Dr. Ned Reform and the Case of the Delusional Daniels
Posted on 08/16/22 at 2:31pm by Ned Reform
Event: ReVival 14
From the desk of Benedict F. Reform, PhD:
My dearest Melinda,
I apologize for the great length between this and our last correspondence. As you know, the work is both never done and all consuming.
I hope to have a first draft at the introduction to my manuscript in your hands by the Fall. Needless to say this has been a summer of revelations and the ideas flow like the mighty Archeon. Locke said that no man’s knowledge can go beyond his experience, and if that is the case, I have become truly wise. I believe I am so close to a breakthrough and I may have found my white whale, my El Dorado, my Holy Grail. Located, ironically enough, in the baron deserts of Las Vegas.
Yes – it has brought me back to where this whole experiment began. Serendipitous, no? The shifting sands of a deadly wasteland will be the birthplace of a new philosophy. And trust me: a revolution this will be!
It’s comical, Melinda, and you’d surely laugh to see it. The sophomoric, emotionally stunted “athletes” that pass for professional wrestlers. But I suppose I shouldn’t condemn too much – without this nest of nonsensical nitwits, I would have no fodder for the manuscript. Did you catch that bit of alliteration, Melinda? That one is, as they say, “on the house” – the rest of my literary merit you’ll have to pay for!
You will hear from me again soon. Please tell your mother that I send warmest wishes.
Dr. Ned Reform
12 August, 2022
New Orleans, LA
“It is in everyone’s best interest, Troy, that you…”
Reform pauses, looking into the mirror at his own reflection. He clicks his teeth.
No. Address her properly. She is attune to disrespect – you know this.
“It is in everyone’s best interest, MS. Troy, that you bring one such as myself onto your roster.”
The Good Doctor strokes his brown beard, looking deeply into his own furrowed brown eyes; one eye sporting quite the shiner from where a certain Kraken may or may not have kneed him in the face twice the night before. But… we’re not here to talk about that.
Is it really in EVERYONE’S best interest? Seems disingenuous. She’ll see through that. But it’s in her company’s interest, yes? As a business woman? What do the kids say? “Boss round bitch” or some such? Focus on that.
“The benefits to having Dr. Ned Reform on the PRIME roster, Ms. Troy, are innumerable,” Reform starts again. “Here is just a small sampling of what I can do for your brand if you’d give me the opportunity. First…”
Give you the opportunity? You sound like a child begging for scraps. Be a man, Ned. She respects strength. Demand an opportunity.
Reform sighs and bangs his bald forehead against the mirror. He keeps his skin pressed against his own reflection for several seconds while he mutters – seemingly to himself as there is no one else in the small studio apartment.
Tone down the diction. You aren’t preparing this speech for an academic conference, this is a professional wrestler with a very long career and likely numerous head injuries. You mustn’t try tactics that would appeal to the highly educated. Put yourself in Lindsay Troy’s shoes. Get down on her level. Become the target.
Reform peels his pale skin off the faux glass. He begins to pace, and he has ample room in the apartment to do so – save for a few couches, a mounted television, and a small breakfast bar dividing the living area from the rather small kitchen; there’s not a ton going on here. This isn’t Reform’s permanent residence – rather, a place he temporarily calls home while staying in New Orleans.
As he wanders around the apartment, he looks to the ceiling and begins rubbing his temples. When he speaks, its with a slightly higher pitch than normal
“Okay. Okay. I am Lindsay Troy. I have been in every federation that has ever existed. I have wrestled Abraham Lincoln. I have an inflated sense of self and I mask my deeply rooted insecurity behind bravado and smirking nonchalance. Dr. Ned Reform’s intellect intimidates me. My best friend thinks he’s in a Jules Verne novel. I am Lindsay Troy.”
He continues to pace, again shifting to thinking aloud and his usual voice.
“You’re relying on words too much, Ned. Perhaps there is a way to incorporate pictures? Distill the information down to easily digestible soundbites? I wonder…”
Reform stops, mid-pace. Light bulb.
“Of course!” he snaps his fingers. “Power Point!”
Having discovered the secret garnish that will undoubtedly make Ned Reform more palatable for PRIME, The Sage on the Stage is almost giddy as he raises a single finger into the air and calls out loudly, “MR. COLE!”
From down the hallway comes the sound of a door being flung open. A few seconds later, an exhausted Levi Cole (notable technical wrestler and Reform’s head stooge), bursts into the living room carrying what could technically be called a stack of paper but is more accurately described as a mountain. Cole teeters back and forth as he struggles to keep the papers from losing their tower shape and scattering. Finally, he perfectly and carefully lowers the paper onto the coffee table. Well, almost perfectly: the top piece of paper is shaken free and twirls once in the air before floating, as if by some evil nerd magic, into Ned Reform’s waiting hand. The Good Doctor pulls up the spectacles that hang around his neck to take a closer glance at the paper.
“What is this, Levi?”
Cole beams like a puppy who knows he’s done an impressive trick. “It’s what you asked for, Doc. It’s the entire history of PRIME. Goes back a looooong time, let me tell you. But I printed it out, cause I know that you say reading on a screen is… is… what’s the word again?”
