. I must admit, though, it is rather ambitious what he seeks to do. I can tell you it won’t work, but it is ambitious. But I think in the end, we’re all crazyland crazies in a mad, mad world madhouse. No one can save us. I can’t save myself. You can’t save me, Alice,” the unpsychiatrist said, suddenly sounding very anxious.
“I do my best,” Alice said, and looked at Ralph hopelessly.
He responded by shrugging.
The unpsychiatrist took a moment to compose himself, and then said, “I do see your point, though. We shouldn’t be spending all of our resources on treating you, when you do so wonderful. I can’t tell you enough how much we all appreciate the delusions you give us that come true. It really serves the kingdom well. Like, the time when you thought that aliens were putting machines in certain people’s heads, and the more we investigated, the more we realized it wasn’t a delusion at all. It was certainly happening.”
“People weren’t too nice about the idea, for a little while at least,” Alice said.
“True,” the unpsychiatrist said. “But that’s because they don’t usually understand your genius. You have to excuse the common person … they are uneducated in the brilliance of schizophrenia. They don’t realize the breakthroughs that you create for Contorted Royal, for the court side of things, that of course trickle down to the common person. You are the queen of schizophrenia, in your own way, you know that, right? You’re the only person in Contorted Royal that’s diagnosed, actually. You must feel very special.”
“I do feel very special,” Alice said glumly, and looked at Ralph. He was distracted, bouncing a ball back and forth, back and forth, on the ground and into his hand, on the ground and into his hand …
“So describe to me: what is Ralph like? What does Ralph like?” the unpsychiatrist said.
“Oh, he likes a lot of things,” Alice said. “Still trying to get used to our world, though. He says, even though there are some modern things, it’s very medieval, which isn’t what he’s used to. He’s used to magical technologies like computers.”
“Computers? What are those?”
“Oh, they …” Alice began, but then, wasn’t sure how to describe it. So she said, “I don’t know. You’ll have to ask Ralph.”
The unpsychiatrist began to look around for Ralph, but didn’t find him, and finally said, “Well, I just can’t see what you see, Alice. I wish I could … I could be a genius, but in all actuality, I just can’t see it.”
“It’s okay,” Alice said. “If we ever get out of this circular time, you might discover what a computer is, probably by chance. Maybe a computer will fall out of the sky or something, and land on your head. Like Newton and the apple. Maybe you’d discover technological gravity, and start a revolution.”
“Perhaps,” the unpsychiatrist said, and then smiled. He picked up his script pad and began to write down a prescription. “I’m going to prescribe myself twenty milligrams of psychobendzapeen. Did you want anything to increase the duration and intensity of your symptoms, Alice?”
Alice shook her head. “No. It’s okay. I see Ralph enough. He comes and goes, but I see him enough. And he keeps me company. So it’s okay. I’ll come and get you if I need anything.”
“Sounds great,” the unpsychiatrist said, and smiled at Alice. “You’re doing the world miracles. Believe that.”
“I just wish we could get The Black Queen help,” Alice said.
“Well, I’d like to, but as I said …”
“Yes,” Alice said. “Resources. I get it.”
“Exactly. And remember: we’re all crazyland crazies in a mad, mad world but not in a madhouse.”
“Yes,” Alice said, and stood up, shook the undoctor’s hand. “Thanks for your time and the untreatment. It means a lot.”
“No problem,” said the unpsychiatrist. “You get untherapy and unpsychiatry, all in one sitting.”
“Yes,” Alice said, and looked at Ralph. “Come on, Ralph. Let’s go do something fun.”
Ralph stood up and followed Alice out of the room.
Alice was distracted, but she knew the circular time thing would eventually resolve itself, uncomplicate itself, become linear. Or at least she hoped so. There was no way to know for sure, especially since everyone else around her (except for perhaps The Black Queen, who’d raved like a tipsy madwoman about watching a death over and over again) was oblivious of the circular time problem.
But that was the consequence of being in tune with delusional but real flights of fancy. But eventually, they served useful purposes.
The key word being: eventually.