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Replacing Freud

by M.R. Cameo 2 years ago in fiction · updated 9 months ago
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The Scruples of Unconscious

Freud Museum London

“Sigmund, what brings you to Prague on this fine day?”

“I apologize, I think you have mistaken me for someone else.”

Dr. Bloch’s face exhibited confusion as he watched the man continue down the street.

“What is the matter?” Dr. Wölfer joined Bloch with two steaming coffees in hand.

“That man,” he indicated.

“Ah." He put his tobacco pipe to his mouth.What is that fraud doing here?”

“It isn’t Freud, but tell me they couldn’t be twins?”

“Fascinating.” He took another puff from his pipe. “This could be a solution to our problem.”

“How do you mean?”

Without answering, Wölfer took off towards the Freud lookalike, Bloch in tow.

“Sir?”

The man eyed them warily before responding.

“As I have already told your colleague-”

“Would you like to make a fortune? I have the perfect assignment for you.”

“I…” The man momentarily hesitated, finding the situation all around peculiar. On the other hand, he was in dire need of earnings. “What assignment might that be sir?”

“Well.” Bloch removed a little black notebook from his satchel and scribbled an address. “Meet us here at 7:00pm and we’ll discuss all the details. I assure you; it will be well worth your while.”

He eyed the address incredulously before placing it in his shirt pocket, watching as the strange men disappeared into the distance.

-

Later that evening they sat in a rococo style study, around a carved oak table, which flaunted a box of fancy cigars and a swanky decanter.

“What do mean replace him?”

“I mean exactly that. Get rid of him. Take his place for only a short while to denounce the work, and then you can go on with your life a very rich man.”

“Get rid of him?” His eyes widened. “You are asking me to kill the man?”

“Certainly.” Wölfer placed a revolver on the table.

“I will not be involved in this.” He pushed away from the table.

“Sit down and listen to me! As I said, this is a very perilous man. He is a risk to humanity, and a hazard to the medical community. He pulls crazy ideas out of a hat and shuns traditional practices that we have used in the medical community for ages. His ideas and methods are dangerous and cannot be allowed to fester. You will be taking a stand for science and truth. This is a noble act!”

Bloch grabbed the decanter with a shaky hand and refilled his glass with a strong Irish whiskey whilst observing the situation unfold.

“This whole scenario is not even feasible! Surely his friends or family will notice that I am indeed not him? And to risk being tried for murder in a foreign-”

“You only need to be him long enough to proclaim that your work was all a farce. That you apologize for the lies and any harm you may have caused, and that you will no longer be practicing. Then you can be on your merry way. You’ll never have to step foot in Vienna again. It will assure the safe continuance of traditional medicine and muzzle the few who have become keen to his madness.”

“I-”

“Our American colleague has agreed to pay you a handsome amount if you accomplish your task. $20,000.”

“20,000 American?” His eyes widened. “Surely you must assume me a fool?”

“No. Dispose of him, persuade the public, and you will live lavishly for the rest of your days.”

“How am I to know I would actually get the money after it is all said and done?”

“Well,” Wölfer retrieved a leather doctor’s bag from the floor. “I’ll give it to you now.”

“Wait-” Bloch interrupted. Wölfer raised a hand to silence him.

“It is okay, I think he knows better than to deceive us. He is not just going to take the money and attempt to vanish. As I am certain he is aware of what would happen in that case. Isn’t that right Mr. Silhavy?”

He bit his lip in deep consideration. He couldn’t fathom turning down such a sum of money. He didn’t want to kill a man, but if this Freud was really such a danger, perhaps he would really be doing a good deed. He nodded.

“Very well, I agree to your proposal.”

-

Silhavy shrouded himself in the darkness as he watched Freud exit the obsidian carriage.

He was stricken with his appearance; it was as if he was looking into a mirror. Freud carried himself confidently, wearing a top hat and long wool trench coat over a posh suit. He disappeared into a well-kept tenement.

He watched him for several days, often repeating his typical routine with few variations. Silhavy decided his best strategy of attack was to pretend to be in desire of Freud’s services and set up a consultation with the doctor. The morning of, he polished the firearm and steeled his nerves with a glass water containing dissolved cocaine. He set off across town, resolute on completing his assignment.

