Physicians Across Borders: Episode 6

Senator Tsibola approaches a very discreet address on the outskirts of New Washington, which has been used at various times as a love nest, a place for the family's children to stay at the dangerous age, and a residence for visiting business partners. He is now using it as a place to hide the latest family embarrassment: the delusional Craig.

Tsibola is annoyed that the highly paid psychiatrist he hired has not been able to make a dent in his nephew's delusions, and has resorted to stronger measures. He just hopes no one ever learns of them.

Tsibola unlocks the gate and enters the garden, which is surrounded by an eight foot wall. He frowns, having expected the guard to meet him at the gate and looks around for the fellow.

Craig, who has been spending his time in prayer and meditation upon God's plan, glances up at the sound of someone new arriving. He looks out the window to see who the new arrival is.

Tsibola notes approvingly that the roses and raspberries are still growing thickly on the interior of the wall, making it impossible to climb.

Crynwyr zlins that the Senator has arrived and is inside the gate, so he goes up to the gate himself and waits to be let in by the staff. He's taken a day off from his work at the Sime Center to do this job for Senator Tsibola; he'll be able to use the off-the-record Gen money for a little -- effort -- of his own.

Tsibola turns back to the gate and sees that the latest specialist he's hired for Craig has arrived.

Tsibola: Hajene Crynwyr, you're on time.

Crynwyr shrugs theatrically under the concealing cape.

Crynwyr: Natural, Senator. All Simes have clocks in our heads.

Tsibola: Really?

Tsibola thinks this sounds really ~~ bizarre ~~.

Crynwyr: Yes. And, how you say, compasses too. Never get lost or forget appointments.

Tsibola: It's not your sense of time I'm interested in.

Crynwyr: Well, okay. No reason get cranky about it. To work!

Tsibola opens the gate for Crynwyr, stepping back to let him through.

Crynwyr: Thank you. Where is patient? And where is staff? I zlin nobody.

Tsibola: Most have the day off. I don't know where the gate guard is. Your patient is upstairs. You do understand what's required?

Crynwyr: Yes. Zlin patient, hear lies, tell you. No problem.

Crynwyr looks up at the house and realizes there must be a stone confinement cell in it. Well, what can you expect from out-T barbarians?

Craig sees that his kinsman has been joined by a Sime in the garden below. He calms himself with an effort, ready for God's next test of him.

Tsibola: Craig is delusional, but he does believe that Simes can penetrate lies. I wish to use that belief to convince him that his delusions are not real.

Crynwyr: Okay, good.

Tsibola alas doesn't know the weakness of the Sime lie-detecting ability: it can't detect the objective truth of a statement, only the speaker's confidence in its truth.

Crynwyr thinks he has explained that point, unfortunately for both parties.

Tsibola: Let's go inside, then.

Tsibola leads the way briskly, aware that time spent here is stolen from a very busy schedule.

Craig hears footsteps upon the stairs. He rises, a bit stiffly after sitting so long, to greet his guests.

Crynwyr now zlins Craig clearly, and wonders why he couldn't before. No stone here, obviously. What is going on with this place?

Tsibola motions for the inner guard to unlock Craig's cell and let them in.

Craig: God's blessings upon you, Ruthven. Friend Sime.

Tsibola gives Craig his best "no nonsense now" Look.

Crynwyr appreciates being called a friend by someone who apparently means it, and begins to think favorably of Craig at once.

Crynwyr: My name is Crynwyr.

Craig: Friend Crynwyr.

Tsibola: Craig. I understand that you've been giving your psychiatrist a difficult time.

Craig: I meant him no difficulty, Ruthven. But his mind seems closed to God's grace.

Tsibola: He tells me that you refuse to set aside your delusions.

Craig: One man's delusion is another man's insight.

Crynwyr thinks that can't possibly be true, but the patient does believe it, so he says nothing.

Tsibola: I'm not going to argue with you, Craig. I've got better things to do with my time. I'm simply going to give you a reality check that you admit is objective.

Tsibola nods towards Crynwyr.

Crynwyr: My job here, listen, zlin, hear lies, tell Senator. You can trust me be objective -- he pays me if get answers he likes or not. Right, Senator?

