From the 1984 Amherst Review, David Wallace’s Planet Trillaphon trimmed and switched to 3rd person attempt now.
A boy had a hallucination that there was a deep hole in his face and he tried to sew it and was brought to a hospital but it got infected and had to be opened and drained, leaving a real scar.
Instead of starting at Brown University he spent a year at a prep school in his hometown and developed neuroses “all over the inside of my brain like wrinkly gray boils,” causing him to vomit and cry and he began smoking marijuana to alleviate the symptoms. He began hearing a humming noise and covered it up with loud radio and tv. He did summer groundskeeping for a boss that kept repeating a dirty joke and he told him that the facial scar was from a knife-fight in high school.
In college his roommate moved out and his symptoms worsened, which he calls “the Bad Thing.” At the holidays he tried to electrocute himself by pulling appliances into a bathtu. The hospital sent him to a psychiatric ward and he was put on antidepressant Tofranil, which he says is like being on a Planet Trillaphon because it makes a trill, high noise and he feels like he’s in a far away electrical atmosphere. It makes him feel tired and sleepy and he hopes to be able to get back to normal soon. A girl he’d met on the psychiatric ward was killed in a car accident 10 days ago. He says that “Being far away sort of helps with respect to the Bad Thing. Except that is just highly silly when you think about what I said before concerning the fact that the Bad Thing is really”
[- paragraph 12, yourself]
3- I had a hallucination that there was a wound on my cheek, the skin split open. blood seeping out, bits of yellow cheek-flesh, veins, muscle and bone visible. I’d see blood and bits of tissue on my fingers, would look in a mirror and see the wound. It seemed like everyone stared and I’d think they were getting sick from it but when I’d say, “Look at this open wound on my face, I’d better go to the hospital,” they’d say, “There’s no wound on your face. Are your eyes OK?”
I tried to sew it up. Mom and Dad found me all bloody and took me to the hospital, but it got infected and then they had to make a real wound to drain and clean it. I’d destroyed some nerves so sometimes my face gets numb and my mouth sags a bit, and I’ve got a real scar others can see too.
4- We deferred my starting at Brown University and I went to Phillips Exeter Academy here in town for a year. Neuroses popped up all over the inside of my brain like wrinkly gray boils. It was like there was a tube from my brain to stomach with a switch that flicked on at any time to make me throw up, and one between my brain and eyes so I’d cry for no reason. A scary high, spangly hum started it so I covered it up by keeping my Walkman on, watching loud television or talking to myself.
7- I pruned bushes for Exeter’s Building and Grounds Department, throwing up and crying into them. My boss, Mr. Film, had a riddle; “What’s the color of bowel movement? Brown! har har har!” I’d smile because Mr. Film was on the whole nice, and he didn’t get mad when I threw up in his truck once. I told him my scar was from getting cut up with a knife in high school, which was essentially the truth.
8- At Brown I was still weird. My roommate moved out and then the Bad Thing started. The Bad Thing is like your whole body is sick to its stomach, boiling like maggots in your brain, every proton, neutron and electron in every atom in every cell in your body unlivably swollen and throbbing, quarks and neutrinos bouncing all over the place, swirling with mottled yellow and purple poison gases, everything off balance and woozy, your very essence sickness, you and the sickness are one. 11- The world comes at you through that filter of sickness and becomes bad, all the good goes out of the world. There’s nothing but rotten smells, grotesque and lurid sights, raucous or deadly-sad sounds, stupid, hopeless ideas, intolerable situations on a continuum with no end. You’re scared it might never go away, the fear is filtered through the disease and becomes bigger, worse, hungrier, it tears you open and attacks your defense mechanisms, gives you agonizing paralysis you aren’t able to do anything about, you can’t run for help, your throat burns but you can’t call out for help. It dawns on you that the Bad Thing is able to do this because you are the Bad Thing, the Bad Thing is you, you are the sickness. The way to fight it is to think differently but you need your mind to do that and that’s what the Bad Thing has made sick. Just thinking about the Bad Thing a little like this I can feel it reaching out for me, trying to mess with my electrons. I can hear the snap of the switch and my eyes start to fill up, my throat aches.
