Flight of the Dodo - 9. Chapter 9
WARNING: This chapter has a very graphic scene of a suicide attempt.
I intended to stay in my bedroom all day long except, of course, I had to leave to go to the bathroom and that was to be the only time I left my bedroom. Syl knocked on my door at around lunch time. I gave her permission to come in. Syl asked if I wanted something for lunch. I told her no because I was still upset about not being employed at the Seventh Heaven Hotel. Syl said I should have at least a sandwich and a glass of milk, but I insisted that I wasn’t going to eat. Then I asked her to leave me alone.
Before she left, Syl said, “I tried to get in touch with your father, but he was in conference with one of his more important clients. I left a message with his secretary to call me when he was through, but he hasn’t called yet.”
“It won’t matter what E3 tries to do about me being employed at the Seventh Heaven Hotel because the woman in the personnel office doesn’t hire people who don’t have a high school diploma, that thing called a GED, or previous employment. And, of course, she didn’t like me because I’m of Norwegian descent. Will you please tell E3 that I don’t want to work at a place where they don’t like people of Norwegian descent.”
“Oh, I’m going to tell your father a few things, alright. If you hear yelling, don’t get worried. I’m so mad now I don’t know if I’m going to talk to your father.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t get the job at the Seventh Heaven Hotel. Please don’t be mad at me. I tried my best, but I’m of Norwegian descent, don’t have a prior employment history, a high school diploma, or a GED, whatever that is.”
“Oh, Ed, why do you think I’m mad at you? You’re such a stupid dodo, you get everything wrong. Oh! I bet that’s your father now.”
Syl hurried out my door, but forgot to shut the door as she was supposed to. I got off the bed and went to the door. I could hear Syl talking very loud and I heard her swear. I shut my door and went back to my bed. But I didn’t lay down on it because I got an idea that would solve this problem. I went out my bedroom door and walked down the hall. I saw Syl talking loudly into the telephone and she was facing away from me. I walked as quietly as I could and went into the kitchen. I walked to the knife rack where I removed the chef’s knife. I laid my left hand upside down on the counter. I looked at my wrist and I could see blue blood vessels under the white skin. Then I looked up at the kitchen window and saw that it was raining outside. Then I realized I was crying, but that didn’t stop me from doing what needed to be done. I placed the blade of the chef’s knife onto my left wrist and pushed down as hard as I could as I pushed the blade across my wrist. The pain was unbelievable and blood swelled up out of the wound. But I wasn’t finished with what had to be done. Even though the pain was nearly unbearable, I tried to hold the chef’s knife in my left hand, but was only able to make a small cut to my right wrist. Later, I learned that I had severely damaged the nerves and tendons in my left wrist and that was the reason I could barely hold the knife with my left hand. I was crying very hard now. I dropped the knife and it clattered on the floor. I turned to go back to my bedroom.
“Oh, my God! Eddie what have you done?” Syl screamed. She came over to me and then said, “Come here, come to the table and sit down. Oh, my God, Eddie, what were you thinking you stupid dodo?”
I wanted to reassure Syl that I was okay with doing this to myself, but I was crying too hard to talk. Syl went to the drawer where the kitchen towels were kept, opened it, took out two towels, and came over to where I was sitting. She lifted my right hand and put it on the table. Then she wrapped one of the towels around my wrist and tied it very tight. Then she did the same thing to my left wrist. She went over to the kitchen telephone and I saw her dial the operator.
“I need an ambulance, my son cut his wrists, please hurry, he is bleeding very badly,” Syl said into the telephone. “Oh, yes, we’re at 8917 Twenty-second Avenue Northwest, please hurry!”
For some reason I didn’t understand, the pain in my wrists had subsided to an agonizing ache. I could see blood seeping out of the towels, but there was nothing I could do about it. I had wanted this and now it was happening. Yet, I didn’t feel as if I was dying. All I had was the pain to concentrate on. There was nothing else around me other than the pain and the blood soaking the towels. Then I thought I heard the sound of a siren. I wanted to say something to Syl, who was still on the telephone, although she wasn’t speaking. The sound of the siren seemed to be getting louder and then there was the sound of more sirens all singing the same song, “We are on our way to save Ed. We coming to save Ed. Get out of our way. We are on a mission of mercy.” I wanted to sing along, but the pain in my wrists took away all of my concentration. The sirens were very loud now. I saw Syl drop the telephone and run out of the kitchen.
The sirens were their loudest and then they stopped. I wondered if they had arrived at our house at 8917 Twenty-second Avenue Northwest. Then I heard Syl say, “He’s in the kitchen, come I’ll show you the way.”
Soon there were firemen all around me. Without speaking one of them pulled the chair away from the table allowing my arms to fall onto my lap. I couldn’t help myself, but my mouth opened and, “Uh, oh, noooo!”
