A Glimmer of the Oracle
B. A. Ramsey
A Glimmer of the Oracle
The hallway leading to the office of the Hospital Psychiatric Clinic of the Vicora Metropolitan Hospital (VMH) where Dr. Glimmer MD F.R.C.P. Dip. of Psychology practices is one of three which are long and slightly bent. Every week Frederick, Dr. Glimmer's newest patient, enters the office belonging to Dr. Glimmer at the furthest end of the hallway, away from the quiet area near the elevators. Here he confides in Dr. Glimmer and attempts to find his breakthrough. When Dr. Glimmer says the appointment time has elapsed, Frederick paces back along the hallway and takes one of the four elevators to the Hospital Lobby. After walking through the Hospital Lobby, Frederick exits the sliding glass doors into either good or more often very bad weather, which represents to Frederick the way he is feeling about himself. In each appointment with Dr. Glimmer, Frederick attempts to put his complaint into intelligent meaning, become introspective, and takes sound medical advice; for this should be, Frederick supposes, the surest way to collect more clues about his condition, examine the evidence, and solve the mystery that is the cause of his symptoms.
Today it is storming. Frederick is upset that he cannot make felt the importance of his own words. He believes Dr. Glimmer should take more interest in his complaint. Moreover, could Dr. Glimmer know something about (and he should know something about) the uncomfortable preoccupation that Frederick's condition has ‘fortune-told’, then Dr. Glimmer would not be so quick to dismiss Frederick's complaint. If only Frederick could tell Dr. Glimmer something which might hold the interest of psychiatry for more thought than a moment's worth, Frederick's complaint might receive the attention it is due to have. Should it not, the nerve of Dr. Glimmer!
It is an indefatigable mystery, as Frederick walks into the Hospital Lobby dripping wet, over which Frederick broods.
"Did you ever," Frederick rushed, "In moments when you were a child - I say a child, Dr. Glimmer, because I was a child when it happened - though I suppose it could happen anytime in life."
Dr. Glimmer seemed slightly tired, making some notes while he nodded. "Yes," he said. "Please continue."
Frederick tried to complete his thought but he was feeling that what he was trying to describe begged description.
"Do you know what an Oracle is?" asked Frederick, gloomily.
"Yes." said Dr. Glimmer.
Frederick thought for another moment and then gave into his preoccupation.
"Well, when I was a child an Oracle told me." said Frederick, dreamily.
Dr. Glimmer smiled.
"Do you mean you have had a revelation?" he asked.
"No, it is more general than that," said Frederick. "Though, it has been like a revelation to me. Somebody has predicted my future, and these days, in particular, I find that what my Oracle predicted has come true to me."
"Do you mean a fortune-teller predicted your future?" asked Dr. Glimmer, attempting to clarify in his notes what or whom Frederick was trying to speak about.
"No, they were somebody I knew." said Frederick quietly.
Dr. Glimmer felt that it was not good medicine to make Frederick feel unduly abnormal or awkward about his complaint at this particular juncture of the appointment and so Dr. Glimmer remarked, "That future events can be described in certain mental states is uncommon, but for their funny insight into obscure and otherwise unknown phenomena, many so-called psychic people are employed."
"Yes," said Frederick, somewhat annoyed for he felt Dr. Glimmer was being patronizing. "But I remember my Oracle. When something happens I begin to see that it was supposed to happen, and that it was told to me in the past by an Oracle."
"Are you experiencing déjà vu?" Dr. Glimmer asked.
Frederick bit his tongue.
"It has been a little like déjà vu and a preoccupation." winced Frederick. "But it was someone who told me what will happen."
"Somebody, told you what?" asked Dr. Glimmer, watching Frederick's troubled expression.
"Now see here!" exclaimed Frederick with a painful look in his eyes.
"And you realize that somebody told you after something happens," began Dr. Glimmer.
"Yes, before." Frederick interrupted. "I realize I was told before, after it happens."
Dr. Glimmer turned his eyes to the far right, and then he turned his eyes to the far left, so that they were narrow slits. "Can you give me a concrete example, Frederick? he asked.
