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Flight of the Dodo - 12. Chapter 12

“Good morning, Ed, how are you today?” Psych Aide Robert asked.

I looked up and decided it must be time to get up, use the toilet, put on my robe, and go to breakfast. After that I didn’t know what might occur, but I was certain one of the psych aides would tell me.

“I’m fine, but I need to use the toilet, if you will excuse me,” I said. I threw off the bedcovers and got up out of the bed. I thought for a moment uncertain if I was missing a step. I knew I had to use the toilet, but I also thought there was something I needed to do before going into the bathroom. “Oh, yes, I remember now.”

I turned and pulled the bedcovers back over where I had slept through the night. I smoothed the bedcovers and then knew I could go to the bathroom.

After I came out of the bathroom, I took my robe off the hook on the wall and put it on remembering to tie it as Psych Aide Richard taught me sometime before.

“Ed, put your slippers on,” Psych Aide Robert said.

“Oh, yes, I forgot that step.”

“You’re doing quite well, considering.”


“Do you remember today is Family Day?”

“I want to remember, but I’m still confused as to what is a family.”

“They’re the people you live with. Remember you have a father, mother, sister, and two brothers.”

“Let me think about this. Um, my father is Eric Orton Pedersen III, my mother is Sylvia Esther Pedersen, my sister is Erika Olena Pedersen, my oldest brother is Emmett Omar Pedersen, and my youngest brother is Eric Orton Pedersen IV, and I’m the oldest child, Edvard Oscar Pedersen. Yes, those are the names I was given when my clothes from my home arrived here so that I may wear regular clothes during the day. Yes, Eric, Sylvia, Edvard, Erika, Emmett, and Eric again. Yes, we are a family. Yes?”

“You got it, Ed.”

“Good, but can I remember it at the meeting in the atrium?”

“I’m sure they will be understanding if you can’t match the names with the faces. After all, you’ve only just begun replacing your long-term memories.”

“Can I go to breakfast now?”

“Of course, let’s go.”

I left my room with Psych Aide Robert and we walked down the hall to the dayroom. All the patients who had gained level two status were lined up along the far wall by the door to the common hallway. I was still at level one because I was still having difficulty with the basic rules of the young adult ward. My breakfast would be brought here by kitchen workers and all of us at level one would eat at tables in the corner.

After all the level two patients left to go eat in the patient cafeteria, two kitchen workers pushed their carts into the dayroom. I walked at a steady pace over to where the line was forming by the food carts. As usual, I was at the end of the line because I had to walk across the dayroom and the other patients were mobbing the food carts. Psych Aide David blew his whistle and all the patients formed a rowdy line away from the food carts. Psych Aide David blew his whistle twice in quick succession and the line straightened up pushing me back toward the nurse’s room.

“Okay, everybody, today is Family Day,” Psych Aide William said. “Remember any disruption during breakfast will result in you not participating and your family being told you lost your privilege to participate in Family Day activities. I’m sure you know they will be quite upset with you and may feel it isn’t necessary to come to another Family Day. The decision is yours ladies and gentlemen. Mrs. Walker, you may begin serving breakfast.”

Mrs. Walker and her companion began pulling trays out of the carts and handing one to each of the patients as they stepped up to the nearest cart. I stayed not too close to the woman in front of me as we came nearer to the food carts. My stomach was making noises in anticipation of the food I was about to eat.

“Hey, quit that!” the woman in front of me said. She turned and reached out as if to push me away, but I had quickly stepped back away from her.

“Miss Thurston, what is your problem this morning?” Psych Aide David asked.

“You saw him, he tried to rape me,” Miss Thurston said.

“Miss Thurston, step out of the line, now!” Psych Aide David said.

Miss Thurston stood where she was glaring at me as if I had actually done something to her. I was certain I didn’t touch her. She stepped toward me and I backed away from her. She had that crazed look that only people in a psych ward know how to make.

“Mr. Pedersen! Move away from Miss Thurston, now!” Psych Aide William said.

I did as I was told and Psych Aides David and Robert closed in on Miss Thurston. They grabbed her and manhandled her to the floor.

“Rape! Rape! Rape!” Miss Thurston screamed over and over.

