Flight of the Dodo - 3. Chapter 3
If going to a mental hospital wasn't trouble enough, being arrested for prostitution certainly is. The downward spiral of Ed's life steepens.
E3 had one of his assistants figure out the bus routes I’d need to take to go from Louis Bergman to Dr. Kaiser’s office and then return home. The school was on Oak Park Boulevard, so to go to Dr. Kaiser’s office all I had to do was walk north on Oak Park Boulevard to North One Hundred Thirtieth Street where I could catch the Boulevard Flyer down to Fifth Avenue and Pike Street in downtown Seattle where I’d transfer to the Number 10 trolley up to Boren Avenue on First Hill. Then it was a three block walk south to the building where Dr. Kaiser’s office was located. After my appointment, I had to walk four blocks north to catch the Number 11 trolley down to First Avenue where I’d catch the Crown Hill Flyer up to Crown Hill. Once there I had a five block walk into Olympic Manor to our house.
It sounded quite simple on paper and I made sure I had that paper in my coat pocket on the first day. I was used to riding buses because I had to ride a bus to North Park High and Louis Bergman. Actually, I had to ride two different buses. Every day, rain, snow, or shine, I had to walk down to Northwest Eighty-fifth Street to catch the bus that went east to Oak Park Boulevard where I transferred to the Number 6 bus north to North One Hundred Twenty-eighth Street. From there I had to walk to North Park and Louis Bergman. I couldn’t take the Boulevard Flyer because it was an express bus meaning it only stopped at certain stops.
On my first attempt to go to Dr. Kaiser’s office I failed miserably. That was probably due to the fact that it was Christmas break and I had to take the Crown Hill Flyer down to First Avenue and Pike Street to catch the Number 10 trolley. I was so confused, I wasn’t paying attention to the stops, which was silly because I had memorized the street maps of Seattle and North Park. Unfortunately, knowing a map and seeing the streets from the ground is completely different. The bus driver called out, “Volunteer Park, Seattle Art Museum,” and I knew I had gone too far. I was way over on Fifteenth Avenue East approaching the bus stop at East Prospect Street. I pulled the cord to ring the bell and I got off the bus. I had to find a pay phone so I could call E3. I walked into Volunteer Park to see if there was a pay phone at the museum, but I couldn’t find one anywhere. It certainly didn’t help that the museum was closed.
I had to walk back out of the park, but I must have taken a wrong turn because I saw a restroom surrounded by a bunch of tall rhododendron shrubs. Although I didn’t feel a need to pee, I didn’t know where there might be a restroom if I needed it, so I walked over toward the restroom. As I was about to push open the door, I heard a man’s voice say, “Hey, kid, are you sure you want to go in there?”
I looked around and saw a man standing between two large rhododendron shrubs. Frankly, I could barely see him.
“Come here,” he said.
I walked over to where he was hidden. I don’t know why, but he brushed the back of his hand down my cheek and across my chin.
“You don’t even shave,” he said. “What’re you doing up here?”
“I was on my way to my new psychiatrist’s office and forgot to get off at the correct bus stop because I know I’m not supposed to be here,” I said. “I thought I should use the restroom because I don’t know where I might find one in case I need to use it.”
“You really don’t know where you are, do you?”
“The bus driver said this is Volunteer Park and I saw the sign at the entrance that this is Volunteer Park, so, yes, I do know where I am.”
“Oh, this is Volunteer Park, but I don’t think you know what goes on in that restroom and in amongst the various shrubs around here.”
“What goes on?”
“This is a place men frequent to have sex with others of their persuasion.”
“You mean there are homosexuals here? Are you one?”
“Yes and no.”
“Yes and no what?”
“Yes, there are homosexuals around here and I’m not one. I’m Detective Sergeant Edgar Solomon. See, here’s my ID.”
“What are you doing here?”
“I was on a stakeout until you showed up,” he said. He took a radio out of his jacket pocket and said, “Ian, Ed here. I got a kid over here who claims to be lost. Bring the car over and we’ll run him downtown.”
“Am I under arrest?”
“Not at the moment. Let’s just say we’d like to have a little chat.”
“My father is an attorney. Maybe I should call him.”
“You can call him downtown. Come on, let’s walk over to the entrance.”