Tsibola: Yes. So, Craig, perhaps you'd explain your "insights" once more. If, that is, you are willing to put them to the test?

Crynwyr: Senator tells truth.

Craig: Despite my fear, I welcome this test of my faith. ~~ frightened but resolute ~~

Crynwyr: Now I shut up unless lies.

Craig glances at the channel's retainered forearms.

Craig: I am prepared for your touch.

Tsibola follows Craig's glance, and recalls some things he's heard from Seruffin.

Tsibola: Ah. I understand you will be more effective if you remove those?

Crynwyr: Not necessary, no, for simple job like this. Also here not posted Sime Territory. Do not want to be shot.

Crynwyr smiles.

Crynwyr: Anyhow, keeps both of you calmer, able to talk better if not worried about tentacles.

Craig inwardly ~~ relaxes ~~ a little. Old habits of fear die hard.

Tsibola: I'm more worried about getting my money's worth. This is inconvenient enough to manage once.

Tsibola goes over to the sink that occupies one corner of the (nicely appointed) cell, takes the soap, and writes "SIME TERRITORY" on the mirror.

Tsibola: There. That should take care of the formalities.

Tsibola gestures for Crynwyr to take off the retainers with the same attitude he's used to direct servants all his life, and with as little concern.

Crynwyr: Senator, you pay, but patient welfare my concern. My judgment -- patient will answer better if not frightened by tentacles.

Tsibola raises an eyebrow, and looks at Craig thoughtfully.

Craig takes a deep breath and tries to calm himself.

Crynwyr: Good, Craig. Relax.

Tsibola: I'd have thought you'd have given up that sort of thing when you became a Sime-kisser.

Crynwyr: Oh no. Easier if donor does not fear Simes, but not necessary.

Tsibola isn't surprised at Crynwyr's revelation; he's long thought that the Tecton's reassuring publicity was more intended for donor recruitment than objective education.

Craig: Old habits die slowly, Ruthven. I'm struggling to accept God's will, but it's not always easy to submit.

Tsibola: Have you ever thought that your reluctance might be God telling you to think again?

Craig: Of course not. It's simply my weakness. But God is patient with me. More patient, perhaps, than I deserve.

Tsibola glances at Crynwyr to see if there's room for disputation there.

Crynwyr shakes his head; all the statements are subjectively true, except the last one which is a speculation.

Craig: Take off your retainers, friend Crynwyr. I must learn to endure this.

Crynwyr: Okay, but my judgment to put them back or not, okay?

Craig nods acquiescence.

Crynwyr removes his retainers with the usual fourfold clank and shakes his tentacles free, zlinning carefully for signs of incipient panic from either Gen.

Crynwyr: Ah, easier. Retainers hurt.

Craig takes another deep breath. God will not allow him to be tested beyond his ability to endure. He hopes.

Tsibola finds the sight of the tentacles slightly ~ repulsive ~, as usual, but not particularly alarming.

Crynwyr settles down again, considerably more comfortable now.

Crynwyr: Okay, everybody. Take deep breath, relax now. All safe. Also, Senator -- time limited. Ask questions or let patient talk now, okay?

Craig takes another deep breath.

Craig: So what do you want from me, Ruthven? God's message to me, or the path by which I learned it?

Tsibola: Let's start with the latter.

Craig: You know how badly I was shaken by my trip to Sime Territory, and what happened to me there. All my certainties, all my self-confidence were uprooted. Then you sent me off into isolation.

Tsibola nods.

Craig: I hated you for it at the time. But it opened my mind to hear God's message.

Tsibola: And turned you against your family.

Craig: It was painful, but I should thank you for it. Without that peace, without even my illness then, I probably would have just rebuilt my old armor, and gone back to being what I'd been before. I don't hate you any more, Ruthven.

Crynwyr: Patient is not turned against his family, Senator. However, he is mildly resentful. Perhaps about current treatment.

Craig bows his head. The Sime has, indeed, caught him trying to delude himself.

Tsibola: If he hadn't set out to destroy the family, he'd never have been locked up here.

Crynwyr: Untruth, Senator.

Tsibola has ~~ absolute conviction ~~ in this statement.

Crynwyr: You believe it, but not logical. Or, how you say, consistent with establish facts.

Tsibola looks at Crynwyr ~~ incredulously ~~.

