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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Flight of the Dodo - 16. Chapter 16

They brought my dinner, but for some reason I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t know the reason for not being hungry, so I picked at the meatloaf that wasn’t close to what Syl made. There were lumpy white things in the meatloaf that had a sandy texture that reminded me of when I was a little kid and ate dirt. I didn’t eat any of the white things after the first bite. The mashed potatoes were runny and the brown gravy had a sour taste. I didn’t eat the mashed potatoes and gravy after the first bite. The green peas were not very green, they were the color of Army vehicles. I think that color is olive drab. Plus, the green peas were mushy so I didn’t eat many of them. The dessert was a yellow pudding that had an odd flavor that also reminded me of being little and eating dirt. I remembered that Syl took me to the doctor because she caught me eating dirt, but the doctor said I was going through a phase and would grow out of it. After that visit to the doctor, I decided to stop eating dirt, but I didn’t stop because I was going through a phase and grew of it. I stopped eating dirt after I saw a cat do its potty in the dirt and covered it up. I began to wonder how many cat potties I had eaten and decided it would be better if I didn’t eat dirt anymore.

The nurse person came to gather up the dinner trays and she asked why I had not finished eating my dinner. I told her I wasn’t hungry. She said I needed to eat more than I had because of the medications I took before going to sleep. After she left the ward, a man came in with a brown paper bag and an open can of Shasta Cream Soda with a bendy-end straw stuck in one of the openings. He put both the brown paper bag and the open can of Shasta Cream Soda with a bendy-end straw on my tray table. He didn’t say anything and simply left. I opened the brown paper bag and saw a white bread sandwich wrapped in clear plastic wrap that had been cut in half diagonally. I took the white bread sandwich out of the bag and saw some cookies also wrapped in clear plastic wrap. I left the cookies in the bag. I took the clear plastic wrap off the white bread sandwich and took one piece of the white bread off the sandwich to see what was inside. There was a slice of orange cheese on top of a slice of processed meat that looked like bologna. I put the top slice of white bread back on top of the orange cheese and took a bite from one of the ends of the sandwich. As I chewed my taste buds were having trouble identifying the white bread, orange cheese, and processed meat. There didn’t seem to be very much flavor to anything in the sandwich. I thought some mustard or mayonnaise might have added some flavor to the sandwich, but I continued eating because at least it didn’t taste like anything I was given in the regular meal. I took a sip of the Shasta Cream Soda and a memory of a picnic our family went on during the time I was in junior high.

It was our annual Washington’s Birthday picnic. We always went on a picnic on Washington’s Birthday no matter which day it came on or what the weather was. Luckily, February 22, 1963, wasn’t a wet day, but it was cold and cloudy. We went in E3’s latest Cadillac Fleetwod to Fort Casey State Park on Whidbey Island. We had to take the ferry from Mukilteo to Clinton on our way there. Fort Casey was built in the late 1800s to defend the entrance to Puget Sound from invading foreign ships. It was designed to fire its cannons in conjunction with Fort Flagler and Fort Worden. The picnic tables were out in the open exposed to the weather. Our picnic was short and quick. E3 decided to drive around coming back because there is a bridge at the north end of Whidbey Island over Deception Pass. E3 stopped in the parking lot before going over the bridge and E3, Erika, Em, and I walked out onto the bridge to watch the water swirling through Deception Pass. It was just our luck that the tide had turned and there were huge whirlpools caused by the water flowing out of Skagit Bay into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Syl didn’t come with us because she had to stay with E4 who she felt was too young to go on such a dangerous adventure.

I realized that Syl was always stopping E4 from doing things she thought was too dangerous. The more I thought about what Syl was doing to E4 the madder I got. E4 was eight years old, yet he didn’t know how to ride a bike and practically the only time he was allowed to play outside was during recess at Meadow Point Elementary School.

We ended our excursion with a drive up to the summit of 1,273 foot Mount Erie to look out over the surrounding islands, bays, and countryside. Just as at Deception Pass, Syl stayed in the car with E4. As I remembered that day, I realized that E4 was only two for most of 1963, so maybe Syl didn’t want to get E4 out in the cold. But he was bundled up while we had our picnic at Fort Casey State Park, so maybe Syl simply feared for E4’s welfare. That was probably why she had not come with E4 to visit me at Northern State Hospital.

