Imagination Station

I want to make an appointment with a surgeon. I need to find one who will do a lobotomy, no questions asked. Cash only. No record of the patient’s name, address, gender, race, hair color, eye color. Nothing. Just a quick operation and, Presto! I’m a new man.

A Portuguese neurologist named Egas Moniz performed the first brain surgery to treat mental illness, in 1935. The surgical procedure, which Moniz called a “leucotomy,” involved drilling holes in the patient’s skull to get to the brain. Eleven years later, Walter Freeman, a psychiatrist, performed the first “ice pick” lobotomy in his office in Washington, DC.  But for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years before that, humans have used trepans, tools that cut shallow circular holes, to drill holes in the skull to release evil spirits. I don’t know which process is most likely to give me the results I want: Serenity that’s unavailable to people overcome with evil spirits or who have tightly knotted balls of razor-sharp barbed wire in their heads. A lobotomy severs the connections between the frontal lobes and the rest of the brain; something so simple it could be performed by children on their stressed parents in the comfort of their own homes.

Why, you may ask, am I expressing a need to make an appointment for a lobotomy? A more appropriate question might be, “Why not?” What valid and persuasive reasons might I have for NOT arranging for the procedure? Sure, the results might not be as I wish. And I might not survive the process. And the aftermath could leave me incapable of managing my own daily life. There could be hundreds of reasons to skip the procedure, opting for something else, instead.

Something a little more adventurous, like replacing my legs with newer, stronger, more attractive models. The legs of a 25-year-old marathon runner might do, as long as his knees and ankles and so forth have not been permanently damaged by the repeated poundings they took during the man’s ten year career as a professional marathon runner. As I see it, the biggest stumbling block would not be the removal of my legs and their painstaking replacement. The key obstacle is likely getting the runner’s consent. Why would he be willing to have his legs severed and exchanged with mine? I have doubts he would go for it. Money could enter the equation, but how much are two marathon-quality legs worth? And would the man be willing to exchange a lifetime of sprint-worthy mobility for, at best, hobbling around on geezer feet, simply to accumulate money? Even if he were motivated by money, where would I get it?

Inasmuch as he almost certainly will refuse to accept checks, I’ll have to gather plenty of cash. The only places that keep that much within easy reach, I think, are banks. So, I’ll have to rob a bank. A big bank awash in super rich clients who eschew credit and debit cards in favor of pulling out rolls of hundred-dollar-bills to pay for packs of gum and toothpicks. Banks that cater to the cash-loving über rich will have to be my targets. Once I’ve identified them, I’ll case the places; camera locations, security guards, ease of ingress and egress, etc. And I’ll need a disguise; I’ll want to look much taller and thinner than I am. I’ll want to walk in with blue eyes, cherry red hair, with a beard and mustache covering most of my face. And a black fedora. And I’ll wear a sky-blue leisure suit. The reason for the leisure suit is that…oh, I’m not allowed to say.

The box into which I will instruct the tellers to place the stacks of bills will measure 22 inches by 32 inches by 38 inches tall. That box should accommodate roughly $16,800,000 in $100 bills, the only denomination I will accept. Half of that will go to the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and the rest will go into my bank accounts.

From the moment I walk in the bank to the instant the full box is in my possession, I will be deadly serious and threatening. But when the money is in my possession, I will transform from a dramatically pudgy lump of White shortness into a tall, gregarious Black man with six-pack abs and skin as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

Using my new identity, I will say to the tellers, “Thank you for your professionalism and grace in the face of severe stress. I will repay you soon for your efforts to make this engagement as flawless and possible.”

But things could go horribly awry. One of the tellers, a forty-four year old recently divorced childless woman named Michelle will have pushed the emergency call button immediately after I made my demands. Four police cars, their sirens blaring, will screech to a stop in front of the bank just as I will make my way to the front, carrying my box full of $100 bills.

When I see the police, I will shout out loud, “Oh, no! Someone called the police! You’ll be sorry. Half of my take was to go to the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. But you were more protective of the damn bank than you are of children in need! I will remember this!”

Michelle will look at me and mouth the words, “I’m sorry,” but it will be too late. I already will have decided she must have been the one to press the emergency button. So I turned toward her, pointed my gun, and pulled the trigger. Michelle went down in less than an instant. I had envisioned a life with her. But she ruined it with her finger and her admission of betrayal.


