Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Cure

Around the turn of the century in Vienna, Austria there was a man who had made a name for himself as a doctor of the mind. People came to see him from around Europe and the world. One day, a strange looking man entered the doctor’s office and stood silently before the receptionist’s desk. The receptionist looked up and saw before her perhaps the saddest looking person she’d ever seen. “May I help you?” she asked. “I want to see the doctor who I have heard so much about. He is my last hope,” said the stranger. “You will have to make an appointment and return in a week,” said the receptionist. The sad looking man reached into his deep coat pocket, pulled his hand out and dropped a handful of gold coins on the desk. The receptionist was startled, coughed and said, “let me see what I can do.” She returned in a moment and said, “The doctor can see you for a few minutes.”

The stranger walked slowly into the inner office and sat in a chair opposite the doctor. “What seems to be the problem, my friend with the pocket of gold coins,” asked the doctor kindly. The stranger lifted his head and struggled to speak. “Lately I have been beset by an unceasing melancholy. Nothing gives me joy. All seems pointless. I don’t know what to do. They say that you are a doctor of the mind and you are my last hope.” The doctor smiled widely. “You have nothing to worry about friend. For you have come at exactly the right moment. For, you see, the circus has just arrived in Vienna and they perform this very night. I myself plan to attend. As must you. You see, in this circus is the funniest man in the world. He has the saddest face of any clown that has ever lived – he never smiles. But it is said that when you see him perform you forget all your worries and know only laughter. His name is Grimaldi and he is your cure.” The stranger looked even more sad, if that was possible and he said, “Then there I no cure for me kind sir. For I am Grimaldi.”

The doctor nodded slowly. “I see. I see. Then there is only one thing you can do.” The stranger looked up hopefully. “Tonight,” said the doctor, “you must kill yourself.” “Then it is true,” said Grimaldi. “There is no cure and I must end my life. I will not hesitate. I will do it this very night.” “No, no,” said the doctor smiling. “You must kill yourself this evening, at the circus, for all to see.” Grimaldi looked at the doctor and slowly a slight smile crept onto his face. “Thank-you,” he said to the doctor and left a handful of gold coins on the desk as he left.

That night Grimaldi set about to kill himself before the sold-out audience. He first tried to cut his throat with an overlarge knife. But the blade, made of rubber, cut and cut and made no mark. Then he tried to shoot himself but the gun shot out nothing but smoke and paper. He tried to hang himself but the rope broke and he tumbled to the circus floor with the crowd roaring all the while. Finally he climbed a tall ladder to throw himself to his death. He leapt from the ladder and everyone screamed. But Grimaldi’s suspenders were caught and he was pulled back to the ladder. No circus crowd had ever laughed so loud.

And they say that that was the only night in his career that Grimaldi himself could not help but laugh. He laughed and laughed until the tears flowed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris - It's Lynn from Tatamogouche - I found the story sad as i have known people who have suffered melencholy and i think it could be one of the worst afflictions facing mankind - perhaps because it is so hard for the non suffers to understand and they either feel helpless or in their helplessness or lack of understanding they dismiss the suffer's affliction.
PS I don't really understand this blog stuff - I'm not that much of a techie but I miss our conversations and I was curious about your website so I've bee reading some of your thoughts.