“Hello, Edvard, would you like a visitor?” Dr. Roberta Kaiser asked at the end of my bed.

I had just finished with my tasteless sandwich, but I still had half of the Shasta Cream Soda and the cookies. I thought about what Dr. Kaiser asked and then said, “I suppose it is okay, since I’m not tired enough to go to sleep.”

I watched her move the chair from where Erika left it to a spot closer to the me. Then she asked, “How are you doing?”

“I don’t know, today has been quite eventful and I still haven’t been able to analyze its impact on me sufficiently for me to feel comfortable with all that occurred.”

“Okay, what was the first important event?”

“I met a young man in the elevator at my apartment building on my way to work. His name is Frank and he is older than me, but I don’t think he is very much older. He asked me my girlfriend’s name and I told him I don’t have a girlfriend. Then he asked me my boyfriend’s name and I told him I don’t have a boyfriend. Then he said we could be friends and I liked that.”

“What would you think of having a boyfriend as opposed to having a girlfriend?”

“What do you mean by that?”

“What do you think having a boyfriend would be like?”

“I don’t know. I mean I remember watching television shows and movies where men have girlfriends. I’ve seen men being friends in movies, but, since I’ve never had a friend that was a boy—well, except for Johnny who I knew in high school only because we ate lunch at the same table, but we never had a chance to get close—I don’t know what it means to have a boyfriend.”

“When you’re young, there are two kinds of friends, whether they’re girls or boys. There are casual friends that do things together like going to movies, sporting events, possibly going to the beach, sort of everyday kinds of things. Then there is the other kind of friends where the two parties of the relationship become intimate in addition to doing the things that mere close friends do.”

“What does intimate mean?”

“Kissing, touching, and possibly becoming more involved.”

“You mean having sex?”

“Well, yes, I suppose having sex could enter into a relationship, but something like that usually comes along when the two parties know each other quite well. Now, you said this young man is older than you. How old do you think he is?”

“Early twenties, I think. He still has freckles on his cheeks. Plus, he said he lives with his parents, so he shouldn’t be too much older than me. Right?”

“Yes, that is probably the case. There is one thing I think I should warn you about. You see, Seattle, like most large cities around the world, has a fairly large population of young people who fall within the definition of deviant behavior. Since your young man lives out where you do, my guess is he doesn’t fall in that category, but you should be careful he doesn’t try to lead you astray.”

“Are you saying Frank might try to have sex with me?”

“No, I’m not saying your friend might try to do anything sexual with you. I saying you need to be aware because you live in a city and, now that you are out on your own, you need to be aware of what is going on around you.”

“Okay, I will try to remember that, but I hope Frank isn’t like that because I’d really like to have a friend, even if all he did was come down to my apartment to watch TV with me.”

“And, that is probably all that is going to happen. Anything else I can do for you?”

“Yes, I found out something very good about me. I have always thought my IQ was 73, but E3 told me only a few hours ago that my IQ is 129, which I think is quite good. Is it?”

“Oh, yes, 129 is very good.”

“Yes, that is probably good because I won’t be working at the Seventh Heaven Hotel because they were going to hire me as a gofer. I’d do things in the personnel office, but I also had to run errands for Mr. Ibrahim, the owner of the hotel. E3 said I’m better than that. I asked him what I was going to do for work and he said maybe for the time being I should just read. I do have that trust fund and E3 negotiated a settlement with Dr. Levinson’s insurance company over the ECT treatments I had at the Northern State Hospital.”

“I didn’t know you had ECT treatments. How many did you have?”


“And you or your parents signed a consent form for those treatments?”

“No, I think the ECT treatments were involuntary. I think I remember Dr. Levinson asking me if I was okay with having the ECT treatments. I said I was okay with it because I think someone said they would make me be normal, but I really didn’t understand what those treatments were going to do to my memory. If I had known I was going to lose my memory and have trouble making new memories, I might not have been so eager to do it. E3 said I’ll be getting three-quarters of a million dollars.

“Good, you deserve all that you can get. I thought involuntary ECT went out with the Dark Ages. To do that to someone your age is totally irresponsible. And you said it was a Dr. Levinson?”

“Yes, but he is no longer with Northern State Hospital. I think his departure had something to do with my ECT treatments, but that is only a guess.”

