addiction

Chaos, A Novel Episodes 1 to 14 by Ken David Stewart


Chaos, A Novel by Ken David Stewart (Revised Version #1)

Episode One:

On April 16, 2016 Harold Peyton turned sixty-five. He was troubled by the realization that he was now officially a senior citizen. His beloved wife, Camilla had moved out his house on this very date April 16, 2015. Harold remained living in their old house that had done without renovations and repairs for at least a decade. Although a friend had encouraged him to find a new place to live, Harold was too deeply overwhelmed by his circumstances to change his living arrangements. His stepson, Jeff, had even asked Harold to come and stay with him and his family. Harold didn’t want to impose upon him and he didn’t want Jeff to know that he had started drinking alcohol again. He had eleven years of sobriety to his credit before he relapsed back into his disease of addiction. Harold started drinking again a few days after he and Camilla separated.

On a Friday morning Harold walked by the local Manitoba Liquor Commission. He had just finished going to the post office to mail in thank you notes to all the people who sent their condolences.

As soon as Harold opened the door to the liquor store and literally walked across the red carpet, Harold felt right at home. It was as if the last eleven years of his life had never happened. Harold decided to take a tour of the liquor store to check out all the different kind of alcohol on display. After about twenty minutes of exploring the store Harold decided upon the largest bottle of Jack Daniels that he could find. He walked out of the liquor store without the slightest feelings of guilt and shame.

Episode 2:

Harold had now been retired for five years. He had been a high school English teacher for twenty-seven years. He was now receiving a CPP pension, a retired teacher’s pension and was about to start receiving Old Age Security Benefits.

Harold only returned to drinking alcohol for one year after his wife left him. After the one year was over Harold returned to his old Alcoholics Anonymous group and was welcomed back with open arms.

When he turned sixty-five Harold realized that he had to get back on his feet. One year of indulging in self-pity and substance abuse was long enough. As he gradually accumulated more sobriety his once brilliant mind had started to function again and he became very introspective. He began thinking about what he was going to do with the rest of his life.

After all, Harold was only in his mid sixties. He realized that he could possibly have twenty more years in store for himself.

Harold had kept physically fit before his drinking got out of control. He got back in the habit of going for a forty-five -minute bike ride each day. He also worked out at Shapes, his local gym, at least three times per week. When he started going back to Shapes he started with performing a resistance training circuit. Within a few months Harold was looking significantly better. By means of his weight training program Harold was starting to regain most of his youthful muscle definition. He was still approximately seventy pounds overweight according to his doctor’s Body Mass Index chart.

A good part of the problem was that Harold could not get himself motivated to learn how to cook healthy meals. While Harold and Camilla were together, his wife did the majority of the cooking. The only type of cooking that Harold enjoyed was barbequing using an old circular shaped charcoal barbeque. He was afraid of using the newer gas powered grills. Harold would barbeque hot dogs, hamburgers and steak practically every day during the summer. Occasionally he would put on his parka and barbeque outside during the winter months.

After Camilla moved out, Harold had to learn to fend for himself. He realized that he would have to eat something so he started to think of all the meals he could prepare for himself without having to cook. One morning Harold sat down and made a list of all the meals that he could make on his own. The list that Harold came up with included toast, various types of sandwiches, dry breakfast cereals, large bars of cheese, pizza pops, raw pepperoni sticks, hot dogs, raw fruits and vegetables. Spam and assorted canned foods.

Episode 3 of Chaos:

To Harold’s delight and with by going out for long, daily bike rides and working out with weights at Shapes gym, he was able to get his weight down to about two-hundred thirty-five pounds. About a year ago Harold went to his doctor for a complete physical and weighed in at three hundred ten pounds. This was a turning point for Harold. He had been avoiding looking at himself in the mirror for quite some time now. Harold felt too much shame to see his reflection in the mirror. Although his present weight was still above his ideal weight according to the body mass index chart that his doctor showed him, Harold felt much better about himself. He could now look at himself in the mirror without fear of embarrassment. In fact, Harold thought that he now looked good. Not only had he lost a great deal of body fat he had regained a significant amount of muscle mass. Harold was now very proud of himself. With hard work he had achieved a major life goal. He now had a spring in his step when he went out in public.

Episode 4 of Chaos

Although he was officially retired Harold had not stopped working completely. He continued to work three to four days per week as a substitute teacher. Harold enjoyed substitute teaching much more than full time teaching, as he now didn’t have extra work to take home with him in the evenings. Substitute teaching also got him out of the house several times per week. This helped alleviate Harold’s loneliness as it gave him somewhat of a social life as he had an opportunity to visit with other teachers during prep periods and at lunch times.

Fortunately, Harold was rarely bored. He had developed several hobbies during his teaching career and he now had more time to devote to them. Harold also picked up a couple of new hobbies after he retired. He had always enjoyed learning new things and developing new skills.

He had truly loved his estranged wife Camilla and believed that he could never again love a woman as much as he had loved her. Even so, he missed having female companionship. During one of his church’s weekly Bible studies Harold had met an attractive lady in her mid forties named Roxanne. They both felt a mutual attraction to each other and were soon going out for coffee after the Bible study had ended.

Episode 5 of Chaos:

Harold had a regular morning routine. On weekdays he would turn on his phone and wait for a call from the school division giving him a substitute teaching assignment for the day. Harold did not really want to accept an assignment today. He had just finished a three- day assignment teaching English at Murdoch MacKay Collegiate. Harold had a good time teaching there as the class was reading and discussing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby. Although Harold had thoroughly enjoyed his time at Murdoch MacKay, he was getting older and felt like he needed a day off.

He felt guilty when he spent too many days away from his writing. Harold wrote fiction novels as a hobby and found that the writing process was very therapeutic for him. He decided that he would decline any teaching assignments for today and would spend the day working on his current work in progress, a novel titled Winter Dreams.

Harold’s morning routine seldom varied. He would get up and make a pot of Tim Horton’s coffee. Harold would then fill up a large glass with water. The glass that he used to wash down his medications was actually a large holder for flowers, like a vase, that he had purchased at Dollarama while taking his grandson there.

As he got older Harold was prescribed more and more medications by both his family doctor and his psychiatrist. He had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was in his late teens. His psychiatrist prescribed a cocktail of antidepressants. While drinking his coffee and taking his meds Harold would listen to one of his many Holy Bible audiobooks.

Harold had been a Christian since his late twenties. When he first got saved he was really just buying fire insurance. Harold simply did not want to go to hell. For almost three decades he really didn’t have an intimate relationship with the Lord. When Harold was in his early fifties he was introduced to Charismatic and Pentecostal theology through a co-worker. Since then he had been baptised in the Holy Spirit and received some of the spiritual gifts, notably prophetic visions and words of knowledge.

Episode 6:

After Harold finished his devotion time, he returned to his writing by checking out his recent chapter of Winter Dreams. He would look for anywhere that editing was needed and started to think where he would take the story’s plot from here. Harold had also made up a separate Word document where he would list his ideas for potential future scenes.

While Harold had just started his next chapter, he heard a lot of noise emanating from outside his house. He got up from his black office chair and looked out his living room window.

There was still snow on the ground and Harold could see a burly man push a young female out of white Ford 250 truck. The driver appeared to be in his early thirties and looked very intimidating. The next thing to be tossed out of the truck was a large blue hockey duffle bag. It landed on the snow and ice- covered ground with a loud thump.

Harold opened his front door when he heard the driver yelling obscenities at the girl. As the white truck pulled away Harold put on his Kodiak snow boots and stepped outside his house. He needed to see if the young woman needed any assistance. Harold helped the girl to her feet. She looked up at Harold, thanked him and began to cry. The young lady was wearing only a grey hoodie sweatshirt and a well- worn pair of blue jeans. Her hair was black and scraggly and the tears pouring out of her eyes caused her mascara to run. She was shivering from the cold.

“Would you like to come inside to warm up and join me for coffee or hot chocolate?”

He helped the girl through the door. The young lady was feeling sore from being pushed out of the truck and landing on the hard ice and snow -covered street. She was still shivering as it was unusually cold today and the girl didn’t have a winter coat to put on. Harold brought her duffle bag in. The bag was quite heavy but despite being sixty-five years old Harold was still very strong. He noticed a slight hint of body odor emanating from the girl. What really struck him was the thinness of the young lady’s face and her general emaciated presentation.

