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A Filbert Is a Nut by Rick Raphael

A FILBERT IS A NUT

BY RICK RAPHAEL

_That the gentleman in question was a nut was beyond question. He was an institutionalized psychotic. He was nutty enough to think he could make an atom bomb out of modeling clay!_

Illustrated by Freas

Miss Abercrombie, the manual therapist patted the old man on the shoulder. "You're doing just fine, Mr. Lieberman. Show it to me when you have finished."

The oldster in the stained convalescent suit gave her a quick, shy smile and went back to his aimless smearing in the finger paints.

Miss Abercrombie smoothed her smock down over trim hips and surveyed the other patients working at the long tables in the hospital's arts and crafts shop. Two muscular and bored attendants in spotless whites, lounged beside the locked door and chatted idly about the Dodgers' prospects for the pennant.

Through the barred windows of the workshop, rolling green hills were seen, their tree-studded flanks making a pleasant setting for the mental institution. The crafts building was a good mile away from the main buildings of the hospital and the hills blocked the view of the austere complex of buildings that housed the main wards.

The therapist strolled down the line of tables, pausing to give a word of advice here, and a suggestion there.

She stopped behind a frowning, intense patient, rapidly shaping blobs of clay into odd-sized strips and forms. As he finished each piece, he carefully placed it into a hollow shell hemisphere of clay.

"And what are we making today, Mr. Funston?" Miss Abercrombie asked.

The flying fingers continued to whip out the bits of shaped clay as the patient ignored the question. He hunched closer to his table as if to draw away from the woman.

"We mustn't be antisocial, Mr. Funston," Miss Abercrombie said lightly, but firmly. "You've been coming along famously and you must remember to answer when someone talks to you. Now what are you making? It looks very complicated." She stared professionally at the maze of clay parts.

Thaddeus Funston continued to mold the clay bits and put them in place.

Without looking up from his bench he muttered a reply.

"Atom bomb."

A puzzled look crossed the therapist's face. "Pardon me, Mr. Funston. I thought you said an 'atom bomb.'"

"Did," Funston murmured.

Safely behind the patient's back, Miss Abercrombie smiled ever so slightly. "Why that's very good, Mr. Funston. That shows real creative thought. I'm very pleased."

She patted him on the shoulder and moved down the line of patients.


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