"Well," said Frederick. "I remembered after it happened that my Oracle said I would become engaged to my fiancée."
"I see, yes." said Dr. Glimmer, who was in relief of two things. First, that Frederick had not bitten through his tongue and second that Frederick could provide a concrete example about his complaint.
"But, its more!" exclaimed Frederick.
"Yes!" exclaimed Dr. Glimmer.
"I was told I was going to tell you all of this." said Frederick.
"I see!" exclaimed Dr. Glimmer, amazed by his patient.
He then continued with another question.
"Does your Oracle know you well or was he or she an acquaintance of yours?"
"I'm not sure what to think." said Frederick. "It was so long ago, and I hardly remember who my people were in those days."
"Do you think your Oracle was somebody who could tell you of general things that they could surmise from the person you would become?" Dr. Glimmer asked. "Do you think, for instance, this?”
Then Dr. Glimmer asked what could have been a rhetorical question.
"Can somebody predict today that you will soon be married from the recent course of events your life has taken?"
"I know what you mean - but I was a child," said Frederick. "How could they know?"
"Most bachelors become engaged at some point in their lives, Frederick." Dr. Glimmer pointed out. "Don't many boys grow up to be married men?"
"But for me to be here telling you all of this!"
Frederick was dismayed. He felt that this was going nowhere, and his complaint was not receiving the amount of consideration that Dr. Glimmer should give of himself.
“A Glimmer of the Oracle,” Dr. Glimmer wondered.
"If it is that obvious, that would imply a deception." Frederick asserted. "Why would my Oracle make it so dramatic? I mean, why go to all the trouble of saying such-and-such will definitely happen to me, instead of such-and-such will probably happen to me? To pretend to tell my future, by predicting merely what would most likely occur anyway is effectively a deception, Dr. Glimmer. And I most sure of this -"
Frederick raised his voice. "My Oracle does not deceive me!”
Florence was entranced with Frederick’s poetry, and Frederick was careful not to disturb her. He closed the door of his apartment quietly behind himself as he entered.
"Hello, my love!" said Florence from the desk at which she sat. "Did you have a good appointment?"
"I don't want to talk about it," said Frederick, sulking.
He looked at the neatly folded paper by his old-fashioned typewriter.
"Is it a poem?" he asked Florence.
"It is a love poem to me." answered Florence.
"One of mine?" asked Frederick, hopefully.
"Maybe," Florence teased.
"What?” objected Frederick. “Maybe!”
He reached for the poem, but Florence would not let him. Frederick said that should the poem not be written by him but by another man, he would consider his honor at stake and fight for her. He stated that if he could not have her, he would kill her in a fit of passion so that no other man might.
"Then fight for me!" Florence playfully rejoined, holding the poem away from his grasp. "If you want me don't say another word, just make me give in."
Frederick pulled Florence toward himself and began to kiss her. Distracted by the lovemaking, Florence crumpled up the poem, let it roll out of her hand, and fall.
Afterwards, Frederick thought he could fib to Dr. Glimmer.
The following week Frederick thought he would fib to Dr. Glimmer and should he fib he might earn a chance to see Dr. Glimmer's better nature. "Then perhaps," thought Frederick to himself. "I would earn his proper consideration, after all."
He waited for an opportunity to fib and it came when Dr. Glimmer asked the question, "About the time of our last appointment, Frederick, when you were telling me about your Oracle, do you have the time today to reflect on what we were talking about then?"
"I have remembered something that I did not tell you last week." chimed in Frederick.
"Oh, and what is that?" asked Dr. Glimmer.
"My Oracle told me that at some point I would murder somebody," fibbed Frederick.
Dr. Glimmer looked concerned. He said, "Did your Oracle say who you would murder or have you murdered somebody already?"
Frederick was astonished. "I haven't!" exclaimed Frederick.
"When will this murder take place?" asked Dr. Glimmer.
"It won't!" objected Frederick.
"Why not?" asked Dr. Glimmer.
Frederick was infuriated and repeated Dr. Glimmer's question, "Why not?" Frederick looked to the left and right of himself, trying to guess what Dr. Glimmer could be thinking. He began to feel the harm of fibbing and then he was thrilling, "I was told that it would be my fiancée," Frederick thrilled. "That I would discover a love poem written to Florence by another man, and then out of jealousy I would kill her!"
