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Five simple questions

Five simple questions can release the insane back into society. Do they walk amongst you?

My name is Dominic Melvyn, and I am a criminal psychologist. Today, I am at a criminal medical institution where of five patients I was scheduled to meet, I have seen three of them. All the inmates are, I suppose insane. They are in here for their own good, kept away from society as they pose a danger. I am helping in their reformation, pointing them in the right direction until they are able to walk amongst the public as one of them. I have been coming here for four years, and I know my patients well. I think I am doing quite well for them, as they seem to like me enough to tell me what I ask, and I cannot ask for more than that. 

Of my five patients, it is down to them whether or not they take my advice. My next patient, who is due through the door at any minute now, is Conrad Holbrook, who cut up his best friend and cooked him. After tasting him, he found him to taste so nice that he decided he had to let others know of this delicacy, and outside, in a crowded shopping centre, he tried to sell pieces of the meat to passers-by. Is that insane? I would say that it probably is, but you see, I use the word probably with good reason, because who is to say who is insane? And who judges our actions and deems them to be worthy of removal from society? 

See, I am a psychologist who does not follow regular standards. I make my own methods of treatment as I see fit. Following conventional rules and procedures is not part of my strategy. I have concocted five simple questions of which I can ask that give me a good resume of the person. Even though I already know a lot about them, these questions can cut right into their psyche, and based on their answers, I will deem them fit for society, or not. Of the patients I have seen so far, I ticked the box that meant they are ready to leave this place and walk back into civilisation. Ah, I see the door has opened. 

Conrad, who was five years older than Dominic walked into the small office and sat facing him. He folded his arms and had the expression of being taken away from something he had been enjoying. He wore a food-stained T-shirt, had a bald head, and bore irregular tattoos, as though he’d been doodling on himself.

“Right,” said Dominic, “I have developed a new technique in the form of five questions which will deem whether or not you are fit to join society”. 

“Really?” asked Conrad. “You’ll let me go?”

Dominic nodded.

“Right, well fire away”.

“First question. What could somebody do that would make you very happy?”

“Let me out of this dump,” said Conrad.

Dominic nodded and wrote it on a notepad.

“Question two. What can you not leave home without?”

“This is my home, and if you let me go, I’d like to take the knife I always use at mealtimes. I’ve become quite attached to that.”

“Very well, it’s yours, if I let you walk out of here. Question three. How would your mother describe you?” Conrad frowned.

“My mother’s dead, she died six years ago, she couldn’t describe me at all. What sort of question’s that?”

Dominic was quiet for a few seconds, deciding what to write down. He wrote something, then looked up at Conrad. “Question four. If you could be the best at anything in the world, what would it be?”

“Cooking. I don’t get much chance to practice in here.”

“Question five. What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told?”

“Biggest lie? Er… well, surely I would lie now wouldn’t I if I was to give an answer to that, a lie such as, 'I’m really happy to be locked away in here, I wish I could stay much longer'. There, that’s the biggest lie I’ve ever told”.

Dominic simply nodded and scribbled something down on his paper. After a few moments, he looked up and said, “You’re free to go.” 

Conrad jumped to his feet, a beaming smile on his face. “Really? Seriously? Fantastic.” He shook hands with Dominic, then turned and left.

There, that went alright I think, Dominic thought. I have asked the same questions to them all, and now they should all be out there, amongst the public, back where they belong. My next patient is Lee Talbot. Apparently he’s mentally damaged because one day, in a train station, waiting to travel to London, he was sitting reading a newspaper when a student on a gap year passed by and looked at him in a curious way. That was all he did, and Lee, who was carrying a steak knife at the time, because of his paranoia, got up, threw his paper down, took out his knife and ran at the student, slashing his throat and stabbing him six times. He then proceeded to stab the offending eyes, so he could no longer see him look at him that way again. 

The door opened, and in he walked, sitting down opposite, with a dark yellow dressing gown and a vacant stare, not really seeing me at all.

“Lee,” I said, “I’ve got five questions.” Lee nodded and looked directly at me.

“It’s over,” he said, “I’m not playing your game anymore. Look at me, I look ridiculous in this stupid gown. I want my identity back, Lee.” 

I sighed, and sat back in the comfy leather chair in a sulk. It was nice to play at role reversal for a while, inventing my own rules, and releasing my friends, who, I don’t think will be too happy at finding out that they have to stay, but still, they’ll get over it. 

“Can I have my suit back?” Dominic asked, standing up. 

“No,” said Lee, “I want to wear it for a bit longer.”

“Right well move then,” said Dominic, moving around the desk. They swapped seats, and Dominic opened a drawer in the right side of the desk and took out a file, which he opened, removing a sheet of paper.

“You’ve shown initiative today, Lee,” he said, “and a vast improvement in your behaviour. You are now free to go back into society.”


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