Category: A Novella

School Daze by Ken David Stewart


School Daze by Ken David Stewart

Chapter One

I’ve been thinking about writing this book for some time now. Over the years I have thought a lot about the experiences I had attending public school. I don’t know whether or not most people think about their school days that much. I need to point out a few things right off the bat. First of all, the names and locations that I talk about in this book are all either changed or fictitious. If the reader wants to believe that some of the stories are true that is their prerogative. This book will cover the decades of the early 1950s and the 1960s. School was a lot different at that time than it is now.

I should start by saying that I grew up in downtown Winnipeg. My parents and I lived in my grandmother’s rooming house. I used to call my maternal grandmother, Bapi because I could not say the Polish word for grandmother which was Bapcha. After a short period of time everyone in our neighborhood started calling my grandmother, Bapi. Bapi was a very strong woman both mentally and physically. She didn’t take any crap from anyone. I can still remember her physically throwing some of her unruly tenants down the stairs. Bapi was my primary caregiver during the daytime and she made damn sure that I attended kindergarten every day whether I was sick or well.

From an early age I was already quite the entertainer. I recall watching Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show. My parents bought me a toy guitar and I was soon doing Elvis Presley impersonations complete with shaking my hips and moving around my legs the way my hero did. This entertained my parents and their friends to no end because I was already a fat kid and my impression of Elvis must have been hilarious.

Unfortunately for me, during the time I grew up there were very few fat kids around. This fact was to lead to much name-calling and humiliation for me when I attended public school.

I tended to make things worse for myself because I liked to dress up for school. I don’t mean wearing a suit or tie. I’m referring to donning a fire-fighters hat or dressing up in a Zorro costume, complete with a toy sword. I still remember one of my classmates pointing out that the real Zorro was not fat. His remark really stung but I couldn’t help it if I was a fat kid. After all, my grandmother was always serving me a big piece of cake along with my tomato soup and sandwich for lunch.

So naturally, my name became Fatso. I can recall a few other highlights regarding my kindergarten experience. My kindergarten teacher told my parents that because I was so bright I should be skipped a grade next year. The reason for my alleged brilliance was that my paternal grandmother who I visited every weekend, was a retired school teacher. I called her Granny and she read to me and taught me the alphabet and numbers before I ever attended school. Needless to say, most of my classmates did not have this distinct advantage.

The other highlight that I can remember was having a mean kid destroy my art project as I walked home from school. For most of my early years at school I was a favorite target for bullies. It wasn’t until grade five that I realized that being fat didn’t mean that you couldn’t fight, but I’ll save that story for later.

Around the time I became six years old my parents and grandmother bought a house in a suburban area of Winnipeg. I’m not sure how they were able to pull this off financially, but I suspect that Bapi helped my parents out a great deal. Even though I had moved out of the inner-city I quickly found out that it didn’t mean that the other children would be any nicer. In many ways they were worse. I continued to get bullied not only by my classmates, but also by my teachers. The things that my teachers got away with then would quickly end the career of any teacher today. In the late fifties and sixties school teachers could pretty well do anything they wanted to their students. You didn’t even have to be bad to have them talk to you very sarcastically or even treat you cruelly, if they so desired. The problem was in those days the teacher was always right. If a child were to complain to their parents about how their teacher had mistreated them, they couldn’t expect to get any sympathy from their parents. Your parents were more likely to ask you what you did wrong to make your teacher so angry.

In grade two my teacher asked me how much I weighed. Not knowing any better, I told her the truth. I told her that I weighed 120 pounds. My teacher’s response to this, was to inform the class that I weighed more than her.

Not to be outdone, my grade 3 teacher told the class that I was enough to make a teacher swear. My grade four teacher did her one better by calling me ‘Stupified’ for spilling some paint during an art class.

However, I would have to declare that the all-time winner of all my sadistic teachers was my grade five teacher. In those days, having a messy desk was a capital crime. My fifth grade teacher had a habit of doing visual desk inspections during silent reading. She wore soft soled shoes so that her students could not hear her sneaking up on us. As I probably had the messiest desk of anyone in my classroom, in addition to the fact that I was fat, I was to experience the full and terrible wrath of my grade five teacher. During her one of her routine desk inspections she noticed that my desk was particularly messy. This prompted her to dump over my desk and to tell me to clean up the mess immediately.

