Garry Hardy invited Stephanie Richards over to secluded wooden bench just in front of a large oak tree. The demonstration had pretty much fizzled out by this time. The prospective hunters appear to have heard the sheriff’s zero tolerance message loud and clear. There wouldn’t be any danger done to Ogopogo on Sheriff George Anderson’s watch.
As they watched the last group of people get into their vehicles and leave the town commons, Garry and Stephanie started up a conversation. Stephanie was the first to ask a question.
“So, where are you from Garry?
“Originally I’m from Winnipeg. I was coming to Kelowna to visit my aunt and uncle, but my plans kind of fell through,” Garry answered.
“How did your plans fall through?” Stephanie asked.
“It’s kind of complicated,” Garry said.
“I don’t know if I should get into that with you. If I tell you the truth it could make you afraid of me or at least you’ll think I’m pretty weird and that you probably shouldn’t be hanging out with me.”
“What are you trying to tell me? That you killed or injured someone or that you just got out of jail?” asked Stephanie.
“It’s not that bad.” Garry replied.
Stephanie turned around and looked Garry straight in the eye. “Look Garry Hardy. I’m a very strong person and I’ve also had some issues in my life. You can trust me. I’m very good at keeping confidences,”
As Garry began to talk, Stephanie gently put her left hand on Garry’s arm.
“This is not going to be easy for me to tell you, Steph. Do you mind if I call you Steph?” asked Garry.
Stephanie laughed. “All of my family and all my friends call me Steph, so I don’t see why you shouldn’t. Besides I have the feeling that we are going to be very good friends. I feel very comfortable being with you already.”
“Okay. Here goes.” Garry’s voice was already starting to crack. I have schizophrenia and at times it gets me into a lot of trouble. That’s why I didn’t get to visit my aunt and uncle. Do you know what a psychotic break is?”
“Yes, only too well. I had one myself a little over a year ago,” Stephanie replied.
“You’re kidding! What happened?” Garry asked.
“I haven’t been diagnosed with schizophrenia like you. I have a different diagnosis. I have depression with psychotic features. This means that I occasionally have episodes of depression that are so severe that I lose touch with reality.”
“Wow! I think we are going to become very good friends,” Garry said.
“So. Tell me your story. What happened to derail your plans for visiting your aunt and uncle?” Stephanie asked.
“It all started in Winnipeg when I stopped taking my medications. I have always hated my medications and their side effects. The problem is, when I go off them for a few days, bad things happen. I see things that no one else sees, I hear sounds that nobody else does. I even smell things that no one else smells. When I go off my meds some people start looking to me like reptilian creatures including my parents. Only my father is still alive but when my mother was alive she, too, would look reptilian to me from time to time. I came to believe that my parents had the ability to change at will between their human and reptilian forms.”
“I have read quite a few books on schizophrenia and I remember reading that when a person has hallucinations and delusions they seem so real that they wonder why no one else can see them. They also can’t understand why no one else believes what they tell them,” Stephanie said.
“Exactly. That is absolutely true,” Garry said. “This is what all went down. I was staying at a psychiatric treatment facility in Winnipeg. I decided that it was time I got off my meds because I had no energy and no real motivation to even take a shower. So I started cheeking my meds for a few days.
My next move was to go AWOL. I had just received that month’s welfare cheque and I decided that I would take a Greyhound bus to Kelowna to visit my aunt and uncle. For some reason I thought that they would believe my story about my father being reptilian. When I got on the bus I started to see many of the passengers turn into their reptilian forms. I panicked and went up to the bus driver to let him know about the other passengers. The next thing I recalled was taking a severe beating by a big, burly man. I don’t remember too much after that until I found out I was in the Kelowna Mental Health Center.
“Wow! That was quite the ordeal. The next thing I want to know is if you are back on your meds now,” Stephanie said.
“Oh yes. I am. I’m feeling very stable right now. I think my new psychiatrist has me on the right meds and the correct dosage.”
“So why did you go AWOL from this treatment center?” Stephanie asked.
“Oh, I’m not AWOL. I got an extended pass to be out for two weeks. My rehabilitation counsellor phones me every two days to make sure that I’m alright. So far, so good.”
“You were telling me about a man named Winston and an expedition that you had joined,” Stephanie said.
“Winston Stanfield is my friend Wally’s grandfather. I met Wally at the mental health center and I got very interested in his stories about his grandfather. When Wally got permission for a weekend pass to visit his grandfather I asked if I could come along. Wally thought it was a great idea and I also got permission to go. Winston has been taking us out on his cabin cruiser to search for Ogopogo. I’ll tell you what. If you’re not busy now we can walk over to Winston’s place right now,” Garry said.