WALKER PERCY WEDNESDAY 54

percycovercroppea

Colley, I will admit, has not gone along with my idea of measuring and treating the deep perturbations of the soul. Unfortunately, there still persists in the medical profession the quaint superstition that only that which is visible is real. Thus the soul is not real. Uncaused terror cannot exist. Then, friend, how come you are shaking?

No matter, though. Later I was made a professor and didn’t need Colley’s help.

I have called my machine More’s Qualitative Quantitative Ontological Lapsometer.

. . .

Allow me to cite, in simplified terms, a couple of my early case histories.

Patient #1

One hot summer afternoon as I sat at my father’s old coroner’s desk by the open back door sipping Early Times, watching the flight patterns of the martins, and pondering the singularity of being forty-four years old, my nurse, whom I mainly employ to keep patients away, brought in a patient.

Nothing changes in a man, I was thinking. I felt exactly as I felt when I was ten years old. Only accidentals change. Hair begins to sprout from your ears, your toes rotate, showing more skin.

My nurse first put away the bottle. She is a beautiful though dour Georgia Presbyterian of the strict observance named Ellen Oglethorpe. Her eyes, blue as Lake Geneva, glittered in triumph as she stowed the Early Times and closed the door behind the patient. For she had, to her way of thinking, killed two birds with one stone. She was striking a blow at my drinking and at the same time delivering one of the “better sort” of patients, the sort who have money. She approves of money on religious grounds.