Two men, one in a dark brown suit and one in black, are ushered into the room by the Chief of Psychiatry, who does not enter with them. The room is sparse and contains just one gray metal table, three matching chairs, and one patient. There are nicks, chips, and worn spots in the gray enamel of the table and chairs resulting from contact with chains and restraints. The windows are covered on the inside with a heavy-gauge steel mesh and have wrought iron bars on the exterior.
The patient is wearing plaid pajamas. He’s a palooka of a man but with one of those faces that looks like it hasn’t changed that much since he was a child. He smiles warmly. The two gentlemen who enter are both clean-cut and their clothes display a mix of military precision and the hint of dishevelment that results from active jobs spent on the streets.
“Hello Mr. Wiggins, I’m Detective Simone and this is Detective Kerjan.” Says the brown-suited detective.
“I’ve got to say, that is the nicest crap-colored suit I’ve ever seen.” The patient, Wiggins, says.
“Thank you, but we’ve come to speak with you about…” Det. Simone begins to say.
Wiggins interrupts, “You are welcome. I mean, you are a magnanimous fellow. Here I say your suit is the color of a turd, and you actually thank me. You’re all right.”
Simone sighs and then continues, “Look, we’re here on some very urgent police business. We need to know whether…”
Wiggins interrupts again, “Oh, man, I thought you were here to visit me out of concern about my health and mental well-being.” Wiggin’s voice displays the somber tone of one whose feelings are hurt.
“I’m sorry, but…”
“Really, you bought that? I was just messing with you. Of course I know you are here on police business. You are police officers. The sane are so daft.”
“We are told that you spend a lot of time looking out your window.” Simone says
“Sure I do. What else is there to do here but watch the poor delusional saps scurrying about their meaningless lives.”
“You think ‘they’ are delusional and you are sane?” Says Det. Kerjan with incredulity.
“Oh, I’m as crazy as they come, but I know I’m crazy. Those saps think they know what’s true and what isn’t. They think they know what’s real.”
“Let’s get back on track here.” Says Det. Simone shooting a glower at his partner for being baited off-topic.
“Sure. Let’s do.” Replies Wiggins.
“Were you looking out your window at 11:23pm last night?” Det. Simone asks.
“You know what? I just happened to look at my watch at exactly 11:23pm last night. So I remember it clearly.”
“Really? …” Det. Simone begins to ask.
“No, not really. Do you see a watch? They don’t let the crazies have jewelry. They’re afraid I’d swallow it or choke myself to death with it somehow.”
“Then why did you say that?” Det. Simone says slowly through gritted teeth, as though he might blow his top at any moment. Truth be told, if this witness wasn’t a psychiatric patient the detective probably would have given in to his desire to introduce the man intimately to the Yellow Pages.
“To prove my earlier point.”
“I’ll bite. What point?” Kerjan says accepting more stink-eye from his partner.
“Look, what are the odds that, even if I had a watch, I would have looked at it at exactly 11:23pm, and, moreover, remembered it? Pretty slim, right? But you were willing to swallow it hook-line-and-sinker because you were hopeful. That’s why I said that the sane are as delusional as any of us in here, they just don’t see it. But if it makes you feel better, we could just say I did it because I’m whack-a-doo.”
“OK, let’s forget the exact time. Were you looking out the window at the street sometime after lights-out last night?” Det. Simone asks.
“Yes. At least I think I was. I am, after all, as nutty as a pecan log; so my recollections must be treated as suspect.”
Kerjan can’t resist, with a grin he asks, “If you know your delusions are delusions, doesn’t that make you sane?”
“Are you questioning my brand of crazy, good Sir? Believe me, there are all sorts of nutty out there.”
“Alright, you were looking out the window. Did you see a stabbing take place?” Simone asks.
“Now how would I know if someone was actually stabbed from this distance?”
“Well it would have been a quick violent motion perpetrated by one individual against another and the one attacked would have fallen to the ground. So you didn’t see anything like that?” Simone says.
“Oh, yeah, I saw that?”
“So why did you say… never mind. We need you to tell us what the man who perpetrated the stabbing looked like.” Simone says.
“First of all, I didn’t say ‘never mind.’ Secondly, you have awkward pauses in your speech. And, thirdly, I didn’t say it was a man.”
“So, you’re saying it was a woman?” Kerjan says, asking his first legitimate question of the session.
“No. I’m just saying I couldn’t see said perpetrator’s genitals, and, therefore, have no firm basis on which to draw a conclusion about this individual’s sex.”
“OK, how was he… this person… dressed?” Simone asks.
“Baggy jeans and a red sweatshirt.”
“Hood or no hood?”
“Pardon me? Are you asking if he was ‘a hood’, or if we are located in ‘the hood’? I would have to say ‘yes’ on both accounts but others’ opinions might differ.”
“His sweatshirt, did it have a hood on it?” Simone clarifies.
“No, not that I could see.”
“Skin color?… What was the man in the red sweatshirt’s skin color?” Simone says offering a preemptive clarification.
“A light brownish kind of shade.”
“Is there anything else you can tell us that might be of help?” Simone asks.
“Yeah, don’t wear earth tones, they don’t agree with you. Dark blue, that’s your color.”
“Anything that would help us find the individual in the red sweatshirt?”
“Oh, that, yeah… I think the same guy who did it walks down that same street between 4:15 and 4:30 every afternoon. Maybe going home from school or work or something like that – something real regular. At least the clothing and the gate of the walk are the same.”
The two detectives look at each other in shock that they have possibly received a case breaking tip from the annoying Mr. Wiggins.
“Thank you. You’ve been most helpful. We’ll be in touch, and if you think of anything else that might be important, please let Dr. Vikram know.” Simone says.
“I am Vikram. The person who said he was Vikram is an escaped patient impersonating me. You’ve got to help me get out of here.”
The two men make their way to the door and pound on it twice. They hear the deadbolt slide in response to the turn of a key.
As the door is shutting, they hear Wiggins’ final statement, “I am Rajchandra Vikram!” The claim is delivered in a disturbingly passable Delhi accent.