“He’s amazingly talented,” Neith said. Then, after a moment’s further inspection, she added, “…but he is only painting the same person, over and over.”

Indeed, every figure in the schizophrenic’s paintings was the same, whether rendered in pencil, ink, or gouache. A willowy woman with long blonde hair of a summery shade. Neith thought for a moment that the woman might have been some kind of an ideal form, but as she looked, she became convinced that it was, or had been, a real person. It was the nose. The nose was not perfect, too wide and too far outside the boundaries of ideal.

“Yes, funny that,” said Chester. He giggled loud enough to attract the momentary attention of an orderly before continuing. “What would you say if I told you that she is his lost love, dead at an early age and now doubly so in poor Garvey’s madness, and that inserting her into every painting is his only way of recalling who she once was to him, and who he once was to himself?”

“I’d say that’s one of the saddest stories I’ve ever heard,” Neith said.

Chester snickered again. “And what if I said that, just after the madness really set in, Garvey started stalking that poor girl, believing her to be psychically reaching out to him, even though she wanted nothing to do with him, and that harassment is one of the things that brought him here, to us?”

“That’s less sad. More…horrifying,” said Neith. “Which is the truth?”

“I don’t know,” Chester said. “He never tells the same story twice!”

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