Inside that home, there was no fire. The front door was open to the elements and a freezing wind blew in, depositing a hard slippery frost across the first several feet of the foyer. Staring at an icicle-draped hearth sat Leon, dressed only in his long underwear.
His pupils were dilated. Deep ridges punctuated his orbitals, starting at both corners of his eyes and running almost straight down his cheeks to the edges of his whiskered mouth. The tracks allowed perfectly for the rivers of tears he had shed to be channeled effortlessly from his face to the floor.
The cartilage in his stiff joints crackled as Leon rose to his feet and walked absentmindedly out the front door. The far-off focus of his eyes never changed as he crossed the pasture, passed a bull that was mounting a cow, and waded into a livestock pond until it reached his sternum. His body shook involuntarily but he didn’t resist the painful sting of the frigid water. He stayed there for several hours before returning to his house.
Leon didn’t die from the pneumonia but he did eventually die from the tuberculosis that resulted.
When young Wilhelm heard of his father’s death, his transformation was at hand.
The discovery of his mother’s affair had confused him. Her suicide devastated him. His father’s ensuing depression had devoured him.
Sadly, Wilhelm Reich would take all of the ugliness he knew and try to make sense of it.