I moved over and rejoined the breakfast line purposely not watching what was occurring to Miss Thurston. I knew what was occurring. Everyone in the dayroom knew what was occurring. Miss Thurston was going to get an injection and then she was going to end up in a quiet room. She wouldn’t be participating in Family Day activities. Her family were going to be upset.

Finally, I reached the first food cart, but the kitchen worker didn’t give me a tray. I looked at her and she only shrugged her shoulders. I went to the other food cart, but the kitchen worker had already released its wheel brakes and was pushing it out of the dayroom. I wasn’t going to be fed today. I was at a loss as what to do. I didn’t want to make a scene and end up getting an injection and a trip to a quiet room and miss out on Family Day activities and make my family angry. I started shaking all over and my heart was doing that strange beating that gave me a queasy feeling in my chest. For some unknown reason, I knew I was going to faint and fall on the floor and get another skull fracture and lose the sight in my right eye.

“Mr. Pedersen, come with me,” someone said. “Here, sit down here, come on, please don’t faint on me. Come on, sit, that’s it. Now, try to put your head between your knees, yes. Now, breathe slowly.”

“How is he?”

“I think I caught him in time.”

“Good, I’ll go and see if they can make up a tray for him.”

“He was doing so well.”

“Yeah, but you know what his record says.”

“Yes, but it’s hard seeing this kind of thing happening to a patient.”

“You’re new, you’ll get used to it. I’ll be back in a few.”

“Aggie, can you get some water for Mr. Pedersen?”

“Sure thing, Bill.”

“Mr. Pedersen, can you sit up? Good, now, just keep breathing slowly.”

“Here’s his water.”

“Thanks, Aggie. Here Mr. Pedersen, sip some of this water.”

“Am I going to miss out on Family Day?” I asked.

“Naw, you just had a little panic attack because they ran out of food trays,” Psych Aide William said. “We got a couple new patients in last night and I guess somebody forgot to notify the kitchen they needed to prepare two more trays this morning.”


After breakfast Psych Aide Robert took me out of the ward and down to the exercise room for our building. There I did my exercises for my wrists, hands, and fingers. Due to the depths of my cuts, I had lost a significant sense of feeling on the palm side of my fingers and thumb on my left hand. My right hand wasn’t damaged as much because I couldn’t hold the knife very well with my left hand. The tendons had been surgically repaired, but nerves are harder to repair. The stupid craziness of my actions dwelled heavily on my mind.

After I returned to the ward I was allowed to take a supervised shower, shave, and I brushed my teeth. The hospital provided the soap, shampoo, shaving soap, razor, toothpaste, and toothbrush. I put on clean underwear, nice jeans, and a regular t-shirt. I wasn’t allowed to wear my University of Washington, whatever that was, and North Park College, whatever that was, t-shirts because they were against hospital policy. I asked why and Nurse Beth said another patient may take umbrage, whatever that was, against the shirts and cause a ruckus, whatever that was. I told them to send them back and they said they would hold them in the office until Family Day. I could give them back to my parents at that time. For some reason I didn’t completely understand, the prospect of giving something to my parents made me feel good. Of course, due to the ECT treatments I couldn’t clearly remember my parents. I didn’t remember the sound of their voices and I still wasn’t positive the pictures they sent of my family were the people I remembered the last time I saw them. Of course, I couldn’t exactly remember the last time I saw any of my family. That was why I was looking forward to meeting them today at Family Day.

Then I went out in the dayroom and found a chair close enough to the television to watch the Saturday morning cartoons. I couldn’t remember ever watching any of the ones being shown. The other patients laughed, but I didn’t know why they were laughing. I was beginning to understand what those twelve ECT treatments had done to my memory and I wasn’t too happy about being forced to go through them. I was a little angry with Dr. Levinson, but for some reason here in this building I had a new psychiatrist. Dr. Doyle was a short woman with short black hair and dark skin like she spent too much time out in the sun. Also, she seemed to be extra happy about everything, which for someone as mentally ill as me is a bit disconcerting. Around the unit, really happy people were always suspect.

The cartoons were getting on my nerves because I didn’t understand what they were about, so I went to my room, took the photographs and index cards with family facts from the top drawer in my wardrobe, and sat on my bed to look at them.

