THE HISTORY OF MY DISEASE
It was a hot, dry summer. The crops panted in the fields. The country doctor made the rounds in a carriage drawn by his horse, a notorious morphine addict. The old physician's name was Lurdock, he saw omens, farmers missing occult numbers of fingers, a barn burned and the locals muttered about a firebrand on the loose until the distraught and indeed deranged wife of the farmer confessed, no charges were filed and she was packed off to the lunatic asylum in Crouchville.
Lurdock saw it coming, he knew the woman, it was obvious she'd been driven mad by the awful isolation of the district, the crushing awful isolation that constituted life in the district and drove everyone mad sooner or later, thought Lurdock, one day all the barns would burn. That life was impossible in the district for anyone living in the district was obvious to all, Lurdock thought, in the end it came to down to a choice of noose, lye, or pistol shot, that was life in the district for people living in the district, thought Lurdock, a choice not of whether but of method.
It was after dark, Lurdock was passing the old Portepoint place, the Portepoint dogs were barking, his horse was muttering, it was time for his shot. What a tender hour! The treetops swaying in the dry breeze, the sweet smell of the corn, the bells of the Lutheran church sounding in the distance, it was Luther who said he was first visited by the holy spirit while taking a shit.
Lurdock reached home, you call it home, he gave his horse his shot of morphine, then sat down to a dinner of cold meat. Then he retired to his room and at his desk wrote, "I have again set about the task, impossible I'm afraid, of writing the history of my disease. It's boiling outside, the crops pant in the heat, I turned 62 yesterday. It is too late, I fear. Too late to again set about the task, impossible I'm afraid, of writing the history of my disease. Sixty-two is too late, I should have set about my task sooner, and indeed I did set about my task sooner but to no avail, again and again I have set about the task, impossible I'm afraid, of writing the history of my disease, which has destroyed my life, blighted the landscape of my mind, and brought me again and again to this place of despair, only to abandon the task, in despair over my ability to write the history of my despair.
All my life I've failed to live, I've lived not to live but only to prepare myself for the task, impossible I'm afraid, of writing the history of my disease. As a child born unfortunately not stillborn and later as a teen afraid to employ the noose I failed at everything, so otherwise occupied was I with the deadly and ultimately I fear abortive work I am still engaged in, that of somehow explaining myself to myself, in words, so as to finally save myself from the condemnation of that lifelong nemesis, my disease, which demands that I write its history, a task which I fear is impossible.
To live only to do that which can not be done is to live in despair, I have treated the sick of the district and treated their terrible injuries and pronounced death in the fields and in the barns and in the shabby farmhouses of the district, and yet I have not completed the task, impossible I'm afraid, of writing the history of my disease. The lame and the maimed and the terrible mental monstrosities of the district amongst whom I have toiled, and whose unspeakable sufferings I have attempted in my faltering way to ameliorate, like Sisyphus with a stethoscope, for in this district alone there are more crippled, whether it be in body or mind or spirit, than Jesus could cure in a lifetime.
The history of my disease is an impossible history, how to put into words the not rightness of everything, indeed the extreme wrongness of everything. For everything is and has always been extremely wrong, that is the long and the short of it. Existence is a disease. And you can never die soon enough, die at the very beginning and you have already suffered too much, you might as well hang on for the fireworks, exploding your soul to bits as a grand finale.
The telephone is ringing, someone must be sick or dying, or has discovered a body at the end of a rope secured to a stout beam in a dark barn, the extreme wrongness of everything. Existence is a disease. All my life I have been attempting the impossible, to set down in words the history of the disease that is my life, the telephone is ranging, the crops are panting in the fields, at least my horse is happy, the task I have been assigned is impossible I fear, simply impossible I fear, I have been condemned, I dare say and I do say it, to do the impossible.