The din of the cafes was growing with the setting sun as he walked the cobblestone streets of Auvers-sur-Oise. He came around the corner and saw the boys as he always did while returning home. The boys were always quarreling over something, distraught, and he always took time to engage them, and soon they’d be distracted by whatever joke he made. Today they were fidgeting over something which he could not see.
When the boys separated he was astonished to see that one was holding a small pistol. “Be careful there,” he stepped forward, hands outstretched, “that is a dangerous toy you have.” He grasped the gun, but the boy did not let go, so the man pulled at it. He did not expect the sound of the firearm exploding and felt confused at the sting in his chest. Still holding the gun at his side, he looked down blankly and realized that the bullet had gone into him. The boys’ stared in surprise, which quickly became fear and they disappeared down the stone street.
Instead of pain, the man felt a curious, focused energy. He walked slow and calm until he found the doctor’s residence. The doctor had returned from his day of house calls and immediately examined him. “I cannot get to it,” he said finally, after they sat in a quiet room with only a clock ticking in the corner. He put a bandage over the wound with expert care, sealing it and the man’s fate. “It will be fine,” he told the man.
“I’m not worried anymore,” the man answered and sighed.
“What happened?” the doctor asked .
The man looked at him warmly “A mistake. I didn’t know what was happening. But I’m feeling better already.”
“Did you do this yourself?” the doctor asked.
The man did not answer, but laid his head back, and gazed out the window. “We don’t know what we do sometimes. I put my heart and soul into my work, and I have lost my mind in the process.”
The doctor glanced at him with narrowed eyes, eyes that knew how to judge the body, but not the mind. Yet even his professional judgment would not help the sepsis taking root in the man’s chest, the infection that would overtake the man’s health, and in a few hours his life.
Vincent Willem van Gogh.
Born: March 30, 1853, Zundert, Netherlands
Happy Birthday, Vincent.