However, this monster who called herself a teacher was not finished yet. She called me up to her desk,  reached into one of the drawers and pulled out a laminated badge that featured the picture of an oversized pig. She promptly pinned this photo of a sow to my shirt this and told me that I was to wear the pig badge all week. Just to twist the knife a bit further, she stopped me when I was about to take the pig off before going out for recess. I was informed that the pig would now be transferred to my winter parka just so all the kids in that school could ask me why I was wearing a picture of a sow on my winter coat.img_0005

Infinite Realities Excerpt 25 by Ken David Stewart


Episode Twenty-Five of Infinite Realities:
Rick slowly made his way down the three flights of stairs using the handrails for balance. He painfully climbed into his red Mercury Sable. He needed to get an academic day planner for his upcoming job. As he would be receiving calls for different substitute assignments on a daily basis Rick needed to write down the job assignment details in a day planner. The closest office supplies store was Staples on Regent Avenue. It took Rick approximately twenty minutes to get there.
Staples is a large store that carries just about any kind of office supplies that one can imagine. Rick was having some difficulty locating the aisle that contained day planners. He saw a young woman that was on a step ladder trying to arrange boxes of file folders. Rick called out, “Excuse me. Do you know where I can find the aisle that has day planners?”
The clerk turned around and Rick nearly passed out. It was the same young woman that was the subject of the picture in his apartment.
“Yes, I do sir. You can find them in aisle five about half way down. Would you like me to show you?”
“Yes, that would be wonderful,” Rick said trying not to look flustered.
The girl climbed down the ladder and started to lead Rick down aisle five. She turned to him and said, “I know you. You’re Rick Chandler. I live in a picture in the living room of your apartment.”
Rick nearly turned white with fright. He was starting to wonder if he had gone over the deep end. I mean with the strain he had been under, having an old man give him a tablet that could alter his present reality and now this.
“Don’t worry Rick. You’re not losing your mind. My name is Katalya. I got instructions to be here from Darren. I want to take you somewhere light years away from your present reality.”fantasy 20

Infinite Realities Excerpt Twenty-One by Ken David Stewart


Twenty-One of Infinite Realities:
For Rick Chandler this was a dream that had virtually come true. Darren was right. Even though this experience didn’t happen in his default reality, he could feel the emotional rush exactly as if it was really happening. What was even better was that Rick was able to experience this adventure from a fourteen years olds perspective. He had all the energy and hormones of a real teenager. For a brief period in time he would be able to enter another dimension where he was no longer living in an old person’s body and was suffering all the aches and pains that seemed inevitably to accompany living to the age of sixty-two.
Rick’s sexual desire was back in a way that he had long forgotten. This was another insult that one had to endure as they reached their golden years. He was almost mesmerized by the sexiness of Mikaela, their road manager and chauffeur for the evening. Mikaela had beautiful long strawberry blond hair. She was wearing a cherry red tank top and very tight stone wash jeans. Mikaela wore shimmering silver earrings that almost blinded Rick when a ray of reflected sunlight reflected off them. Rick knew that he was too young for Mikaela. Girls in high school always dated guys a couple of years older than they were. But what the heck, Rick would enjoy his daydream while it lasted.
The white van pulled up to the back entrance of River Heights Community Club. The recreation center’s part time caretaker, Slim Owens guided Mikaela as she backed the van to a spot where the band would have just enough room to unload the equipment. Slim was in his early seventies and he still enjoyed working at the community center. He liked young people and figured that keeping in regular contact with youth would increase his own longevity.
The band even had an unofficial volunteer roadie named Adam Roberts. Adam was a big kid about fifteen years old. Just last year Adam’s parents had bought him a bench press and a set of weights for Christmas as well as a Joe Weider resistance training manual. From this guide Adam learned all the basic exercises to turn himself into a weight lifter. As Adam had good genetics and his testosterone levels were high, within two months and with a lot of hard training, Adam had started to develop an impressive muscular physique. This made him a natural choice to be a band’s roadie. Adam liked being a roadie as it gave him some extra status in his local high school. He felt pride when kids would say that the big gut was ‘with The Band’. Adam also felt a strong attraction to Mikaela.
“You guys just go in the club and get yourselves a Coke. I can get all your gear in myself,” Adam said.
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Infinite Realities Excerpt Seventeen


Episode Seventeen of Infinite Realities:

“I can’t okay you for spending the next two years as a writer Rick. My supervisor, the plan administrator would never go for it. In your rehabilitation plan he will want to see some kind of a conventional job. There’s too little money to be made in writing. Not every writer is going to have the success of a Stephen King. Most writers don’t even make enough money to cover their writing expenses,” Michael said.