Crynwyr: Patient intention not to destroy family, that is plain. Yet you have lock him up anyhow.

Tsibola: Do you think that I randomly lock up my relatives for sheer amusement?

Crynwyr: No, Senator. Motive must be different, but insufficient evidence say what.

Craig: I'm trying to get over my anger, Ruthven. I didn't come to New Washington to harm you. I'm only here to serve God's will.

Tsibola: It doesn't matter what his intent or motive was, I care only about the effect. An effect which he has more than enough knowledge to predict.

Crynwyr furrows his brow, deciphering this. He really is a lot better at understanding English than he used to be (willy-nilly).

Crynwyr: No, no. Your motive lock up Craig must be different than you state, but unclear what it is? Okay?

Crynwyr zlins to see if Tsibola understands now. Apparently not. He tries again with channel's patience.

Crynwyr: You say, not lock up Craig unless he intend harm your family. But I zlin he no such intent, so what you say untruth. You believe he has intent, but he has not. Okay?

Tsibola: His intent is not relevant. The harm he was doing is.

Crynwyr: Ah. So you lock him up, you believe he actually do harm if not. Good. Back to discussion. Say more, Craig, please.

Crynwyr still thinks this is pretty barbarous treatment -- this whole place reminds him of what he's read about private Pens from the junct days -- but as a Tecton channel he understands preventive action.

Craig: Disown me if you must, to protect yourself, Ruthven. I came here resigned to accepting that as the price of God's work. ~~ sadness ~~ loneliness ~~

Crynwyr is ~~ empathetic ~~ with Craig's pain and wishes he had some way to alleviate it.

Tsibola: Disowning you would not prevent you from harming the family interests.

Craig: For years I did your dirty work. The family's dirty work. Now, I guess I'm doing God's dirty work. Truth sometimes hurts, and God's message to me was all about Truth. You taught me too well, maybe. But God has found a use for even such a broken vessel as myself.

Tsibola: You really are delusional. You had a very comfortable job with the family company -- a job that you did not have to work overly hard to keep. You were never asked to do anything against your conscience, or at least I don't recall your offering such an objection.

Craig: I had worldly comforts and worldly power, yes. And I had taught my conscience to sleep. God gave me a wake-up call. And if, by "delusional", you mean I see things differently now, then yes, I do.

Tsibola thinks that Craig would have been much better off if he'd stuck to following orders.

Tsibola: Indeed. You've gone from being a decent, respectable person who honored his family and respected social order to being a wild-eyed radical, willing to destroy anyone who gets in your way.

Craig: The respected social order is just another name for old habits and old errors, Ruthven. And yes, it was comfortable, since I had a privileged place in that order. But comfort isn't the deepest value. God's Truth is.

Craig: That's the core of what God showed me: the importance of Truth. The necessity of letting go of comfortable old delusions. And God's gift to us, the thing that helps us know and face our own truths, is the Sime. That was the other piece of the puzzle that God showed me.

Craig: You've proven it, Ruthven, by bringing this Sime here, for exactly the reasons you brought him. Simes are not the Devil's work, as we thought -- or if they are, then God has turned them to good. Because now they are God's lie detectors, to expose our lies and help us find Truth.

Craig is really getting into his message now.

Tsibola: How is using Simes to destroy your family and your society with this nebulous "Truth" inconsistent with the traditional view of Simes as destroyers of family and society?

Craig: It's not about destruction, except the destruction of lies. If society is built on a bedrock of lies, then it needs to change. And you've shown me the part I was missing. You've given me the other key I needed. I understand now how God wants me to accomplish His task. I thank God for you, Ruthven. Again, you've been the one to force me to understand what God is trying to say. ~~ gratitude ~~

Crynwyr: He is, how you say, grateful to you.

Craig: I don't want to destroy. Just to change things for the better, in accordance with God's will. Do I speak truth, friend Sime?

Crynwyr: You do, in your belief. But friend Craig, must destroy sometimes to make new better? History Nivet Territory shows that. Many killer Simes destroyed then.

Craig: Yes. And it hurt, didn't it? But no one now denies that it was for the better.

Crynwyr: Yes. So should not say, not want destroy. Confuses Gens. You willing destroy if necessary achieve your goals, just as Senator willing lock you up achieve his. Both sincere.