“Ed, what are you doing in here?” Psych Aide Robert asked.

“I’m going to look at my family pictures and review my family facts.”

“You remember you are not supposed to be in your room without permission from staff?”

“Um, no?”

“Today is Family Day and this is an infraction that could prevent you from participating in Family Day.”

“No! You can’t do that to me. I have made plans, I think. No, maybe I haven’t made plans to see my family on Family Day. I’ll put my photographs and information index cards back in the top drawer of my wardrobe.”

“You can look at them outside in the dayroom.”

“But what if someone tries to take them from me. There are crazy people out there.”

“Ed, I’m asking you to leave your room. You can look at your photographs and information cards at the table next to the staff table. Okay?”

“Okay, I’ll go out to the dayroom. I don’t want to miss out on Family Day.”

“Good boy, and, Ed, please try to remember you only can go into your room with permission of staff.”

“Yes, I’ll try to remember that, but you know it is now hard for me to remember things.”

“All I ask is that you try to remember the rules in this ward.”

“Yes, I’ll try to remember the rules,” I said as I pulled a piece of paper out of my back pants pocket. “Oh, yes, see, I still have the piece of paper you gave me that has all the rules on it. Yes, I’ll have to remember I have the rules. Though, I do wish I could read them. Do you think I’ll remember how to read some day?”

“Everything will come back in time.”

Psych Aide Robert made me go out of my room first. I walked over to the table next to the table where the Psych Aides sat. From their table they could see the whole of the dayroom, but they were far enough from the television so that it wouldn’t bother them. I set my photographs and information index cards on the table, pulled out the chair I was going to use, and just as I was about to sit down, Nurse Aggie called out from the nurses’ room, “Mr. Pedersen, your family has arrived at the hospital. Please get ready to go down to the building Rec Hall. It is raining and the families will meet patients in there.”

I pushed in the chair and said, “Um, could I take my photographs and information index cards back to my room before I go meet my family?”

“Bob, he’s your boy today,” Psych Aide David said.

“Come on, Ed, let’s get you ready to meet your family,” Psych Aide Robert said.

I picked up my photographs and information index cards and then I carried them into my room where I put them back in the top drawer of my wardrobe. After closing the top drawer of my wardrobe, I turned and saw Psych Aide Robert standing at my room door. I walked over to him and said, “I’m ready to go meet my family.”

“Do you need to use the toilet?”

“Oh, yes, I guess I’d better do that now. I’m so excited to meet my family.”



“Go use the toilet.”

“Oh, yes, yes, I’ll do that.”

I came out of the bathroom and saw Psych Aide Robert still standing at my door. I went up to him and said, “Yes? What have I done wrong this time?”

“Ed, what are we going to do with you? Your memory is totally shot. I think, maybe on Monday I’ll put in a referral to neurology to have your memory tested. We’ll never be able to let you leave here unless you can remember basic memories.”

“I’m sorry you are upset with me, but I don’t know what I can do to make it better.”

“Yeah, Ed, and that’s about the size of it. Okay, let’s go meet your family. They should be in the Rec Hall by now. Dave, I’m taking Ed down to meet with his family.”

I watched Psych Aide Robert use his key to unlock the door to the ward and he directed me to go out first. I waited for him to shut the door. He came up to me and motioned me to start walking. I didn’t know where we were going other than it was called the Rec Hall. We turned a corner and I saw a sign on the wall that said, Recreation Hall, and had an arrow point down the hall we were in. I deduced that the Rec Hall and the Recreation Hall were the same place because both place names began with “Rec.” I might have said this, but Psych Aide Robert might think I was being silly or just crazy as most patients were here at the mental hospital. Eventually, we turned into another hallway and there was one of the Recreation Hall signs with an arrow pointing in the direction we were walking. Then we came to a double set of doors over which there was a large sign that said Recreation Hall. I watched Psych Aide Robert use a key to unlock the door. After opening it, he directed me inside. I saw tables and chairs set up throughout the Rec Hall. Already, there were patients meeting with their families. I looked around the room, but couldn’t see any people that might be my family. Then I saw a man stand up at a table where there was only one other person and that was a young girl. Since I was expecting a father, mother, sister, and two brothers, I knew that man couldn’t be my father.

