Mr. Smith’s One True Talent

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Posted on:Oct 18, 2012
By:Flint McGlaughlin
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[Editor's Note: What follows is a novella. Despite it's appearance of fiction, it is Dr. McGlaughlin's earliest expression of value proposition theory.]

Tape I - Transcript Session 1

Dorsham was shreddin' Bandits with the .50 caliber again; he was doin' the loop somewhere over Iwo Jima - least that's where his brain was, but his body was stuck jest a few feet from me, tethered to one of them shiny poles that sends food (and God knows what else) to you through a needle.

It's a wonder he could be so addled. I mean, even an idiot - no offense intended - could see he weren't in no cockpit, jest some, orange, overstuffed, excuse fer a chair. 

And Dorsham didn't look like no fighter pilot, neither - not in that yellar, cotton gown (though he shor as hell sounded like one).

He shouldn't of rattled so much. Them white coats 'peared suddenly, floatin' into the room like angry angels.

"Keep it down," Dorsham, they says.

"Shut up, Dorsham," they says.

"That's enough Dorsham," they says.

But Dorsham couldn't hear over the vengeful whine of his Bomber. And anyways, they didn't wait fer him neither.  They jest jammed that awful, black sack over his withered ol’ head, and yanked the drawstring way tight… too tight.

In less than a wail, they had him on the gurney.

He started thrashin', then, with pathetic little twists and turns. Reckon he could barely breathe, but he still tried to get through on his radio… I could hear the small, stifled cries.

"I'm hit! Mayday! Mayday! Seven sixty-two, going down"

He was a’goin' down all right, but it weren't where he thought. They had a special place to cure his kind of affliction and even the looniest, here, knew that it worked. Folk that came back (if they came back) was real quiet fer a long spell.

I'd of liked to of he'ped him, but I ain't never been much good at he'pin'. That's why I was there… on account of I ain't never been much good at he'pin'.

Anyways, them white coats was pros; I couldn't of done much. It was over almost afore it started… and they'd of got him through the doors, too, if it weren't fer Mr. Smith. 

Mr. Smith was new, and I thought I had him figured. He seemed, at first, jest another luneetick… but it was on this very day that I started knowin' Mr. Smith weren't like the rest of us.

He was a’sittin' near the door, next to Mrs. Martha (he always sat with Mrs. Martha). He was a'squeezin' on her hand real tight, like it would somehow make her eyes wake up, and he was a'talkin' to her, low and gentle, jest like he was courtin' her.

Till them damn coats come rollin' in.

He watched Dorsham flail against their powerful, mean grip, and he saw 'em wrench the poor man up so violently that the needle ripped right outta his gnarled ol' vein.

Mr. Smith jest stopped talkin'.

He held onto Mrs. Martha, but he stopped talkin'.  I 'member how his eyes turned kinda inside out. Most folk, 'specially the crazy ones, wouldn't of noticed, but I ain't crazy and I seen it. One minute them eyes was placid, and shallow like a two-inch puddle; the next, they was deep enough to drown in.

He stood up, quiet-like, and hobbled 'cross the room.  The gurney was already a'movin'…But Mr. Smith somehow got hisself in the way. They tried to scoot around him, but it weren't no use. It was already a tight fit, and Mr. Smith seemed to be havin' such a trouble with that gimp leg of his.

"Out of the way, Smith."

"Move it! Smith!"

Mr. Smith didn't pay 'em no mind. After all, he was a certified luneetick.

That didn't set too well with them fellars. One of  'em swore, and the other one? He jest slammed that rollin' bed hard, a'knockin' Mr. Smith back against the wall.

Big mistake. 

I think it was his elbow had done it; all I know is somethin' hit a row of light switches and it went plumb black.

Now it's right poorly bein' stuck in a room with a bunch a stark ravin' idjots - in the daylight, but it's a whole heap worser when things go black.

All at once, they was a'wailin' and a'moanin' and a'screamin'.

I could hear them white coats a’cursin'.

Somebody was fumblin' along the wall fer the switch; somebody squealed like a stuck pig; somebody fell hard to the floor…

And then it was light again, and I gotta say it was one sorry todo.

There was one white coat a'layin' 'side the gurney; there was one coat a'nursin' his hand (somebody'd bit it), and there was Mr. Smith a’leanin' over Dorsham, a'whisperin' in the ol' boy's ear.

That miser'ble sack was gone.

Ever’body else was still a'moanin', but wonder of wonders… Dorsham was as quiet as a pleasant death.

I reckon them orderlies was in a rush to get shut of our room, 'cause they jest scrambled up and left. 

Soon as they was gone, Mr. Smith, he’peded Dorsham off them damn wheels.

"It's alright Lieutenant," he said. "SAR spotted your flairs, but you'll need to lay low till we can get a chopper in."

All of a sudden, I know'd how Mr. Smith got Dorhsam so quiet. It was right smart of him to think of that, 'specially fer a crazy man. I never thought of it… and I ain't even crazy.

They was somethin’ awful different 'bout that Mr. Smith.

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