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The Wondrous Apothecary. The Trilogy of Remembrance, Alexander Wainwright, painting, Rinaldo, mental hospital, Ilse of Wight, electro-shock therapy, medical experimentation, chamber pots,

James Helmsworth

You must excuse me! I’ve not properly introduced myself. Who could be speaking to you from the upper realms of the written page of THE WONDROUS APOTHECARY? I am also the storyteller.

I’m sure you are curious, because I am about to  introduce you to that renowned artist, Alexander Wainwright and a burglar-conceptual artist named Rinaldo. 

I’m James Helmsworth, London art dealer. I have had the great privilege in representing  Alexander Wainwright, Britain’s finest landscape artist, for more than twenty years.  Here’s a story from The Wondrous Apothecary,

Read on and come with me to visit Rinaldo who has been remanded to a mental hospital on the Isle of Wight to determine his ability to stand trial.

from The Wondrous Apothecary. 

The Wondrous Apothecary. The Trilogy of Remembrance, Alexander Wainwright, painting, Rinaldo, mental hospital, Ilse of Wight, electro-shock therapy, medical experimentation, chamber pots,

                            The hospital

At the hospital, a dark and dingy place,  I walked down several hallways. When I found Rinaldo in his room, I was shocked to see him rocking back and forth on the edge of his hospital bed. As I approached, he seemed to be examining his toes, but then he raised his head. 

The Wondrous Apothecary. The Trilogy of Remembrance, Alexander Wainwright, painting, Rinaldo, mental hospital, Ilse of Wight, electro-shock therapy, medical experimentation, chamber pots,

                      Looking for Rinaldo

His eyes were impenetrably black and vacant. His face was smooth but with fresh specks of spittle on his chin. Did any man live within? Strangely, he looked almost five years younger than the last time I’d seen him only a few months ago. But then I realized that, although weary lines no longer ravaged his face, all evidence of his life and character had drained from it. It seemed a mere representation of him—an image carved on a headstone.

“Rinaldo?”

He began to hum a tune— “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf…” He

smiled up at me and whispered, “Are you kind, kind sir?” He bowed his head.

“Afraid? So much to fear…”  

The Wondrous Apothecary. The Trilogy of Remembrance, Alexander Wainwright, painting, Rinaldo, mental hospital, Ilse of Wight, electro-shock therapy, medical experimentation, chamber pots,

              Rinaldo’s pain

It was so sad. All of this was avoidable. With appropriate legal representation, Rinaldo would have entered a proper plea to the arson and theft charges. Any confusion arising from the police report would have been clarified. If the court had understood that Rinaldo had tried to save the painting, The Hay Wagon, no theft charges would ever have been laid.  

His face was smooth but fresh specks of spittle were on his chin. Did any man live within?

Strangely, he looked almost five years younger than the last time I’d seen him only a few

months ago. But then I realized that, although weary lines no longer ravaged

his face, all evidence of his life and character had drained from it. It seemed a

mere representation of him—an image carved on a headstone.

“Rinaldo?”

He began to hum a tune— “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf…” He

smiled up at me and whispered, “Are you kind, kind sir?” He bowed his head.

“Afraid? So much to fear…

It was so sad. All of this was avoidable. With appropriate legal representation, Rinaldo would have entered a proper plea to the arson and theft charges. Any confusion arising from the police report would have been clarified. If the court had understood that Rinaldo had tried to save the painting, The  Hay Wagon, no theft charges would ever have been laid.

 Undoubtedly, both Alex and I owed great thanks to Rinaldo for rescuing it. An offer for five million pounds was in Alex’s hands for the painting. 

And so, I was seated on a plastic chair in front of him at Amanas. Hard to catch his eye as his focus jumped about like a frenzied bug. Suddenly he grasped my hand and held it fast to his chest. 

“Dr. Garlick! Thank heavens you’ve come.” He dropped my hand and waved his arms about. “See? It has been terrible, all night long!”

“But I’m not your doctor! I’m Jamie Helmsworth. Don’t you recognize me, Rinaldo?” 

Now and then I worry about Alex’s advice and his determination to see the beyond—what lies beneath our daily life. Sometimes it can be very frightening. When we do lift the veil, sometimes we look into the face of madness. That was my thought as I gazed into Rinaldo’s eyes.