Episode 7:

Harold noticed that the girl had several piercings, one through her left eyebrow and two piercings in her nose.

As it was rather warm in Harold’s house, the young female took off her dirty, grey hooded sweatshirt. Underneath she was wearing a black mid riff tee-shirt with Black Flag printed on it. Harold noticed that she also had a belly button piercing. She started to pull off her black boots revealing two different colored striped socks.

“I should introduce myself. My name is Harold, Harold Peyton. Would you like a cup of coffee or some hot chocolate?” Harold asked his guest. He thought that the girl would be attractive if she didn’t look so dishevelled and took more care with her personal hygiene. At this moment Harold pictured a very neglected and abused little elf.

“Oh, that would be awesome sir. I would actually prefer a hot chocolate if it’s not too much trouble for you.”

“That’s not a problem. By the way, what’s your name?” Harold asked.

“My real name is Whisper Willows, but my street name is Streak. I also use a few aliases whenever I need to.”

“I’m pleased to meet you, Whisper. Oh, by the way you don’t need to call me ‘sir’. Just Harold will be fine.”

Episode 8:

“Did you see that guy push me out of the truck and throw my duffel bag in the snow?” Whisper asked.

“Yes, are you alright?” Harold asked with evident concern in his voice.

“Yes, I think so. Tony pushed me pretty hard out of the truck. I’ll probably be sore for awhile and have some nasty bruises,” Whisper answered after taking a sip of her hot chocolate.

“That’s probably true. Look, I know it’s none of my business, so you don’t have to tell me your life story,” Harold said.

“No, that’s not a problem,” Whisper said. “You let me in your house, Harold, and maybe saved my life, so I should be honest enough to tell you what all went down. First, I need to give you some background information about myself. as she stretched out and made herself more comfortable on Harold’s well worn orange and yellow patterned couch. Harold sat in his dark brown Lazy Boy chair and smoked his pipe as he listened to Whisper’s story.

“I guess my biggest problem right now is that I’m essentially homeless and don’t have any money. I’d like to get rid of my boyfriend Tony, but he needs me too much.”

“It sounds like you are having a very rough time of it right now,” Harold stated.

“Actually, my whole life has been a rough time, man. My father left when I was two years old, so I never really knew him. My mom and dad got married too young and the only reason that they got married was because Mom was pregnant with me. My parents never really wanted me. I was an accident.”

Episode 9:

“Wow. That must really hurt,” Harold said as he tried to light his pipe.

“Yeah, I guess it does, but I’m tough. I can live through a lot and I still am. Every day’s a struggle. I’ve never really had anyone I could trust in my life.” Whisper’s eyes started to tear up.

“So what happened after your dad left?” Harold asked as he passed a box of Kleenex over to Whisper.

“The only way my mother knew how to cope was to turn to the bottle. Mom also got stoned on weed a lot. She also took several kinds of benzos and antidepressants that she got from her doctor. Mom was always good at scamming her doctors.”

“How could your mother look after you while she was so impaired?” Harold asked.

“She couldn’t take proper care of me, my brother or my sister. That’s why Child and Family Services took all her kids away and placed us all in different foster homes,” Whisper answered and then drank a bit of her hot chocolate.

“You sure make a good cup of hot chocolate, Harold. This is delicious.”

“It’s Tim Horton’s, dear. Only the best for you.”

Episode 10:

“You have a very nice home, Harold. It’s a little cluttered and could use some cleaning, but, then again, this house is quite small,” Whisper observed. “I noticed that you have four bookshelves and possibly a couple of hundred books.”

“Actually, I have a lot more books than that. My eyesight is not as good as it used to be, so I now purchase all my books in the Kindle format. That way I can adjust the fonts and the brightness levels so that reading the text is comfortable for me,” Harold explained.

“You certainly are a well- read man,” Whisper observed.

“For sure. I’ve been that way since I was a kid. I also like listening to audiobooks when my eyes need a break.”

“You are right, though. This house is a bit too small, but it was even more cramped when my wife lived with me. We accumulated a lot of stuff over the years.”

“I’m sorry to hear that you and your wife are separated. How long has it been now?”

“Almost two years.”

“Are you still missing her?” Whisper asked moving a little closer to the front of the couch. Harold was a little uncomfortable with how Whisper made him feel. He wished that less of her skin was exposed. As much as he hated to admit it to himself, Harold did find this strange young woman in his house to be somewhat attractive. It couldn’t be a sexual attraction. That was ludicrous. After all, Harold was sixty-five years old and this girl was only twenty-two. He was not a dirty old man. There was something else going on.

“Yes, but it’s getting better with time. At certain times of the day I still get very sad and will start weeping. Sometimes an old song that we both loved will be playing on iTunes and that will stir up a deep emptiness within me.”

Episode 11:

Harold got up from his easy chair and walked up to his living room window to look outside. He continued to talk to Whisper with his back toward her.

“I’ll be up front with you Whisper. I’m an alcoholic in recovery. I’ve only been sober a little past a year now. I got sober in Alcoholics Anonymous and recently received my one year of sobriety pin.” Harold didn’t know why he was sharing such personal information with a stranger.

“I would love to have a hot chocolate, Sir. What’s your name?” Whisper asked.

“My word, where did all my manners go? With all the excitement going on, I failed to recall that I haven’t as yet told you my name. It’s Harold, Harold Peyton.”

“Could I ask a big favour of you. Mr. Peyton?” Whisper asked sheepishly.

“Oh, you don’t have to call me Mr. Peyton. I’d like it very much if you just called me Harold. What would you like me to do as a favour to you?”

“I would like to take a shower and get myself cleaned up,” Whisper asked as her face reddened with embarrassment. “But I would like to drink my hot chocolate first if you don’t mind.”

“Of course, you can my dear,” Harold answered. Harold wondered why he had called Whisper ‘my dear’. After all he didn’t even know this girl yet.

“Did you bring a clean change of clothes to put on after you wash up?”

“Yes, I have some clean clothes in my duffle bag,” Whisper replied.

“I just asked in case you didn’t have a fresh change of clothes with you. I still have all my daughter’s clothes in a closet in her bedroom. You appear to be about the same size as she was and her clothes would probably fit you. Harold’s countenance suddenly looked very pained.

“You said ‘was’ Harold. What happened to your daughter?”

“Today is the first anniversary of Erica’s passing. While getting a ride home from a party her friend’s car had a head on collision. The driver of the other car was inebriated. Erica’s friend suffered severe injuries but survived. Unfortunately, my daughter did not survive the accident. As soon as he finished saying this, Harold Peyton sobbed loudly and his body began to shake uncontrollably.

Episode 7:

“Sit down in your Lazy Boy, Harold. I’ll make myself a hot chocolate. Would you like something to drink too?” Whisper asked.

“Yes, I would like a cup of coffee if you don’t mind making a pot,” Harold replied starting to regain his composure.

“No problem. I see that you’ve got the good stuff, Tim Hortons. It should be ready in a few minutes.”

After setting up and turning on the percolator Whisper returned to the living room.

“I’m very sorry to hear about you losing your daughter. It must be very painful for you.”

“I know all about addiction myself, Harold. I’m hooked on crystal meth and opiates. I’ve also been diagnosed as having BPD.” Whisper said matter-of-factly.

“What’s BPD?” Harold asked. “I may have read something about it.”

“It’s a psychiatric disorder known as borderline personality disorder. It makes me act really crazy at times. I just thought that I’d warn you,” Whisper said.

Harold turned his head toward Whisper and looked her squarely in the eyes, “I’m shocked that you would tell me that.”

“Don’t be. I’m very straight up with people,” Whisper replied.

“Do you have a place to live right now?” Harold asked.

“Not really. I’ve kind of been homeless for the last couple of months. I just sort of couch surf.” Harold looked at all Whisper’s piercings and wondered if their installation caused her a lot of pain. Whisper’s’ midriff T-shirt was sleeveless and Harold observed a pentagram tattoo on Whisper’s right shoulder.

“What does couch surfing mean? Harold asked.

Whisper smiled and laughed, “Oh, you are an old man, aren’t you? It means that I stay for short periods of time, usually a few days, at other people’s places and usually sleep on the couch, or sometimes I sleep in my own sleeping bag.”

