Based on what I know of neuroscience and behaviour, I’m tempted to diagnose my dad with an acquired brain injury (ABI). When he went over the handle bars of his bike and hit his head on the pavement, the blunt force might have resulted in the formation of a frontal lobe lesion. It took thirteen stitches to close the scalp laceration he received on impact, and the attending ER doctor told him that it was comparable to head injuries he had seen sustained in car accidents. Psychiatric disorders resulting from traumatic brain injury are well documented. For instance, frontal lobe lesions are directly related to behavioural changes, particularly those associated with reasoning and judgment, impulse control, and crises of identity. These changes can lead to isolation, which can generate anxiety and depression. Age is a factor as well. It plays a significant role in ABIs, because the human brain isn’t fully developed until the mid-twenties. Damage occurring before this age is far more likely to result in lasting developmental disabilities. My dad was under ten years old when he had his accident, so if he suffered a frontal lobe injury, chances are it will continue to affect him for the rest of his life.
Would a frontal lobe injury account for the appearance of Frank? Perhaps. However, it’s important to remember the difference between circumstantial and direct evidence. He appeared immediately after Quinn hit his head, but this sequence of events does not constitute proof beyond reasonable doubt.
Would a frontal lobe lesion, combined with a large dose of magic mushrooms, account for Quinn’s lengthy fireside discussion with Frank? Perhaps. But the answer to this question is more a function of your views on alternate realities, different dimensions, the supernatural, the paranormal etc.
It’s worth mentioning here that magic mushrooms are now being studied in clinical trials, and the results are game-changing. Psilocybin is effective for treating people with treatment-resistant depression, and even anxiety. A single dose has been shown to reboot the cognitive circuitry of the severely depressed, effectively curing them. What so many ancient cultures knew, is now being acknowledged in the laboratory.
I would like to address one final thing that was brought to my attention by my editor. When she read the sex scene between Quinn and Sam, she called me up and asked me if I was really prepared to put that kind of thing out into the world, considering I’m his daughter. This came as a surprise to me, because by the time I had written it I was emancipated, if you will, from the misgivings, the awkwardness, the ickiness that decorum devises for us and then punishes like mortal sin. Maybe that’s the reward of writing. You see, when I started this book I said to myself that I would tell the story of my dad’s “delving day”, as Bukowski would call it, without sanitizing any of the dirt of life. Hagiographies are bullshit. Besides, what if we all just need to ride that city bus, remember who we are, talk about death and freedom, do mushrooms in the forest, and get laid.
Maybe that’s the secret to life.
*Excerpt from Auctumnum: The Omnibus Edition of Taxicab to Wichita and Bus Back to Omaha.