The phone rang twice before I picked up and heard the clear, yet hesitant voice on the other end: “I found out the truth so I had to call you.”
“What are you talking about Chris?”
“First my name isn’t Chris. And you’re not my brother.”
I paused not knowing what to say. I knew in an instant he had crashed again, but this seemed worse than before. I cautioned myself, carefully choosing the words so I didn’t upset him more. I needed information.
“Chris what’s wrong buddy? Did you take your medicine?”
“No,” he jabbed sharply. “I stopped ‘cause it’s not mine. I woke up this morning and I wasn’t in my house. The TV isn’t mine —I think someone put it there to spy on me, so I threw it away.”
“Chris, Chris, can you…”
“I told you my name isn’t Chris. I know who I am. I found my wife and kids. They are just down the street and I am going to be okay now, you don’t have to look after me anymore, I just wanted to call and tell you that.”
“I just wanted to tell you that, even though you’re not my brother, I love you. Don’t look for me ‘cause I don’t want to be spied on anymore.”
The phone went silent and I stood there numb. In my mind I had been waiting for a moment like this to happen, but I tried to believe it never would. I knew getting him an apartment by himself had been a mistake. He said he was ready; his counselors said he was ready. I, on the other hand, felt he would never be. His counselors didn’t have to deal with him when he stopped taking his meds and his mind crashed. They didn’t have to go through the hurt of seeing him turn into someone else. In every other moment, I was faced with his crashes, I couldn’t help but think about the way he used to be; the boy before the bad crowds and drugs; the brother who was my best friend, role model, and everything I wanted to be. What happened? Could I have done more? I thought back to when I began high school and how Chris tried to hang out with me, but I didn’t want him to. My friends didn’t like him and I wanted to impress my friends. At times I feel responsible for what happened to him, as if it were possible to blame the cause of schizophrenia on a person. Perhaps it is because Chris was nineteen when the disease took hold of his mind and I was a self-absorbed seventeen-year-old. I just never gave him the attention he needed. I cleared my mind and started dialing numbers into the phone that would connect me with the police.