Episode 8:

“It sounds like you’re living a very unstable life right now,” Harold observed. “How did you get addicted to crystal meth and opiates?”

“It all started in high school. I think I was around fifteen years old at the time. Crystal meth and opiates are not the first drugs I ever tried. I’m no angel. When I was twelve my friends and I started smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol. Sometimes we’d even steal some of our parents’ prescription drugs.

Then, at a party I met another girl and got into a physical fight. During the fight she pushed me down the stairs leading to the first floor of the house. I fell all the way down the stairs until I landed on my back in the stair well. I lied there and don’t remember how long I remained unconscious. When I finally ‘came to,’ I was lying on a hospital bed. I could see a doctor and a nurse standing over me.

When he could see that I had regained consciousness, the doctor began to speak to me. He was an older man, probably in his mid-forties. His hair was short and was a salt-and-pepper color. He wore dark rimmed glasses.”

‘You are very lucky girl,” he said. “You took a very bad fall and could have been seriously injured. There are a lot of nasty contusions on your shoulders and back, but there doesn’t appear to be any paralysis or permanent injury to your back or spine. I will be sending you for some x-rays just to be on the safe side. How is your pain?’

“I tried to move and let out a scream of pain. ‘Very bad,’ I told the doctor. He took out a prescription and wrote me a prescription for OxyContin. As soon as I took my first OxyContin I felt wonderful. The pain was still there, but I felt like I was floating on a cloud. I didn’t have a worry in the world. From that point on I was an opiate addict,” Whisper said in way of explanation. “Harold, do you mind if I go outside for a smoke. A cigarette might help me to calm down.”

“No. go right ahead. Do you like dogs?” Harold asked.

“I love dogs,” Whisper answered.

“My old dog Buddy is in the backyard. He’s a very old black Labrador retriever, but he still enjoys going for a walk. Would you be able to take Buddy for a walk while you are having your smoke break?”

“Absolutely. I’d love to. I didn’t know that you owned a dog, Harold. I could hear some barking outside, but I assumed it was a neighbor’s dog,” Whisper replied.

“After your walk you can bring Buddy in the house. He is a little shy of people he doesn’t know, but after you’ve spent a bit of time with him, he’ll love you. Especially, if you take him for a walk,” Harold said getting out of his Lazy Boy chair.

“You don’t need to get up. I’ll find Buddy on my own and I’ll take him for a walk,” Whisper said.

“Buddy’s leash is hanging up on a nail on the back door,” Harold said settling back down into his easy chair. Whisper grabbed the chained leash and opened the back door. Buddy looked up at her and began to bark. Whisper had owned a dog when she was living with her aunt and was very good at handling shy dogs. She found a box of dog treats on top of Harold’s refrigerator. Whisper took a few treats out of the box to give to Buddy. She slowly walked up to the old black lab, spoke very gently to him and gave him a treat. Buddy took the treat very readily and Whisper didn’t have any problem attaching the dog’s leash. Buddy wagged his tail to indicate that he was more than ready to go on a walk with Whisper.

Episode 9:

As Harold watched Whisper walk out the back door with Buddy he started to feel very confused. For a long time now Harold had completely shut down his emotional life. He was barely able to feel anything as he was trying desperately to bury his pain deep inside himself. It was as if his heart was chained up and padlocked.

Harold tried to keep himself distracted by filling his day with his hobbies and his part time job. He would go out to do substitute teaching assignments about three days per week on average. He paid for a subscription with a company called Sub Alert. Harold would receive a phone call whenever a new substitute teaching job was available. Harold had the option of accepting or declining the assignment. He preferred to work with middle years and high school students. Harold became very popular with most of his students mainly because he was very cool for a man for his age. He had long white hair tied in a ponytail and dressed casually. Harold would either where a hockey jersey or a tee-shirt with a rock band’s logo covered by an unbuttoned denim shirt.

Harold looked forward to all his teaching gigs. He consistently had the attitude that he was going to make it a fun day for both himself and his students and it usually was.

Episode 10:

“About fifteen minutes later, Whisper returned with Buddy whose tail was now wagging vigorously. As if to reward him for his good behavior during the walk, Whisper gave Buddy a red colored dog treat that Buddy greedily consumed in a few seconds.

“But I’ve told you enough for now about my problems. What happened to you out on the street. Who was that guy that pushed you out of his truck?”

“That would be Tony. He’s a real piece of work, man. He pushed me out of his truck after I told him that I wouldn’t sleep with him. Tony figured that I owed it to him. He called it ‘taking it out in trade’. He said it was only fair because he let me sleep on his couch for a few nights.”

“Why did he drop you off in front of my house?” Harold asked.

“For no particular reason. Tony and I had been having a really wicked fight for about fifteen minutes before he drove the truck down your street. Tony told me that I was giving him a migraine headache when he pushed me out on the road. We were just driving around in circles. I really don’t have any place to go anyway,” Whisper explained.

Episode 11:

Harold stretched out in his burgundy colored Lazy Boy chair. He owned a super deluxe model that could give him a massage similar to what you could get from visiting a professional masseuse. He looked at an abstract painting that was situated on one of the walls in his living room. This beautiful piece of art had a splatter design using only black and white colors. The painting would have put a smile on Jackson Pollock’s face.

“Are you injured from being tossed out of the truck onto the street? Can I get you an ice pack from the freezer?” Harold asked.

“It would probably be a good idea to put some ice on my back. I probably have a couple of nasty bruises, but it doesn’t feel like anything is broken. You rest in your chair, Harold. I’ll get the ice pack myself while I’m making a pot of coffee. What do you take in your coffee?”

“I like Southern Butter Pecan International Delight coffee creamer along with two packets of Sugar Twin,” Harold answered.

“|Gotcha. Your wish is my command.” Whisper said as she made her way to the kitchen. She liked walking across Harold’s retro yellow shag carpet. She had taken off her wet socks and sneakers and was now walking barefoot toward the kitchen. She noticed a family portrait on the wall that included Harold, his former wife, his deceased daughter and an unknown young man and woman.

After a few minutes had passed, Whisper returned to the living room with a cup of coffee for Harold, her hot chocolate and an ice pack for her back.

“What do the buttons on your chair do?” Whisper asked after she put the refreshments on a round glass coffee table.

“They are for giving you a massage. Would you like to try it?”

“Sure,” Whisper said as Harold got up from his easy chair and exchanged places with Whisper on the sofa. It felt a bit damp where he sat on the couch as the snow that had been on Whisper’s sweat pants had melted.

Episode 12:

I’m going to get you started on a gentle massage setting until your body adjusts to the new sensations,” Harold told Whisper. As a result of some permanent damage to his left eye Harold had difficulty reading the small lettering on the control panel of the easy chair. Harold accidentally pushed the high tension massage button.

“This chair is amazing Harold. I feel like I’m getting a real massage from a professional masseuse!” Whisper said. She could feel the heavy pressure on her back muscles. The sense of human hands kneading her back was now coming in waves giving Whisper a total body massage as it works by automatically descending to the lower back muscles.

“Did you set the timer for this chair Harold?” Whisper asked

“Yes. It should automatically shut off in ten minutes.

“Thank you, Harold. This massage is awesome. It’s helping work the soreness out of my bruised back.”

“When the timer goes off you can return to the couch and I’ll hand you an ice pack,” Harold said.

As soon as Whisper’s massage session ended, she and Harold exchanged seating locations.  Whisper was now the one on the orange and yellow couch and Harold returned to his Super Deluxe Lazy Boy chair.

“I can’t thank you enough for letting me into your house and for treating me so well. I must be messing up your whole morning routine,” Whisper said.

“Oh, that’s not a problem. When I’m not out subbing I usually try to dedicate at least one hour to working on my writing. I wasn’t accomplishing anything when you entered my house anyway. I sort of had what those in the trade call writer’s block during the past few days. I’m trying to come up with a new plot and characters and I have been drawing a blank. Writers often experience this sort of thing,” Harold said.

“Can I suggest an idea?” Whisper asked.

“Certainly, I’m all ears,” Harold said.

“You could start your story off by writing about a stranger that arrived at your door one morning.”

This made Harold laugh. “You’ve got a quick wit my girl. But I want to follow up on something. You said that you don’t have a place to stay.”

“That’s right, but can we talk more a little later? I’d like to use your shower if you don’t mind.  I’m feeling kind of gross.”

