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    CarlHoliday
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Flight of the Dodo - 14. Chapter 14

Is it possible that someone would be interested in Ed enough to be his friend?

Monday finally came and my alarm clock went off at 5:30. I opened my eyes and thought for a moment about why the alarm clock was making so much noise so early in the morning. Then I realized that was a crazy thought and the alarm was making so much noise for a reason. I remembered I had to be down at the Seventh Heaven Hotel at Sixth Avenue and Yesler Way at eight o’clock to fill out the paperwork to be employed as a banquet and conference helper. I turned off the alarm clock and got out of bed. I went into the bathroom and did everything that needed to be done so I could get dressed. I went back into my bedroom, put the bed back in order for the next time I’d sleep in it. I put on my clothes and dress shoes, and went out of the bedroom and into the kitchen. I saw the paper E3 had given me with my instructions for the day. I went over and used the pencil with an eraser to check off using the bathroom, making the bed, and dressing. I thought for a moment as to why turning off the alarm clock wasn’t there, but then I realized that nothing would have occurred if I had not turned off the alarm clock and stayed in bed. Then I realized that expecting checking off the alarm clock step was a crazy thought. One of the things I learned at Northern State Hospital was recognizing crazy thoughts as they came along and not to act on them because crazy thoughts were illogical and had no place in the life of a person trying to be normal. So far, so good.

After breakfast and taking my morning meds, I looked out the front window drapes and saw that it was raining. I thought for a moment and remembered I had an umbrella in case it was raining or snowing. I made a note in my mind to take the umbrella out of its stand by the front door before I went out and locked the door. I checked the apartment and made certain everything was in order for me to leave. I put on my coat and then went to the counter where my instructions for the day were waiting with my pencil with an eraser. I folded up the instructions and then put them and the pencil with an eraser in my right coat pocket. Then I took out my wallet and opened it. It saw the hundred dollar bill I was going to give the person at the Seventh Heaven Hotel personnel office for my union dues. Also I saw the extra paper money I might need during the week. Most of my money was in a cigar box E3 gave me that I kept in the nightstand next my bed. I took one of the one dollar bills and put in my left front pants pocket where it would be handy to put into the money collector machine by the bus driver. I put my wallet back in the left rear pocket of my black slacks. I zipped up my coat, took the umbrella out of its stand, unlocked the door, went out, closed the door, used my key to lock the door and then the deadbolt, and then walked down to the elevators. There are three elevators in the North Park Tower apartment building: two regular sized elevators and a larger one normally used to move furniture into and out of the building. People can use the furniture elevator if there are a lot of people using the regular elevators. I pushed the down button for the regular elevators. The furniture elevator has its own call button, but it has only one, whereas the regular elevator has an up button and a down button. I thought about why the furniture elevator only had one button and the regular elevators had two buttons, but a regular elevator came and I went into the car. The button for the first floor had already been pushed. I looked around the elevator and saw a young man in a navy blue pinstripe suit and blue and green striped tie, with black penny loafers, an overcoat, and carrying an umbrella. He was shorter than me, but not so short as to be a small person. He had long curly black hair, black eyebrows, pale blue eyes, and freckles on his cheeks. He looked older than me, but maybe not that old. What did I know?

“Hey! How’s it going?” the young man asked. “I’m Frank Higgins, I live in 1408 with my parents. I haven’t seen you before, are you new?”

Growing up, Syl told me to never talk to strangers because they might want to do naughty things to me. But I found that talking to some strangers who seemed to be nice never resulted in me being harmed. I remember asking Syl what were those naughty things. Syl said that decent people didn’t discuss such things and that I would understand when I was older. That made no sense to me because if something was going to happen while I was young, I should know what might happen. Luckily, I grew up at a time when kids were allowed to play outside and go blocks away from home to a park or down to the beach with others. So I learned from older kids which strangers you could trust and which ones you needed to leave alone. Even though I’m crazy, I still grew up with enough street smarts to be aware of adults who might be dangerous.

