Standing at 6'4'’, Luther Vay would intimidate most. Aged from life on the streets, Luther was painted in viking tattoos and often would be seen marching up and down the streets screaming. His booming voice would echo against the brick buildings and most chalked him up to be the local “crazy”. Due to his height, stature, and mental illness, Luther would often find himself in the local county jail under petty arrests like disorderly or loitering.
“The assholes did it again!!” The office door dinged open.
“I’m back here Luther!” I yelled to the front of the office. I could hear the clanking of his pots and pans dangling from his backpack as he trudged through, not minding any to the director, my boss, who had been speaking to our business manager, Linda. Luther had made it clear that he didn’t trust my boss and would not speak to him. He said that the voices made it clear, he was only to converse with myself, Linda, and Pam, the front administrative assistant.
“Where yah been bud?” I asked, as he sat his machete, knife, and bat down just outside my office door before stepping through the threshold. I smiled, as this was Luther’s way of showing me he trusted me.
“I got locked-up! Again!! The assholes, I told them. I told them I wasn’t doing nothing, I was just reading. And the librarians, well those ladies didn’t seem to like my weapons. Did they ask me to leave? No they didn’t. What am I supposed to do with my machete? But they ain’t even know what it’s like to be jumped or to know what the government is doing…” Luther continued to tell the story, while I sat and listened.
I imagined the local librarians, quiet and timid older women, trying to get the courage to ask Luther to leave the library. It was humorous, and probably why they called the police. All of this could have been avoided if they had just treated Luther like any other guest.
In the past, I had offered to get Luther a kindle for reading, hoping it would solve the library issues. As this was the third time he had been arrested at a library. But he didn’t trust electronics. He had explained to me it was a form of government and mind control. He had described the people that were “after him” and the voices they projected in his head.
Over a cigarette, about a month ago, Luther had discussed the V2K and what it was doing to his head. While this sounded outlandish, I sat at home one night googling “V2K”. It stood for Voice to Skull transmission. It’s a nonlethal weapon that can be used through the transmission of microwaves, also known as the microwave auditory effect, microwave hearing effect or the Frey effect. Pulsed modulated radio frequencies can cause human perception of audible clicks or even speech. Allan H. Frey studied this phenomenon in the 70s. While there is a ton on V2K with conspiracy theorists, I was just astounded to find what sounded ‘crazy’ to Luther’s audience, actually had some subsistence. I also wondered how Luther knew about this having refused all technology.
“The winter months are coming Luther, what are you going to do to keep warm?” I never engaged in Luther’s ramblings, it would further escalate him. Instead, I always just asked logical random questions to distract his mind.
“Well I told you I’m not going to kill anyone even though the voices say I’m going to. I think fire is good, and maybe I’ll see my mom.” My ears perked.
“Your mom? You’ve never mentioned her before. Where is she?”
“In that liberal crap hole of a state, California. But it’s warm.” Luther hated politics. He hated Democrats and Republicans alike. His stance was it was all a form of societal control of the masses, and stopped people from thinking outside the box.
Luther had begun fighting with someone in the room that I could not see.
“I am so sorry Rae. I’m not crazy I swear. I just, I just say things and sometimes well these voices- so I talk to myself.” Luther started rambling an apology.
“Luther I talk to myself too, am I crazy?” Luther chuckled.
“That could be debated!” Pam yelled from outside the office door which wasn’t closed. Luther let out a belly laugh.
“Hey that’s not fair! Anyways,” I turned back to Luther, “what if I could get you back home to your mom in California? The winter is coming and it’s going to be a brutal one.” Luther was above the care a shelter could give, and he wouldn’t stay in one even if offered. It was also a form of government control- money and possessions.
“Yah, you’re prolly right Rae. But what am I gunna do? I can’t afford a bus ticket.”
“Let me worry about that Luther. What’s your mom’s number? Let’s give her a call.”
Timing was always important with Luther. You needed to act, because it would only take a slight moment, one voice to appear through his head for his decision to be changed. Once speaking with Luther’s mother and confirming her address, I immediately logged into google and booked him a one way bus ticket.
“Luther, this is for you. Its a bus ticket to your moms.” Luther smiled. “I’m going to see my mom?” Tears flooded his eyes, but he held them back like a strong viking man.
“Yes, and all I ask of you is to not create any trouble on the ride. NONE Luther and i mean it. You call me if you need someone to talk to. Here is a cell phone.” His face cringed at the thought of the government in his pocket tracking his movements. “Don’t worry Luther, it’s registered in my name, the government will think it’s me.”
“Thanks Rae. I’ll go back up.” Luther trudged out of my office and left for his camp in the woods. The next morning he would return, to be put on the shuttle to California. Often during the trip he would be on FaceTime, on mute, forgetting he’s on a call and checking out his beard and nose to ensure there were no boogers. I’d leave my phone on for the days to follow. Every now and then he would unmute and say “see Rae! No trouble as promised!”
A month later, I would be walking down the city block to get tacos for lunch. I’d click the button to indicate I want to cross the street. While I’d wait for the walk sign, I’d look up to see “V2K Mind Control” written in permanent marker on the sign.