“No problem. The bathroom is upstairs first door on your left.”

“Thank you so much. We’ll continue the conversation after I shower and make myself more presentable,” Whisper said. As soon as Whisper had taken her backpack upstairs, Harold had some time to think. He thought to himself:

‘What are you thinking? You just let us strange woman into your house. You hardly know anything about her. She could rob and kill you for all you know. Harold thought about the body art that was visible on Whispers arms when she rolled up the sleeves on her sweatshirt. He also remembered the piercings in her nose and close to her lips.’

Harold realized that these should be real red flags for him.

Episode 13:

When Whisper finished showering and was coming down the stairs, Harold saw how much more attractive she looked. Her shoulder length black hair was slicked back and gave off a pleasant aroma as she descended closer to the bottom of the stairs.

Whisper was now wearing a Los Angeles Kings replica Jersey. It was the design the Kings wore when Wayne Gretzky was their team captain. On the back of the Jersey ‘Whisper 99’ could be seen. She wore a pair of shiny silver slacks. The looseness of Whisper’s Jersey helped conceal her extra upper body weight. Her silver slacks were also loosely fitted, giving the impression that her legs were not too plump.

As soon as she got herself settled on the couch Whisper said, “Thank you for letting me use your shower. I feel so much better now. Does your coffee need to be reheated?” Whisper asked.

“Oh no. It’s fine. I’m about three quarters way finished it anyway.

“If you want a fresh cup just ask,” Whisper said. “So you would like to know more about my housing situation.”

“Yes. It sounds like you don’t have a permanent place to live.”

“Yes. Unfortunately, that’s presently the situation I find myself in,” Whisper said.

“ I gather that you can’t stay at Tony’s place tonight? Harold asked.

“Oh no. He might kill me.”

You’re exaggerating, aren’t you?” Harold asked with genuine alarm in his voice.

No, I’m not. I can’t count how many times that Tony has beat me up this year,” Whisper answered.

So, where were you living before you stayed with Tony?” Harold asked.

“At the Headingly Correctional Center for Women.”

“You’re kidding. What were you charged with?” Harold asked.

“Shoplifting,” Whisper replied.

“Why did you shoplift?” Harold asked.

“Probably because I didn’t have any money for food and cigarettes.”

Do you steal from stores a lot?” Harold asked.

“Yeah. Quite a lot, actually. I get a cheque from social assistance, but it doesn’t provide nearly enough, especially if you smoke like I do. Mostly I steal because I need stuff. I run out of money early in the month I don’t budget my money really well. Sometimes I just shoplift when I get bored. I get an adrenaline rush from it.”

“Do you ever feel guilty about stealing?” Harold asked.

“Not really. I mean I know it’s not right, but a person has to provide for themselves.”

“Have you ever had a regular job before?” Harold asked.

“Sure. I was the human resources director for a large Christian non profit organization for about five years. Then I got fired.” Whisper answered.

“Why did you get fired?” Harold asked.

“For embezzlement. They found out that I was padding my expense account pretty regularly.” Whisper answered.

Episode 14:

Harold laughed, “Now that I think about it, your life story would probably make a good fiction read. You just need to find the right author to tell your story to.”

“I’m looking at the right author right now and we just started working together this morning,” Whisper replied.

“You’re not serious. Are you?” Harold asked.

“Of course, I’m serious! I can tell just by talking to you that you’re a good writer. You’re very articulate Harold. Look, it’s not like I’m super busy or anything.”

“Why is that?” Harold asked.

“I’m on long term disability. My social worker at Headingly was good. After I told Janet about my mental health issues, she recommended that I apply for it through the government. So, guess what? I did what she said and my disability benefits were approved.fantasy_1

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Whisper a Novel by Ken David Stewart Episode Six


Episode Six:

There were at least twenty clients in the waiting area. They were the people that our society could not or would not accommodate. Most prosperous, well established people would rarely encounter the disadvantaged and marginalized in our society. They might read about them or hear about them via the media.

Only the truly unfortunate members of society would experience the humiliation of applying for welfare at a social assistance agency. No one could really understand the plight of these disadvantaged people but themselves.

Some of the more dedicated and compassionate welfare workers would do their own research and would attempt to have empathy with their client’s plight. The  majority of these workers had not personally experienced the devastating poverty, hopelessness, depression or the physical and mental disabilities that would oppress their clients on a daily basis. Few would know what it was like to struggle with serious addiction issues.

Poverty, homelessness, mental health, disability and addiction had created a billion dollar industry for those who were in a position to profit from these societal plagues.

The irony was that the poorest and most needy in our communities were responsible indirectly for creating and maintaining full time and often permanent employment for a staggering number of agencies, businesses and workers.

 

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Episode 5 of Whisper, a Novel by Ken David Stewart


Episode Five:

There were at least twenty people in the reception area. They were all people that our society would or could not accommodate. Most successful and prosperous people would never encounter them and would only know about them on an intellectual level probably by reading about the poor and needy people via the media.

Only the truly marginalized would end up in a welfare office. Nobody could really understand this mass of unfortunates except the unfortunates themselves. Some of the most dedicated social agency workers would do some research and attempt to educate themselves about the plight of their clients. However, very few of them had personal experience with poverty, chronic disability and illness, addiction issues and homelessness.

People with some or all of there issues helped create a billion- dollar industry. The irony was that the most marginalized persons in society were responsible for creating and maintaining full time profitable employment for a substantial number of professional workers. Those in administrative positions made the big money. The front- line workers didn’t make a living wage unless they had a strong union. The needy people in the province were responsible for generating significant employment but the tax payers picked up the bill.

 

 

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Episode 7 of Crayfish a Novel by Ken David Stewart


Episode Seven:

Isiah Jacobson had a famous relative known to the world by the moniker of ‘Dr. Feelgood’, a name that the media people of his era had stuck him with. Dr. Feelgood, whose real name was Dr. Max Jacobson, was the great grandfather of Isiah Jacobson. Isiah’s family rarely talked about their famous or infamous relative, contingent upon one’s approval or disdain for the deceased doctor’s controversial medical treatment protocol. Dr. Max soon became known as the ‘doctor of the celebrities’. Following his death it became public knowledge that Max treated an array of famous people including baseball star Mickey Mantle, actress Marilyn Monroe, and President John F. Kennedy.

Dr. Max Jacobson was known for administering to his patients ‘miracle tissue regenerator shots’ that consisted of painkillers, animal hormones, steroids, enzymes, bone marrow, human placenta, and methamphetamine. He refused to reveal the exact details of his medicinal cocktail to anyone. The physician’s ‘miracle tissue regenerator shots’ proved to be extremely addictive and most, if not all, of Dr. Max’s patients became very dependent on their injections and consequently, the doctor himself. This was due to the injection’s exclusivity. The fact was that Dr. Jacobson was the ‘only game in town’ when a patient was seeking his controversial, unorthodox treatment protocol.

The physician of the celebrities was about to suffer a devastating blow to his professional career. The Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs seized Jacobson’s massive supply of amphetamines. Consequently, ‘Dr. Feelgood’s  medical license was revoked on April 25, 1975 by The New York State Board of Regents.

 

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Revised Episodes of Winter Dreams eps. 20 to 26


Episode Twenty:

“Yeah, I heard something about that,” Rick answered.

“Well, it’s true, but the story has been greatly exaggerated. I spent about two weeks in a psychiatric rehabilitation facility in San Francisco. I was there basically for observation so that the doctors could make a diagnosis,” Misty explained.

“So, what did the doctors come up with?” Rick asked.

“At that time they told me it was manic depression. My psychiatrist in Winnipeg changed the diagnosis to schizo-affective disorder.”

“Yeah, I remember you telling me about that. Do you need to take medication?’

“Yes, lithium. For a long time, I wasn’t really taking it. I just lied to my doctor and my parents telling them that I was taking the lithium regularly. I got busted when they eventually took a blood test. The test showed that there was no trace of lithium in my body.”

“Why didn’t you take your medication?”

“Because it made me feel worse. To be more precise I didn’t feel any emotions at all when I first started taking it. Plus, it was making me gain weight.”

“So, do you take lithium now?” Rick asked.

“No. My new psychiatrist in Winnipeg put me on chlorpromazine after he changed my diagnosis to schizo-affective disorder,” Misty answered.