A fireman picked me up and gently laid me on the floor. Another fireman was kneeling at my side taking the towel off my right wrist. Another fireman came over and knelt at my left side. He began taking the towel off my left wrist. A fireman brought over a case and opened it. The fireman on my right side took something from the case and pressed it against my right wrist. The fireman on my left side reached over me and took something from the case. As the other fireman had done, he pressed the thing in his hand against my left wrist.
“Ma’am, will you be going with us to the hospital?”
“Yes, yes, I’ll need to be with Ed,” Syl said.
“Is there anyone you need to call before we leave?”
“Oh, yes, I’d better call Ed’s father. I’ll go to the other phone.”
“May I have you name, son?”
“Uh, Edvard Oscar Pedersen.”
“What high school do you attend? North Park?”
“No, I no longer go to school.”
“So what are your hobbies?”
“I don’t have hobbies.”
“Who’s your favorite band?”
“Band? What is a band?”
“You don’t listen to music on your radio?”
“I don’t have a radio. I don’t listen to music unless I happen to be in Erika’s or Emmett’s bedrooms. They have radios, but I don’t know what kind of music they listen to. Music is distracting.”
“Okay, let’s get him up on the stretcher.”
There were firemen on both sides of me and they raised me off the floor for only a moment. Then they lowered me onto something soft that must have been the stretcher. Then they raised me up in the air and started to move me out of the kitchen. We went through the dining room and out into the foyer. I saw Syl standing there in her green coat and she was holding her black alligator purse. After they took me outside, they rolled me out to a medic unit with a big 18 on the side. I didn’t know what the 18 meant, but I was beginning to feel the pain again, so I didn’t ask. I heard a fireman tell Syl she could ride up front as they pushed me inside the medic unit. A fireman came in with me and sat on a little chair thingy next to me.
“I’m going to have to cut your jeans because I can’t take your blood pressure on your arms,” the fireman said.
After cutting my jeans, he put a big blood pressure thing on my thigh. The medic unit turned around and went down to the corner where it turned right on Northwest Ninetieth Street. I didn’t hear a siren until after we turned right again. I assumed we were now on Fifteenth Avenue Northwest. With the siren blaring we sped south toward the Ballard Bridge and downtown Seattle. The fireman with me was talking into a mic, but I didn’t understand what he was saying or to whom he was talking to. I had to assume he was relaying information about my medical status to the emergency room at County General Hospital.
I don’t know how long it took us to get to County General, but I do know we had to go over to the Fremont Bridge because the Ballard Bridge was open and prevented us going down Fifteenth Avenue West to Elliot Avenue West. I believe after we crossed the Fremont Bridge we followed Westlake Avenue North to where we turned left at Mercer Street. I don’t know why Mercer Street doesn’t have a direction indicator east of Queen Anne Avenue North. We followed Mercer Street to I-5. We exited somewhere and went up a hill, which I assumed was First Hill or Pill Hill because of all the hospitals on it including County General. The medic unit stopped and then backed up and stopped again. The doors opened and a fireman pulled the stretcher out of the medic unit. The fireman who was beside me jumped out just before the stretcher completely went out of the medic unit and he steadied it as the wheels under me dropped to the ground.
They took me into the emergency room and back to an open bay. They transferred me to the gurney in the treatment bay and one of the firemen removed the stretcher while the other fireman was talking to a doctor as the medical people in the bay started cutting my clothes off. I don’t know why they had to do that because only my wrists that were injured, but I suppose it was a required procedure.
“What’s your name?”
“Edvard Oscar Pedersen,” I said as someone was setting up an IV needle in my forearm.
“How old are you?”
“Who is your next of kin?”
“My father and my mother.”
“Yes, but what is their name?”
“My father is E3 and my mother is Syl.”
“What are their full names?”
“Oh, yes, sorry, my father is Eric Orton Pedersen III and my mother is Sylvia Pedersen.”
“His parents are you in the waiting room and his psychiatrist has been notified.”
“Okay, let’s get him up to surgery.”
Someone spread a sheet over me and they wheeled me out of the emergency room down a hall to the elevators. Finally, an elevator came and I was pushed into it, the doors closed, and we went up. The elevator stopped and I was pushed out. We went down a hall, through some doors, and then they stopped and parked me beside a wall.
“Hello, uh, Edvard, that’s a strange name.”
“Actually, it is a famous name. I was named after the famous Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, not the famous Norwegian painter Edvard Munch.”
“Then you are Norwegian.”
“No, I’m an American. My great-grandfather E1 immigrated from Norway in the late eighteen-hundreds. He was a fisherman.”
“Oh, okay, I’m Dr. Bogart and I’ll be your anesthesiologist today. Have you ever had surgery before that required anesthesia?”
“Yes, I was thirteen at North Park General Hospital.”
“Oh, okay, uh, what kind of surgery was it?”
“I was tripped and fell down some stairs and fractured one of my knee caps.”
