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Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Devil’s Victim

19th July 2012
Dear Cassi,

Today the oddest thing happened to me, a man came to my desk asking for medical attention as he thought the devil had burnt his eyes. He was no client of mine but a call to the authorities is one service I provide to anyone. Working with the homeless you see strange things, working in Hollywood you see stranger things, working with the homeless of Hollywood you see the strangest things humanity has to offer.
When he came to the desk I could tell something was wrong. His eyes were not burnt but he had torn most of his lashes out. This gave him a sick infected appearance as the damaged skin shown pink against his brown. I’m not sure what causes this condition. I believe it is some kind of addiction behavior but I honestly am without the knowledge.
On his request for water I reached into my work bag and gave him the one liter bottle I brought from home. This is against the rules but no one would fault me for looking after a man in so bad a situation. He accepted the bottle but did not break the seal. He simply went on talking.
He told me that his brother and mother had sacrificed him to the devil one night. There was pain in his words at saying this because he believed ever syllable he said to me. It was then that he said the devil had burnt his eyes and so I asked if he needed an ambulance. Calling nine, one, one was the relief it has become for me these last few months.
He said that he needed to go to a hospital and that he needed help. He asked me to kill him because he was afraid to do it himself. “How could they do that,” he asked me, and all I could do was hope the authorities would arrive soon.
I told the operator that I had a man who needed help and that he had told me that the devil burnt his eyes. They asked if he was getting violent and I said he was just excited. I learned later that they were asking if I needed the police or just and ambulance. Getting down and dirty with a mental case is something fire people tend not to like. 

If there is a wrong thing to do in a moment like this it would have to be to lose your cool. I kept calm because keeping calm is what keeps a man safe, but the devil’s victim was going crazy.
The wait for the ambulance was a long one but then that always feels long. As they came the man talked on about the “Blue Santerra”, whatever that is, and the subliminal messages that the devil had been sending. At some point he opened the bottle of water I gave him and poured it over his face. “That felt good!” he yelled and drank some then poured more over his eyes.
I stood up hoping to be able to see the fire people with him in the way and he told me that I was the devil because I was standing. “How can I be the devil,” I asked, “I’ve been trying to help you this whole time.” Help arrived and he thought they were the devil too. “They’re not firemen, they don’t have uniforms,” he said “and look, they’re wearing red!” The man in front had a bit of red electrical tape on his radio.
The devil’s victim tried to run from the rescue workers but he had no place to go. “Are you freaking out?” one of them asked and they shortly had him in an arm lock. I could hear him scream as they strapped him to a stretcher and carted him off.
As to what they did with him, I can only hope he found the help he needed. There are days I feel like the shepherd of lost souls. In the end we can only hope and wonder, but I know I did all I can for him.

Stay strong, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal