The Last Unknown Man

Matt Wolfe in The New Republic:

ScreenHunter_2390 Nov. 22 19.58Early one summer morning, Son Yo Auer, a Burger King employee in Richmond Hill, Georgia, found a naked man lying unconscious in front of the restaurant’s dumpsters. It was before dawn, but the man was sweating and sunburned. Fire ants crawled across his body, and a hot red rash flecked his skin. Auer screamed and ran inside. By the time police arrived, the man was awake, but confused. An officer filed an incident report indicating that a “vagrant” had been found “sleeping,” and an ambulance took him to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Savannah, where he was admitted on August 31, 2004, under the name “Burger King Doe.”

Other than the rash, and cataracts that had left him nearly blind, Burger King Doe showed no sign of physical injury. He appeared to be a healthy white man in his middle fifties. His vitals were good. His blood tested negative for drugs and alcohol. His lab results were, a doctor wrote on his chart, “surprisingly within normal limits.” A long, unwashed beard and dirty fingernails suggested he had been living rough. But the only physical signs of previous trauma were three small depressions on his skull and some scars on his neck and his left arm.

Psychologically, though, something was obviously wrong. Doe refused to eat or speak. He kept his eyes shut. Whenever a doctor touched his chest, he thrashed his limbs. After several days, Doe ate some ice chips and spoke a few words to a nurse. He said he had lived in the woods for 17 years. Asked his name, he replied, “They call me B.K. around here.” No, she said, your real name. “B.K.,” Doe said. “But you’re getting me confused.” Then he went silent.

More here. [Thanks to Omar Ali.]