-

“Can you describe to me the conditions that have been ailing you?”

“Well, you see…” Silhavy began to sweat as he gripped the firearm concealed in his jacket. “To be candid, I heard that you practice unsafe and unsubstantiated methods. That you put patients at risk, in turn putting the community as risk. You seemingly create practices out of thin air with no precedence in medicine, and many other doctors believe you to be a quack.”

“Then why did you come here?” Freud eyed him meticulously. Whether out of irritation or due to discerning their overwhelmingly similar appearance, he couldn’t ascertain.

“Then you are admitting to these allegations?” He hoped for a blatant admission of guilt, in an effort to put to rest his moral qualms. Freud laughed as he removed a cigar from his waistcoat.

“Care for one?”

“No, I do not smoke.”

“That is a shame. I believe cigars serve as protection, a sort of weapon in the combat of life.”

Silhavy endeavored to wrap his mind around the remark, but it evaded his grasp. All he knew was that a cigar was not going to save Freud today.

“Why disregard the medical community? Why make up crazy unsubstantiated notions about humans being compelled to carry out certain actions due to unconscious, as you say. Perhaps you think so highly of yourself that-”

“If you came here just to insult me, you are more than welcome to see yourself out.”

“No. I want you to tell me why you are doing this? Why go against what other doctors have agreed upon? Why make a mockery of science?”

“If you cannot question or challenge it, then it is not science.”

“The things you have executed; forgoing established electroshock and medicine, to instead perform unsubstantiated speech therapy! Putting meaning to dreams, cathartic regression. Others have established these things a farce! Do you ever consider the implications on your patients? How you're jeopardizing the community by fueling such absurdities? You are a charlatan! A fool masquerading as a doctor, when you are in truth an anti-science joker!” The revolver was slick in his sweaty palm as he attempted to coax himself into finishing the job.

“There is no such thing as anti-science. The idea of science is to continually challenge ideas, to not accept anything as settled. Differences of opinion, varying practices, are vital. What was once held as a certainty centuries ago is now known as a complete falsehood. Take for example trepanation or bloodletting. These procedures were widely practiced for centuries, with the finest doctors regarding them as indispensable and trustworthy, but we now know that they were in fact barbaric and more damaging than beneficial. I assure you; I have confidence in my methods, and only the best intentions. I am looking only to improve medical practices and guide patients to a sound recovery. If people call me insane or a fraud, that only reveals that I may be on the right track, as has been the case so many times throughout history.” He laid his cigar in an ornate silver ashtray and surveyed Silhavy.

“I… never considered looking at it from the perspective. Excuse me please, I require a bit of fresh air.”

He ran fervently, not stopping until he was miles away. He pulled off his sweat-drenched jacket and laid it on the bench beside him. His head in his hands, he attempted to regain himself. How had things gotten to such a point? That morning he had been positively confident that he was going to kill Fraud and that it was absolutely the right thing to do. Now, after just considering a bit of what the man had to say he was utterly confounded. Sitting on that bench for what seemed a lifetime, he finally got back up, having made up his mind.

He made a quick stop at his inn, admiring the money in the leather satchel before proceeding back to the other side of town. He seemed to perceive the town differently this time, to comprehend life unconventionally, utterly dissimilar to how things had been just an hour before.

He rushed up the stairs and threw open the door upon arriving at Dr. Wölfer’s domicile. As good luck would have it, he was not currently in. Silhavy placed the bag of money on the doctor’s bed, bidding it farewell before closing the door behind him. He said goodbye to Vienna before he left without delay, never again to return.

That week he had relinquished the largest fortune of money he would ever come across in his lifetime, but he had gained something much better. The ability to think for oneself, to always have an open mind, to contemplate other viewpoints and possibilities regardless of how improbable, to know that absolutely nothing is set in stone, and to never attempt to silence a man, as one never knows what the future may reveal of him.

fiction

About the author

M.R. Cameo

M.R. Cameo generally writes horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and nonfiction, yet enjoys dabbling in different genres. She is currently doing freelance work as a writer, ghostwriter, copywriter, editor, and proofreader for various publications.

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