The restaurant was starting to get very smoky. It appeared that most of the customers were puffing hard on their cigarettes while they sucked back the strong Salisbury House coffee. The smoke in the air was starting to make Rick’s eyes water.”

“Let’s go back to Memorial Park. It’s getting too smoky in here for me,” said Rick.

Rick and Misty started walking back across the Osborne bridge. Misty thought she saw the shadowy figure of a man trying to climb up on the railings of the bridge.

Rick said, “It looks like that guy is going to try to jump over the bridge.”

Episode 21:

Both Rick and Misty started yelling, “Hey man, stop! What are you trying to do?”

“Leave me alone. I’m going to jump,” the man answered.

“Let’s talk a bit first,” Misty said.

“Talk about what?” the man asked.

“About anything. Misty and I have been looking for someone interesting to talk to.” Rick answered.

“I’m not an interesting person and anyway you’ve got each other to talk to,” the man said.

“Let me be the judge of that. How about the three of us go to the Sals and get a cup of coffee? It’s starting to get chilly out here.” Rick said.

“I don’t even have enough money for a coffee, man, and I just smoked my last cigarette,”

“What’s your name?” Misty asked.

“Norman or just Norm.”

“Hi, I’m Misty and this is my boyfriend, Rick.”

“Like I said, I haven’t got enough money to go to the Sals and I’m kind of busy here.”

“Okay. I’ll tell you what. You come down from the railing and I’ll pay for your coffee and anything else you want to eat. Don’t worry about cigarettes. I just opened a new pack. How about it?” Rick asked.

“Well, I guess I could have my last coffee and cigarette before I leave this world.” Norm answered.

“That’s great. I’ll give you a smoke right now,” Rick said.

When they got back the Salisbury House, Norm ordered a Big Nip, and an order of fries and a coffee.

“Thanks guys. I haven’t had anything to eat yet today. My dad kicked me out at around ten this morning,” Norm said.

“So what have you been doing all day to keep warm?” Misty asked.

“I’ve been riding the bus. My dad bought me a monthly bus pass before I got the boot,” Norm said. “I don’t know what to do or where to go. Two months ago my mom kicked me out of her place.”

“Don’t worry we’ll figure something out,” Misty said.

Episode 22:

Norman Robinson was only nineteen years old, but he was already starting to take on the appearance of a homeless person. He was tall and very thin. Misty noticed that Norman had a missing front tooth. He had a large hole in the front of his navy blue parka that made it look like he had vomited on his coat. The hole was actually a result of Norman helping his dad remove a defective battery from his car. In the process of completing this task, Norman had gotten some battery acid on his jacket. The acid had burned the hole in it.

Misty turned to Rick and said, “Let’s take Norm over to my place. I think my dad might like to talk to Norman.”

“What makes you say that?”  Rick asked, looking somewhat befuddled.

“My dad has changed a lot since the summer. I’ll tell you about it later, but he now has a job working at a homeless center,” Misty answered.

“Wow. Lloyd has a steady job now,” Rick said.

“Look you guys have done enough for me already. After I finish my coffee and smoke I’ll just walk back to the bridge,” Norman said.

“I don’t think that’s such a great idea,” Rick said. “You don’t have a place to go tonight, do you?”

“Well, no-“

“That settles it. You’re coming with us,” Rick said firmly.

Rick, Misty and their new friend walked back to Rick’s car that was parked on a street next to Memorial Park. When Rick tried to start his car the engine wouldn’t turn over.

“Damn,” Rick said. “I just put a new battery in two weeks ago,”

“Open the hood Rick and let me have a look,” Norman said.

“In less than a minute Norman asked Rick to try starting the car again. This time the engine turned over immediately.

“How did you do that?” Rick asked.

“It was just a loose cable. I was training to be an auto technician so I knew what to check first.”

“Wow, thanks a lot man,” Rick said, feeling both surprised and grateful.

Episode 23:

One morning, Misty’s mother, Sheila Roberts was doing her morning devotions. As a devout Christian, Sheila had long established a habit of having a quiet time with the Lord before she started her day. Her devotional time included reading from her Bible, praying for herself and others as well as remaining quiet and waiting for God to speak to her. Today, Sheila heard the Lord speak to her spirit, “Sheila, I’m going to do a great work in your husband, Lloyd, because I love him very much. I am asking you to include Lloyd in your prayers every day.”

Sheila did not hear an audible voice, but she knew in her heart that she had heard from God. After the incident at the rock concert during the summer, Sheila had been thinking about Lloyd. By this time, she had forgiven Lloyd for allowing his daughters to get involved in a dangerous situation. She had loved Lloyd at one time, but since she became a Christian and Lloyd didn’t, Sheila felt that her husband would have a negative influence on their children. She could not say that Rick was a bad person. In many ways he was a good man, but she could no longer tolerate his immaturity and his harmful addictions. What she really wanted was a godly husband and Lloyd certainly was not. Sheila decided to call her pastor Randy Neufeld to discuss with him what the Lord had told her.

Episode 24:

Lloyd Roberts was just waking up from a short nap he had after supper. As be reached for his pack of cigarettes, Lloyd could still remember the dream he had. He was in that zone where he was just coming out of the dream state, but was not yet fully awake. Lloyd was used to having many dreams while he slept, but there was something different about the ones that he had been having lately. His most recent dreams all seemed to have some spiritual or religious theme to them.

A few minutes ago, Lloyd had seen Jesus in his dream holding a little lamb in his arms. The other night he dreamed that he was sitting in a quiet, peaceful location by a stream. When he turned his head he could see a man who looked like Jesus waving for him to walk over to where he was standing. Lloyd scratched hic head before putting on his baseball cap with the Ford logo on it. He had started to notice a bald spot near the top of his head and thought that if he covered it up he wouldn’t have to think about it. What he was now thinking about was the significance of his dreams. His daughter, Sasha had been a Christian for awhile now, but Lloyd was wondering what kind of influence her new boyfriend was having on her beliefs. Lloyd expected Sasha would be home in a little while. He would ask her what she made of his dreams.

Lloyd had recently attained employment as a residential care worker at The Main Street Mission. He found that of the many jobs that he had worked over the years this was probably one of the few that he actually enjoyed. Lloyd liked the street people that he got to know and was starting to feel that his life was finally starting to have some meaning.

Lloyd was beginning to mature as he entered his mid forties. The incident that happened at the rock festival had shaken Lloyd up. It now occurred to him that he had some serious responsibilities as a parent.

Episode 25:

Lloyd’s dog, Pigpen started barking loudly while scratching the front door with his paws.

“Hang on. I’ll be right there.” Lloyd hoped that his voice was loud enough to be heard outside the door.

When Lloyd answered the door he was greeted by Misty and Rick and a young man that he did not recognize.

Lloyd moved closer to Rick to give him a hug. “Hey, man, I haven’t seen you in a dog’s age. Pardon the pun, Pigpen.”

“Hey, Dad. I’d like to introduce you to our new friend, Norm. Rick and I just met him tonight at The Sals on Osborne,” Misty said, while brushing some snow off her coat.

“Why don’t you guys park yourselves in the living room while I put on some coffee. I’d offer you guys a beer, but I’ve been on the wagon for awhile now.”

“Yeah, Dad’s been sober for six months now. He joined Alcoholics Anonymous,” Misty said proudly, just before she sat down on the couch.

“At the last AA meeting they gave me my sixth month pin,” Lloyd said proudly as he walked towards the kitchen.

After the coffee had perked Misty brought out a silver tray with the cups, coffee and creamer.

Lloyd sat down in his black recliner.

“I’m sorry I haven’t been around to see you Lloyd. I’ve been keeping a low profile since Sasha and I broke up,” Rick explained.

“That’s what I figured,” Lloyd said. “Well you don’t have to worry about that Rick. Sasha’s cool with it. She says she still likes you, but she has a new boyfriend now. In fact, they’ll probably be here soon. Lloyd then turned his attention to the new guest.

“So how did you get to talking with Rick and Misty?”

“Actually, I first met them on the Osborne Bridge. I was getting ready to jump in the river,” Norm answered.

Episode 26:

One day in August Rick walked to the Canada Employment Center to see if he could get some help finding a job. He was two credits short from attaining his high school diploma and realized that with this small amount of course work he would need to at least, get a part time job. At this time, he did not think that he would return to playing hockey for another season. Last year had been much too stressful for him and now he would have a lot of free time on his hands. Rick felt that he would need to get a job to keep his parents happy.

