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The incredible event occurred during my third visit to Gustav Von Seyfertitz, my foreign psychoanalyst.
I should have guessed at the strange explosion before it came.
After all, my alienist, truly alien, had the coincidental name, Von Seyfertitz, of the tall, lean, aquiline, menacing, and therefore beautiful actor who played the high priest in the 1935 film She.
In She, the wondrous villain waved his skeleton fingers, hurled insults, summoned sulfured flames, destroyed slaves, and knocked the world into earthquakes.
After that, "At Liberty," he could be seen riding the Hollywood Boulevard trolley cars as calm as a mummy, as quiet as an unwired telephone pole.
Where was I? Ah, yes!
It was my third visit to my psychiatrist. He had called that day and cried, "Douglas, you stupid goddamn son of a bitch, it's time for beddy-bye!"
Beddy-bye was, of course, his couch of pain and humiliation where I lay writhing in agonies of assumed Jewish guilt and Northern Baptist stress as he from time to time muttered "A fruitcake remark!" or "Dumb!" or "If you ever do that again, I'll kill you!"
As you can see, Gustav Von Seyfertitz was a most unusual mine specialist. Mine? Yes. Our problems are land mines in our heads. Step on them! Shock-troop therapy, he once called it, searching for words. "Blitzkrieg?" I offered.
"Ja!" He grinned his shark grin. "That's it!"
Again, this was my third visit to his strange, metallic looking room with a most odd series of locks on a roundish door. Suddenly, as I was maundering and treading dark waters, I heard his spine stiffen behind me. He gasped a great death rattle, sucked air, and blew it out in a yell that curled andbleached my hair:
Thinking that the room might be struck by a titanic ice berg, I fell, to scuttle beneath the lion-claw-footed couch.
"Dive!" cried the old man.
"Dive?" I whispered, and looked up.
To see a submarine periscope, all polished brass, slide up to vanish in the ceiling.
Gustav Von Seyfertitz stood pretending not to notice me. the sweat-oiled leather couch, or the vanished brass machine. Very calmly, in the fashion of Conrad Veidt in Casablanca or Erich Von Stroheim, the manservant in Sunset Boulevard . he . ..
. . . lit a cigarette and let two calligraphic dragon plumes of smoke write themselves (his initials?) on the air.
"You were saying?" he said.
"No." I stayed on the floor. "You were saying. Dive?
"I did not say that," he purred.
"Beg pardon, you said, very clearly--Dive!"
"Not possible." He exhaled two more scrolled dragon plumes. "You hallucinate. Why do you stare at the ceiling?"
"Because," I said, "unless I am further hallucinating, buried in that valve lock up there is a nine-foot length of German Leica brass periscope!"
"This boy is incredible, listen to him," muttered Von Seyfertitz to his alter ego, which was always a third person in the room when he analyzed. When he was not busy exhaling his disgust with me, he tossed asides at himself. "How many martinis did you have at lunch?"
"Don't hand me that, Von Seyfertitz. I know the difference between a sex symbol and a periscope. That ceiling, one minute ago, swallowed a long brass pipe, yes!?"
Von Seyfertitz glanced at his large, one-pound-size Christmas watch, saw that I still had thirty minutes to go, sighed, threw his cigarette down, squashed it with a polished boot, then clicked his heels.
Copyright ) 1996 by Ray Bradbury