Would the Rinaldo I knew ever come back?

 Rinaldo’s cry was piteous. “The men have been restless. Crying out in their madness—and no one ever comes. I did my best but alas…” 

Light enlivened his eyes for a brief moment as he continued, “They have no proper pillows or blankets. Rows and rows of lost men swimming in this sad, grey light. And—at night, the radiators clank and hiss.” 

Suddenly, he grasped my arm again.  “At night…” His eyes bulged in fear. “I hear the worst cries. I see men dancing in shackles led by their keepers. They beg not to be taken to the cellar!” 

Rinaldo tore himself away from me and, with his back to the wall, clutched his knees to his chest. He whispered, “In the cellar they administer electro-shock to fry our brains. Some night they will come for me.” 

: The Wondrous Apothecary. The Trilogy of Remembrance, Alexander Wainwright, painting, Rinaldo, mental hospital, Ilse of Wight, electro-shock therapy, medical experimentation, chamber pots,

                 CHAMBER Pot 1

The Wondrous Apothecary. The Trilogy of Remembrance, Alexander Wainwright, painting, Rinaldo, mental hospital, Ilse of Wight, electro-shock therapy, medical experimentation, chamber pots,

Chamber Pot 2

But was Rinaldo right? At first I was so horrified, I could think of nothing to say. It could not possibly be true. The National Health Service did not treat patients so cruelly! Why did the court clerk say I should visit as soon as I could? I dismissed his words as best I could. Rinaldo must be delusional surrounded in his mind by a world of   past times and places. 

“See the chamber pots?” He pointed at the floor. “They do not come to empty them.”

I shook my head.

The Wondrous Apothecary. The Trilogy of Remembrance, Alexander Wainwright, painting, Rinaldo, mental hospital, Ilse of Wight, electro-shock therapy, medical experimentation, chamber pots,

        Dr. Percy Garlick

Sometimes I worry about Alex’s advice and his determination to see the beyond—what lies beneath our daily life. Sometimes it can be very frightening. When we do lift the veil, sometimes we look into the face of madness. That was my thought as I gazed into Rinaldo’s eyes. Would the Rinaldo I knew ever come back?

The door opened and a balding, portly man in a white coat breezed in.

 Rinaldo’s cry was piteous. “The men have been restless. Crying out in their madness—and no one ever comes. I did my best but alas…” 

Light enlivened his eyes for a brief moment as he continued, “They have no proper pillows or blankets. Rows and rows of lost men swimming in this sad, grey light. And—at night, the radiators clank and hiss.” 

Suddenly, he grasped my arm again.  “At night…” His eyes bulged in fear. “I hear the worst cries. I see men dancing in shackles led by their keepers. They beg not to be taken to the cellar!” 

Rinaldo tore himself away from me and, with his back to the wall, clutched his knees to his chest. He whispered, “In the cellar they administer electro-shock to fry our brains. Some night they will come for me.”   

Rinaldo must be delusional surrounded in his mind by a world of past times and places. 

 “See the chamber pots?” He pointed at the floor. “They do not come to empty them.”

The door opened and a balding, portly man in a white coat breezed in. 

“Ah, Rinaldo! I see you have a visitor.” He beamed at me and held out his hand. “I’m Dr. Garlick. Are you family or friend?”

I rose and shook his hand. “I’m James Helmsworth.”

The doctor took my hand. “I’m Percy Garlick, Rinaldo’s doctor.

 “Has Rinaldo told you of our serious chamber pot problem?”

I nodded. “He was just beginning…”

“We’d attend to it immediately if we could only find those damned pots!” He sighed pleasantly as he adjusted his glasses which persisted in sliding down his nose. Pushing them back, he said, “Your friend is a fascinating case, Mr. Helmsworth. Perhaps we could talk?

AND SO, I DID NOT REALIZE THAT BOTH ALEXANDER AND I WOULD BE ENGAGED IN A RESCUE MISSION FOR RINALDO IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS. 

The Wondrous Apothecary. The Trilogy of Remembrance, Alexander Wainwright, painting, Rinaldo, mental hospital, Ilse of Wight, electro-shock therapy, medical experimentation, chamber pots,

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