Category: literature

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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Whisper a Novel by Ken David Stewart Eps. 12


Episode 12:

When Harold and Whisper arrived at the EIA building Harold opened the front door of the entrance. Both Harold and Whisper were almost overwhelmed by the strong odour of poverty and homelessness. Whisper waited in line for the welfare intake worker for about twenty minutes before the worker typed in Whisper’s personal information. After this task was completed the worker asked Whisper to find a seat in the crowded, foul smelling waiting area.

Harold and Whisper found two empty folding chairs. Harold was seated next to an elderly man who reeked of body odour and was having an animated discussion with himself. “Probably schizophrenia,” Harold thought. He had a cousin who suffered from schizophrenia and Harold was very cognizant of the manifestations of this devastating illness. Auditory and visual hallucinations were common symptoms of this chronic and persistent mental illness. To Whisper’s left was a wall with four pay phones. A dishevelled and agitated young man who appeared to be in his early twenties was growing increasingly frustrated as he was trying to call a phone number that he had misread. He started to loudly utter obscenities until a burly security guard intervened and asked the man if he required assistance with dialing the phone number.

 

 

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Episode 2 of Whisper by Ken David Stewart


Episode 6:

“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 was involved in 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.”

Yes, it is, but I should be an old hand at grieving by now. My wife Clarissa divorced me five years ago,” Harold said causing another tear to trickle down his cheek.

“That’s terrible, man. Two major losses in five years! No one should have to suffer that much.”

“I agree, but it happened to me. It is what it is,” Harold said taking out a handkerchief to wipe away his tears.

“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 have sex with him. Tony just 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.cropped-fantasy-5.jpg

Whisper a Novel by Ken David Stewart


Whisper by Ken David Stewart

Introduction

It was back, Big Time. Harold Peyton found himself in the clutches of the most devastating episode of clinical depression that he had ever experienced in his sixty-five years. He was used to this. Harold suffered from the type of depression that was episodic in nature. He was not depressed all the time, but large chunks of his life had been lost. During these times, Harold would succumb to the vast darkness of depression. What Winston Churchill described as his ‘black dog’.

Harold just wanted to shut down and block out the whole world. He sat in a broken -down office chair adorned with torn upholstery. Harold was a published author and was working on a new mystery novel. The problem was that he couldn’t get his muse turned on. Every time he tried to think of a new idea to move his plot along, his mind went blank.

Harold just stared at the blank word document on his computer screen. Everything that he attempted was hard. Harold was grateful that he had a month’s holiday left from his part time job as a substitute teacher. To do a job like that you have to be able to get yourself pumped up and be able to think very sharply. Right now, Harold could do neither.

Episode 2:

Harold Peyton was exceptionally fit and healthy for a sixty-five year- old male. He was once a heavy smoker but overcame his addiction to cigarettes twenty years ago. Harold made his physical fitness regimen a top priority in his life. He rode his prized black and white Giant Mountain bike every day, even during inclement weather. On alternate days Harold would go to Shapes gym for a forty-five minute resistance training workout. Although he was still a bit pudgy, he carried his excess weight well and was still a physically attractive man. Harold looked at least ten years younger than his chronological age.

Harold lived in a modest home in the suburb of River Heights in the windy city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He loved animals and was presently the proud owner of two dogs and two cats.

Following the frustration of fifteen minutes of totally unproductive writing, Harold got out of his office chair and walked over to the burgundy colored drapes of his picture window. He tugged on the cord that opened the curtains and gazed upon the outside world. The city of Winnipeg experienced an early bitter winter during November, 2013. The picture window was covered with intermittent patches of frost and ice. Snow was now falling very heavily.

Harold honestly enjoyed the winter season especially fresh snow falls. He loved the way the tree branches looked when they were covered by shiny, white, snowflakes.

Episode 3 and 4:

But today the beauty of the winter season had little effect upon Harold’s somber mood. When he was trapped in this mental state, he was unable to bring himself to experience joy in things and activities that had once brought him pleasure. It was as if his happy button had been turned to the off position.

Harold thought of his ex-wife Clarissa. They had been divorced nearly five years now. Harold missed Clarissa, but he did not blame her for leaving him. What woman could live with the frequent intense darkness of his moods. During these times Harold would totally ignore her as he closed himself off from the entire world. After staring out his picture window for about two minutes, Harold could hear his dogs barking loudly and sharply. He soon realized what was upsetting them.

A white Ford 150 truck was parked directly across the street from Harold’s house. He could see the black hair of a large burly man with black hair in the driver’s seat. The man appeared to be in his early thirties. He was very angry at a young female who looked to be in her early twenties. Through his picture window

Harold watched as the burly young man pushed his female passenger out of his truck and onto the ice packed snow covering the road. The burly man in his early thirties then tossed a large orange and turquoise colored duffle bag onto the street. It almost hit the young woman who was lying prostate on the street. The angry male in the truck yelled a few vile obscenities at his female victim and then drove away in his Ford 150.

Looking through his picture window, Harold watched the young woman slowly and painfully rise to her feet. She was wearing only a grey hoodie sweatshirt, black sweat pants with a tear in one knee and a pair of well worn red Converse running shoes. She was now standing in the street shivering on a cold day in March. A black Honda Accord honked loudly at her as he came close to colliding with the girl who now had tears streaming down her cheeks.

Episode 5:

Harold watched after the Ford 150 drove away. He stood and stared at the young woman and started to think what he was going to do about her. Harold didn’t even consider calling the police. Instead he opened the front door of his house and called loudly to the girl in distress.

“Come here young lady. You need to get out of the cold or you’ll freeze to death!”

The young female looked towards Harold with a confused and frightened look. She wiped the snowflakes off her hoodie and walked awkwardly towards the door that Harold was holding open for her.

“Thank you so much Mister. You may have saved my life. May I come in your house?

“Step into the living room and make yourself at home,” Harold replied.

“Thanks. Hey, I should introduce myself. My name is Whisper,” the strange young woman said as she found a place to sit on Harold’s yellow and orange patterned sofa. Whisper admired the brass antique lamp to the left of the sofa. The full décor of Harold Peyton’s living room had the ambiance that could only come from a man who appreciated fine art.

“Could I interest you in a cup of Tim Horton’s coffee or perhaps a mug of hot chocolate?” Harold asked. “By the way, Whisper is a beautiful name. Who gave you that name?”

“My grandma came up with it if I remember correctly,” Whisper replied.
While standing in the hall, Harold now had a good opportunity to observe Whisper. Her hair was blonde highlighted by orange streaks. It presently looked wet and tangled. There were still some snowflakes in her hair. Whisper’s make up was smudged and smeared from her tears. Whisper had a gold rod piercing through her nose. She wore orange lipstick and had a pentagon tattoo on her left forearm. She was not very attractive and was slightly overweight giving her somewhat of a pudgy look. Harold thought that Whisper resembled a naughty, terribly neglected little elf.fantasy-6

Keith Ross Episode Twelve


Episode 12:

“Let’s move over to the living room and watch a video while we have our snack and smoke some weed. Are you okay with that?” Brenda asked.

“Sure, is there a particular video you had in mind?”

“Did you ever like Led Zeppelin, Keith? I mean when you were younger.”

“I love Led Zeppelin I still listen to their music now. In fact, I’m trying to learn some of their songs on my bass guitar. I’m not that good a player yet, but I enjoy learning to play the bass riffs of classic metal songs.

“Wow! You like Led Zeppelin and are a bass player too. I didn’t know we had so much in common. I love Led Zeppelin’s music too and I play guitar. Like you, I don’t think I’m very good yet, but I really enjoy practicing. The video I’ve got in mind is Celebration Day, Led Zeppelin’s reunion concert.”

“Fantastic. Put it on,” Keith said.

Brenda took a look at her DVD collection on one of the shelves of her solid oak bookcase. She was very organized and had her videos arranged according to alphabetical order. It didn’t take her long to find the Celebration Day video. Keith took a seat on Brenda’s red leather sofa.

“I can’t believe it Brenda. Everything in your house is so neat and organized.”

“Why, thank you, Keith. You need to give my mother credit for that. That’s how she trained me.”

Before Brenda put in the video in the DVD player she walked over the kitchen to get the oatmeal raisin cookies and the coffee.

“Let me give you a hand Brenda. I’ll get the coffee and the smoking supplies.”

“Thank you, Keith. I sure appreciate all your help.”