“Ed, I think that is your father,” Psych Aide Robert said.

“No, he can’t be, there is no mother or two brothers. That can’t be my family.”

“Come on, Ed, let’s go see.”

“They can’t be my family. There isn’t enough people at the table.”

“Come on, Ed.”

“Okay, but you are making a mistake.”

We walked across the Rec Hall to that man and that young girl. As we came close to the man, he said, “Hey, Eddie, it’s great to see you.”

“Who are you? Where is my family? There isn’t enough people here for you to be my family.”

“I sorry, Eddie, but your mother felt little Eric was too young to come here to the hospital and she kept Emmett with her.”

“No! No!”

And then I began to shake and my heart started beating wrong. My breathing became shallow and I felt myself falling, falling, falling.

“What’s happening to Eddie?”

“He’s having a panic attack. Code 3! I need help here.”


I was told to stay in bed because of the meltdown and the meds they gave me, but, of course, that is impossible because I had to get out of bed to use the toilet and I had to get out of bed to go eat. After I came back from the bathroom, I got my photographs and information index cards out of the top drawer of the wardrobe. I looked at the first photograph which showed a young man holding a baby. I turned the photograph over and read the words written there: “Eric with Eddie, 1 month.” I turned the photograph over and looked at the picture and then I turned the photograph over and looked at the words. I tried to look back in my memories, but I couldn’t understand why I was sent this photograph because it had a young man and a baby I had never seen in my life. I tore the photograph in half and then tore the halves in half. I laid the pieces on the bed beside my left leg.

I took the next photograph off the pile and looked at an older man, a younger man holding a baby, and a little boy standing in front of a Christmas tree decorated with colored lights and colorful ornaments that reflected the lights. I turned the photograph over and read the words written there: “Grampa Eric, Eric with Erika (2 months), Eddie (5 years).” I turned the photograph over and looked at the people standing in front of the Christmas tree. I tried to remember if I had ever seen those people, but just as with the first picture none of them looked like anyone I had ever seen. I tore the photograph in half and then tore the halves in half. I laid the pieces on top of the other torn up photograph beside my left leg.

“Hello, Edvard, how are you doing?” a voice said.

I looked up and saw Dr. Doyle standing in my doorway.

“Oh, hello, Dr. Doyle, why are you here?”

“May I come in? I’d like to talk to you for a while.”

“Oh, yes. I’d like to talk to someone after what happened today.”

Dr. Doyle came in holding a chair from the dayroom. She came over to the foot of my bed where she put the chair on the floor. She sat down on the chair, smiled, and said, “Looking at photographs of the family?”

“I suppose they are somebody’s family, but I didn’t recognize the people in the first two pictures I looked at. I tore them up, so I won’t have to look at them again. I don’t want to get confused on the day I do meet my family.”

“I just spoke with your father.”

“You did? Did he call to apologize for not coming to Family Day?”

“Do you remember the man you met today in the Rec Hall?”

“Oh, yes, but he wasn’t my father. I know that because there was no mother or two little brothers. There was just that man and a girl. They couldn’t have been the family who came to see me on Family Day.”

“What would you say if I told that man was your father Eric and that girl was your sister Erika?”

“But where was the mother? What happened to the boys who are supposed to be my brothers, Emmett and E4?”


“Hah, hah, you called me Eddie. No one has called me that, since, since, E3 called me Eddie the time I was in County General after having a meltdown because a policeman tried to arrest me for prostitution. Hey, I remembered that? I remember that I didn’t get off the Number 10 trolley at the stop where I needed to so I could walk to my appointment with Dr. Roberta Kaiser, my new psychiatrist. I ended up in Volunteer Park. That is where the Seattle Art Museum is. That is also where homosexual men go to have sex and get arrested by the police. I remembered all of that. Now, what about E3 and Erika?”

“E3? Who’s that?”

“That is my father. See, my great-grandfather E1, whose name was actually Eric Orton Pedersen, came from Norway in the nineteenth century. After he married my great-grandmother, but I can’t remember her name, they had a son and he was named Eric Orton Pedersen, Junior. E2 had a son he was named Eric Orton Pedersen III. E3 had a son he was named Eric Orton Pedersen IV.”