“Ooh, was the person who did it arrested?”
“No, but he was expelled from Captain David Nyberg Junior High School. His parents sent him to live with his grandparents in Wyoming. But I also had surgery a few months ago here at County General. I had a skull fracture and bruised my optic nerve in the left eye because I fainted out at Moorlands Psychiatric Hospital. A man out there tried to sexually assault me. I tried to get away, but I fainted instead and fell onto the floor. That is why I normally wear glasses. I’m legally blind in my left eye, but my glasses allow me to see a little bit.”
“Well, okay, I believe they’re about ready for you in the operating room. I’ll see you inside.”
Dr. Bogart left me and I lay there in that hall for the longest time. I was beginning to wonder if they had forgot that I was out in the hall waiting for surgery. Then a woman came out and wheeled my gurney into the operating room. There were a lot of people in there, but I didn’t see Dr. Bogart. I began to wonder if I had really talked with Dr. Bogart. Was it possible I was delusional again? They helped me slide onto the operating table. They put my arms up on padded stands and used straps to hold them steady. I was going to ask about why Dr. Bogart was no longer in the operating room, but a man standing on my right side said, “Okay, let’s get this started, put him under.”
I woke up sometime later in the recovery room for a few minutes before falling back to sleep. I woke up again and a nurse asked if I was feeling okay. I said I was and then someone wheeled my bed out into a hall. We went to the elevators and after one came I was pushed inside. The elevator went up and after it stopped and the doors opened I was wheeled out. We went down a hall and into a room. From what I could see I was the only patient. I wondered if that was because I had attempted suicide. I had been through this before and didn’t expect to have a good experience.
“Well, hello, Edvard, how are you doing?”
I look at the foot of my bed and saw Dr. Kaiser standing there.
“I’m sorry, but I tried to commit suicide,” I said.
“Want to tell me about it?”
“Okay. E3 arranged with his friend Mr. Rabie Ibrahim for me to have a job at the Seventh Heaven Hotel at Sixth Avenue and Yesler Way in downtown Seattle. Mr. Rabie Ibrahim owns the Seventh Heaven Hotel and the job for me was helping to set up tables and chairs for conferences at the Seventh Heaven Hotel. I was directed to go to the personnel office and fill out papers this morning. The paper asked what high school I graduated from, but I left that blank because I haven’t graduated from any high school. Then it asked if I had a GED, but I don’t think I have one because I don’t know what a GED is. Then I was supposed to enter all of my prior employment, but I have never had a job so I left that blank, too. I had to sign my name, but it asked me to write down the date as MM/DD/YYYY, but I didn’t know what that meant so I left that blank, too. The woman in the personnel office didn’t like that I don’t have a high school diploma, whatever that is, nor do I have a GED, whatever that is. She said since I didn’t have either of those I wasn’t qualified to work at the Seventh Heaven Hotel and told me to leave the premises or she would call the police. I didn’t want to be arrested so I left the personnel office at the Seventh Heaven Hotel and went home. Syl seemed very angry that I wasn’t employed at the Seventh Heaven Hotel at Sixth Avenue and Yesler Way in downtown Seattle. I don’t know why she was angry with me, but I got an idea that maybe I shouldn’t be a member of the Pedersen family any longer and the only option I had was to commit suicide even though I don’t know where I might end up after I died. So I went into the kitchen and used a chef’s knife to cut my wrists and now I’m here.”
“Wow, that is something. So where do we go from here?”
“I don’t know. Syl seemed very upset that I had tried to commit suicide, but did her best to stop the bleeding. Then she called for an ambulance. Firemen came to the house and then they brought me here to County General. I don’t know where I belong anymore. Surely, I don’t belong in the Pedersen family because I don’t think they want me because I wasn’t employed at the Seventh Heaven Hotel even though E3 supposedly arranged with Mr. Rabie Ibrahim for me to have a job at his hotel. Obviously, Mr. Rabie Ibrahim didn’t speak with the woman in the personnel office before offering me the job. I don’t know what is to become of me. Maybe death is my only option. Do you know a good way for me to kill myself?”
“No, I don’t know of a good way for you to kill yourself. Frankly, Ed, I’m at a loss as what to do with you. Possibly, your best option at this time is to transfer you to a state mental hospital for a period of time until we can get you stabilized. I will be speaking with your parents about that. I will see your tomorrow morning.”
With that Dr. Kaiser left. Soon after, a nurse and an orderly came into my room. I saw that the orderly was carrying straps. The nurse used them to fix my arms and legs to the bed so I couldn’t move.
“What will I do about going to the bathroom?” I asked.
“You’re cathed, so we don’t have to worry about you wetting the bed,” the nurse said.
“What do I do if I have to do a number two?”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Have a good day.”
With that they left and no one came back for a long time, but a nurse came in and changed my IV bottle. She also gave me a hypo for the pain from my surgery. I went to sleep.
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