Pilgrim State #4

Joseph Dougherty

Dear Dr. Henderson:

I trust this finds you well.

It’s hard to judge the timing for this sort of letter, but I think I have waited long enough and thought long enough and better late than never as the adage goes.

Simply put, I want to apologize for being so impatient with you.  And I apologize for the other things as well in so far as they are my fault.  I now understand why you think I belong here.  I understand what looks like madness to you.  It isn’t madness.  It is the terrible sense of betrayal I feel having been betrayed by those who I thought would never betray me.

What looks like madness to you, what probably looks like madness to any “reasonable” person, is the rage, the disappointment, the sorrow of finally coming to grips with the realization that what has been done to me has been done by design by people who, until recently, I would have entrusted with my living heart.  I don’t know why.  I may never know why, but I do know who.  And as terrible as that realization is, as awful as it made me feel, at least I can acknowledge the clarity it has brought me.  If I don’t embrace the clarity of it, then I might go mad for real.  And I so don’t want that.  Not now, not that understanding is so close.

I have been betrayed, Dr. Henderson.  Betrayed by people I never thought would betray me.  You have been betrayed as well.  Not by me.  But by them.  No, not betrayed.  Mislead.  You have been lied to and mislead and there’s no reason for you to not believe these people.  I believed them myself, so you had every reason to believe them.  And I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise.  That would make me look even more insane and I certainly wouldn’t want that.  I think that last part was almost a joke.  That would be healthy on my part, wouldn’t it?

Some day you’ll know the truth.  It’s probably more likely that you’ll know the truth than I ever will.  You see?  I do know how the cards are stacked against me.  That in itself should show you the reason that lives in my heart.  Reason that reaches out to you in spite of the unfortunate events of late which must paint me in an altogether unsympathetic light in your eyes.  

Again, to the extent I appear responsible for what happened to your young lady, I am truly sorry.

But, the real authors of what happened to her are the people who sent me here in the first place.  Ask them about the motives for this.  I haven’t a clue.  The crimes they have committed against me will only be uncovered if you take action.  And, frankly, based on your state of mind which I think I glimpsed on your face as I was leaving, I don’t imagine you will be taking any actions on my behalf any time in the near future.  But I have hope.  Hence this letter.  And, to be honest as only you and I can be honest with each other, I am not going anywhere.  And, Dr. Henderson, neither, I think, are you.

Time heels all wounds and I see a time in the future, the far future perhaps, some place beyond the horizon, where you and I can come together and make sense of what really happened and why and move on with our lives.

In the meantime, I urge you to take legal action against my family if you wish.  Such action will not have any affect on me for obvious reasons, but might serve in some small way to punish the people responsible for my being here and therefore truly responsible for what happened in the examining room.  It will serve them right.  I hope you do take action.  I will be satisfied if you do.  And if you do, then I will know you have heard the truth in this letter and taken action against those who have put me here.

I’m told the presence of a fountain pen in the examining room is forbidden on your order, so, really, the fact that the thing was there was neither your fault or mine.  We are the innocent victims here.  It’s pride that put that thing in my father’s pocket.  It was a slander that I could not allow to go unanswered.  It’s a shame those working under you do not take the time to follow your simple instructions.  Someone should have said something to him.  Someone should have told him to remove it.  Perhaps someone did and he refused and your staff was too afraid to do anything about it.  I know that feeling well.  But, alas, look at the bad feelings and unpleasantness caused by this single instance of craven cowardice on the part of your underlings.

I think we’ve all learned something valuable from this incident.  I know I have.  And the wise among us will incorporate that lesson into our future lives and actions.

See you soon.  

Arthur Pymm Nathanson


If you feel it appropriate, please pass along my most sincere felicitations to your good lady.

Joseph Dougherty is a writer living in California.


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