Dr. Glimmer stopped taking notes.
"There," Frederick hoped. "That might do it."
"You write poetry, don’t you Frederick?" asked Dr. Glimmer.
Frederick was beside himself.
"Yes," he answered.
“Florence likes your poetry, doesn’t she?” said Dr. Glimmer.
“Yes,” answered Frederick. "But I hardly see what that has to do with anything."
“Only that both you and Florence are interested in poetry,” Dr. Glimmer replied.
He thought for a moment and then continued.
"Frederick, I don’t think you have an Oracle, I think you have a delusion.”
"What do you mean?" asked Frederick.
Dr. Glimmer resumed taking notes.
"For some reason you are imagining an Oracle to be commonplace, when there haven’t been Oracles since ancient times." said Dr. Glimmer.
"Oh, Doctor?" asked Frederick. "Is it a cause for your concern?"
"Yes." answered Dr. Glimmer.
"Do you mean," asked Frederick, "If I should kill my fiancée in a fit of jealous rage you would be concerned?"
"More so, then," Dr. Glimmer said abruptly. "Frederick, I need to see you, tomorrow."
Frederick felt his fib the more so, then. "I would be concerned by that, too." Frederick stated.
"I know," said Dr. Glimmer. "But we need to discuss our important concern." And he stressed, "Tomorrow."
Frederick was almost overcome. "Do you mean my Oracle in the first place?" sobbed Frederick.
"No, Frederick." answered Dr. Glimmer. “Your delusion.”
Frederick walked out of the hospital clinic that day with a new sensation. In light of the consideration Dr. Glimmer showed to him, Frederick realized that Dr. Glimmer indeed has a better nature. And now Frederick questioned his former consideration of Dr. Glimmer; for, apart from the lie Frederick had to tell him in order for it to appear, Dr. Glimmer's better nature was prevalent. Frederick's better nature, and not Dr. Glimmer’s better nature, was the doubt. Frederick was angry with himself because there was something lacking in his own better nature. He thought of Florence, his fiancée, whom he would one day marry. Florence would be his wife; however, he had told a lie about her. Then Frederick thought, "I shall show my better nature and never fib to Dr. Glimmer again, because I don’t like that my fibbing makes me consider that I might not have a better nature to begin with.”
Frederick walked quickly through the Hospital Lobby and out the sliding glass doors. The weather was clear; and after all, it was how Frederick was beginning to feel.
Florence was entranced in Frederick’s poetry again. Frederick did not wait for her to say hello. He rushed behind her and began kissing her neck. Florence taken from her reading, rolled from her chair, and fell to the floor. Frederick and Florence lay there together and made love.
Afterwards, Frederick felt like a new man.
The following day Frederick was resolved to show his own better nature to Dr. Glimmer, but he was immediately stopped when Dr. Glimmer made the remark, "Frederick, with your permission, I would like Florence to attend our next appointment."
"Why?" asked Frederick, nervously.
"I am concerned by what you have been telling me about your Oracle." said Dr. Glimmer.
Frederick felt guilty because Dr. Glimmer had made himself more considerate.
"Will you bring Florence here with you tomorrow?" asked Dr. Glimmer.
"Certainly not," Frederick replied. "That which we discuss in our appointments is private and should not go out beyond this office. I won't ask Florence to come."
"Will you think about it?" Dr. Glimmer asked.
"Dr. Glimmer, I don't need any more appointments. See Doctor, the truth of the matter is, I told a half-truth about my Oracle," stated Frederick with an effort to show his own better nature. "It's not a lie that I have an Oracle, but it's not true that I was told I was going to murder my fiancée. I told that half-truth because I didn't think you were listening to me half of the time or taking me seriously. I apologize. I meant no harm by it.”
Dr. Glimmer seemed surprised.
"Funny," Dr. Glimmer remarked. "To speak about the woman with whom you are engaged, as if you might murder her, she being who you must cherish your whole life, seems peculiar."
Frederick felt slighted by Dr. Glimmer's remark.