Craig bows his head.

Craig: That is true. Thank you, my friend.

Crynwyr: Senator, in my professional opinion if in-Territory would send you both Mind-Healer specialize in, umm, how you say, couples. Need learn compromise, reconciliation. This approach -- crude.

Crynwyr sniffs.

Tsibola: Craig will have his freedom, Hajene, when he can honestly say that he will not take any actions that harm the family. And when I am convinced that he is able to make that distinction.

Craig: Ruthven, I will try not to hurt you with my work. But I must do God's will, regardless of the pain.

Tsibola: Then you will continue to do God's will here.

Crynwyr: Oh, he honest already. Trouble is, you not trust him judgment. And he not trust you judgment, why should he? In lockup not good evidence trust.

Craig: Will you work with me, help me find ways to do what God asks without harming you, Ruthven? Without harming anyone, more than is necessary?

Crynwyr: Ah, but who judge necessary? If Senator, you stay here forever. If me, like I say, both sides somewhat pathological, okay? Need couples counseling, learn to solve problems without threats, force.

Craig: Do you see a middle path, friend Crynwyr? Without compromising God's will? Will you help us find it?

Crynwyr: Me? No. Not trained. Need specialist in this -- and not know specialist in mind problems out-T Gens, alas. Could ask around, maybe. Okay?

Craig: I would be grateful for that.

Tsibola: Discreetly, I hope?

Crynwyr: Sure. All confidential here.

Crynwyr decides to take a bit of a risk, even though it exceeds his remit.

Crynwyr: Until then, suggest Senator let Craig go, Craig agree not speak public about God's will or mission, okay? How you say, equal not satisfaction?

Craig nods.

Craig: God is patient. I will wait for that.

Crynwyr: Senator?

Tsibola: Believe me, Craig, I take no pleasure in confining you here. But you have broken trust with me too often since your breakdown for me to take the chance.

Crynwyr: He sincere, Senator. Not taking chance with him. And will try expedite discovery appropriate counselor.

Tsibola: Even if he is sincere... now... he is quite capable of changing his mind, equally sincerely, once he gets out. I will wait for your counselor, I think.

Crynwyr shrugs. He's done his best.

Crynwyr: Sorry, friend Craig. Senator intent inflexible this point. But if you like, I come see you, talk. Not pay.

Craig: Very well. I have one request, then. No, two. And I would appreciate your company, my friend Crynwyr.

Crynwyr nods.

Tsibola raises an eyebrow, ~~ skeptical ~~ but willing to provide reasonable comforts.

Craig: Library books. Theology, philosophy. I don't know exactly which books, but I'll give you lists of topics.

Crynwyr raises an eyebrow in Tsibola's direction.

Tsibola: I suppose I could manage that.

Craig: And discussions with living theologians and philosophers. You can vet them, Ruthven. We can keep it as entirely an exchange of letters if you'd rather.

Tsibola: No. Not until you are more firmly grounded in reality.

Crynwyr: I think he worry you change they minds, Craig!

Crynwyr chuckles.

Tsibola: No. But he is likely to interest them, and there never was an academic who could keep quiet about something interesting.

Craig: I never paid much attention in church when I was younger. This is new ground to me. I need to learn, Ruthven.

Tsibola: I will see that you have materials to study. See that you use them wisely.

Crynwyr: Senator point is good, Craig. Stick with books for now, okay?

Craig: Very well. Crynwyr, I hope you'll visit me a lot, then. Otherwise, I'll be a bit lonely here.

Crynwyr: As schedule permit, friend Craig. Tecton channel work long hours, not get time off much. But I will try.

Tsibola: I will see that the guards have orders to admit you, then. For now, though, I have a meeting to attend.

Crynwyr: And I have channel work do now, only 3 minutes 35 seconds slack plus time walk back Sime Center. Farewell, friend Craig.

Crynwyr: [to Tsibola] I leave first, then you go, okay?

Tsibola nods, and knocks on the door to signal the guard to open.

Crynwyr suits the action to the word and leaves the building, returning to the Sime Center with a few extra seconds to catch his figurative breath.

Tsibola takes a roundabout way home, lost in thought.

Craig returns to his meditation.

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