“E3 is going to be pissed I didn’t make it to my appointment with my new psychiatrist. E3’s assistant made out some directions for me. They are very specific, but somehow I didn’t get off where I was supposed to.”
“Where were you supposed to get off?”
“Pike Street and Boren Avenue.”
“Well, you certainly missed that one, that is if you were going to see a psychiatrist and not coming up here to make a few bucks back there in the tearoom.”
“Is that what homosexuals call restrooms?”
“As if you didn’t know.”
“How am I supposed to know? I live in Olympic Manor and go to Louis Bergman Alternative High School on Oak Park Boulevard in North Park, Washington. Last week I was down at Western State Hospital where they were trying to diagnose my mental illness and now you are saying I came up here to prostitute myself with some creepy men who have who knows what kind of venereal diseases. Is there a water fountain around here?”
“Not that I know of. What do you need water for?”
“I think I’m going to have to take one of my anti-panic pills or I’m going to have a meltdown.”
“You have drugs on you?”
“I always have drugs on me. I never know … Oh, God!”
I woke sometime later and knew I was in a hospital. There was an IV in my right forearm and I saw the tube going up to a bottle hanging from one of those stands for that purpose. I looked around me, but all I could see were some draperies. I stretched my neck, but there weren’t any chairs beside the bed. I figured E3 and Syl were home with Erika, Emmett, and E4. And then I noticed my wrists were strapped to the bedframe.
I saw E3 come through the draperies. He stood at the foot of the bed and said, “What exactly were you doing up at Volunteer Park?”
“I didn’t get off the bus at Boren Avenue and then he was at the stop for Volunteer Park. I then realized I had made a mistake. Am I under arrest?”
“No, lucky for you your meltdown scared the piss out of that cop. They called me after they found your ID card. We had a nice chat, but that doesn’t solve our problem. Ed, you should’ve told the bus driver you needed to get off at Boren.”
“I didn’t know if I could talk to the driver. I think there are rules against that kind of stuff.”
“If you need to get off a bus at a certain stop, you have to tell the driver. Now, since you missed your appointment, Dr. Kaiser charged us $45.00 for the hour you missed plus $50.00 for not calling to say you wouldn’t be there. That’s nearly a hundred dollars. You know very well that money doesn’t grow on trees. She said that you can come see her next week, but you can’t miss your appointments. To ensure that you make your next appointment, I’m going to have Gloria Lester, one of my assistants, escort you on the bus to your appointment so you know where to get off and how to get to Dr. Kaiser’s office. Then Gloria will escort you to our house to ensure you get home. If you’re able to remember how that went, you should be able to do it the next time without Gloria’s assistance. How does that sound?”
“Okay, I guess,” I said. “Father, I’m sorry I’m such a dope.”
“Ed, you’re not a dope. You just think differently than other people and your mother and I have to make allowances for those differences. Now, according to your doctor here, you can go home tomorrow morning. I’ll have Gloria come up here and take you home.”
“I don’t think I ever asked before and I’m not certain I remember, but does Mother drive?” I asked.
“Yes, your mother drives, but your mother has an appointment tomorrow or she would’ve come down to pick you up.”
“Oh, okay, I guess I just worry too much sometimes. And you can’t take me home because, well, you are important enough to have an assistant who can do errands for you.”
“I’m having Gloria take you home because I’m currently in the middle of a trial and can’t get away.”
“Oh, yes, you are a lawyer. Sorry, I guess I forgot that. I do that, but I guess you know I don’t remember things very well. Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure, Eddie, you can ask me anything, anytime,” E3 said.
“Hah, hah, you called me Eddie. You haven’t done that in years, I think. Oh, yes, I was going to ask you a question. Why do I have to continue going to school, if I’m only going to fail everything. It doesn’t seem to make sense to me. You know?”
“As we say in the legal business, I’ll take that under advisement.”
“You mean you will think about it?”
“Yes, I’ll think about it and I’ll talk to your mother about it. Actually, now that you’re eighteen, you should be able to get a job.”
“A job? What about me being eighteen? Did I have a birthday?”
“The party was last Saturday night at the athletic club. Everybody was there. Even E2 made it.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t remember that. Are you mad at me for forgetting by own birthday?”
“No, son, I’m not mad at you.”
“Good, I do feel good about that. Oh, you said something about me getting a job? Where would I work? What would I do?”