"I assure you, Dr. Glimmer, Florence is in no danger. It's just that," explained Frederick, "I've remembered my Oracle for the better part of my life and it is troubling to me."
"Yes." said Dr. Glimmer. "But will you bring Florence here with you next time?"
"Dr. Glimmer, I will think about it." stated Frederick.
"Good, Frederick." said Dr. Glimmer. "Because, Frederick, I do take your complaint seriously.”
How could Frederick let Florence come to any appointment? Florence would think Frederick was horrible for telling such a dreadful lie about her. No, it would be best to make some excuse, or his engagement would be off. Dr. Glimmer had told Frederick he would telephone, to inquire again, whether or not Florence could attend the next day’s appointment with Frederick, but Frederick knew that should Florence be allowed to attend any appointment, she would only be beside herself. Then Frederick thought he never could set foot in Dr. Glimmer's office again.
It was a bright, sunny afternoon, but Frederick was troubled by how he was feeling.
Florence was in a towel when Frederick came home. Florence was getting ready to dine out that evening with Frederick. Frederick thought he would like to make love to Florence, but he was perturbed by the narrow escape he made in flight of Dr. Glimmer that afternoon. Dr. Glimmer might call, but should he do so, Frederick would try to have an excuse for him. While Florence was changing, Frederick sat at his desk and began to write a poem.
Frederick always took naturally to writing poetry. Although at present unknown, Frederick thought that with his talent and expression, that his poems might one day become famous. Frederick sat at his old fashioned typewriter for what seemed a long time. While he was typing, Frederick's foot chanced to knock something that was lying on the floor. He bent down to find it was a crumpled poem. It was the same leaf that Florence crumpled up, let roll out of her hand, and fall in her lovemaking with Frederick a week ago, and it must have lain beneath the desk since then. Frederick straightened out the poem and began to read:
It is a love poem, reads Frederick,
Addressed to Florence by another man,
And the poetry is destructive.
The man chides Florence for Frederick.
His insignia remains:
Leave Frederick for me, Florence.
Florence wrapped in a gown enters the room where Frederick is entranced by the poem.
"It is a love poem to you, Florence." says Frederick.
"Frederick, it's wonderful!" exclaims Florence.
"I'll kill you!" exclaims Frederick.
"You would fight for your honor?" teases Florence.
"I'll kill you and then I'll kill him!" yells Frederick.
"Make me give in then, Frederick." says Florence, removing her wrap.
Frederick is ferocious. Frederick knocks Florence to the floor and covers her mouth with his hand so that she can not scream for help. For only one moment longer Frederick is himself; and Florence, overcome by Frederick's expression, makes giggling and gurgling sounds. Frederick would kill Florence, but not knowing the reality of Frederick's anger, Florence begins to kiss Frederick's hand playfully.
In the next moment Frederick snaps Florence’s head back; hitting, with great force, the bottom drawer of her desk. Florence's head is bleeding, the desk begins to collapse, and Frederick's old-fashioned typewriter comes crashing down to join in the bludgeoning. Florence dies; and, the bloody floor on which her body lies dead resembles a large inkblot test.
Frederick stands up and studies the floor. While he does so, he frantically tries to remember if any of this has been foretold by his Oracle. Frederick picks up the poem that has been the cause of his murderous anger, and upon careful examination of the poem, it occurs to Frederick that there is definitely something familiar about the style in which it is written. After another moment of consideration, Frederick remembers that his Oracle did in fact tell him that he would discover just such a poem one day.
“I must have fibbed to Dr. Glimmer,” thinks Frederick to himself. “Because I have a suppresed memory of what my Oracle said would happen. And by seeing this terrible leaf and murdering Florence, I’ve jogged my memory.”
"What now?" asks Frederick aloud to himself.
The telephone rings, and Frederick instinctively answers.
It is Dr. Glimmer wanting to persuade Frederick to make an appointment with him tomorrow, without Florence if he wishes.
"Is everything okay?" asks Dr. Glimmer.
"Yes, everything is fine," says Frederick, closing his eyes, "What do you mean by that?"
"Is Florence okay? I am concerned for you both; and your Oracle." says Dr. Glimmer.