As he entered the employment center Rick was nervous. He had worked one summer at his dad’s printing plant and had a very negative experience while working there. Rick did not yet realize that he lacked the manual dexterity, fine motor skills and spatial reasoning required for most factory jobs.

Rick walked up to the reception desk and was told to pull a number out of a machine. He was directed to take a seat in the waiting room and wait until his number was called.

Rick found an empty seat and took a look around the main floor of the employment center. It was a very drab place that rendered a rather depressing mood. After waiting approximately fifteen minutes Rick heard his name called and was greeted by a young attractive female who asked him to take a seat in her work area. The employment counsellor did not have a closed- in office. Her office space was separated from her co-workers by grey rectangular partitions. This arrangement didn’t give the client any feeling of privacy as one could hear what people in other sectioned off work areas were saying.

The employment counsellor shook hands with Rick and said, “Hello Richard, my name is Arlene Johnson. What can I do for you today?”

“You can just call me Rick. I’m here to find a job.”

“What kind of work are you looking for?”

“I’m not sure,” Rick answered. “I don’t know what kinds of work are available to me.”

“Well, that all depends upon your education and work experience.”

“I’ve got my grade 11 and I’m just two credits shy of my high school diploma. I worked at my dad’s printing plant one summer and I used to have a paper route.

“Do you like working with your hands Rick?”

“Not very much. I’m not very good with my hands.”

“I have to be honest with you. Most of the jobs you could apply for require a grade twelve education and manual dexterity or fine motor skills. We occasionally get referrals from employers for manual labor jobs, but I don’t have any referrals right now,” Arlene said.

Rick was now feeling very uncomfortable. “So I guess you really don’t have anything for me today?”

“Not really. What do you do in your spare time?”

“I play hockey, watch tv, listen to music and read.”

“But you don’t do much work with your hands?”

“No, not really, but I read a lot,” Rick said feeling insulted.

“Listen Rick. Can I be blunt?”

“Yeah,” Rick replied feeling annoyed.

“You need to get your high school diploma and you need to take up a hobby where you have to use your hands. After you do that come back and see me.”

“Thank you for your time,” Rick said as he got up to leave Arlene’s work area. When he got outside Rick lit up a smoke and said to himself, “So that’s that. I’ll go back to school to get my two credits and I’ll play hockey for one more year.”

Episode 27:winter 2

Revised Edition of Chaos Eps. 1-13


Chaos, A Novel by Ken David Stewart

Episode One:

On April 16, 2016 Harold Peyton turned sixty-five. He was troubled by the realization that he was now officially a senior citizen. His beloved wife, Camilla had passed away on this very date April 16, 2006. Harold remained living in their old house that had done without renovations and repairs for at least a decade. Although a friend had encouraged him to find a new place to live, Roger was too deeply overwhelmed by grief to change his living arrangements. His stepson, Jeff, had even asked Harold to come and stay with him and his family. Harold didn’t want to impose upon him and he didn’t want Jeff to know that he had started drinking alcohol again. He had eleven years of sobriety to his credit before he relapsed back into his disease of addiction. Harold started drinking again a few days after his wife’s funeral.

On a Friday morning Harold walked by the local Manitoba Liquor Commission. He had just finished going to the post office to mail in thank you notes to all the people who sent their condolences.

As soon as Harold opened the door to the liquor store and literally walked across the red carpet, Roger felt right at home. It was as if the last eleven years of his life had never happened. Harold decided to take a tour of the liquor store to check out all the different kind of alcohol on display. After about twenty minutes of exploring the store Harold decided upon the largest bottle of Jack Daniels that he could find. He walked out of the liquor store without the slightest feelings of guilt and shame.

Episode 2:

Harold had now been retired for five years. He had been a high school English teacher for twenty-seven years. He was now receiving a CPP pension, a retired teachers pension and was about to start receiving Old Age Security Benefits.

Harold only returned to drinking alcohol for one year after his wife’s passing. After the one year was over Harold returned to his old Alcoholics Anonymous group and was welcomed back with open arms.

When he turned sixty-five Harold realized that he had to get back on his feet. One year of indulging in self-pity and substance abuse was long enough. As he gradually accumulated more sobriety his once brilliant mind had started to function again and he became very introspective. He began thinking about what he was going to do with the rest of his life.

After all, Harold was only in his mid sixties. He realized that he could possibly have twenty more years in store for himself.

Harold had kept physically fit before his drinking got out of control. He got back in the habit of going for a forty-five -minute bike ride each day. He also worked out at Shapes, his local gym, at least three times per week. When he started going back to Shapes he started with performing a resistance training circuit. Within a few months Harold was looking significantly better. By means of his weight training program Harold was starting to regain most of his youthful muscle definition. He was still approximately seventy pounds overweight according to his doctor’s Body Mass Index chart.

A good part of the problem was that Harold could not get himself motivated to learn how to cook healthy meals. While Harold was alive his wife did the majority of the cooking. The only type of cooking that Harold enjoyed was barbequing using an old circular shaped charcoal barbeque. He was afraid of using the newer gas powered grills. Harold would barbeque hot dogs, hamburgers and steak practically every day during the summer. Occasionally he would put on his parka and barbeque outside during the winter months.

After Janine died, Harold had to learn to fend for himself. He realized that he would have to eat something so he started to think of all the meals he could prepare for himself without having to cook. One morning Harold sat down and made a list of all the meals that he could make on his own. The list that Harold came up with included toast, various types of sandwiches, dry breakfast cereals, large bars of cheese, pizza pops, raw pepperoni sticks, hot dogs, raw fruits and vegetables. Spam and assorted canned foods.

Episode 3 of Chaos:

To Harold’s delight and with the help of drinking Valentus coffee, going for daily bike rides and going for regular workouts at Shapes gym, he was able to get his weight down to two-hundred thirty-five pounds. About a year ago Harold went to his doctor for a complete physical and weighed in at three hundred ten pounds. This was a turning point for Harold. He had been avoiding looking at himself in the mirror for quite some time now. Harold felt too much shame to see his reflection in the mirror. Although his present weight was still above his ideal weight according to the body mass index chart that his doctor showed him, Harold felt much better about himself. He could now look at himself in the mirror without fear of embarrassment. In fact, Harold thought that he now looked good. Not only had he lost a great deal of body fat he had regained a significant amount of muscle mass. Harold was now very proud of himself. With hard work he had achieved a major life goal. He now had a spring in his step when he went out in public.

Episode 4 of Chaos

Although he was officially retired Harold had not stopped working completely. He continued to work three to four days per week as a substitute teacher. Harold enjoyed substitute teaching much more than full time teaching, as he now didn’t have extra work to take home with him in the evenings. Substitute teaching also got him out of the house several times per week. This helped alleviate Harold’s loneliness as it gave him somewhat of a social life as he had an opportunity to visit with other teachers during prep periods and at lunch times.

Fortunately, Harold was rarely bored. He had developed several hobbies during his teaching career and he now had more time to devote to them. Harold also picked up a couple of new hobbies after he retired. He had always enjoyed learning new things and developing new skills.

He had truly loved his late wife Janine and believed that he could never again love a woman as much as he had loved her. Even so, he missed having female companionship. During one of his church’s weekly Bible studies Harold had met an attractive lady in her mid forties named Roxanne. They both felt a mutual attraction to each other and were soon going out for coffee after the Bible study had ended.

Episode 5 of Chaos:

Harold had a regular morning routine. On weekdays he would turn on his phone and wait for a call from the school division giving him a substitute teaching assignment for the day. Harold did not really want to accept an assignment today. He had just finished a three- day assignment teaching English at Murdoch MacKay Collegiate. Harold had a good time teaching there as the class was reading and discussing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby. Although Harold had thoroughly enjoyed his time at Murdoch MacKay, he was getting older and felt like he needed a day off.

He also felt guilty when he spent too many days away from his writing. Harold wrote fiction novels as a hobby and found that the writing process was very therapeutic for him. He decided that he would decline any teaching assignments for today and would spend the day working on his current work in progress, a novel titled Winter Dreams.

