Thursday, May 28, 2015

Part Two -- A Cut and Paste Existence

 (Author's Note: Excuse the typos, doing this in a hurry. Also, I'm consciously keeping the parts short.)

No one reacts favorably to real evidence that their sanity has finally cracked, so while my mother was still upstairs I quickly and quietly slipped out of the main house and returned to the cottage. I needed some space to try and figure out just what in the hell has gone wrong with me. I knew the only logical assumption was that the problem was me, but deep down I knew Milton Solomon had lived and written some of the most important books of the twentieth century. My father's passion for his works had carried over to me and while I hadn't memorized his novels and short stories verbatim I could clearly see some of his most famous passages in my mind.

Once inside the cottage I locked all the doors, closed the curtains, and collapsed on the couch and tried to make myself believe this was all some crazy dream. Laying there I felt the frustration of all the years of my life wasted learning to deal with the tragedies that had hit me. Over the last several months my emotional injuries had begun to fade enough to allow me to dream of becoming a functioning adult again with a chance at happiness. Now to have my mind stolen by some delusion seemed far too cruel a fate than anyone should be forced to face. As I laid on the couch I could almost see sections of Milton Solomon's works floating around my head almost taunting me to prove they were real. I was forced to consider the even worse idea that if I had indeed lost my marbles the delusion I had constructed was quite elaborate.

Given how my mother viewed my mental health before I started spouting off about what was to her a phantom writer she was sure to come to the cottage to check on me once she realized I had left the main house. I simply didn't want to deal with her concern and worry, so I jumped up and slipped on my running shorts and sneakers. After leaving a note taped to the door telling her I had gone running, I made my way to the main road with the hope that the exercise would allow me to get a handle on my thoughts.

After decades of development, the lonely country road my parents had built their house next to now had dozens of suburban developments sprouting off from both sides. Since returning home I had despaired that the solitude I had enjoyed walking the lonely road as a kid was destroyed by the closely packed McMansions and their frantic inhabitants. But given my current problem, I was able to ignore them and just concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other while hoping I could somehow just sweat away this new threat to my well being.

I had several miles behind me when I realized something important, as a high school senior I had written a biography on Milton Solomon for my literature class detailing his parents and family, his activities, and his writing career. The paper itself was long gone, probably thrown away by mother when I left for college but I still remembered many of the facts about the man. While in all likelihood Solomon was indeed a construction of my deranged mind I could at least look up what I thought were the facts about his parents lives.

Buoyed by a concrete plan, I almost sprinted the entire way back to the cottage. Once inside I went straight to the computer and pulled up what I remembered about the Solomon family. Milton's dad, Amos, was a longtime associate of Theodore Roosevelt and in fact was a New York state senator when the big Rough Rider was governor. Milton's mom, Edith, was a leading activist for the women's suffrage movement and later an early pioneer in civil rights for African-Americans, both individuals of enough renown for them to leave a mark in history.

I knew this was a gamble, that if I couldn't find either of them it would be crystal clear I had serious issues with my mental health. A part of me also realized that even if they existed I still wasn't out of the woods but at least I would have something solid to base my possibly imaginary memories of Martin Solomon.

I looked up Amos first and as my fingers danced across the keyboard I actually felt fear creeping up my spine like ice water in my veins. It only took a fraction of a second for Google to come up with a Wikipedia page that confirmed my belief that Amos Solomon had indeed existed as I remembered him. Several paragraphs later the article also confirmed that Amos married an Edith Keeler in July of 1890. When I jumped over to the brief entry for Edith it listed her as an important member of the women's suffrage movement and that both her and her young baby boy were killed in a hospital fire in May of 1900 just days after giving birth.

Sitting at my computer I was elated with the news that Edith had given birth at the same time I knew Milton Solomon was supposed to have been born. However, another part of my mind was worried because if Milton Solomon never existed how did I know anything about two individuals from the ninetieth century who had largely been lost in the mists of time. Rationally, I guessed it might have been possible that while in a fugue state I somehow researched obscure people from the past and then constructed an elaborate history for their dead child, even going to the extreme of having him become one of the most important American authors of the twentieth century.

It was then that despite the utter insanity of the idea, I had an inkling that there might be something far stranger going on, some surreal fault with the nature of reality itself. But based on my computer search for Milton Solomon back at the main house after talking with my mother it didn't make any sense that out of all the people in the world I would be the only one who noticed his absence from everything. That seemed to put me back at square one. With nothing else to go on that seemed to suggest that maybe I had some sort of brain tumor or another medical condition that would cause me to create a person out of whole clothe. Luckily I had someone who I could talk with that would almost certainly help me without calling the proverbial guys with the oversized butterfly nets.

My sister, Melinda Singer, had followed my dad's footsteps to become a doctor of internal medicine. While she lived and practiced medicine down in Charleston, if I used my family card I felt sure she would see me today.

“Hey Sis,” I said several minutes later after dialing her personal cell phone.

“What do you want Peter,” she said clearly agitated, “I'm busy today.”

“Yeah, sorry about this but I have an emergency. I'm experiencing something today that quite frankly is scaring the hell out of me.”

“What's wrong Pete?” Melinda asked with clear concern in her voice.

I then explained everything that happened from asking my mother where the Milton Solomon books went to searching for him on the computer and finding nothing. After hesitating for a few moments I even explained how I was so convinced of his existence that I looked up what I knew about Milton's mom and dad and finding that they at least had lived.

“Okay Pete,” she said after asking if I was well enough to drive, “get down here here immediately and I'll get some x-rays and run some tests. You can sleep at my place tonight if I don't have you admitted.”

Relief flooded my mind, with any luck little sister would find some simple but probably gross reason I had lost my marbles as well as explaining how I knew anything about Amos and Edith Solomon. Unfortunately, calling my sister would open up another can of worms in the form of further revelations that would definitely challenge my sanity.


The Bug said...

I think I have a feeling where this story might go (at least part of it), but I'm not saying until I read the rest. :)

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Sneaky. After reading this post, I had to go back and read Part I. Even reading it backwards, this is a really good story. Looking forward to seeing where you take it.

Pixel Peeper said...

OK, I have no idea where this is going, but I'm curious to find out!

sage said...

You have a creative and intriguing story going here.

Beach Bum said...

The Bug: I have a general idea of where I'm taking it but that could change.

Susan: Playing with the Twilight Zone here, I'm just hoping I can twist it enough.

Pixel: Part three is mostly done, if my wife and daughter leave me alone long enough I can finish it.

Sage: Thanks!