“Let’s see, I know some men at my club who have businesses up in North Park and Seattle. I’ll check around and see if I can find someone who has an entry-level position you can do. How about that?”
“Okay, I guess. I know it won’t be anything too complicated, but I guess one has to start somewhere.”
“Yes, it probably won’t be too complicated, but I’ll be sure to let them know about your limitations.”
“Yes, it does always come down to that, but I’ll try not to act crazy in any job you get me.”
“That’s all I ask.”
“Good. I’m a little tired. I’m going to go to sleep now.”
A woman I had never seen before came into my room the next morning with a large brown paper bag like those you get at the grocery store for taking your groceries home. She was taller than Syl, but shorter than E3. She had long, straight blonde hair that went down the sides and back of her head and did one of those curvy things I think are called swoops. Syl sometimes wears her hair like that, but Syl has brown hair. This woman had blue eyes and was wearing shiny red lipstick. She was wearing a pale-blue skirt, a white blouse, a dark-blue blazer, and pale-yellow high heels. She smiled and put the brown paper bag on my bed and said, “Ed, I brought some clothes for you. I’ll step on the other side of the drapery to give you some privacy.”
“Are you Gloria Lester, E3’s legal assistant?” I asked.
“Yes, I’m Gloria.”
“Oh, okay, I’ll get dressed.”
After Gloria delivered me home in her dark green Mercury Cougar XR-7, I went into my bedroom and sat on my bed. I picked up my atlas and opened it to New Zealand. Syl took me to the library once and I checked out two books about New Zealand. After reading about them I started thinking maybe I could emigrate to New Zealand after I became an adult. Since it was a dominion of the Commonwealth of Nations, I knew they would speak English there, although, of course, it would have a Commonwealth accent sort of like they speak up in Canada, but I was certain I’d be able to pick up the lingo after living there for a few years.
Of course, there was the problem of my mental illness. There was always the problem of my mental illness. Sometimes I wished I could go away from my body and live free of my mental illness, but that was silly thinking. You can’t go away from your body unless you killed yourself and that didn’t sound like a very good thing to do. I heard that people who committed suicide—that is what they call killing yourself—weren’t allowed to go to Heaven. I didn’t think they went to Hell because that is where wicked people went after they died. So, if you committed suicide, you must go to some place between Heaven and Hell. In all honesty, it didn’t sound like a very good place to go because it would be full of other people who committed suicide and if I was unhappy enough to kill myself, then all the other people would be just as unhappy. Plus, there was the actual act of killing yourself. It had to hurt if only for a little while. I didn’t like to be in pain because it makes me lose track of myself. I have enough trouble keeping track of myself with my mental illness. I decided I needed to talk to someone about doing that. The only person I could think of who might know about where you went after you killed yourself was Pastor Olsen at our Lutheran church.
I put the atlas on the bed and went out to see if Syl had come home from her appointment. I walked all around the house, but I couldn’t find her. Finally, I went out to the garage and saw that her Buick wasn’t in its stall. That meant I either had to call Pastor Olsen or go down to the church and see if he was in his office. I went to the end of the hall at the living room where the family telephone was, but the telephone book wasn’t where we kept it. Well, so much for trying to call Pastor Olsen. I decided that it would be best if I walked down to the church and see if Pastor Olsen would talk to me about committing suicide. I went back to my bedroom and put on my parka because it was cold outside. Actually, it was sort of trying to snow, but I decided it wasn’t snowing too hard to keep me home. What could a little snow do to a person? People play in snow all the time and it doesn’t ever kill them. Right?
Now, the church was at the corner of Twenty-fourth Avenue Northwest and Northwest Seventy-fifth Street and our house was on Twenty-second Avenue Northwest between Northwest Ninetieth Street and Northwest Eighty-seventh Street, so that meant I had to go 24 minus 22 blocks west toward Puget Sound and 90, or so, minus 75 blocks south toward the Lake Washington Ship Canal. Since those were such big numbers, I decided I had better get a piece of paper and a pencil with an eraser so I could do the arithmetic because I can’t do arithmetic in my head if the numbers had two digits like ten and bigger numbers. I always got confused how to move the numbers around on the paper so that they would add or subtract. I can’t do multiplication or division at all and that was why I failed every mathematics class I ever took at whatever school I ever attended.
