The two men sat across a table from each other, an incandescent bulb above, in an otherwise unlit room.  The younger man tapped the edge of a folder on the desk to tidy its loose contents and then laid it down.  "I'm going to show you some pictures, Hermann, and I'd like you to tell me stories about them."

The face of the man in the military uniform did not change.  He sniffed:  mildew.  They were supposed to be assessing his mental fitness to stand trial.  He might go mad from boredom in this place.  The cinderblock walls were unpainted, the lampshade metal, even the desk was gray.

"I'll give you an example.  Here's the Mona Lisa.  For centuries people have speculated about her smile.  What was she thinking?  Was she Leonardo's paramour?  Was she happy but simply tired of sitting?  Was she even Leonardo himself, painted in a mirror, with the lady's features on top and his sly smile peeking through?  But it's a very simple picture.  I'll give you some more interesting ones to work with."

The folder opened and a photographic print was passed across the table.  The subject was a rose garden, seen from a point some distance off the ground.  The rosebeds were thick and the paths narrow.  Some were dead ends.  In the upper right, a young man stood in the garden, looking to the right over the bushes.

He picked up the picture and examined it with a barely detectible sneer.  "What does this have to do with my trial?"

"Hermann, I hope you'll appreciate that the tools of the psychiatric profession are sometimes opaque.  I am trying to understand you, and this is my method."

"You needn't lecture me on the study of the mind, boy."  In fact, he was only ten years older than the man with the folder.  "I am one of its foremost practitioners.  All right then."  His hand stroked his chin, his fingers as uncalloused as a safecracker's.

"One day a young student was given a task.  He...."  Hermann looked over his glasses at the younger man.  "She was told to gather a collection of ambiguous photographs.  She is trying to imagine how this task will contribute to her thesis.  She fails, and decides at last that her academic advisor is simply doing what he wants to do without regard for her future, and as usual is simply using her as free labor.  But she has standards, so she passes over the photograph of the moodily lit tube of toothpaste."

The younger man blinked.  "No, you're missing the point.  Stories--well, here's another."  The photograph showed a gravel road with a crumbling rock wall on one side, a meadow behind it, and on the other side a field of freshly cut tree stumps and deep ruts.  The road forked ahead.

"A forest was cleared to make way for new homes.  The landowner photographed the process for legal purposes.  An artist, having no photography skills of his own, found the photo in a public archive and stole it for inclusion in an exhibition of his work.  This exhibition was seen by a professor of psychiatry--"  Exasperated, the analyst took the photo back.

"No, let's continue, this is fun."  With the speed of a pickpocket, he reached across the table and grabbed another from the folder.  It showed a bookcase, with titles from popular culture and from academia, and a near-empty snifter on top.  "Johan was desperate for a commission, but he had no work to show.  He had to build his portfolio, so he began photographing random things."  The analyst snapped the print out of his hands.

"Göring," said Rorschach, "you are on trial for murder on a scale that Vlad the Impaler would disavow. Do not take this process lightly."

They locked eyes. Rorschach: anger. Göring: tight contempt.

"Hermann Göring. Reichsmarschall. 0000021."