“Is E4 older than you?”

“Oh, no, you see for some reason neither of the families of E2 or E3 named their first two boys Eric Orton Pedersen. It is always that last child who always turned out to be a boy. Don’t ask me the why of that because I don’t understand how that could have occurred twice.”

“Okay, but back to today in the Rec Hall and your missing mother—”


“Syl? Why not Sylvia?”

“Don’t ask me why because I don’t understand why I do the things I do. I think it is because I’m crazy. That is why I’m here. I did something very crazy and now I have to do exercises because of what I did to myself. Do you know why Syl and Emmett and E4 were not here today?”

“Yes, but do you want to know?”

“Can I guess?”


“Well, you see Syl has a big problem with me being crazy. I don’t know the why of it, but for as long as I can remember she has always said I was a stupid, ignorant dodo. Then I had to go to Western State Hospital because I believed I had been switched at birth and was actually an African from the Ivory Coast. From then on Syl hated me because I was crazy, besides being a stupid, ignorant dodo. My guess is she didn’t want to come and she used the excuse that E4 was too young to come to this place and, as long as E4 couldn’t come, then there was no reason for Emmett to come, too. Did I guess correctly?”

“As my husband often says, you’re spot-on. But you know, Eddie, sometimes you come across quite lucid. It’s almost as if you are only insane when you want to be. Maybe you’ve been doing this for so long you’ve made a habit of it. Maybe you’re not as crazy as you think you are.”

“No, Dr. Doyle, I’m crazy, but I’m also very well medicated. And, now, I’m getting my memories back. You know, before you came here, I did a very crazy thing. I looked at two photographs and in my insanity I didn’t recognize the people in the photographs, nor did I recognize the names on the backs of the photographs. Do you know the crazy thing I did?”

“I believe you said earlier that you had torn some pictures so you wouldn’t be confused when you family came to see you.”

“Oh, yes, I remember telling you that. Those ECT treatments really messed up the parts of my brain that make and keep memories. Anyway, I’m very sorry I tore up those pictures and I know by doing that Syl is going to be very angry because she can’t handle my insanity. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I certainly can’t go back to live in the same house as Syl because she will do whatever she can to get rid of me because I’m crazy.”

“Eddie, can I have the pictures?”

“Why would you want them?”

“Maybe I can get them repaired. You see, my husband is a professional photographer. He might be able to fix them.”

“That would be very nice if you could do that. Here, these are the pieces.”

“Well, you certainly didn’t tear them up like you were talking. These shouldn’t be very difficult to repair at all.”

“Thank you, but for some reason I’m not certain they can be fixed, not that I don’t trust you. Thank you for coming to see me. I’d like to sleep a little bit before they call me for dinner. That medicine they gave me for the panic attack makes me sleepy.”

“Okay, Eddie, I’ll see you the day after tomorrow for your appointment. Goodbye.”

“Goodbye, Dr. Doyle.”

Copyright © 2021 CarlHoliday; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

Eddie has my heart! I feel badly when he starts in to a panic attack. He seems to want to do well, and he has moments when he is quite perceptive. I wonder if Dr. Doyle can help him with his memory and his low sense of self-worth. Thanks. 

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4 hours ago, JeffreyL said:

Eddie has my heart! I feel badly when he starts in to a panic attack. He seems to want to do well, and he has moments when he is quite perceptive. I wonder if Dr. Doyle can help him with his memory and his low sense of self-worth. Thanks. 

Thanks for the comment. Syl's belittling of her son really put him into a hole. I suppose we can look at the suicide attempt as Eddie's hitting bottom, but we have a long way to go to see if he's going to end up with a decent chance at life.

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Well I’m glad Edvard is getting his memories back and clearly the “treatments” only made things worse so I hope he doesn’t receive anymore. I’m sorry Syl didn’t come as it didn’t help his depression any yet it’s not surprising.

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13 hours ago, NimirRaj said:

Well I’m glad Edvard is getting his memories back and clearly the “treatments” only made things worse so I hope he doesn’t receive anymore. I’m sorry Syl didn’t come as it didn’t help his depression any yet it’s not surprising.

Thanks for your comment. Ever upward, but too bad about Syl trying to mess things up.

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