“Hi, I’m Ed, I moved in on Friday,” I said.

“Do you live with your parents?” Frank asked.

“No, I live alone.”

“You do? You don’t look old enough to live alone.”

“I didn’t know if there were rules about that. Maybe I should check with E3 today and find out if it is okay for me to have an apartment here in the North Park Tower apartment building.”

“Are you sick or something?”

“Yes, I’m mentally ill.”

“Jeez, are you dangerous?”

“No, I take medication to make me almost normal.”

“But you’re insane, right?”

“No, I’m not insane. I’m schizophrenic. I don’t think like normal people. It is harder for me to live because I don’t think correctly.”

“Cool, so, maybe, we could become friends.”

The elevator came to the first floor, the door opened, and I started to get out, but immediately noticed that Frank didn’t look like he was coming out with me. I thought that maybe he was afraid that I was mentally ill, but I had a bus to catch and couldn’t wait.

“I have a car,” Frank said.

“Oh, okay,” I said as I stepped off the elevator.

As I walked across the lobby, I noticed the guard wasn’t at his usual place. That made me wonder if something was wrong, but then realized that wasn’t of any concern to me. Just another crazy thought messy with my mind. I went out the front door, put up my umbrella, and set out toward the bus stop. As I was walking up North One Hundred Twelfth Street a light blue 1965 Ford Falcon stopped beside me. I looked through the open window and saw Frank.

“What a ride?” Frank asked.

“You are probably not going where I am,” I said.

“So where are you going, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“The Seventh Heaven Hotel at Sixth Avenue and Yesler Way in downtown Seattle.”

“No kidding, I work at the Yesler Building at Fourth and Yesler. In fact, I park in the Seventh Heaven parking garage. I can take you right where you’re going. How about it?”

“Um, okay, I’ll do it.”

I walked around the car and got in on the passenger side. I fastened my seatbelt and looked over at Frank. He smiled and then drove up to the stop sign at Meridian Avenue North. He turned left and drove down to North One Hundred Tenth Street and waited for the light. After it turned green, he waited for a northbound car to go through the intersection and turned left. He drove down to First Avenue Northeast and turned right. I had never been this way and I began to wonder if Frank was kidnapping me, but he turned right onto the Express Lanes on ramp and I knew that it was going to be okay.

“You don’t talk much,” Frank said.

“No,” I said.

“So what do you do at the hotel?”

“This is my first day. After I’m employed at the personnel office, I’m supposed to help with setting up banquets and conferences and then taking the furniture down again.”

“Oh, okay, so how did you find about this job?”

“E3’s friend Mr. Rabie Ibrahim owns the Seventh Heaven Hotel.”

“Who is this E3 you keep talking about?”

“He is my father. I call him E3 because it is easier to remember that than his name. Also, he is the third person to have his name, so I know who I’m talking about if I refer to the by their numbers.”

“Cool, that sort of makes sense. So what do you do for fun?”

“I don’t have fun. It is hard enough for me trying to be normal that I don’t think I have done anything for fun.”

“Shit, no kidding, wow, that’s totally crazy.”

“Yes, if I’m not careful I do get crazy sometimes.”

“So what’s your girlfriend’s name?”

“I don’t have a girlfriend.”

“Oh, okay, so what’s your boyfriend’s name?”

“Boyfriend? What do you mean by that?”

“If you don’t have a girlfriend, I thought you might have a boyfriend.”

“I have never had a friend, male or female. I almost had a friend in high school, but he moved to Canada before we could really get to know each other. It is hard for me to make friends because other kids my age think I’m weird because I’m so tall, skinny, and crazy most of the time.”

“That sounds sort of like lonely. You know, Ed, I could be your friend. What do you think of that?”

“I think I might like that.”

“Cool, so when do you get off work, or do you even know?”

“Six o’clock I think. I think I remember E3 saying my normal hours will be nine o’clock in the morning to six o’clock in the evening.”

“Oh, well, so much for riding to and from work with me.”

“Sorry, but I guess we can’t be friends now.”

