I was a different man once - before the drugs.

I can’t remember what that man was like, even as I use his hands to fasten a stainless steel M14x1.25 through the rear leaf spring of my magnum opus, the final answer to a question everyone was too afraid to ask.

I would still see Dr. Norman Brookings, he of the Brookings method. Despite his relative failure as a people mechanic, he still wanted to see the effects of what he had wrought on my crudely sketched half-life, once every Wednesday from 7:30 to 8:30 PM.

Dr. Norman Brookings asked me: “How long has it been now since you stopped taking your medication?”

I couldn’t answer him. I kept time now in terms of injector pulse widths, and it took awhile to convert those to socially-acceptable human intervals. He shifted in his seat uncomfortably as I counted out loud beneath my breath.

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Dr. Norman Brookings continued: “I see. I’m going to recommend you for some further tests. It’s not a big deal, we just want to make sure everything’s as good as it can be.”

On the way out of his office, he looked at the car i had arrived in. “What… What is that?”

I turned on my heel and looked Dr. Norman Brookings, he of the Brookings method, directly in the eye. He jumped with a start, not expecting this level of connection with me to surface from the waters of my cipherous ocean so suddenly. I grinned, but it was the tooth-scraping gummy smile of guilt. Or was it shame?

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To answer his question, behind me was a 1999 Z/28 Camaro, or at least it had been once. Before the Blazer frame. Before the fires. Before the supercharger. Definitely before the supercharger started to tell me things at night, secret messages encoded in the wail and whine of the waning and waxing teflon-coated rotors.

“What do you think did this to me?” I asked Dr. Norman Brookings, he of the Brookings method.

“Too much gluten,” he stammered, backing away. “Definitely too much gluten.”