After she set herself down on the sofa Brenda filled a small orange and silver colored pipe with some Killer B. Kush, a high-grade hybrid strain of cannabis. She took a couple of tokes from the pipe before passing it over to Keith. She intentionally slid very close to Keith on the sofa. Keith was a little surprised but having Brenda’s body so close to his made him very happy.

 

 

 

 

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Keith Ross and Brenda by Ken David Stewart


Episode 10:

Brenda asked Keith to take  a seat at the center bar in her kitchen. It was made of marble and had a speckled design of silver and black and had the capacity to seat up to eight people.

As Keith started to lower himself into a stylish, modern chair, Brenda noticed that he was having a difficult time seating himself. She could hear him utter an audible groan.

“Keith, are you in pain?” Brenda asked, her voice registering noticeable concern.

“Yes. Unfortunately, today it is particularly bad. I have my good days and my bad days. Sometimes I have good months and bad months,” Keith answered.

“How long have you suffered like this?”

“For most of my adult life. I think it began in my mid-30s. One day I was performing a weight resistance exercise at the gym, when I felt a horrendous shot of pain in my lower back. From then on, I’ve had nothing but trouble with my lower back. Fortunately, it will sometimes go into remission for two or three months. Just to make the pot a little bit sweeter, I also developed a serious case of fibromyalgia in my forties.”

“Is fibromyalgia what they used to call the ‘yuppie flu’”?

“Actually,chronic fatigue syndrome was usually a condition that earned that unfortunate moniker, but I’m sure that fibromyalgia would also fall under the same umbrella.”

“So how do you cope with the pain?”

“By God’s grace and the compassion of my family doctor, Dr. Rickland who prescribes a daily dose of Tylenol threes and naproxen to treat my chronic pain syndrome.”

“Does it work for the pain?”

“To some extent, but not entirely. It helps to numb the pain enough so that I can continue working on a part-time basis. When my condition really gets bad, I have to take a month to six weeks off work and see my chiropractor on almost a daily basis.”

“Has chiropractic helped?”

“I believe so, but doesn’t stop the pain right away.”

“Have you ever smoked marijuana, Keith?” Brenda asked. Oh, before you answer, I’m going to make some Tim Horton’s coffee and bring out a plate of home baked oatmeal and raisin cookies.”

“Are they big?” Keith asked.

“I haven’t heard any guys complain about the size?”

Keith looked startled for a second and then burst out laughing.

“I was referring to the cookies, but I enjoy them large and firm in both contextual meanings.”

“My God, Keith. You are a funny man. I think we both needed a good laugh.”

“Now back to my original question. Have you ever smoked marijuana?

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Keith Ross Episode Nine by Ken David Stewart


Episode Nine

Keith and Brenda watched as the police car drove away with Tamara. As soon as the car turned a corner and was out of sight, Brenda sighed and looked desperately up at Keith.

“Keith, I need a hug,” Brenda said, as tears starting to run down her face. He hugged her and the two neighbors stayed in a tight embrace for over a minute.

 

When Brenda finally let go of Keith she asked, “Keith, can you come over to my house for coffee and maybe some pie or cookies?”

“I’m not working this afternoon. I’d be glad to come over. I think you need someone to talk to, my dear lady,” he answered.

“You couldn’t be more right about that,” Brenda said while letting out a huge sigh of relief.

Brenda owned a beautiful house in the Norwood Flats area of Winnipeg. She was now the sole owner of Brenda’s Cleaning Service. She had contracts with many major business offices in the city as well as having a solid base of residential clients. Brenda ran a successful janitorial service business that was known for its efficiency, reliability and charging reasonable and affordable prices for services rendered.

Before she set up her own janitorial company, Brenda had been a very successful and respected grade six teacher up until her last teaching assignment. During this time, Brenda was hit with a bombardment of both personal and professional crises. Her father had recently passed away after a long battle with prostate cancer and shortly after, the brother that Brenda felt the closest to was killed in a car accident by an impaired driver. That year the school that she worked at underwent a change of administration. Brenda now had to adjust to two administrators who had both decided that Brenda’s performance as a teacher was now below the minimum standards.

This series of crises, all coming together around the same time period, eventually pushed Brenda over the edge.

Things came to head on the day that one of Brenda’s colleagues found her in the staff shower room trying to hang yourself. A one -month compulsory hospitalization in a psychiatric ward, followed by two years of staying at home collecting long-term disability benefits effectively ended Brenda Cameo’s teaching career.047