Part Two


               ell phones were not common fifteen years ago, but I had one that I carried around in a nylon bag the size of a shoe box. Why I had one, or what happened to it since, I do not recall. The phone had an actual curly phone cord that attached to a base which could be charged through the cigarette lighter in any car. I do remember the phone bills being very high, so I only used it sparingly. I used it to dial Kathryn at home and work with no luck. I then called Ryan’s parents’ house. His mom picked up on the first ring.

“Mrs. Mailor, this is Mike. I am sorry to bother you, but I just had lunch with Ryan and I am a little concerned with him. He didn’t make any sense.” I was embarrassed to discuss this with Ryan’s mom, but I was sufficiently alarmed by his behavior that I felt I had to.

“Mike, I am so glad you called. We are beside ourselves with worry. Ryan stormed out of the house this morning hurtling insults at Robert and me. He was acting irrationally and…” Mrs. Mailor paused and let out a loud sob, “…he accused us of trying to kill him – we don’t know what to do.”

The fact that his parents were also worried made the situation more real. I was not imagining things nor was it a prank. Something was seriously wrong with my best friend.

“Have you spoken with Kathryn? Has she noticed any strange behavior?” I asked, adjusting the phone between my ear and shoulder as I turned on the car.

“Kathryn is here, dear. She is very upset. She says that Ryan has been speaking about killing himself… Would you mind coming over and talking with us? We spoke with a doctor and he said we needed to do something to get him in front of a psychologist, or a specialist, as soon as possible. Please?”

“Of course Mrs. Mailor, I’ll be right over in about ten minutes.” The Mailor’s home was nearby and I did not have to call into work to ask for the afternoon off – I was an unemployed aspiring writer at the time.

I hung up and my car in gear. My day was not going as planned.


“We spoke to our family doctor and to our lawyer. The law is clear – A court has to find him to be a danger to himself or others before he can be forced into observation. A warrant needs to be issued by the court for his apprehension.” Mr. Mailor spoke with a clinical detachment belied by his red-rimmed eyes and phlegm-distorted voice. “We need both of you to testify to the court. Our lawyer has arranged a hearing in two hours, and then we need you to get him to come over to your apartment, Kathryn. The police will then sere the warrant and take him into custody. They will bring him over for evaluation to the state hospital.”

Testify in court? Arrest him? State hospital? My mind reeled at the rapid turn of events.

“Do we know what is wrong with him?” I asked, shifting in my seat and grasping Kathryn’s hand.

“The doctors say it sounds like some sort of psychotic break. His paranoid ramblings… The accusations…” Mrs. Mailor did not finish her thought. She broke down and cried quietly, both her hands covering her face as she rocked back and forth.

I found myself being sworn in by a bailiff and taking the witness stand before long. My sense of time was disrupted by the emotional events that afternoon. I went where told as if in a dream, things happening to me without my full participation. It felt like I was detached from my body and was watching things happen to someone else.

Kathryn testified after I did, and when she was done the Judge called the bailiff over and ordered a warrant writ for Ryan’s arrest.

The police followed us over to Kathryn’s apartment while the Mailors drove to the state hospital with their lawyer and doctor. The cop car dropped us off and drove around the corner, where they were to wait for Ryan’s arrival.

Kathryn and Ryan’s apartment was a pied-a-terre in a brownstone on Canal Street. Ryan had moved in with Kathryn the previous month.

Kathryn called Ryan’s beeper service and sent a message asking him to come home. We did not know how long we would have to wait, so we sat on a couch facing the front window and held hands. Kathryn would sniffle or blow her nose every so often, but we didn’t speak to each other. There was nothing to say. I felt like I had just attended a funeral, except that I was still waiting for the corpse to show.

Ryan arrived two hours later and was arrested on the front steps. Kathryn and I stood at the open door and looked at him with fear. He looked back with unveiled pain of treason in his eyes. His girlfriend and best friend had betrayed him.


Ryan was found to be paranoid-psychofrenic and was remanded to the care of the hospital indefinitely.  Kathryn and I were present at the hospital when his parents received the news early the next morning.

I drove her home and slept on her couch till late morning. She spent most of her time on the phone, speaking to her parents and friends and once or twice to the Mailors. She bid me good-bye from her top steps.

As I drove away I could see her standing, small and still, a grimace of pain on her face.

Ryan committed suicide that same Saturday. Somehow, he had managed to hang himself with his bed-sheets. I did not attend his funeral.

This was twenty-five years ago. I still think of Ryan now and then, mostly when I write.

But today an article in the newspaper caught my attention. I don’t know why I read it. It was a review on the 25th anniversary edition of some movie, recently re-mastered and released in DVD.

After I read the article I hid in my closet. I am writing this into my Blackberry, and all the lights are out in my house. I have barricaded the closet door from the inside, but I can hear them out there looking for me. The article sits, torn and crumpled, next to me, and I read it every few minutes to make sure I am right:

Cult favorite released in DVD: “The Lifting of the Veil”, 25 years later.

By Oscar Thume

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