“Oh, no, you’re not getting rid of me that easy. No, we’re going to be friends. Good friends, if I have my way. You can count on that. So what apartment are you in?”

“1105.”

“Cool, I’ll stop by tonight after you’ve come home. Okay?”

“Yes, that will be okay.”

“Cool, I’ll see you then. Do you want to come into the garage with me or do you want to get out here?”

“I have to get out here because I have to go in the employee entrance.”

“Okay, that’ll work for me. See you later, alligator.”

“Huh?”

“Don’t worry about it.”

I got out of Frank’s car and stood on the sidewalk as I opened my umbrella. I thought about why Frank was talking about alligators because, as far as I knew, they were only in Florida. Then I decided that possibly Frank was talking crazy because, maybe, he was crazy like I was, but better medicated. I decided that I needed to talk to Dr. Kaiser about people who talked about alligators being in Seattle.

It wasn’t raining hard, just enough to be messy. I looked at my watch to see what time it was and saw that I didn’t put my watch on before I left my apartment. I felt very stupid for doing that. After Frank turned into the parking garage, I walked down to Yesler and turned to go down to the alley where the employee entrance was. I came to the employee entrance and walked up the stairs, but had to press myself against the steel bannister because three older men came out the door and hurried down the stairs almost knocking me down.

One of them stopped and asked, “Who are you, and what are you doing here? You might as well go home because they’re not hiring in there.”

I didn’t believe him and went in the door. I walked down the hall to Personnel Office. The door was closed, but I tried the doorknob and the door opened. I went inside and stood at the counter waiting for the man on the telephone to finish. He seemed young maybe a little older than Frank. Since he was sitting at a desk, I couldn’t tell how tall he was. He had his brown hair in a crew cut. His face was long and narrow with dark eyebrows, green eyes, a long nose, thin lips, and a prominent notch in his chin. I hoped he wasn’t going to be like that woman and not like me because I was of Norwegian descent. I looked around me and saw a clock on the wall. It was only 7:21. I was very early. I hoped I wasn’t too early and be forced to go out and stand in the rain.

The man at the desk hung up the telephone and asked, “Are you Edvard Pedersen?”

“Yes, I’m sorry about being too early,” I said.

“Don’t worry about it. I understand your father is a friend of Mr. Ibrahim.”

“Yes, they knew each other in the war.”

“Oh, yeah, war buddies, huh, I had a few buddies over in ’nam. But I was in the Marines and war buddies in the Marines are forever. So where did your old man know Mr. Ibrahim?”

“Mr. Ibrahim was my father’s Gunnery Sergeant in his company on Iwo Jima. He saved my father’s life after an explosion tore off my father’s left hand.”

“Gunnery Sergeant, huh? I guess Mr. Ibrahim deserves a little more respect from me from now on. I didn’t know he was in the Marines, but now that I do, well, things are going to be different around here. So you’re here to be a helper in the banquet and conference office. You know anything about doing paperwork?”

“I don’t know how to do anything. This is my first job.”

“How old are you?”

“I’ll be nineteen in December.”

“On the information your father provided it shows you went to North Park High and Bergman Alternative, but doesn’t show you graduated. Any reason for that I should know about?”

“I’m stupid.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“I’m mentally ill and have trouble dealing with things.”

“Well, I can tell you right now, you’re not going to make it in banquet and conference, but you still need to work here. I tell you what, I’ll have you work for me. I had to let my previous assistant go because he was stealing from petty cash. You ever steal something?”

“Yes, I received my draft notice and it said I had to bring enough clothes for three days, but didn’t say anything about needing money. It didn’t say anything about needing money for food, so I decided to take some money with me. I didn’t have an allowance like the other children in the family because I’m mentally ill. That was because E3 thought I wasn’t responsible enough to have one. So I took it from Syl’s household allowance. But at the Induction Center I was reclassified to 4-F because of my mental illness, bad knees, and being legally blind in my left eye, so I gave the money back to Syl.”

“Who are E3 and Syl?”