14- I’d smoked alot of marijuana to keep from getting sick during that extra year of school and when I got a $200 prize I bought some and the Bad Thing and I got on a bus to go home for the holidays but a truck hit the bus, knocking the driver into the stairwell, breaking his arm and cutting his head. He cried because he has kids and would get fired because he hadn’t been wearing his seat belt. He passed out and an ambulance came and put a blanket over him. I felt sorry as if he were me and took the hundred dollars and bag of “sinsemilla” and slipped it in under his blanket to help and then left on the new bus. Later I realized that when they found that marijuana they’d think it was his and he might even get sent to jail. I felt like I’d framed and killed him and because he was also me it was like I’d symbolically killed myself in some deep sense.
16- At home everyone was festive and listening to music and said, “Hello, we love you, congratulations,” and I said “Hello, hello, thank you,” but didn’t have holiday spirit. I went upstairs got into a tub full of water and pulled in alot of electrical appliances. I passed out but heard the water fizzing and everyone coming in and saying “Oh my God!” It was dark and they more or less only had me to see by. They had to be careful getting me out of the tub because they didn’t want to get shocked themselves. The appliances made noise and blew out the power and gave me a shock; mostly my reproductive organs, because they were out of the water part-way and formed sort of bridge for the electricity between the water and my body and the air.
2- After two days the hospital moved me up to the White Floor. It had soft white walls and soft light-brown carpeting, the windows were thick and frosty. It smelled feminine and dreamy, like ether. Corners were sanded to round and smooth, foods were eaten with a spoon. I wasn’t strapped down in bed like some were but wore a thing that wasn’t a straightjacket but was tighter than a bathrobe and could be made tighter if they felt it was in my best interests. If you wanted a cigarette the nurse had to light it.
Dr. Kalumbus came and said the Bad Thing was “severe clinical depression” and he laid out the options: Electro-Convulsive Therapy, which wipes out memory bits sometimes, like your name and address, or else either tricyclic or M.A.O. inhibitor antidepressants. We decided on a tricyclic. I left and saw The Little Rascals [Spanky and Our Gang] on in the TV room and noticed someone had their shirt on inside out and I said, “Excuse me, did you know your shirt was on inside out?” The person said, “Yes I know that,” and I noticed she was pretty which I usually avoid because my brain shuts down except for the parts that know I’m saying stupid things but I was tired and just said, “Why do you have it on inside out?” She said, “Because the tag scratches my neck and I don’t like that.” “Why don’t you cut the tag out?” “The front looks exactly like the back and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference otherwise.” I said, “If the front’s just like the back, what difference does it make which way you wear it?” “It makes a difference to me.” Then she smiled and asked where I got my scar. I told her I’d had this annoying tag sticking out of my cheek…. More or less by accident then May Aculpa and I became friends. Ten days ago her boyfriend killed her by driving drunk. She was 17. Her initials are M.A. and I joke to myself that I should switch to an M.A.O. inhibitor because when I think about her I get sad and go “O!” and I’d like to inhibit the “M.A.;O!” I’m sure Dr. Kablumbus would agree that it would be in my best interests. If the bus driver I more or less killed had the initials M.A., that would be ironic.
I’ve been on this Planet Trillaphon for almost a year now. I call the tricyclic “Trillaphon” instead of “Tofranil” because it makes a noise like a high-tension electric trill that drowns out the old spangle. Its electricalness isn’t just a noise but like a way of life. Chill goes through your leg muscles, hair on your arms stands up, your teeth vibrate as if you’re under a high-tension line, you crackle and see blue things. It’s very far away and the sound of your own thinking is like listening to the “Golden Days of Radio” coming from a speaker connected by miles of wire. The ground isn’t level, like the planet is tilted slightly on its axis so you have to get used to it like when you’re on a ship. Maybe I’ve escaped from the Bad Thing because it has a hard time in a less oxygenated and nutritious atmosphere. Running or walking up a hill to sled down or shoveling snow or anything gets you tired and sleepy. Maybe when I can read again it’ll be okay and I’ll be able to lead a Normal and Productive Life. I can hear the snap of a switch and my eyes start to fill up, my throat aches. Planet Trillaphon is like living on a planet that is warm and comfortable and has food and fresh water, is okay but isn’t good old Earth. Just thinking about the Bad Thing a little like this I can feel it reaching out for me, trying to mess with my electrons. 31- Being far away sort of helps with respect to the Bad Thing. Except that is just highly silly when you think about what I said before concerning the fact that the Bad Thing is really