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?
Episode Eight Mr. Holmes:
Caleb Jacobson adored his grade seven science teacher, Mr. Holmes. Caleb liked Jeffrey Holmes so much that he volunteered to help his teacher clean up and organize the science lab after school three times per week. Mr. Holmes was old, very old to a thirteen year- old boy. The junior high science teacher was a thin built widower who had suffered from almost unbearable pain from his arthritis and comorbid fibromyalgia for over ten years now. The only thing that made his life bearable now was medical marijuana.
Jeffery Holmes stumbled upon the efficacy of marijuana for pain management by way of his neighbour’s son Jordan, or Jordy as his friends referred to him. Jeff was just returning from a boy’s night out at The St. Vital Hotel. While enjoying shooting the breeze with his friends Jeffrey managed to put away a few brews. Feeling a little happy, Jeff heard a loud party going on in Jordy’s back yard and leaned over the fence to investigate what all the excitement was about. He noticed a young teenage girl wearing only her skimpy, red underwear bouncing on a trampoline. Although she was likely quite impaired she still got to demonstrate her athleticism. The young beauty was somehow able to smoke a cigarette and drink a can of Budweiser while simultaneously bouncing on the trampoline.
Jordy took his eyes off the girl just long enough to see Mr. Holmes appearing to be mesmerized by what he was witnessing.
“She sure is a looker. Now ain’t she Mr. Holmes?”
A somewhat startled Jeffrey Holmes responded by saying, “Now that’s not fair Jordy to ask an old man that. Now, if I was about forty years younger I’d feel more qualified to render my opinion. She sure has great balance. I can say that much. Is that a joint that you have in your hand Jordy?”
“Sure is. You want a hit?”
“I haven’t smoked pot since I was your age. Oh. what the hell. Give the old man a couple of tokes.”
“Way to go Mr. Holmes. Why don’t you take the rest of the joint? Feel free to join the party. My folks won’t be back from their trip until tomorrow evening,” Jordy said.
“Ill tell you what. I’ll gratefully accept your offer of the remainder of the joint, but I’ll have to pass on joining your party. I’m very tired and my fibro and arthritis are killing me. I think I’ll just finish the joint and head to bed.”
“I’ll bet you’ll get a great night’s sleep and will wake up with less pain in the morning. See you tomorrow Mr. Holmes.”
Jeffrey Holmes thanked Jordy and sat down on his back door steps to smoke his joint. He inhaled deeply with each hit off the joint. He remembered the proper technique for getting the maximum results from smoking weed from his youth.
When Mr. Holmes awoke he glanced at his alarm clock and saw that the clock read 11:12 AM. Thank God it was Saturday and he wouldn’t have to go to work. Jeffrey had slept for almost twelve hours! He usually only got four to five hours of unrefreshing sleep because of being woken up several times a night from the pain., Mr. Holmes got out of his bed slowly and carefully but did not experience the jolt of pain that he was used to. He walked towards the bathroom with relative ease. “I don’t believe it. Could this be the result of smoking marijuana before I went to bed?”
Being the scientist that he was, Jeffrey asked Jordy if he could procure some more grass for him. The grade seven science teacher had to find out whether he would get similar results if he were to try the cannabis again. Jordy laughed and said, “I thought you’d like it. Yeah, I can get you some more weed today.”
Mr. Holmes gratefully thanked Jordy and assured his young friend that he would pay him generously for his product and services.
The Crayfish That Destroyed Winnipeg
By Ken David Stewart
Earl Dawson rolled over on his side of the bed and through glazed and blurry eyes glanced over at his Sony digital alarm clock. Bright red numerals indicated that it was 3:03 AM.
“Oh shit,” Earl said as he rolled over in the king size bed that he shared with Edith, his wife of twenty years. It was July 25, 2017 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Earl and Edith owned a beautiful red brick home on Wellington Crescent in the wealthy area of the city. The successful couple’s home was flanked on each side by equally expensive houses. Wellington Crescent was populated by upwardly mobile professionals, doctors, lawyers and dentists and the like.
Earl rolled over toward his wife’s side of the bed. He knew from experience that this was likely to be a useless and frustrating course of action.
Sleep had not come easily for Earl during the last two weeks. He had recently turned fifty -eight and had not been enjoying the initial years on his journey toward old age. Wasn’t life supposed to slow down and get easier as one reached his age? Whoever told Earl this tidbit of wisdom was a fool. One’s body got older and slower, you had aches and pains that you never had before and you had less energy to fight your daily battles. This was an appropriate metaphor for Earl’s present life as he was increasingly feeling like he was a somewhat disabled soldier fighting in a war that he was no longer sure that he could win.