“I figured you’d say that, but that’s all right. I have a Plan B,” Rick said.

“Will it provide you with a liveable income?”

“Yeah, it should.”

“Okay, tell me all about your alternate gig.”

“I’ll be a substitute teacher by day and a writer at night.”

“Now there’s a plan that’s feasible. I can work with that and I think I can sell it to the plan administrator.”

“I have another appointment to get to Rick. I’ll have to close off our meeting now. I’ll phone you to set up another appointment as soon as I get a chance to talk to my supervisor about your proposal,” Michael said as he was closing the cover on his metal briefcase.

“I’ll be looking forward to your call. It was a pleasure meeting you Michael. I’m sorry about giving you a hard time.”

“Don’t worry about it Rick. This was mild compared to the grief I get from some of my clients.”

As soon as Michael Reeves left David retrieved his tablet and was looking forward to getting back to reading The Devil’s Knot. When he picket the tablet up he heard a sound alert notifying him that he had an incoming text message. David selected the text message and began to read it.

“Hi, David. I must apologize for not introducing myself. My name is Darren Ross and I work for Infinite Realities Incorporated. I have been assigned to be your personal coach, mentor and advocate. In short, I am available twenty-four hours a day seven days a week, including holidays, to assist you with the operation of your amazing new piece of technology. In essence I am your customer support. What are you planning to do next with your tablet, David?”

David texted back:

I am going to continue reading The Devil’s Knot without any further disturbance.

Darren texted back:

That’s wonderful David. A man who loves to read. I want to greatly enhance your reading experience. I don’t want you to read about Damien Echols. I want you to be in the courtroom with Damien as he hears the judge tell him that he has been found guilty and will be sentenced to death by lethal injection. You will feel every emotion that Damien is feeling.
 

 

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Episode Nine Of The Pastor Murder Mystery


049Episode Nine of The Pastor Murder Mystery:

Shortly after Melissa closed the door to David’s study his phone rang. It was Meredith Jordan and she was upset.

“Pastor Noble. Something terrible has just happened. I just received a call from Seven Oaks Hospital. Marissa was taken to the hospital by ambulance. She is in Emergency right now and the doctor said that she is in critical condition. Mason and I will be leaving for the hospital right away. He is just outside warming up the car. Can you meet us at the hospital?”

For a moment David did not know what to say. He had to quickly break out of his deep and troubling introspections.

“Yes, of course. Tell Mason that I’m on the way to the hospital right now.”

It was December 20, 2014 and it was bitterly cold outside. David checked the weather app on his white ten inch Samsung Galaxy tablet. It read thirty-two degrees below Celsius with a wind chill causing it to feel like minus forty-five. The app was also warning of blizzard conditions.

David grabbed his white winter parka from the downstairs closet and told Melissa that Marissa Jordan was in serious condition at Seven Oaks. He told his wife that he didn’t know when he would be back.

“Be careful driving out there. It’s a blizzard out there,” Melissa said.

“I will,” David said as he opened the front door to his house and his face was immediately met with a painful blast of wind and snow. The snow seemed to have ice crystals in it that were cutting into David’s face. He ran back inside to grab his black balaclava.

When he got to his 2005 beige Chev Impala the engine would not turn over. He again went back into the house. This time to get his Motorizer that he had bought at Canadian Tire last fall. With his hands starting to freeze even through David’s gloves he managed to boost his car and the engine turned over. David was woefully in adept at most mechanical challenges but at least he had taught himself how to boost a car’s battery.

Infinite Realities Episode Sixteen


Episode Sixteen of Infinite Realities:

“What are your books about?” asked the industrial psychologist.

“Nothing- and everything,” Rick said.

“That doesn’t make sense. What do you mean by nothing and everything?”

