Flight of the Dodo - 18. Chapter 18
As I was eating my breakfast, the door buzzer did its thing. I didn’t like to be interrupted while eating, but I went to the door and looked out the peephole. I saw Frank standing there. I looked at my watch and realized he was supposed to be at work. I opened the door.
“Good morning, Sweetie,” Frank said as he walked in.
“Good morning, Frank,” I said. “I’m in the middle of breakfast.”
“And it’s so late, you naughty boy, the day’s been going for hours. Looks like the early bird doesn’t live here.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about. Would you like a cup of coffee? I have extra.”
“Cool, that’s the second best idea I’ve had this morning.”
I returned to the dining area and sat down. I returned to eating my breakfast. I suppose Frank went into the kitchen because after a while he came to the dining table and sat down with a cup of coffee.
“So, Sweetie, how’re you doing this morning?”
“Okay, but why are you calling me Sweetie?”
“Don’t you remember last night?”
“What about last night?”
“Uh, you don’t remember what happened?”
“No, but I can turn my mind off and not remember things.”
“Sweetie, that’s not being nice to Frankie Boy. I thought we were friends.”
“I’m sorry you are mad at me. Maybe it would be best if you went to work. I’ll read my book this morning and maybe take a nap later.”
“Oh, no, Sweetie, you aren’t getting rid of me that easily. Besides, I’ve already got today planned out. First, we’re going downtown and I’m going to buy you some new clothes. Second, we’re going to see a friend of mine. And, third, we’re going to come back here and have us a party. I tell you what, I’ll buy us some beer, then maybe it’ll be like last night only better this time.”
“I’m too young to drink beer.”
“Hey, you’re living by yourself now. You need to loosen up and start having fun.”
“My mental illness makes it hard for me to have fun.”
“Hey, Sweetie, you worry too much. Tell you what, I’ll be your special teacher on having fun. Tonight will definitely be something you’ll remember for a long time.”
“I don’t know about that, but I’ll try to keep my mind active.”
“Cool, that’s all I ask.”
“Can I finish my breakfast?”
“Hey, sure, I’ll just go over to the TV and see what Hugh Downs has to say this morning.”
Frank went over and turned on the TV. He sat on the sofa and changed the channel to KING-5 to watch the Today show. It was very distracting because I only watched television at night. Daytime was for chores, reading, and napping. I finished eating my breakfast and put things in the dishwasher. After tidying up the kitchen, I went into the bedroom, took off my pajamas, and went into the bathroom to shower, shave, and brush my teeth. After doing everything in the bathroom, I went into the bedroom and put on some clean underwear. I went to my closet to look for clothes. Since Frank said we were going shopping, I decided I should wear something nice. I selected a short-sleeved green button-down shirt and my best pair of my khakis. Also, I decided to wear my brown wingtips rather than my black wingtips because they were very scuffed and I had forgotten to buy shoe wax.
After dressing, I went out into the living room and just as I walked by the telephone, it started to ring. I picked up the handset and said, “Hello, this is Edvard.”
“Mr. Pedersen? This is Carol at Dr. Kaiser’s office. Can you come in next Wednesday at two o’clock?”
“Oh, you were supposed to call yesterday. I forgot about that. Did you say my appointment was next Wednesday at two o’clock with Dr. Kaiser?
“Oh, okay, one moment while I write it on the calendar.”
I put the handset on the table and heard the sound from the TV go off. I looked at the sofa, but Frank wasn’t there. Then I noticed he was standing near me.
“Need help with anything?” Frank asked.
"Um, no, I'm in the middle of doing something, I think."
“Does it have something to do with the telephone being on the table?”
“Oh, yes, the telephone,” I said. I picked it up and said, “Hello, this is Edvard.”
“Mr. Pedersen? I just spoke to you about your appointment next Wednesday at two o’clock with Dr. Kaiser.”
“Oh, yes, yes, I remember, yes, I remember, I, I, was, I was going to write it on the calendar. Yes, write it on the calendar. What day did you say it was?”
“Next Wednesday at two o’clock.”
“Oh, now I remember, next Wednesday at two o’clock with Dr. Kaiser. One moment while I write it down.”
