Jeremy had disappeared into the glass and steel canyons of Manhattan. Maybe he was walking across the Hudson River or multiplying fishes and loaves in Little Italy.
And then, late that night, the “Messiah” returned. He had started out on his pilgrimage to preach love to the President in Washington but got lost in the Bronx where his car broke down and miraculously found his way back to Chelsea. Having lived to tell the tale, maybe he did have the protection of angels. I was relieved that his manic energy had seemed to have subsided a little and even more relieved when he went to bed.
The next morning, while Jeremy slept in, I phoned my therapist (a prerequisite to living in New York) and explained the surreal situation. He informed me that it was probably a psychotic break that could have been triggered by the emotional break-up with his girlfriend, and that age twenty-two is when the adult brain is fully formed and mental problems, like schizophrenia could kick in. My shrink said Jeremy needed medical care – and I needed time to figure out how to get him back to Toronto.
Jeremy was a talented artist, so I figured maybe spending an afternoon at the Met would chill him out if I could avoid paintings of Christ (good luck with that), for fear his hallucinations might make him think they were mirrors.
We spent the afternoon at the fathomless art gallery where I continued to be fascinated by his bizarre interpretations of paintings. A part of me was envious about where he was, or wasn’t in his mind and to tell the truth, if I was seeing auras and hearing voices I would think I was pretty damn special too. Our outing was blessedly uneventful until we entered the cafeteria for a snack. Jeremy wanted to leap on to the table and preach love to everyone in the vast, echoing space. Needless to say, I got us out of there as fast as possible and into the streets of the Upper East Side.
As we looked for a coffee shop I tried to explain again, that he wasn’t the Messiah. I said, “Watch. The first person we pass, I’ll ask them.” A sophisticated looking woman with Bloomingdales shopping bags was approaching. I stopped her, pointed to my tall, lanky nephew and asked, “Excuse me, do you think this is the Messiah?” She looked up at him and replied, “Yes. Yes, I think he’s the Messiah.” Jeremy grinned. I thought, “Oy. Everybody’s crazy!” Over coffee, I explained to Jeremy a plan that I had hatched while gazing at a Jackson Pollock splatter at the Met. I told him that the note he left with his mother had worked. People do appreciate and miss him. I made up a story that I had a meeting in Toronto and we could fly there together in the morning. He agreed. He wanted to go home. I was tempted to look to the heavens and exclaim, “Thank you, Jesus!” but was afraid he might say, “You’re welcome.” I booked us a flight to Toronto.
The next morning, just as were about to get a cab to the airport, I told Jeremy we were lucky to get last minute seats together; 13B & C. He became instantly agitated. He had thirteen disciples and this was a sign – and not a good sign. With panic in his eyes, he put his large hands on my shoulders and stared me in the face. I immediately visualized the headline in the Post, “Tall Nephew Strangles Short Uncle in Chelsea Loft.” He insisted he would take the bus home from Port Authority – and fled.
Again feeling responsible, I phoned Port Authority and gave Security a description of Jeremy to keep an eye out for him and hold him until I got there. They asked, “Is he a danger to himself or anyone else?” “No,” I protested. “He’s a nice Jewish boy.” Come to think of it, so was Jesus. Security explained that there is nothing they can do unless he poses a threat to himself or others. I was quickly learning how frustrating it is for relatives of schizophrenics to try and get help within the system.
I phoned my sister and confessed that I had lost Jeremy again. But hopefully, he was on a bus home to Toronto. He wasn’t. The next phone call was from my sister. Jeremy had been arrested for terrorism and a threat to the President of the United States. (To Be Continued)
(Excerpt from, “Nut Magnet – An Autobiographical Assortment of Fruits and Nuts”)