“That’s a good question,” Rick began. “I’m not sure that I completely understand the writing process. Especially mine. I guess it could be described as some form of stream of consciousness writing like James Joyce used in The Portrait of a the Artist as a Young Man.

I find it very difficult to envision or to plan out my books before I write them. I suppose I use the fly by the seat of my pants approach. I am definitely not a plotter nor a planner. On most days I have a burning desire to write something. I have a great need to spill out the ideas that are in my head on any given day. I like to get up early in the morning around four or five AM. I have my Frosted Flakes and coffee for breakfast and then I sit down at my word processor and begin to write. I usually find it to be a very enjoyable experience. I find it to be more efficacious for my mental health than talking to my therapist. No offense to my psychiatrist. I believe that she sincerely wants to help me put my fragmented psyche back together and to get me back to work.

In my opinion writing is much like talking to yourself. The writer pulls down to earth some of the fascinating ideas that are buzzing around in the universe and transfers them to paper as best as he can. The hard work comes when you get near the end of the first draft. That’s when I try to find some organic unity in what I have written. I look for a unifying theme and start the painful process of deciding what to keep and what to throw out. Sometimes I have to give up the whole novel if I find that there isn’t anything that I can do to save it.”

“That sounds like hard work,” said Michael who at one time had aspirations of writing his own novel.

 

 

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Infinite Realities Episode Fifteen


Episode Fifteen of Infinite Realities:

“I need to get to know you a bit Rick seeing as we’re going to be working together,” Mike said.

“Working together on what?” Rick asked.

“On you. Your employment situation. What you plan to do with the next three years before you retire. Are you planning to go back to teaching?”

“Not if I can help it.”

“So what do you plan to do? You can’t stay on disability until you retire.”

“Why not?”

“Your group insurance plan won’t allow it.”

“But I like working on nothing all day as the song says.”

“Takin’ Care of Business by Bachman-Turner Overdrive,” Michael noted.

“That songs a little before your time isn’t it?”  Rick asked.

“I listen to my father’s old records. You guys had much better music to listen to than my generation does.”

“That song was by The Who,” Rick said with a bit of a smirk.

“Okay Rick. Enough joking around. Let’s get serious and examine your options.”

“How can I do that? I’m crazy,”Rick said still enjoying his little game.

“Your doctor doesn’t say you’re crazy, just depressed. And you don’t appear to be that depressed right now.” Michael said. His tone of voice was now displaying a hint of annoyance.

“How’s your coffee?” Rick asked.

“It’s perfect. So if you don’t plan to teach what do you want to do?”

“I want to write books. I’ve actually started a couple already,” Rick answered.

 

 

 

 

 

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Infinite Realities Episode Fourteen


Michael Reeves was very accurate in estimating his time of arrival at Rick’s apartment. It took him exactly nineteen minutes to get there. Rick’s apartment block was located on a side street just off one of the busier streets in St. Boniface. It was a smaller block that contained only six units. Rick’s apartment was fairly modest and came with a reasonable monthly rent. On his generous disability cheques Rick could have chosen more expensive lodgings but he couldn’t see the point. His one bedroom apartment suited his needs very well. He didn’t have any plans to have a permanent roommate and he actually liked living alone once he got used to it.

Rick opened the door to let his new caseworker inside his home. Michael Reeves was a relatively young man. Rick estimated that the industrial psychologist was about twenty-eight to thirty years old. Michael had an athletic build and was very handsome. If he was still single Rick guessed that Michael didn’t have any problem attracting the opposite sex. Michael wore a light blue sports jacket and an expensive looking dark blue dress shirt with a gold patterned tie. He was carrying a rather outdated metal briefcase that was trendy in the nineties.

“How much for the briefcase?” Rick asked.

Looking a little thrown off by the question Michael answered in a crackly voice, “Close to two hundred dollars including tax.”

‘How about if I offer you 150 for it?”  Rick asked.

“Well,” said Michael. “I didn’t stop by to sell you my briefcase. I’m flattered that you like it though.”

“I do like it very much. I wished I would have bought one while they were in style. The metal cases were really designed for executive types not school teachers. I have a genuine leather black attaché case. Well, enough talk about briefcases. Find a seat in my living room and I’ll bring you a freshly brewed coffee. What do you take in yours?”

Michael found a spot on Rick’s old fashioned peach colored couch. “Have you got any liquid coffee creamer and an artificial sweetener?”