Harold’s morning routine seldom varied. He would get up and boil some water for his Valentus coffee. Harold would then fill up a large glass with water. The glass that he used to wash down his medications was actually a large holder for flowers, like a vase, that he had purchased at Dollarama.

As he got older Harold appeared to be taking more and more medications. He had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was in his late teens. His psychiatrist prescribed a cocktail of antidepressants. While drinking his coffee and taking his meds Harold would listen to one of his many Holy Bible audiobooks.

Harold had been a Christian since his late twenties. When he first got saved he was really just buying fire insurance. Harold simply did not want to go to hell. For almost three decades he really didn’t have an intimate relationship with the Lord. When Harold was in his early fifties he was introduced to Charismatic and Pentecostal theology through a co-worker. Since then he had been baptised in the Holy Spirit and received some of the spiritual gifts, notably prophetic visions and words of knowledge.

Episode 6:

After Harold finished his devotion time, he returned to his writing by checking out his recent chapter of Winter Dreams. He would look for anywhere that editing was needed and started to think where he would take the story’s plot from here. Harold had also made up a separate Word document where he would list his ideas for potential future scenes.

While Harold had just started his next chapter, he heard a lot of noise emanating from outside his house. He got up from his black office chair and looked out his living room window.

There was still snow on the ground and Harold could see a burly man push a young female out of white Ford 250 truck. The driver appeared to be in his early thirties and looked very intimidating.The next thing to be tossed out of the truck was a large blue hockey duffle bag. It landed on the snow and ice covered ground with a loud thump.

Harold opened his front door when he heard the driver yelling obscenities at the girl. As the white truck pulled away Harold put on his Kodiak snow boots and stepped outside his house. He needed to see if the young woman needed any assistance. Harold helped the girl to her feet. She looked up at Harold, thanked him and began to cry. The young lady was wearing only a grey hoodie sweatshirt and a well worn pair of blue jeans. Her hair was black and scraggly and the tears pouring out of her eyes caused her mascara to run. She was shivering from the cold.

“Would you like to come inside to warm up and join me for coffee or hot chocolate?”

He helped the girl through the door. The young lady was feeling sore from being pushed out of the truck and landing on the hard ice and snow covered street. She was still shivering as it was unusually cold today and the girl didn’t have a winter coat to put on. Harold brought her duffle bag in. The bag was quite heavy but despite being sixty-five years old Harold was still very strong. He noticed a slight hint of body odor emanating from the girl. What really struck him was the thinness of the young lady’s face and her general emaciated presentation.

Episode 7:

Roger noticed that the girl had several piercings, one through her left eyebrow and two piercings in her nose.

As it was rather warm in Harold’s house, the young female took off her dirty grey hooded sweatshirt. Underneath she was wearing a black mid riff tee-shirt with Black Flag printed on it. Harold noticed that she also had a belly button piercing. She starting pulling off her black boots revealing two different colored striped socks.

“I should introduce myself. My name is Harold, Harold Peytoon. Would you like a cup of coffee or some hot chocolate?” Harold asked his guest. He thought that the girl would be attractive if she didn’t look so dishevelled and improved her personal hygiene.

“Oh, that would be awesome sir. I would actually prefer a hot chocolate if it’s not too much trouble for you.”

“That’s not a problem. By the way, what’s your name?” Harold asked

“My real name is Janine Jackson, but my street name is Streak. I also use a few aliases whenever I need to.”

“I’m pleased to meet you, Janine. Oh, by the way you don’t need to call me ‘sir’. Just Harold will be fine.”

Episode 8:

“Did you see that guy push me out of the truck and throw my duffel bag in the snow?” Janine asked.

“Yes, are you alright?” Harold asked with evident concern in his voice.

“Yes, I think so. Tony pushed me pretty hard out of the truck . I’ll probably be sore for awhile and have some nasty bruises,” Janine answered after taking a sip of her hot chocolate.

“That’s probably true. Look, I know its none of my business, so you don’t have to tell me your story,” Roger said.

“No, that’s not a problem,” Janine said. “You let me in your house, Harold, and maybe saved my life, so I should be honest enough to tell you what all went down. First, I need to give you some background information about myself. My real name is Janine Jackson, but I’m known by several aliases as you’re likely to find out. I’m twenty-two years old and I’m essentially homeless right now,” Janine said as she stretched out and made herself more comfortable on Roger’s well worn orange and yellow patterned couch. Harold sat in his brown Lazy Boy chair and smoked his pipe as he listened to Janine’s story.

“It sounds like you are having a very rough time of it right now,” Harold stated.

“Actually, my whole life has been a rough time, man. My father left when I was two years old, so I never really knew him. My mom and dad got married too young and the only reason that they got married was because Mom was pregnant with me. My parents never really wanted me. I was an accident.”

Episode 9:

“Wow. That must really hurt,” Harold said as he tried to light his pipe.

“Yeah, I guess it does, but I’m tough. I can live through a lot and I still am. Every day’s a struggle. I’ve never really had anyone I could trust in my life.” Janine’s eyes started to tear up.

“So what happened after your dad left?” Harold asked while passing a box of Kleenex over to Janine.

“The only way my mother knew how to cope was to turn to the bottle. Mom also got stoned on weed a lot. She also took several kinds of benzos and antidepressants that she got from her doctor. Mom was always good at scamming her doctors.”

“How could your mother look after you while she was so impaired?” Harold asked.

“She couldn’t take proper care of me, my brother or my sister. That’s why Child and Family Services took all her kids away and placed us all in different foster homes,” Janine answered and then drank a bit of her hot chocolate. “You sure make a good cup of hot chocolate, Harold. This is delicious.”

 

“It’s Tim Horton’s, dear. Only the best for you.”

Episode 10:

“You have a very nice home, Harold. It’s a little cluttered and could use some cleaning, but, then again, this house is quite small,” Janine said. “I noticed that you have four bookshelves and possibly a couple of hundred books.”

“Actually, I have a lot more books than that. My eyesight is not as good as it used to be so I now purchase all my books in the Kindle format. That way I can adjust the fonts and the brightness levels so that reading the text is comfortable for me,” Harold explained.

“You certainly are a well read man,” Janine observed.

“For sure. I’ve been that way since I was a kid. I also like listening to audiobooks when my eyes need a break.”

“You are right, though. This house is a bit too small, but it was even more cramped when my wife was still alive. We accumulated a lot of stuff over the years. I still haven’t given away much of Camilla’s belongings. I get too emotional when I’m around her stuff.”

“I’m sorry to hear that your wife passed away. How long has it been now?”

“Over a year and seven months.”

“Are you over your grief now?” Janine asked moving a little closer to the front of the couch. Harold was a little uncomfortable with how Janine made him feel. He wished that less of her skin was exposed. As much as he hated to admit it to himself, Harold did find this strange young woman in his house to be somewhat attractive. It couldn’t be a sexual attraction. That was ludicrous. After all, Harold was sixty-five years old and this girl was only twenty-two. He was not a dirty old man. Harold had not even been sexually active with Camilla during her last few years as she was too exhausted from her cancer treatments to have sexual relations with him. There was something else going on.

“Are you still grieving, Harold?” Janine asked.

“Yes, but it’s getting better with time. At certain times of the day I still get very sad and will start weeping. Sometimes an old song that we both loved will be playing on the internet and that will stir up a deep sadness within me. Camilla and I had a very happy marriage. I can’t say that we did a lot of exciting things together. We didn’t do much travelling as we didn’t have much money. Camilla was not healthy enough to work, so we mostly relied upon my income. As we both liked our creature comforts and I have several hobbies, we ran up a lot of debt. I had to take out a second mortgage on this house. This caused a great deal of stress in our lives, but we both enjoyed each other’s company in a quiet sort of way.”

Episode 11:

Harold got up from his easy chair and walked up to his living room window to look outside. He continued to talk to Janine with his back toward her.

“I’ll be up front with you Janine. I’m an alcoholic in recovery. I’ve only been sober a little past a year now. I got sober in Alcoholics Anonymous and recently received my one year of sobriety pin.” Harold didn’t know why he was sharing such personal information with a stranger.

“Can I use your washroom, Harold? I need to pee.”

“Sure, the washroom is just upstairs, the first door on your right.”

Harold now had a couple of minutes to collect his thoughts and started to realize how bizarre this situation was. He had just invited a complete stranger into his home and was talking to her as if she was an old friend.

