Saturday, April 22, 2006

Columbia's History Remains Untold

Nearly a month after I ordered The Untold History of Columbia University from Herman’s Rare Books, it arrived in my mailbox yesterday. Unfortunately, the package included a note from Mr. Herman himself. He recently purchased the item from a very reputable collector, he wrote. But before shipping it to me, he took the time to examine the book closely and discovered that a number of pages had been removed from the text. He claims he tried to email me, but never received a response. (A flimsy excuse, I thought, until I checked my order slip and discovered I had mistyped my own email address.) He eventually shipped the book anyway, but should I decide to return it, he will gladly supply a full refund.

Sure enough, as I thumbed through the book, I noticed that several pages had been carefully cut out. Judging from the table of contents, the book was missing a map of the Columbia tunnels and 10 pages of text from a short chapter entitled “Bloomingdale Experiments in Mind Control.” The only new information I could find was a brief mention of a tunnel that linked the asylum’s main building to the home of Dr. Phineas Dunne, one of the institution’s leading physicians. The tunnel, (which I can only imagine is the same one that now ends under an apartment building on the outskirts of the Columbia campus), was used to ferry certain patients back and forth for special “treatments” without arousing the suspicions of their fellow inmates.

A thorough Internet search has revealed nothing about the mysterious Dr. Dunne. He, along with every other lead I’ve tried to follow in this case, has brought me to a dead end. I’m sorry to say that since my last post, the Irregulars have made no progress in our investigations. Luz’s cameras have revealed no visitors to the hidden tunnel. DeeDee has seen no trace of the man we believe is living in the Butler Library stacks. Even Oona and Betty’s visit to the chemical plant in New Jersey was nothing more than a wild goose chase. While Manhattan reeked of Mrs. Butterworth, the scientists across the river were busy perfecting the chemical concoction that makes fast food hamburgers smell like real meat. (Since their visit, Betty has become a vegetarian.)

The only incident I have to report may have nothing to do with the Irregular’s investigations. Since Columbia was overwhelmed by the maple syrup smell more than a week ago, it seems the Anorexic Chef across the street has been unable to stop eating. I personally witnessed her consume two pans of brownies and a stick of butter while she watched an episode of Lost. Yesterday, I came home from class and saw my neighbor passed out on her kitchen floor, covered in cocoa powder. I called an ambulance, and when the paramedics arrived, I was glad to see that one of them shook out her wig and placed it on the gurney beside her. I’ve tried to check up on her, but the hospital refuses to tell me anything other than she’s doing “fine.”


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