“That’s okay, Sweetie, I wrote it down for you,” Frank said.
“Oh, thank you, my friend Frank wrote it down,” I said.
“Okay, Mr. Pedersen, we’ll see you next Wednesday at two o’clock.”
“See you then, goodbye,” I said and then hung up the telephone.
“So, Sweetie, who is this Dr. Kaiser?” Frank asked.
“She is my psychiatrist. Her office is down by First Hill. Did you know they call it Pill Hill?”
“Yes, I’ve heard that. Are you ready to go?”
“Um, let me think. I think I missed a step. Now, what was I supposed to do after breakfast? Oh, I know! I need to take my morning pills and be sure I take some anti-panic pills with me.”
I went into the kitchen and took down my antidepressant bottle, morning antipsychotic bottle, and the multivitamin/mineral bottle. I took one pill out of each bottle and put the bottles back in the cabinet and shut the door. I looked at the pills on the counter and had to think about what the next step was supposed to be. Then I remembered and opened the cabinet. I took down a ten ounce glass, filled it with water, put all the pills in my mouth, and swallowed them with the water. Of course, it was those ECT treatments that were causing the memory problems. I was glad E3 had gotten at least some money for what Dr. Levinson did to me.
“Can we stop at the mall on the way?” I asked. “I need some black shoe polish.”
“Sure, we can do that,” Frank said.
I followed Frank to the door, which he opened and walked out into the hall. I took out my key, closed the door, but before I could begin to lock the deadbolt, Frank said, “You know, Sweetie, it’s a little cool outside and the weatherman said it might rain today, so I’d suggest you put on a coat.”
“Oh, yes, yes, a coat, um, oh, yes, unlock the door,” I said.
I had to think about how the door worked because of all those ECT treatments I had at Northern State Hospital, but eventually I remembered how to open the door. I went inside and waited for Frank to come in, but I saw that he didn’t come in. I was thinking I might have forgotten something.
“Sweetie, are you going to put a coat on?” Frank asked.
“Oh, yes, um, I guess I better do that now,” I said. I opened the closet door and took out my blue parka. “Is this okay?”
“Okay, I’ll wear this.”
“You know, Sweetie, you make everything like a big production. What’s wrong with you?”
“I thought I told you about being mentally ill. My mind doesn’t work like the minds of normal people. Plus, until last week I was at Northern State Hospital where I received twelve ECT treatments. That ruined my long-term memory and my ability to make new memories. It is like I’m starting over from the beginning of life. I’m sorry you no longer like me, but I understand how it is because most normal people have trouble interacting with me. It is okay if you want to go see your friends alone. I’ll stay here and read my book.”
"Oh, Sweetie, you're not getting out of this relationship that easy," Frank said as he came up to me and stood on tiptoe while he pulled at my shoulders forcing me to bend down. He kissed me on the mouth for a long time like men kissed women in the movies.
"Why did you do that?" I asked when Frank finally let me go.
"I thought you like kissing. We certainly did enough kissing last night."
“Yes, now, Sweetie, put on your coat and let’s get on the road.”
“Oh, wait, I have to get my anti-panic pills,” I said as I walked into the kitchen. I took the bottle of pills out of the cabinet by the sink where I kept my medicine. I shook the bottle to make sure there were pills in there. Satisfied with the rattle, I put on my coat and put the bottle in my right front pocket and zipped it shut. “Okay, I’m ready to go.”
“Cool, then let’s get the hell out of Dodge,” Frank said.
“Don’t worry, Sweetie, that’s just an expression.”
“Oh, I don’t understand most expressions.”
“As if I haven’t figured that one out.”
“Are you mad at me for not understanding your talk?”
“Oh, Sweetie, what do I have to do to make you believe that I like you very much?”
“I’m not used to people liking me,” I said. “Why do you keep calling me Sweetie.”
“Hey, I care for you a lot,” Frank said. “And after what happened last night, you’re just the sweetest boy I know.”
“But what do I call you?”
“Whatever you want.”
“Um, how about Frankie?”
“Hey, just like, Frankie and Johnny, except with us it’ll be Frankie and Sweetie.”