Reform doesn’t look up as he answers, keeping his squinting eyes tracking what’s written on the paper in his hand. “Uncouth.”
“Right! That! So I got it all here on paper, cause I know you like to do your homework and all, and I…”
“Yes, yes, yes.” Reform continues to read as he waves a hand in Levi’s direction, indicating he should be silent. Finally, Reform barks out a sarcastic laugh before crumpling the piece of paper up and tossing it into the kitchen area waste bin.
Of course he misses.
Reform turns to face his most loyal of pupils.
“Wonderful work, dear boy. But there’s been a change of plans. I need to get to work on a PowerPoint, you see. I must get into the email of Lindsay Troy before tonight. And seeing as I only have a few hours before I must depart to the airport to get to that insufferable desert… I’m going to need you to read all this and give me a summary. Yes?”
Cole’s face falls. “But Doc… I had some plans, and…”
“Yes,” Reform looks sympathetic. “I know this work can be difficult on social connections. Perhaps tomorrow night you may attend the ice cream social with the lads or whatever. Tonight, I need you, Levi. It’s vitally important that I gain as much intel about PRIME as I can in as short a timeframe as possible. So…”
As he continues to speak, Reform reaches down and picks up a travel bag, giving it a once over to make sure everything is in place.
“No need to cover everything, obviously. A 2000 – 3000 word summary seems appropriate. That’s not a terrible amount of writing, yes?”
Reform hoists the bag up and puts an arm on the shoulder of a dejected Levi Cole. Reform sighs, seemingly preparing for a heartfelt goodbye, but he instead opts for:
“You know what? Less of a summary and more of a precis. It’s not the WHAT that matters but the WHY, no? Very well then… I’ll see you tomorrow, Mr. Cole. Next time I walk through that door I will be a member of the PRIME roster!”
With a smile and final slap on Cole’s shoulder, Reform turns and heads out the apartment door. On his way out, he slams it just enough to cause the tower of papers to come crashing down and spread all over the room. Cole simply shakes his head, resigned to his fate.
14 August, 2022
New Orleans, LA
The door to Ned Reform’s apartment swings open widly. In storms the Good Doctor, throwing his travel bag onto the floor before stumbling into a piece of furniture in the dark.
He finds a light switch, and the light hits his scowling face like some kind of pedantic Jack O’Lantern. He sits on the couch, putting his head in his hands. Finally, he looks up, reaching into his pocket for his cell phone. He presses the screen a few times, holding the phone to his ear and waiting impatiently. On the other end of the line comes a faint and groggy, “hello?”
“Were you sleeping, Mr. Cole!? Sleeping!? At a moment like this!?”
“I… uhhhh, sorry Doc. It’s late and I…”
“No matter! I’m assuming you watched the program. I have successfully infiltrated PRIME… but have you seen who I have been booked against?”
A moment of silence. “Um, no Doc, I…”
“THEN LOOK IT UP, YOU DOLT!”
Reform pauses, waiting as Levi Cole seemingly heads to prime-wrestling.com to check the announced card for ReVival 14. While he waits, Reform walks to the window, staring out into the New Orleans nightlife. The faint glow of the city lights compliment a nearly full moon that hangs in the dark blue sky. It’s a beautiful night.
Ned Reform hates beautiful nights.
Finally, Cole offers: “Anna Daniels?”
“YES!” Reform explodes. “Yes! Do you know anything about her!? I suppose not. Well, have a look at her profile on the website, Mr. Cole. Just look! Look now!”
Another pause. Finally, Cole’s voice as he reads: “‘Multitudes stuffed in the body of a Time Lord.’ What’s a Time Lord?”
“I DON’T KNOW, LEVI! It does not exist. Don’t you understand what is happening here!?”
Reform holds his phone out in front of him, gripping it tight and pulling it back and forth, simulating choking Cole for his dimwittedness.
“Troy has booked me against a psychotic! Anna Daniels is very clearly completely detached from reality! Multiple personalities, delusional disorder… you name it, this person appears to suffer from it. Troy did this on purpose, don’t you see!? She’s looking to run off ol’ Dr. Reform before he even gets off the ground in PRIME by pairing me off against the antithesis of everything I stand for. I am a man of reason, Mr. Cole! I have no time for people engaging in childish fantasy! This is a waste of my talent, Levi.”
A beat while on the other end of the line, Cole takes all this in. “Well, Doc… I mean, if she’s really that sick in the head… ain’t that like, the perfect person for you? On account of your talent with that type and all.”
Reform begins to snarl back… but gives pause. Slowly, he begins to work out what Cole just said. His countenance softens… and then appears almost hopeful.
“Doc, you there?”
“Yes, Levi,” Reform’s tone is calmer and borderline whimsical. “You may be on to something, my muscle-bound mate. Anna Daniels is clearly sick. What better person to help her? I think…”
Reform suddenly hangs up the phone, tossing it onto the couch. He clenches his hands into fists that tremble with excitement.