Recently, Earl Dawson had not experienced any slowing down in the speed of his life trajectory and the increasing number of serious issues that were crying out for his attention. After fitfully tossing and turning for nearly five minutes, Earl accidently rolled over onto his wife’s side of the bed. He had accidentally pressed his considerable body weight onto his wife’s left arm.
Edith, Earl’s wife of the last twenty years, greatly resented being startled awake from a deep and peaceful sleep. Edith had suffered from a frustrating inability to remain completely asleep over the total course of a night for most of her adult life. It was her pattern to have to get up and read for about one hour before attempting to fall back asleep again.
Episode Two- The Physical Presentation of Dr. Earl Dawson:
Edith stared angrily at Earl and began to unleash her wrath upon her husband, “Earl, this is the second time in three nights that you have bumped into me and have woke me up at this ungodly hour. What is wrong with you! I think that you should ask your business partner, David if he would take you on as one of his patients and provide you with some type of psychotherapy.”
“I am a psychiatrist, Edith. I’m more than qualified to diagnose and treat myself!” Earl snapped back.
“You know that you can’t psychoanalyze yourself, Earl. It is impossible for you to be objective about your own issues,” Edith argued.
“I would like to think that I know more about my personal issues than David does, with all due respect to his obvious professional abilities. Besides, he is not only a distinguished colleague of mine, David is also my business partner and best friend,” Earl stated as he stomped his left foot on the floor.
“Nevertheless, you need to be under the care of a professional therapist. Now that I consider the point that you made, I must concede that David Mylander is likely an inappropriate candidate for you, but you need to find someone who is.”
Earl got off the mattress and began to pace around the bedroom. At fifty-eight years of age, he still cast a vibrant and formidable figure. Earl was barrel chested but presented with a substantial amount of muscle mass. Although he was only five feet ten inches tall, he had thick muscular arms that he proudly displayed whenever he wore tank tops. His back and shoulders were also well developed often causing a casual observer to ignore Earl’s obesity.
Earl was very defensive about his excessive weight and didn’t like it being pointed out to him. He rode bike and pumped iron as much as his professional schedule and diminishing energy levels would allow him.
Earl was grateful for the fact that his entry into late middle age had not caused any significant hair loss. He had long snow-white hair tied back in a ponytail that ran half way down his back. Earl was grateful that his family doctor had prescribed the medication finasteride to treat his enlarged prostate. Earl was delighted when Dr. Lakewood informed him that finasteride worked like Propecia, the medication that delayed male pattern baldness. Earl was very proud of his long mane of hair and often strutted about like a peacock.
“This whole situation is ridiculous. My life is getting harder and crazier everyday. Its like it says in that Dan Hill song, “like a roller coaster riding out of control.” Earl Dawson complained while continuing to pace back and forth like the hyena he saw last year at Assiniboine Park Zoo.
I am fifty-eight years old and can no longer cope with my own life. I just want to get off this roller coaster. The irony is that my job is treating very mentally unstable people on a daily basis. I’m just asking for a decent night’s sleep occasionally. I don’t have to sleep well every night. My present sleep medication protocol is only marginally effective. During most nights I average only three to four hours of sleep. I’ve already reached the maximum dosage of my sleep management medication.
On the evening of July 27, 2017, Isiah Jacobs, the seventeen year old brother of Caleb Jacobs walks down the orange carpeted steps on his way to his basement rec room study. Elijah is a tall, scrawny red-haired teenager with a serious acne condition who looks like he could be the poster boy for a local chapter of Nerds United.
Isiah’s private study is in his family’s rec room. As he approached the door to his study, Isiah noticed that the door is slightly ajar. As he pushed the door open he sees a translucent, red colored rectangular Tupperware container on the right hand side of his expensive black office chair. He hears a loud, scratching sounds coming from the rectangular, plastic Tupperware container.
Isiah bent over and picked up the container for closer observation. He can now see past the glare emanating from the red translucent Tupperware container. He shivers with fright when a living creature attempts to move around. Isiah is so petrified that he immediately drops the container on the floor of his study. Two of Isiah’s fingers manage to lift off the lid of the container. Isiah notices that there is a narrow layer of what appears to be dirty river water occupying the bottom layer.