“Who are Frankie and Johnny?”
“That’s a song by Jimmie Rodgers.”
“I don’t know songs,” I said as we walked out the door. I turned around the pushed the button on the inside doorknob to set the lock. I closed the door and set the deadbolt to be doubly sure no one could get into my apartment.
I turned and saw Frankie was already walking around the corner to the elevators. Suddenly, I was confused. Why did he not wait for me here at the door. Maybe he no longer wanted to be my friend. I didn’t know what to do. I could unlock the door and go back inside where I’d read my book or I could hurry to the elevators where Frankie was probably waiting for me. Then I realized this was a critical moment in my life. I had a choice to make. I could go back in my apartment and forever give up any opportunity I had to have a real friend.
Then I thought again about the opportunity Frankie was giving me to be his friend. But he did kiss me, yet I wasn’t too certain I liked doing that. Maybe the next time he tried that I should stop him. I finally decided the possibility of having a friend was the best thing for me.
“Something wrong?” Frankie asked as I walked up to him.
“I was thinking that I have never had a real true friend and I thought that maybe you really wanted me to be your friend,” I said. “I don’t know how making a friend works, so I decided that I would go with you today.”
“That works for me, Sweetie.”
After stopping at the shoe repair store at North Park Mall for my black shoe polish, Frankie drove his car south on the freeway toward downtown Seattle. I was looking at all the houses we were passing and wondering what kind of people lived in those houses. I wondered if there were people like me living in those houses.
“Penny for your thoughts,” Frankie said.
“Is that one of those expressions?” I asked.
“Yes, but I was just wondering why you’re so quiet.”
“I don’t know, maybe I’m not good at starting conversations. Where are we going?”
“First stop will be The Bon Marché because I want to buy you some new threads.”
“What are threads?”
“They’re clothes, Sweetie.”
“To show you how much I care for you.”
“What kind of, uh, threads?”
“Oh, maybe some new undies.”
“Oh, you’ll see.”
“I think I might be worried, but I don’t know why.”
“Sweetie, don’t worry. I wouldn’t do anything that would embarrass you, okay?”
“Well, okay, but if I don’t like what you’re buying me, I won’t wear it.”
“All I ask is that you give it a good consideration.”
We didn’t talk after that. I guess Frankie was going to let me think about what kind of undies he was going to buy me. I always thought undies were something girls wore, so I couldn’t imagine wearing such things, even if Frankie wanted that. Even though no one would see that I was wearing such clothes, it would still be embarrassing knowing that I was wearing them.
“Are we supposed to be falling in love?” I asked.
“Where the hell did that come from?” Frankie asked.
“I don’t know. You remember when I said I’ve never had a real friend before. So I don’t really know how this is supposed to work.”
“Oh, okay. Look, I’m buying you new clothes because you dress like a high school student.”
Frankie took the Stewart Street/Denny Way exit and drove down Stewart to Seventh where he turned left. He drove one block to Pine and turned right. Again, he drove one block to Sixth and turned right. I didn’t know where he was going until he turned left into the parking garage under the Medical Dental Building. I knew about this building because this is where I went to see Dr. Handel, our family dentist. He was a graduate of the University of Texas School of Dentistry. I knew that because I saw his diploma on the wall of his office where I had to go once with Syl because I wasn’t brushing my teeth as I should. Dr. Handel had just filled five cavities in five of my teeth. He wasn’t happy with me and that is why I was in his office with Syl. She wasn’t happy with me either. Of course, she was never happy with me, so this just gave her another excuse to belittle me and call me a stupid, ignorant dodo.
We went up the elevator to the lobby of the Medical Dental Building and then outside. Frankie turned west and I followed along with him. Actually, I was just behind him because I didn’t want to bump into people coming in the opposite direction. At the corner of Fifth Avenue, I looked over at the Times Square Building where I had a savings account at the bank on the first floor.
“I wish I brought my bank account book,” I said. “If I knew we were going to be down here, I could have brought it and I could go over to the bank over there and get some money.”
“Don’t worry about money,” Frankie said. “I’ve got enough for both of us.”