I went over to my desk, but there wasn’t any paper on top of it. At the time I was going to junior high and North Park High, I kept the schoolbooks I brought home to do homework on top of my desk along with my notebooks where there was lots of paper. At Louis Bergman I didn’t have any homework because they didn’t require that kind of stuff, so I wasn’t too certain if I had any paper to do arithmetic. If I did have paper, it might be in one of the desk drawers. There were three drawers on the right side of the desk and four drawers on the left side of the desk. Plus, there was the little drawer in the middle where the chair was kept, but that was where the pencils with erasers, pens, my magnifying glass, and my letter writing paper were kept. I could not use my letter writing paper to do arithmetic problems because that would be wasteful and Syl always told me doing wasteful things was stupid and only dodos did stupid things. There were seven drawers to look through, but there was no guarantee paper would be in anyone of those drawers. I knew I had to find some paper because if I didn’t do the arithmetic to figure out how far I had to walk in the snow, I might end up walking miles and miles and maybe never get to the church.
“Ed, are you home?” I heard Syl call out.
“Yes,” I yelled.
Syl opened my door without permission and asked, “What are you doing with your parka on?”
“I was going to look for some paper so I can do some arithmetic so I can figure out how far I have to walk in the snow to our church so I can talk to Pastor Olsen about where people who commit suicide go after they kill themselves,” I said.
“Are you trying to be some kind of dodo again?”
“No, I think I heard somewhere that people who commit suicide don’t get to go to Heaven, but I thought that surely they don’t go to Hell because only wicked people go to Hell. So I wanted to talk to Pastor Olsen to find out where I’ll go if I kill myself.”
“Ed, stop thinking about killing yourself. Only dodos think such things.”
“But Syl, it is hard being as crazy as I am. I’m tired of being crazy. Why can’t you understand?”
“Ed, I want you to sit right where you are. I’m going to call your father.”
“You won’t be able to talk to him because he is in a trial and the judge won’t let him leave.”
“Go look at your atlas. At least that should keep you from acting like a stupid, ignorant dodo.”
Syl left, but she didn’t shut the door like she was supposed to. There was a rule that bedroom doors were to be kept shut unless you had to go out or come in. I was very good about following that rule. I couldn’t close it because Syl told me to go look at my atlas. I went over to my bed and sat next to the atlas. I put it on my lap and opened it to Switzerland because that was my second favorite country after New Zealand.
Besides maps, I like railroads because they take people to all kinds of places. It was my dream to take trains to lots of places after I stopped living with E3 and Syl. I was going to have my own home and be able to do things on my own without having to ask permission all the time. You get to do those things after you stop growing up and start growing old. I suspected that would occur sometime around my twenty-first birthday because that is when people become adults.
Eventually, Syl came back with the suitcase I took to Western State Hospital. She didn’t say anything and laid the suitcase next to me on the bed. She started filling it with clothes I like to wear. I wanted to ask where I was going, but she didn’t look like she was in a mood to talk. She finally finished putting clothes into the suitcase and shut it.
“Your father told me to drive you down to the County General Hospital,” Syl said. “Since you still have your parka on, let’s go out and get in the car.”
“Why am I going to the County Hospital?” I asked. “I’m not sick, am I?”
“Damn it, why do you have to be a dodo all the time? Come on, dummy, let’s just go. You can carry your suitcase.”
We went into the Emergency Room after Syl parked in the parking garage. Syl spoke to someone at the counter and then we went over to the waiting area and sat down. After a while, a rather large man wearing a white shirt, white pants, and white shoes walked up to us and said, “Mrs. Pedersen, I’m Arthur from the psychiatric ward. Is this your son?”
“Yes, this is Edvard,” Syl said.
“Edvard, if you will come with me, we will go upstairs and get you checked in,” Arthur said. “You can say goodbye to your mother.”
I stood up, picked up my suitcase, and turned to Syl. Syl looked up at me, stood up, and said, “Ed, do everything they tell you. I think if you really tried you wouldn’t be such a dodo. You can only be so stupid until it becomes a drag on your family. I just wish you weren’t such an idiot.”
With that she walked away. I looked at Arthur and he turned his head in a way to suggest I should follow him. We went to the elevators and eventually one came that took us up to the psych ward.
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