“I sure do. That’s exactly the way I take my coffee. I think we’re going to get along just fine, Michael.”

“I hope so. I get along with most people very easily. Although most of my clients aren’t as relaxed as you are, especially when it’s the first time they’ve met me.”

“That’s because I’m big and tough and look like a biker. Plus I’ve been around this block a few times  so I pretty much know what to expect,” Rick said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Infinite Realities Episode Thirteen


Episode Thirteen of Infinite Realities:

Rick had certainly enjoyed the new adventures that he was having with his new tablet, but it was time that he got back to the real world or his life as he used to know it. He poured himself a cup of Folger’s coffee topped up with his favourite brand and flavor of coffee creamer. Rick added a generous amount of International Delight Southern Pecan along with two Sugar Twin packets to his coffee. He liked his coffee sweet and chuckled to himself. That’s part of the reason you are so big Rick. You can never stick to a diet. You like your creature comforts too much.

Rick picked up his tablet and to his delight found that all his favorite Kindle book downloads were on his new tablet. At present Rick could choose among about fifty different titles. He scrolled down his collection to see what he would like to read now. The Devil’s Knot by Mara Leveritt caught his attention. This book is a true crime story about three young men who were found guilty of murdering three little boys. The accused were believed to belong to some kind of satanic cult. Rick had just started reading the first chapter of the book. Only a few books could entirely grab Rick’s attention but this was one of them. Just as he found the page that he had last read his phone began to ring. Rick put his tablet down and said, “Damn. What now? It should be illegal to disturb someone while they are reading.”

Rick reluctantly picked up the phone.

“Is this Rick Chandler?” asked the caller.

“Yes, speaking.” Rick was now trying to hide his annoyance about being taken away from the book that he was reading.

“Hi Rick. This is Michael Reeves. I’m an industrial psychologist and your insurance provider, Canada Life, assigned you to my case load. Are you free to see me this morning?”

“Yes, I’m free. Where do you want to meet?”

“I could come to your place. What time would be good for you?”

“You can come right now if you’re in the area.”

“That sounds great. I should be at your place in about twenty minutes.”

“I’ll be waiting for you. I’ll have a fresh pot of coffee waiting for you.”

 

 

 

 

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Episode Twelve of Infinite Realities


Episode Twelve of Infinite Realities:

In his daydream Rick would become Dick Thornton the Blue Bombers punter and back -up quarterback. As soon as coach Bud Grant gave him the signal Dick  put on his helmet and ran onto the field to form a huddle with his teammates. The Bombers were on the Hamilton Tiger Cats forty yard line. This was going to be the last play of the game. Dick’s team needed a touchdown to win the game. If they didn’t score six points or more they would lose the game and be eliminated from next week’s Western Conference playoff game against The Edmonton Eskimos.

In the huddle Dick Thornton called for a Hail Mary pass to any eligible receivers. As he broke up the huddle and took his position directly behind the center the rookie quarterback felt both fear and excitement. If his play succeeded, Dick would be the star of the game. If his play failed he would have let down the noisy home field crowd.

Dick dropped back to the slot. He deftly evaded two of Hamilton’s linebackers who broke into the backfield. Out of the corner of his eye Dick could see a receiver a few feet over the goal line that was a few steps ahead of the defensive back covering him. Dick threw a long accurate spiral that was easily caught by the open receiver. The crowd erupted in joy and Dick was mobbed by not only his own team but also by Bomber fans that had run onto the field. Rick was startled out of his delightful reverie to see his tablet flash a brilliant gold color and to hear the voice from the tablet talking to him.

Do you remember how easy that was when you were a kid, Rick? Do you remember how good you felt at that time? For a few moments you were no longer the fattest kid in your class who was regularly humiliated by the other students and teachers. You were now Dick Thornton, the unlikely hero of a crucial football game. Didn’t the applause feel better than the shame?

Now you have that same kind of power to change unpleasant experiences and circumstances into how you would like them to be. You are holding that power in your hands. It resides within this marvelous tablet. The emotions you feel will be the same. Your subconscious mind does not know the difference. You have the same imagination now as you did as a young child. I take that back. You now have a much more developed imagination than you did as a kid. Press on another application and see what happens.

 

 

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