“Oh, okay,” I said. The light changed and as we were walking across the street a Monorail car passed over us heading toward the Seattle Center. That reminded me of the last time I was down there to Fun Forest at the World’s Fair. Even though that was only seven years ago, it seemed to be an eternity with all that I had been through in the past year.
“Hey, it is the Copper Kitchen,” I said. “I remember going there nearly every time Syl brought me down to the dentist. She liked going there for some reason.”
“It’s a bit early for lunch, but maybe we can stop on our way back,” Frankie asked.
We went to The Bon where Frankie bought me a three pairs of slacks, black, navy blue, and gray. Then we went over to where they sold underwear and socks. We were at a table where there was underwear very much not like what I wore. There was a picture on the label and I had trouble picturing me in those briefs. There simply wasn’t enough fabric to cover what I had down there. Frank picked up a package that had three different colors, light blue, pink, and light yellow.
“Are those for you?” I asked.
“No, Sweetie, these are for you,” Frankie said. “Don’t they look nice?”
“No! I’m not wearing something like that. They’re too small and that one is pink. I’m not a girl.”
“I think you’re a little old to be wearing whitey tighties.”
“Well, I’m not wearing those.”
“Okay, not today. Maybe I’ll give you a package for Christmas.”
“I won’t wear them.”
“Okay, just don’t make this a big deal.”
Then we went over to where they had different kinds of socks. Frankie showed me the argyle socks. They were very colorful and I picked out four pair. He bought them, and I wondered how I was going to repay him.
“Okay, I think I’ve got you like dolled up enough for today,” Frankie said as we walked out of the store.
“You have spent too much money on these clothes,” I said struggling to keep up while carrying the shopping bags. “How am I ever going to be able to repay you?”
“Don’t worry about it, Sweetie. Now, let’s get back to the car and we can head up the hill and see if Charles has gotten his ass out of class, yet.”
“Who is Charles?”
“He’s an old friend of mine. You could say I am who I am today because of Charles. I owe him my life. Plus, maybe his student Perry will be in, too. You might like Perry. I think he’s about your age. I’m sure you and he will be able to find something to do while I’m busy with Charles.”
“What will you being doing with Charles?” I asked.
“Oh, things, you know, adult things,” Frankie said.
I didn’t understand, but I didn’t want to sound like a pest and ask more questions. It was obvious Frankie and Charles would be doing things I didn’t know about. That made me wonder if Frankie and I’d ever do adult things. Then I decided if that was going to happen most likely it wouldn’t occur until I was an adult. That wasn’t going to occur until my twenty-first birthday because back then people became adults at twenty-one. I think someone made a law that people were not adults until they had their twenty-first birthday. Then I wondered if Frankie would expect me to do adult things before I officially became an adult. That got me to thinking what kind of adult things two men could do together, but since I didn’t know anything about sex, I couldn’t think past kissing. I wasn’t certain I wanted to do anymore kissing. There was something in my mind saying it wasn’t right for men to kiss like Frankie kissed me earlier. Plus, he said we did a lot of kissing last night. This friendship wasn’t turning out like I thought it would.
We walked back to the Medical Dental Building and took the elevator down to the parking garage. There were so many cars down there I was surprised Frankie walked straight to his Ford Falcon. Frankie opened the trunk and said, “Toss your bags in here. That way they’ll be safe up on Capitol Hill.”
“Is that where your friend Charles lives?” I asked.
“Yes, he has a two bedroom apartment up on Belmont.”
“I know where Belmont is.”
“Yes, I do”
Frankie had to turn left coming out of the Medical Dental Building parking garage because Sixth Avenue is one-way street going north. At the corner of Sixth Avenue and Olive Way, Frankie turned right on Olive Way. He stayed on Olive Way all the way across the freeway and up the hill toward the community of Capitol Hill. After crossing over the freeway, Olive Way curves up the hill and soon we came to Belmont Avenue where Frankie turned left to go north. As we went up Belmont Avenue, Frankie slowed and said, “Now, all we have to do is find a parking place. I don’t know why Charles insists on living way up here. Well, I suppose it’s because of all the eye candy.”
“What is eye candy?” I asked.
