In the Beginning There was Light

They exile him in his own tower, maroon him up under the rafters but he carries on regardless. “Science!” he cries at night, his head and shoulders dangerously far out the windows, and laughs when the guard below comes running out of his tent and yells up at him to shut up. “Ha ha ha! Never!”

He’s really into the weather lately. Clear today, he writes in his antique hand, 54 degrees. Wind SSE. Dewpoint 45 degrees. He collects rainwater in long glass tubes and analyzes it as much as he can. They supply him with most of what he wants but still there are things that are verboten. “Sorry, that’s an incendiary,” says his keeper.

“You aren’t supposed to know that!” He stamps his feet and throws his arms around wildly and petulantly, a regular tantrum. His keeper waits until he grows red in the face and then wrestles him to the ground and puts a wallet between his teeth.

“You can come in now,” he says, and the young guard slips into the room. They think he can’t see them, but he can. He won’t remember it later — it’ll be lost in the revelation of the seizure — but he can see and hear everything perfectly. The young guard is looking at him sadly.

“What’s wrong with him?”

“Nothing that couldn’t be treated, if he’d let us. But he won’t; he won’t take his medicines and he won’t listen to the doctors.” His keeper spreads his hands. “So what can we do? You can’t force someone to take care of himself.”