|Chapter 1: "The Dreams of Men"|
Quickly, urgently, he took a large dose of his medication -- DDS, diamino-diphenyl-sulfone. Then he went into the white fluorescence of his bathroom, stropped his old straight razor, and set the long sharp blade to his throat.
Shaving this way, with the blade clutched in the two fingers and thumb of his right hand, was a personal ritual which he had taught himself in order to discipline and mortify his unwieldy imagination. It steadied him almost in spite of himself. The danger of that keen metal so insecurely held helped him concentrate, helped to rid him of false dreams and hopes, the alluring and suicidal progeny of his mind. The consequences of a slip were acid-etched in his brain. He could not ignore the law of his leprosy when he was so close to hurting himself, giving himself an injury which might reawaken the dormant rot of his nerves, cause infection and blindness, gnaw the flesh off his face until he was too loathsome to be beheld.
When he had shaved off two weeks of beard, he studied himself for a moment in the mirror. He saw a gray, gaunt man with leprosy riding the background of his eyes like a plague ship in a cold sea.