“Yes,” he says to himself. “Lindsay Troy… you crafty minx. I have underestimated you.”
Slowly, a twisted smile curls.
“I need to plan.”
From the desk of Benedict F. Reform, PhD:
Hello, Ms. Daniels.
Allow me to introduce myself. I am Doctor Ned Reform. Undoubtedly you’ve heard of me.
First, I will begin by acknowledging that it is my honor and privilege to be getting into the squared circle against one such as yourself. I’ve heard that your accolades in PRIME thus far have earned a glowing reputation and the adoration of your peers and fans alike. Bravo. Truly.
I hope that our contest is spirited, fair, and worthy of the name you have made for yourself.
I must admit, I have a bit of an ulterior motive for writing this letter. You see, in the time allotted for our contest at ReVival 14, I am going to hurt you. I know that sounds harsh, and I am fully aware that the fact of feeling physical pain is widely unpleasant and generally to be avoided, but you must hear me out. I believe it is no coincidence that you and I will be facing each other. I believe one Lindsay Troy, in an act of rare benevolence and foresight, has tasked me with helping you. Like a bald, highly intelligent Sir Percy Blakeney, I must save you from the guillotine that is your own mind.
I know what you believe yourself to be. I’ve spent the last several days researching you, and I must say what I’ve found is grim. I’ve read of tales of time travel, of multiple personalities housed inside your mind, and the kind of nonspecific and calculated unreliable narrator syndrome that briefly convinced me you are not sick at all, but instead a highly skilled grifter.
No. I’ve ruled that possibility out: I do believe you believe yourself to be who you say.
Behind closed doors, we have a term for people like you. You, my dear friend, are fucking bananas.
I apologize for the crudeness, as it is generally unbecoming of me to speak in such a way, but I believe the emphasis a curse word provides to be rhetorically appropriate here. And so it falls to me, as the only person even remotely qualified in PRIME, to help you. Of course Troy can’t outright say this… she must keep up the illusion of hostility toward me to stay in the fan’s good graces. But she is a clever one, that Lindsay Troy. Why else allow me to enter PRIME? It is clear as day: by booking this match, I have been sent on a stealth mission to help cure you of your delusions. Perhaps it is her hope that I clean up all of the festering sinkhole that is her wrestling promotion. But either way, I shall begin with you.
Now, I fully acknowledge that delusions are a highly sensitive and very personal curse, and it’s very likely that they will not go quietly. It’s not their nature. This is acceptable to me – I am ready to rip them out of you by force. You see, although there is a litany of literature about the benefits of antipsychotic drugs in a case such as yours, that is not what this particular situation warrants. No, instead I will apply a large dosage of physical pain and highly targeted assault. So yes, Ms. Daniels, this will hurt. But I assure you it is in your best interest, as after you have been dismantled by Dr. Ned Reform, we can begin to piece you back together. The right way.
Wouldn’t that be nice, Ms. Daniels? After the pain, the suffering, and the submission loss… to wipe away all memories of time travel and vessels and talking animals and whatever else swirls around that confused mind of yours and just… be a normal person. Think about it: to wake up one day and go to the grocery store. Call your friends for some small talk. Maybe go for a boat ride in the park… I don’t know what women do, but I am certain that it does not involve leprechauns and wizards.
And so prepare for the most important lesson of your life: the lesson that only Dr. Ned Reform can administer inside the squared circle. The Ad Hominem is an extremely effective submission, and I promise you that it will feel very unpleasant as you slip into a dark slumber. But when you awaken, Ms. Daniels, it will be from a cocoon of enlightenment. The voices in your head will be gone. You will be free!
And you’ll have Dr. Ned Reform to thank. Fear not, I do not do the good work in exchange for gifts or kudos. Just the knowledge that you will no longer be a certified whackadoo will be reward enough, yes?
I take no pleasure in this, but I am a giver. I help people. It’s what I do. You will be the first member of PRIME to benefit from my wisdom, but I assure you that you will not be the last.
I leave with a pertinent quote: “The most difficult battles in life are those we fight within.” It’s an old Chinese proverb, but it rings true here. But you are no longer alone, Ms. Daniels. Dr. Reform is here to help.
See you at the show.
Dr. Ned Reform
P.S. – I love what you’ve done with your hair.
17 August, 2022
“Hi, you’ve reached the voicemail of Levi Cole. At the beep, leave a message and I’ll get back to you.”
“Levi! It is I, Dr. Ned Reform! Listen: I have discovered that this “Time Lord” nonsense actually seems to trace back to some science fiction program. ‘Dr. Who’ – have you heard of it? Anyway, I need you to watch the entirety of the series for research into her delusions. Please do this by next week. Fear not – it sounds like a silly show. I’m sure it’s only four seasons at the most. Look forward to seeing you.”
“Listen.” Doctor Who. BBC America. BBCA, New York. 13 Sept. 2014. Television.
Orczy, Emmuska Orczy, Baroness. The Scarlet Pimpernel. Grand Haven, Mich.
Verne, Jules. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. New York: World, 1972. Print.