“Oh, sorry, you see E3 is my father. His real name is Eric Orton Pedersen III, so I call him E3 to distinguish him from his father E2. Also, my little brother is E4. Syl is my mother. Her real name is Sylvia, but I don’t call her that. I recently had ECT treatments and my memory is toast, whatever that means.”

“Why don’t you call your parents Mom and Dad or something along those lines?”

“I don’t know. I can’t remember ever calling them Mommy or Daddy or Mom or Dad or Mother or Father. It just never came up. I suppose that is evidence of my being mentally ill at an early age. My diagnosis was early-onset schizophrenia. I guess it’s rare.”

“You said you were stupid. Would you happen to know your IQ?”

“Yes, it is 73.”

“That’s not that low.”

“I saw in a book is borderline something, but I can’t remember what that something is.”

“What are your hobbies?”

“I don’t have any hobbies. I don’t think I’m smart enough to have a hobby.”

“Tell you what, why don’t you come over here and sit down in that chair.”

“This one?”

“Yes, that one will do. I’ll be back in a bit.”

I sat in the chair and watched the man walk out the door. I hoped I wasn’t in trouble. I emptied my mind and thought of nothing. After a while the man came back and sat down at his desk. He looked troubled about something.

“Okay, I just spoke with Mr. Ibrahim. You see, we have a problem with you working here. I don’t think you’re smart enough to do any job we have here in the hotel. Even the simplest jobs have a certain degree of complexity to them. If you were to work in the banquet and conference group, we’re not certain you’d be able to handle the job if there aren’t any banquets or conferences going on in the hotel. At those times you would be expected to help out in the kitchen or in housekeeping, but those jobs are even more complicated. I’m sorry, but we’re not going to be able to hire you.”

“Yes, I can see where I might be a problem here because I’m really not that smart. Well, I suppose I had better leave.”

I stood, picked up my umbrella, and started to walk to the door.

“Ed, wait, come back, maybe there is something you can do here.”

I went back to the desk I had been sitting at and sat down in the chair.

“Now, you just stay right there. I’ll be right back.”

As before, I sat in the chair waiting and as I had done the first time, I emptied my mind so I didn’t have to think of anything. Yet, I noticed something on the desk where that man sat. There was a rectangle of blue plastic that had letters etched in it. The letters spelled out: David Ackerman. Then I realized that must be the name of the man who sat at that desk. After a while Mr. Ackerman came back with an older man who looked somewhat familiar, but where I had seen him I couldn’t remember. That was probably due to those ECT treatments.

The older man came over to where I was sitting and took a chair from beside another desk. He put the chair next to the desk where I was sitting, sat down, and said, “Ed, I’m Rabie Ibrahim. You know, I haven’t seen you since, oh, you must have been in sixth grade. I think it was a Christmas party at the athletic club. You’ve certainly grown since then. So Dave here thinks we might be able to hire you for what we’ll call a Gofer. For most of the time you work here in the personnel office, but on occasion I may need you to run errands around the hotel or around the city. You’ll be on a salary, so your work hours will be variable. Dave said you came in a little early today. Why was that?”

“I got a ride with a man who lives in my apartment building. He works in the Yesler Building, but parks his car here in the hotel garage.”

“Oh, okay. On most days that’ll work out just fine, but you’ll probably get off work before he does and you will have to take the bus home. Okay?”

“Yes, Mr. Ibrahim, that is okay.”

“Good, then I’ll leave it to Dave to figure out your duties here in the office. Oh, one more thing, are you familiar with the downtown area?”

“No, not fully. I know the streets, but not what buildings are on them.”

“Okay, first things first, I want you to go for a walk today. Go out and walk around the city. You’ll need to do it in ever increasing circles around the hotel, so that you’ll always know where other buildings are in relation to the hotel. Do you think you can do that?”

“I’m willing to give it a try.”

“Good, that shows me you have a good work ethic. Dave, do you have anything to add?”

“No, Ed why don’t you try to get back here by noon and we’ll go to lunch together. Okay?”

