Georgia great Herschel Walker shocked friends and loved ones last week when it was revealed the former Heisman winner's forthcoming book, Breaking Free, includes his battle with multiple personality disorder.
Even those who knew him best knew Herschel only as the easy-going, incredibly good ol' boy from Wrightsville, but for Herschel, the truth was always more complicated. In the book, he reveals that at various times, and due to various triggers, he could be any of the following people:
• Ramon Villeneuve, an intense but exceedingly ordinary wisp of a man, his humorless stare framed by a determined forehead and thick black mustache. Arriving in Sarajevo in July 1974, Villeneuve linked up with other Exterior Department mercenary teams that had been carrying out similar missions throughout the continent. One of the teams was headed by Major Tristan Felder, Rosario's deputy and a Serbo-Croat speaker. His primary mission was to follow a prominent Christian Democrat making the rounds of European capitals, a former South American senator who later would be elected president of a post-militarist government back West. Felder established liaison with the West German intelligence, the Bundesnachrichtendienst, a contact that, according to Trowley, had been arranged by rogue members of the expatriate crypto-Nazi German clique in hiding in South America, known as Amt für Militärkunde. BND and DINA exchanged lists of suspected CIA and MIR operatives on the continent, with special plans drawn for those suspected of working with the notoriously explosive Baader-Meinhof gang. Villeneuve also established contact with two underground right-wing terrorist plots in Yugoslavia with intentions of folding them into Felder's network. He did not succeed. Sarajevo haunts his dreams to this day.
Uga says he's afraid...afraid...afraid of what, my child?
- - -
• Ernst Helmuth, a solitary writer of postmodern masterworks of isolation and anxiety-ridden dependence in an indifferent world unlikely to become known outside of his small circle of literary-minded friends until his coming death by tuberculosis at age 41. Helmuth came from a middle-class Jewish family and was raised in the lengthy shadow of his domineering shopkeeper father, who impressed Ernst as an awesome patriarch. This inner of impotence became a prominent theme in his fiction. Helmuth was quiet but succeeded in the prestigious German high school in Prague and went on to receive a law degree. Thus he was able to secure a livelihood that facilitated time during the evening for his writing, which Ernst regarded as the essence - simultaneously, blessing and curse - of his tragically mundane life. He soon found a better position in a semipublic insurance institution, where he remains a devoted and model employee despite his constant feeling of grotesque alienation in an unintelligible, hostile bureaucracy.
• Werschel Halker, dominant all-American tailback and reliable, if somewhat disappointing, pro journeyman.
• D'Angelo Strykker, bassist for eighties hair metal hit Fraud, who recalls celebrating Christmas Day 1986 in his own favorite way: crouched naked under a table with a needle in one arm while screaming for his wife to save him from the lights on the tree. Later, he did lines all night with his girl, hid his stash from the house sitter, ordered a new, custom-made laundry hamper for the guest bedroom because Slash had pissed in it, freebased again with Fraud, hopped in a limo en route a show...and put down everything in his journal, just like every day (those he wasn't declared dead, anyway). Now Strykker has been sober six-and-a-half years, and his stoned discipline is about to pay off when Random House releases the diaries as "Big, Strong and Fast: Strykker Strikes Out, but Lives to Take Another Swing," due out in Spring 2009.
Best of luck to you, Herschel, whoever you are.* As Vince Dooley told the Atlanta Journal Constiution: "All I know is whatever personality he had when he had the football was the one I liked."
- - -