To his horror, Isiah sees enough to identify the species of the formerly imprisoned animal. It is a large, hideous orange crayfish.
This morning Keith Ross was hoping that listening to Creflo Dollar’s message would help to improve his mood and provide him with some inspiration. He did attend a local church occasionally. but preferred to stay at home and watch services via the internet.
Keith had many TV preachers that he watched including Joel Osteen, Joseph Prince, Patricia King, Jim Richards and Todd Bentley. Many years ago he got introduced to the Charismatic stream of Christian theology through the influence of one of his old girlfriends.
He preferred to believe in a positive, motivating theology. He knew that there were more conservative feel theologies out there, but over the years he had become very disenchanted with them. Keith’s father had been a Baptist preacher who taught a very conservative view of the Bible and the Christian life. Keith had always thought that there had to be more to Christianity than this and his former girlfriend had shown him that that he could go much deeper in his relationship with God.
Keith wanted to believe that God loved him and wanted him to be blessed with good health and financial prosperity. He did not want to get rich. He only desired to get all his debts paid off death and to have enough money for a comfortable lifestyle.
The next morning Keith Ross woke up and felt miserable. It was another morning where he felt as if he had never slept during the night. He groggily got off his ragged, old, broken down couch where he slept most nights. He often fell asleep on the couch while reading or watching TV.
Keith frequently watched Fox News before he went to bed. When he was young man, he was very much a socialist, but as he got older, he began to see the negative characteristics of a totally socialized society. At first he wasn’t crazy about Donald Trump, but during the first six months of Trump’s presidency, Keith was starting to really admire the way the new president took tough stands on issues that he strongly believed in.
He got himself his favorite glass of water from the kitchen and began taking his massive regimen of medications and dietary supplements. Keith followed this with a bowl of Raisin Bran cereal. He’s actually preferred Frosted Flakes, but he had recently decided to be more careful about his food choices.
As soon as he finished his breakfast, Keith felt so tired that he lied down on the couch. After about five minutes had passed, he got up and looked out the window. The sun was shining brightly. He promptly turned on the weather channel to check today’s forecast. The weather channel reported a high of 28°C with sunny skies throughout the day. He started to think about going for a bike ride. Keith looked up at his beautiful, black Giant mountain bike parked a few feet behind his flat screen TV.
Keith took hold of his Roku remote and found the Creflo Dollar channel on his tv. He had just decided to call a halt to his substitute teaching assignments for the rest of this year. Keith was exhausted and he really hadn’t been feeling well since January of 2017. His doctors could not properly say what ailed him so Keith had to come up with a diagnosis of his own. Left to his own devices, after days and hours of personal research team Keith concluded that he was suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Both of these medical conditions caused Keith to lack any significant and sustained energy to get done what he both needed and wanted to do.
He wanted to continue with his substitute teaching gigs, but lately he had found his assignments to be extremely exhausting to the degree that he was unable to do much but lie on the couch when he got home from work. Keith had managed to struggle through the majority of this year by relying upon sheer willpower, a doctor prescribed stimulant and a concoction of natural supplements. For a while his self designed treatment protocol appeared to be working. For about one month he felt relatively healthy and could occasionally string together two or three days in which he cold actually engage in some of his extracurricular hobbies after working all day.
Unfortunately, he had neither discovered the secret to sustained energy nor the fountain of youth. He woke up one morning to find that this get up and go had got up and gone. He found this realization to be very troubling and depressing.
Keith sure didn’t need any more things to make him feel depressed. He suffered from what is clinically termed double depression for pretty much all of his adult life. Double depression means that one is mildly depressed most of the time, but will occasionally succumb to severe episodes of major depression.
Episode 5 of Chaos:
Roger 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. Roger did not really want to accept an assignment today. He had just finished a three day assignment teaching English at Murdoch MacKay Collegiate. Roger had a good time teaching there as the class was reading and discussing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby. Although Roger 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. Roger wrote fiction novels 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 writing project, a novel titled Winter Dreams.
Roger’s morning routine seldom varied. He would get up and boil some water for his Valentus coffee. Roger 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 that he had purchased at Dollarama.
As he got older Roger 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 Roger would listen to one of his many Holy Bible audiobooks.
Roger had been a Christian since his late twenties. When he first got saved he was really just buying fire insurance. Roger simply did not want to go to hell. For almost three decades he really didn’t have an intimate relationship with the Lord. When Roger 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.