“Yes, sir, but I forgot to wear my watch this morning in my excitement to come down here to be employed.”

“Most buildings have clocks in the lobbies. Also, there are clocks on the streets in various places, so you should be able to figure out how to be back here before noon. Okay?”

“Yes, sir, I’ll be back before noon to go to lunch with you.”

“Good, see you then.”

I stood up and Mr. Ibrahim shook my hand. I picked up my umbrella and went out the door. I felt proud that I was working at the Seventh Heaven Hotel even if my job title was Gofer, whatever that was supposed to be. Then I realized nothing was said about how much money I was going to earn being a Gofer. It couldn’t be too much because I wasn’t actually doing anything important. Other than what I might do in the personnel office, I was basically only going to be running errands and I certainly wouldn’t be paid very much doing that.

The first thing I did was walk around the block making note of what the other buildings were and what shops were in those buildings. As I extended my walk out to blocks farther away, I always came back to the hotel. It was actually getting to be rather easy. I suppose it helped that I had memorized the map of Seattle. I certainly wasn’t going to get lost being a Gofer. I noticed which buildings had clocks in their lobbies and where clocks were located on the sidewalks. I noticed that most of those clocks were outside jewelry stores. There was probably a reason for that, but I couldn’t think of one.

I returned to the Seventh Heaven Hotel at 11:45 and Mr. Ackerman wasn’t in the personnel office, but since the door had been unlocked, I felt he might be nearby. Then I realized that I needed to find a toilet. I had been concentrating so hard on where other buildings were in relation to the hotel I had completely forgotten to pay attention to what my body required. I went out the door and almost bumped into Mr. Ackerman.

“Oh, excuse me, but where is the men’s room?” I asked.

“That way down the hall and take the first right and the men’s room will be on left,” Mr. Ackerman said.

“Thank you, I’ll be right back.”

“Take your time.”

I wasn’t going to take my time because my body was becoming very insistent that I find the men’s room.

I came back to the personnel office and Mr. Ackerman was on the telephone. I went to the desk where I had sat before, but as I was walking toward it, I saw one of those blue rectangles on the desk with letter etched on it just like Mr. Ackerman’s. This blue rectangle said: Edvard Pedersen. Right then, I knew I was going to be working at the Seventh Heaven Hotel.

Mr. Ackerman hung up the phone and said, “Ed, I’m sorry, but we won’t be able to have lunch together today. Something’s come up in housekeeping that requires my immediate attention. Here’s your hotel ID card. Why don’t you go down to the employee dining room and order something from the kitchen. Just show them your ID card and you won’t have to pay anything for your meal. After lunch, you are free to go home. I’ll see you tomorrow morning around the time you came in today.”

I went to the employee dining room, ordered a deluxe hamburger and a Coca-Cola. After eating, I walked down to Third Avenue and caught a Number 16 bus which would take me to North One Hundred Twelfth Street.

Copyright © 2021 CarlHoliday; All Rights Reserved.
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Frank to be frank is a little forward perhaps with his intent to be Ed’s friend despite them just meeting yet overall I can only see their friendship being a good thing...for now. I’m a bit cynical so some part of me can’t help but be wary of Frank considering all the heartache Ed has been through. I’m glad Ed got a job if not the one he expected and I hope he can exceed their expectations as I feel he often shows glimmers of being more intelligent than he thinks he is even if he may have trouble applying his knowledge.

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10 hours ago, NimirRaj said:

Frank to be frank is a little forward perhaps with his intent to be Ed’s friend despite them just meeting yet overall I can only see their friendship being a good thing...for now. I’m a bit cynical so some part of me can’t help but be wary of Frank considering all the heartache Ed has been through. I’m glad Ed got a job if not the one he expected and I hope he can exceed their expectations as I feel he often shows glimmers of being more intelligent than he thinks he is even if he may have trouble applying his knowledge.

Thanks for the comment. We can only hope that Frank's offer of friendship and the job as gofer are good things for Ed.

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