“How do you feel, now, after the treatments?”

“Dr. Doyle, she was my new psychiatrist after Dr. Levinson, was very helpful with me regaining most of my long-term memories. And every day since being released I regain more and more memories. Though, of course, I still have problems with panic attacks like the one I had today at E3’s office. I get confused and I always assume someone is angry with me for the craziest reasons. It is still very hard for me to deal with my mental illness. Trying to cut my hands off was being very, very crazy. I realize that and I know, if I ever attempt suicide again, it will be something less painful. I have heard hanging and drowning are uncomfortable while you are dying, but since you generally die rather quickly while doing either of those ways of killing yourself, they might be good ways to do that to myself.”

“Do you consider yourself to be suicidal?”

“Oh, no, I’m not going to do that, but I can’t say my life is going to be a bowl of ripe peaches all the time. Considering how messed up I’m mentally, I have to expect biting into a ripe peach now and then and getting a rotten pit. What matters now is how I’ll react to something really horrible. If I continue to see you, I think I’ll have a very good chance of living a long and full life.”

“Thank you, Ed, that was a very good compliment and I promise you I’ll do whatever I can to help you in your life ahead.”


“Okay, I’ve got to get home, so what do you think would be a good time to get together next? In one week or two?”

“I think for right now, I’d appreciate an appointment next week.”

“Let’s see, how about next Wednesday afternoon at two o’clock?”

“Yes, can you write that down for me?”

“How about my if receptionist calls you tomorrow sometime?”

“Here at the hospital?”

“No, at home, you’re free to go home first thing in the morning.”

“I’ll have to let E3 know because his assistant will be bringing me some clothes and taking me home.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll call him tonight from home. Okay, anything else I can do for you tonight?”

“No, I think we covered everything important, but, Dr. Kaiser, I want you to know I really appreciate what you do for me.”

“Ed, you’re certainly full of compliments tonight and I thank you for them. I guess I’ll leave now. Good night, Ed.”

“Good night, Dr. Kaiser.”

I watched her leave and then I figured it was time for me to think about going to sleep. I pushed the nurse’s call button and waited. After a while, a nurse came around the drapery and asked, “Yes, want do you need?”

“How come you didn’t ask any of the other patients in the ward?”

“You’re by yourself tonight. What do you need?”

“Is there a toilet in this ward?”

“No, use the urinal hanging from your bed or do you need the bedpan?”

“No, I did that earlier today.”

“Anything else?”

“Yes, I’m kind of tired and was wondering if I could have my night meds so I can go to sleep.”

“Sure thing, be right back. Oh, are you finished with your pop?”

“Um, no and I still have to cookies to eat.”

“Okay, you can have those after your meds. Oh, go ahead and use the urinal and hang it back on the bed.”

I did what I needed to do with the urinal and put it back in its bag and hung that from the hook on the bed rail. The nurse came back in a few minutes with a little paper cup with my night meds and a small container of milk. I opened the milk, put the pills in my mouth, and drank the milk. I handed the cup and milk carton back to the nurse. She took the urinal bag off the bed and went around the drapery. I took the plastic wrap off the cookies and began to eat them. I knew they were supposed to be chocolate chip because there were little brown bits in the cookie, but they certainly didn’t taste like anything close to chocolate. I ate them and finished the Shasta Cream Soda.

After quite a while, the nurse came back with a new urinal. She hung it where it was supposed to go. She took the empty Shasta Cream Soda can, brown paper bag, and said, “Nightie, night.”

“Good night,” I said.

The overhead lights went out and I lay back to go to sleep, but my mind kept going. It seemed to want me to think about things. First up was Frank wanting to be my friend. I began to think about what kind of friend he wanted to be. He was older than me, so maybe he wanted our friendship to be something more than going to sporting events like football and basketball games at the University of Washington, Seattle University, and Seattle Pacific College, though Seattle University and Seattle Pacific College didn’t have football teams. But did I want that? Did I have a say in where our relationship would go? I wondered if he would be willing to tell me what he thought our relationship would be, but then I realized that at any time things were going in a direction I didn’t want to go I had the freedom to cease the relationship. I had to stand up for what I wanted in any relationship.

Copyright © 2021 CarlHoliday; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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