I’ve fallen asleep at the computer half a dozen times. I think I’ve contracted narcolepsy, perhaps from Bob, the dog. I’ve been sleeping quite lightly of late, trying to listen for Bob’s paw-steps while dozing. That act keeps me tired most of the time. The other time I’m tired for other reasons.

I’ve noticed that I twitch when I sleep upright in a desk chair. The twitch is not constant; in fact, it’s rare, but when I twitch the movement awakens me. It’s the same twitch I notice in Bob, the dog. But his twitches are followed by whimpering howls and legs moving as if he is running. I do not run, though I used to. Now, I tend to hobble. That is, I walk lamely, with a limp. Of sorts. Maybe it’s not a limp. It could be that I shuffle or stagger or stumble. Whatever it is, it does not resemble a run in any way, shape, manner, or form.  Why am I writing about twitching in desk chairs? Could I not find something more engaging? More interesting? More relevant to something…anything? Is it sloth-induced boredom? Do I need something to change my mind the way I change my shirts?

I’m in the mood for something completely different. Taking powerful mood altering drugs or special hallucination-inducing fungus or engaging in intimate relationships with married or divorced or single women. Actually, I might not take the drugs or eat the mushrooms; not without competent medical experts at the ready by my side. How strange would it be to hallucinate that a large tabby cat was morphing into an ambulance while doctors that looked like enormous crows stood by patiently, blood-drenched scalpels in hand? That would scare me. I am terrified of being scared. I get nervous and frightened and deeply apprehensive whenever I am scared. For that reason, alone, I probably would avoid the powerful mood-altering or hallucination-inducing options.


All I’ve had for sustenance thus far today was a six- or eight-ounce glass of tomato juice, flavored with Worchestershire Sauce and Tabasco Sauce. I should have added some lemon juice from a fresh lemon, but lacking a fresh lemon I did not add lemon juice. So I made something like an incomplete Virgin Mary. The Incomplete Virgin sounds like a book title, doesn’t it? Sometimes the title can spawn a book. Other times, it takes a completed book to spawn a title. Life is like that, isn’t it? Sometimes a person has to die for his life to have meaning. Other times, a person has to live for his death to have meaning. The philosophy in those statements is crawling with fleas, courtesy of Bob, the dog. I sincerely hope Bob does not have fleas; because, if he has fleas, I have fleas. He likes to rest his head in my lap while I watch television. Bob and his sleeping habits and possible flea infestation has nothing whatsoever to do with an Incomplete Virgin Mary. For that reason, I recommend un-reading the part of this paragraph that has anything to do with Bob. That’s the only way you’ll be able to leave this post, untainted.


If I weren’t so damn introverted in the public arena, I might get into acting. No one who has not spent time as my wife would know that I am an actor from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed at night. But especially early in the day. The “real” me is evident during the entire period, but the characters I portray are in full form when no one who has not spent time as my wife is present. I sing, I attempt to dance, I alter my voice and my facial appearance…at least to the extent I can with my face muscles and tendons that come to my aid. I’m relatively sure a candid early-morning video of me would reveal enough doubt about my stability to justify an attempt to have me committed to a mental hospital. On the other hand, an actors’ agent with sufficient wherewithal to “sniff out” hidden talent might look at the video and insist on signing me on as a client

He would say, “Either this man is a genius or an imbecile. If the former, he can make us both rich. If the latter, he can make me rich.  Either way, it’s a win.”


As I sit here, nodding off occasionally, the clock reads 12:38 pm. I have spent the morning whiling away the hours by taking Bob for a walk, having a conversation with my sister-in-law, and speaking to the woman from the Animal Welfare League. They’re going to try send Bob to Connecticut if the agency in Connecticut will take him. Apparently, bigger dogs have an easier time of getting adopted in Connecticut. We’ll see.

I’ve felt enormous highs and deep lows during the past week. While is beyond my comprehension. What I feel like now is a meal. Something to eat. There’s plenty to eat in the house; just nothing that I have is sufficiently interesting to me to warrant using it as a prime ingredient. Oh, well.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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