Breathlessly Frederick speaks up and into the telephone receiver. "Dr. Glimmer, my Oracle has rectified my knowledge."
"Frederick, let me speak to Florence,”
Dr. Glimmer's better nature searches over the telephone.
But Frederick places the telephone receiver down. "My own nature will do." says Frederick to himself, and he walks out of his apartment into the dark night.
Dr. Glimmer placed down the receiver of his telephone and collected his thoughts.
"Florence cheating on Frederick is untrue," Dr. Glimmer gathered. "But I'll bet she's not thrilled about her upcoming marriage to Frederick, either."
Dr. Glimmer was hung-up.
"Oracle, indeed!" Dr. Glimmer complained. "I telephoned Frederick just like I said I would and I have an idea what has happened!"
Dr. Glimmer telephoned the Police and Ambulance.
"Hello, Police and Ambulance!”
"Police and Ambulance, please hurry!"
Dr. Glimmer was sitting at his desk in his office thinking of Frederick and Florence. He could not see how he could have prevented a murder, and he was certain Florence hadn't cheated on Frederick with another man when he was examined by the Homicide Detective.
"So they were common-law?" the Homicide Detective demanded.
"They were engaged to be married," replied Dr. Glimmer. "And had been cohabiting for some time."
"Did your patient ever think his fiancée was cheating on him with another man, Doctor?” demanded the Homicide Detective.
"Yes, some wild story, Detective," Dr. Glimmer replied. "But what evidence have you?"
"A poem found on the scene written by a man to the murder victim." pronounced the Homicide Detective.
"Another man!" exclaimed Dr. Glimmer. "Can you be certain?"
"A wild story, eh Doctor?" the Homicide Detective whistled.
"Yes please." Dr. Glimmer asserted. "Or license."
The Homicide Detective seemed to warm up. "Not your own license, eh Doctor?"
"Not yet, Detective," Dr. Glimmer remarked. "But you haven't got my crystal ball."
"Well, Doctor!" the Homicide Detective yelled. "I’m looking into mine. And do you know what I see? One murder and one mysterious disappearance! What do you see?”
"I’ve a Glimmer of it, Detective," said Dr. Glimmer. "But I know some vision you lack."
"What's that?" the Homicide Detective fumed.
"Frederick was a poet," said Dr. Glimmer. "And where there is poetry there is also poetic license."
The Homicide Detective thought it out. "Well, it's either Florence’s poem or the other man's, Doctor."
More like Frederick's poem to begin with," said Dr. Glimmer. "Frederick's poem and the license he takes with his poetry."
"His poem!” the Homicide Detective boiled. “How?”
Dr. Glimmer handed the Homicide Detective his Case File. "Try my crystal ball, Detective. You might see that Frederick wears the laurel wreath and takes inspiration from a deadly muse in a case I call A Glimmer of the Oracle."
"Somewhat of a poet yourself, eh, Dr. Glimmer?" the Homicide Detective roared.
The Homicide Detective looked at the Case File he had just been handed, and began to read about Frederick’s Oracle.
"So he had an Oracle?" asked the Homicide Detective.
"If Frederick was without an Oracle," Dr. Glimmer speculated. "Then Frederick might have merely been a nervous groom with a knack for poetry. Then thumb back and slightly over his shoulder, slowly lowering his fist, Dr. Glimmer concluded. "It seems to me that the poetry found on the murder scene should be critiqued as evidence, and I think that Frederick is guilty of at least one murder.”
“Florence was definitely a subject in the poetry found on the scene,” the Homicide Detective confirmed. “But what do you mean Frederick is guilty of at least one murder?”
"I've only a Glimmer of it, Detective," said Dr. Glimmer. "Frederick's complaint was that he was told by an Oracle, and it is possible that as many women that Frederick immortalized in his poems while being inspired by his deadly muse, could be the same number of women Frederick has murdered."
“And just what is an Oracle?" demanded the Homicide Detective.
"In ancient times, the medium through which a deity made known his will." replied Dr. Glimmer.
With that the Homicide Detective slammed Dr. Glimmer's Case File down and continued his case.