“Eye candy is cute guys. Charles is very much into cute guys.”
“What about cute girls?”
“Uh, no, Charles is definitely into guys.”
“Am I cute like eye candy?”
“Sweetie, you’re my very own gumdrop.”
“You want to eat me?” I asked because the conversation was suddenly confusing.
“Oh, Sweetie, you have no idea how much I’m into you.”
“Oh, Sweetie, what am I going to do with you?”
“I don’t know.”
“You’re so innocent it’s totally unbelievable. Okay, finally, a parking spot and only two blocks away. Oh, well, we probably need the fuckin’ exercise anyway. God’s like that, you know?”
“No, I don’t know how God is,” I said. “I try not thinking too much about God. They are ineffable after all.”
“Yes, they, you know, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Three in One.”
“Do you go to church?”
“Uh, no, I don’t go to church. I haven’t been in years. You could say I’m a lapsed Catholic.”
“You are a Papist?”
“Was, Sweetie, was. The last time I was in church Father Collins got his dirty paws too close to the family jewels. Fucking priests all the time grabbing the altar boys. They warned me, but I was so fucking goody two-shoes thinking I was going to be a priest. Then that bastard gets me in a corner one day in the changing room and sticks his filthy hand down my pants. I punched him in the nose. Made it bleed, too. That was the last time I went to church. I’m glad I never went back. Never again was that bastard getting near me.”
“I’m sorry you are so angry,” I said. “I wish there was something I could do to make you happy again.”
“Oh, Sweetie, you are such a dear, sweet boy, and I’m going to make you so happy you won’t believe it,” Frankie said. “Well, here we are.”
We were at a three story red brick apartment building. We went into the foyer and I was surprised there was another door. On the right side of the door there was a shiny brass panel with strips of paper with names on them. Under the names there were black buttons. Frankie pushed the button under the name “Packard.” We waited for what I didn’t know.
“Yes?” a voice said out of the speaker at the top of the shiny brass panel.
“Charles, this is Frank and a friend,” Frankie said.
“Ooh, Frank, you made it. Come on up.”
There was a buzzing sound and Frankie pushed the door open. He held it while I followed him in. We walked over to two elevators. Frankie pushed the top button, which was to call an elevator going up. I learned the meaning of elevator buttons from being in so many hospitals, mental and otherwise. An elevator car came and I went in first. Frankie followed me and pushed the three button. I saw that there were five buttons: G, B, 1, 2, and 3. I started thinking about what the G and B were for, but before I could figure that out the elevator stopped and the door opened. Frankie went out first and I followed. We turned right and went down a hall and turned the corner and went down another hall to a door with the number 15 on it. Frankie pushed the button on the door. It opened and there stood a barefoot man wearing blue jeans and a white t-shirt who looked to be E3’s age, but he was shorter than E3 and looked like he exercised a lot. His biceps were huge. That surprised me because I was expecting to see someone Frankie’s age.
“Frank, darling, come in,” the man said. They kissed as if they hadn’t seen each other for a long time. “And who is this child?”
“This is Eddie,” Frankie said. “Eddie, this is my dear friend Charles.”
I was barely in the door and Charles came up to me. I was afraid he might kiss me, but he held out his hand and said, “Eddie, I suppose you shake hands.”
I gave him my hand and shook it like E3 taught me. E3 was always telling me to never, ever, give another man a dead fish.
“A real man,” Charles said. “So, Frank, want to go catch up for lost time?”
“Sounds good to me,” Frankie said. “Eddie, go on into the apartment. I’ll be finished with Charles in a few.”
I watched them go down the hall and turn into a room. The door shut and I continued into the living room. There was a black-haired boy with a very white, pimply face, sitting on the sofa reading a book that looked like a textbook. He looked up and said, “Who are you?”
“I’m Eddie,” I said.
“Oh, I’m Perry. So you’re with Frank?”
“Yes, we were shopping downtown and then came up here. Do you know what Frankie and Charles are doing?”
"Since Uncle Charles is a top, I suspect he's fucking your boyfriend."
“Are you sure?”
“Hmm, Frankie never said anything like that.”
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