When Janine came back downstairs, and entered Harold’s small living room, it was obvious that she had tried to clean herself up. She had washed her face and her mascara was no longer running. Her freshly shampooed hair brought a very sweet aroma into the room.

“I know all about addiction myself, Harold.I’m hooked on crystal meth. I’ve also been diagnosed as having BPD.” Janine said matter-of-factly.

“What’s BPD?” Harold asked. “I may have read something about it.”

“It’s a psychiatric disorder known as borderline personality disorder. It makes me act really crazy at times. I just thought that I’d warn you,” Janine said.

Harold turned his head toward Janine and looked her squarely in the eyes, “I’m shocked that you would tell me that.”

“Don’t be. I’m very straight up with people,” Janine replied.

“Do you have a place to live right now?” Harold asked.

“Not really. I’ve kind of been homeless for the last couple of months. I just sort of couch surf.” Roger looked at all Janine’s’s piercings and wondered if their installation caused her a lot of pain. Janine’ midriff T-shirt was sleeveless and Harold observed a pentagram tattoo on Janine’s right shoulder.

“What does couch surfing mean? Harold asked.

Janine smiled and laughed, “It means that I stay for short periods of time, usually a few days, at other people’s places and usually sleep on the couch, or sometimes I sleep in my own sleeping bag.”

Episode 12:

“It sounds like you’re living a very unstable life right now,” Harold observed. “How did you get addicted to crystal meth and opiates?”

“It all started in high school. I think I was around fifteen years old at the time. Crystal meth and opiates are not the first drugs I ever tried. I’m no angel. When I was twelve my friends and I started smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol. Sometimes we’d even steal some of our parents’ prescription drugs.

Then, at a party I met another girl and got into a physical fight with her. During the fight she pushed me down the stairs leading to the first floor of the house. I fell all the way down the stairs until I landed on my back in the stair well. I lied there and don’t remember how long I remained unconscious. When I finally ‘came to,’ I was lying on a hospital bed. I could see a doctor and a nurse standing over me.

When he could see that I had regained consciousness, the doctor began to speak to me. He was an older man, probably in his mid-forties. His hair was short and was a salt-and-pepper color. He wore dark rimmed glasses.”

‘You are very lucky girl,” he said. “You took a very bad fall and could have been seriously injured. There are a lot of nasty contusions on your shoulders and back, but there doesn’t appear to be any paralysis or permanent injury to your back or spine. I will be sending you for some x-rays just to be on the safe side. How is your pain?’

“I tried to move and let out a scream of pain. ‘Very bad,’ I told the doctor. He took out a prescription and wrote me a prescription for OxyContin. As soon as I took my first OxyContin I felt wonderful. The pain was still there, but I felt like I was floating on a cloud. I didn’t have a worry in the world. From that point on I was an opiate addict,” Janine said in way of explanation. “Harold, do you mind if I go outside for a smoke. A cigarette might help me to calm down.”

“No. go right ahead. Do you like dogs?” Harold asked.

“I love dogs,” Janine answered.

“My old dog Buddy is in the backyard. He’s a very old black Labrador retriever, but he still enjoys going for a walk. Would you be able to take Buddy for a walk while you are having your smoke break?”

“Absolutely. I’d love to. I didn’t know that you owned a dog, Harold. I could hear some barking outside, but I assumed it was a neighbor’s dog,” Janine replied.

“After your walk you can bring Buddy in the house. He is a little shy of people he doesn’t know, but after you’ve spent a bit of time with him, he’ll love you. Especially, if you take him for a walk,” Harold said getting out of his Lazy Boy chair.

“You don’t need to get up. I’ll find Buddy on my own and I’ll take him for a walk,” Janine said.

“Buddy’s leash is hanging up on a nail on the back door,” Harold said settling back down into his easy chair. Janine grabbed the chained leash and opened the back door. Buddy looked up at her and began to bark. Janine had owned a dog when she was living with her aunt and was very good at handling shy dogs. She found a box of dog treats on top of Harold’s refrigerator. Janine took a few treats out of the box to give to Buddy. She slowly walked up to the old black lab, spoke very gently to him and gave him a treat. Buddy took the treat very readily and Janine didn’t have any problem attaching the dog’s leash. Buddy wagged his tail to indicate that he was more than ready to go on a walk with Janine.

Episode 13:

As Roger watched Janine walk out the back door with Buddy he started to feel very confused. For a long time now Harold’s emotional life had been shut down. He was barely able to feel anything as he was trying desperately to bury his pain deep inside himself.

Harold tried to keep himself distracted by filling his day with his hobbies and his part time job. He would go out to do substitute teaching assignments about three days per week on average. He paid for a subscription with a company called Sub Alert. Harold would receive a phone call whenever a new substitute teaching job was available. Harold had the option of accepting or declining the assignment. He preferred to work with middle years and high school students. Harold became very popular with most of his students mainly because he was very cool for a man for his age. He had long white hair tied in a ponytail and dressed casually. Harold would either where a hockey jersey or a tee-shirt with a rock band’s logo covered by an unbuttoned denim shirt.

Harold looked forward to all his teaching gigs. He consistently had the attitude that he was going to make it a fun day for both himself and his students and it usually was.

Episode 14:

About thirty seconds after Janine closed the back door behind her and took Buddy for a walk, Harold’s phone rang. It was a call from Sub Alert, a private company that phoned Harold whenever a new substitute teaching assignment was available.images 12

Episode 12 of Chaos by Ken David Stewart


Episode 12:

It sounds like you’re living a very unstable life right now,” Roger observed. “How did you get addicted to opiates?”

“It all started in high school. I think I was around fifteen years old at the time. Opiates are not the first drug I ever took. I’m no angel. When I was twelve my friends and I started smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol. Sometimes we’d even steal some of our parents’ prescription drugs.

Then, at a party I met another girl and got into a physical fight with her. During the fight she pushed me down stairs leading to the second floor of the house. I fell all the way down the stairs until I landed on my back in the stair well. I lied there and don’t remember how long I remained unconscious. When I finally ‘came to,’ I was lying on a hospital bed. I could see a doctor and a nurse standing over me.

When he could see that I had regained consciousness, the doctor began to speak to me. He was an older man, probably in his mid-forties. His hair was short and was a salt-and-pepper color. He wore dark rimmed glasses.”

‘You are very lucky girl,” he said. “You took a very bad fall and could have been seriously injured. There are a lot of nasty contusions on your shoulders and back, but there doesn’t appear to be any paralysis or permanent injury to your back or spine. I will be sending you for some x-rays just to be on the safe side. How is your pain?’

“I tried to move and let out a scream of pain. ‘Very bad,’ I told the doctor. He took out a prescription and wrote me a prescription for OxyContin. As soon as I took my first OxyContin I felt wonderful. The pain was still there, but I felt like I was floating on a cloud. I didn’t have a worry in the world. From that point on I was an opiate addict,” Glenda said. “Roger, do you mind if I go outside for a smoke. A cigarette might help me to calm down.”

“No. go right ahead. Glenda, do you like dogs?

“I love dogs,” Glenda answered.

My old dog Buddy is in the backyard. He’s a very old black Labrador retriever, but he still enjoys going for a walk. Would you be able to take Buddy for a walk while you are having your smoke break?”

“Absolutely. I’d love to. I didn’t know that you owned a dog, Roger. I could hear some barking outside, but I assumed it was a neighbor’s dog,” Glenda replied.

“After your walk you can bring Buddy in the house. He is a little shy of people he doesn’t know, but after you’ve spent a lot of bit of time with him, he’ll love you. Especially, if you take him for a walk,” Roger said getting out of his Lazy Boy chair.

“You don’t need to get up. I’ll find Buddy on my own and I’ll take him for a walk.”

“Buddy’s leash is hanging up on a nail on the back door,” Roger said settling back down into his chair. Glenda grabbed the leash and opened the back door. Buddy looked up at her and began to bark. Glenda had owned a dog when she was living with her mother and was very good at handling shy dogs. She found a box of dog treats on top of Roger’s refrigerator. Glenda took a few treats out of the box to give to Buddy. She slowly walked up to the old black lab, spoke very gently to him and gave him a treat. Buddy took the treat very readily and Glenda didn’t have any problem attaching the dog’s leash. Buddy wagged his tail to indicate that he was more than ready to go on a walk with Glenda.

 

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