Category: new fiction by Ken David Stewart

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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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

Revised, Keith Ross, a Novel by Ken David Stewart


The Life and Times of Keith Ross by Ken David Stewart

Two months ago in the year 2017 Keith Ross turned sixty-five. Most of the time he wished that he had died ten years earlier. When he was fifty-five, he still thought he was doing reasonably well. Although he was about forty pounds overweight at this age, he was still relatively healthy and was functional most of the time. He held a job he liked, although he hated dealing with his supervisor.

Although he had been in debt for most of his adult years, his financial liabilities had never seemed nearly as ponderous as they were at present. The thing was that Keith never expected to wake up one morning only to find that he was now officially a senior citizen. He didn’t mind being sixty-five years old, at least on paper. Keith just didn’t like all the negative baggage that came with old age. He wasn’t happy about the fact that he was now approximately ninety pounds overweight and that his stretches of good health were now becoming few and far between. The truth be told, he felt like shit most of the time. Besides the limitations that come with obesity, his family doctor had informed Keith that he now had a mild case of COPD. After forty plus years of smoking a pack a day of cigarettes what else could he expect.

Episode Two

Keith took hold of his Roku remote and found the Creflo Dollar channel on his tv. He had now completed 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 hours and days of personal research, Keith concluded that he was suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia 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 in the fall, but this month he had found his assignments to be extremely exhausting to the extent that he was unable to do much but lie on the couch when he got home from work. Keith had managed to struggle through most 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 could actively pursue some of his extracurricular hobbies after work.

Unfortunately, he had ultimately neither discovered the secret to sustained energy nor the fountain of youth. He woke up one morning to find that his get up and go had got up and gone. He found this realization to be very troubling and depressing.

Keith surely didn’t need any more things to make him feel depressed. He suffered from what is clinically termed double depression for most 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 Three

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, Creflo Dollar, 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 mainstream theologies out there, but over the years he had become very disillusioned 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 took out his favorite glass of water from the kitchen shelf and began taking his massive regimen of medications and dietary supplements. Keith followed this with a bowl of Raisin Bran cereal. He’s 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 large, flat screen TV.

Keith decided to make himself go for a bike ride. He now had too many days when he had to ‘push himself’ to do anything. Was he getting old or was it just that he’s out of shape and not eating nutritious meals? Probably Keith’s chronic fatigue was due to a variety of factors.

There was beautiful weather outside and Keith enjoyed his morning bike rides. He rated his physical stamina by his ability to keep going for bike rides year after year.

When Keith returned from his ride, he returned to his old, broken down orange and yellow couch. Keith didn’t know if it was just psychological, but Keith found that taking short power naps during the day allowed him to get more accomplished.

One of Keith’s favorite avocations was writing fiction novels. He had self published three of his original works so far, but none of them had made him any money. Nevertheless, Keith enjoyed the writing process and he found it to be very therapeutic. He found it amazing how the act of writing dredged up memories from the past and old traumas that you thought you had forgotten.

Keith was presently working on a novel that he had temporarily given the title, Chaos. Keith had just started his first rough draft of chapter five after re-reading and self editing chapter four.

Episode Five

Keith was just about to begin work on chapter five. Keith was startled by a loud knock on his front door. When he got up from his comfortable, black leather office chair, he saw a young woman who appeared to be in her late teens or early twenties. The young female was dressed all in black and was probably a goth. Keith had run into the odd goth here and there when he subbed in some of his local high schools.

“Hey, I’m Tamara. I’m your new neighbor. I’ve been dying to meet you so I brought over some spicy broccoli soup and sandwiches. I thought that maybe we could have lunch and then hang out for a while.”

Tamara’s voice was a bit shaky and she probably had to really pump up her courage to knock on her new neighbor’s door. Keith noticed that Tamara was wearing the classic black Nirvana tee shirt, the one with a smiley face and gold lettering on it. She wore extra large, round, gold earrings and had several piercings through her eyebrows, nose and lips.

“Tamara, I’m pleased to meet you. My name is Keith Ross and I’m a senior citizen. There’s just me and my dog Rex living here now. I’d like it very much if we could have lunch together.”

“Cool,” Tamara said as she started arranging her food on Keith’s kitchen table. Keith’s furnishings were very modest. When he and his last girlfriend split up, she took all the good, newer furniture for herself. Keith and Tamara could hear loud barking coming from the backyard.

“That’s my dog, Rex. Do you mind if I let him come in the house?” Keith asked.

“No problem. man. I love animals. What kind of dog is it?”

“Rex is a German shepherd with a very sweet disposition. Rex loves people, especially young people.”

Episode six

As soon as Keith opened his back porch door to let Rex in, the dog immediately started to bark at the stranger. Tamara held out her left hand for Rex to sniff. He handed over to Tamara a plastic baggie filled with chopped up Rollover Sausage and asked her to give his dog a treat. Rex jumped up for the treat so fast that he almost bit Tamara’s fingers.

After receiving his treat, Rex was now ready to make friends with Tamara and to get some affection from her. Rex turned over on his back signifying the canine submission position.

“Are you ready to eat lunch now, Keith?” Tamara asked as she moved towards Keith’s black with orange polka-dots kitchen table. Which drawer is your cutlery in?”

“The second drawer on the left-hand side,” Keith answered. Tamara found two soup bowls and dished out some soup in Keith’s red bowl.

“Thanks, Tamara. It isn’t very often that someone brings me lunch,” Keith said as he put a large spoon in his bowl of soup.

“Don’t you have any family or friends?” Tamara asked.

“No one that visits me much anymore,” Keith answered.

“Why is that?”

“Well the truth is that I outlived my only real friend. He passed on from lung cancer last year.”

“Were you close friends?” Tamara asked while putting some crackers in Keith’s soup.

“Yes, we were. I knew Paul from our elementary school days. We lived on the same block and sort of grew up together,” Keith added.

“That must’ve been a terrible loss for you,” Tamara commented as she put one of her hands over Keith’s left hand. Keith wiped a tear from his eye.

“How about family, Keith?” Tamara asked.

“I don’t see or hear from any of them very often. I have a brother and sister who are quite a bit older than me. Both live in managed care facilities now,” Keith said.

“Did you ever have a wife or kids?” Tamara asked.

“Yeah, I was married once. About thirty years ago. My ex-wife and I had one son together,” he said reaching for one of Tamara’s homemade corned beef sandwiches.

“So, you’re divorced?” Tamara asked.

Keith nodded his head.

“What about your son? Do you ever hear from him?”

“Not very often. Maybe once or twice a year. I think he still blames me for the breakup of our family.”

Episode Seven

‘How about you, Tamara?” Keith asked. “I don’t know anything about you yet.”

“Well, I just moved in with my grandmother,” Tamara answered.

“You mean Brenda Reese? I’ve talked to her many times. She’s a nice lady. She is still known as the pet rescue lady in the neighborhood. Brenda always has at least two stray animals that she keeps until she can find good homes for them. Where were you living before you moved in with your grandma?” Keith asked.

“I was living with my boyfriend, Blake Edwards in Orlando, Florida, not too far from the Everglades,” Tamara answered.

“Where’s Blake living now?”

“He’s in Manitoba right now getting free room and board in The Headingly Correctional Facility. He originally moved to Winnipeg with me and got himself a bachelor suite on Furby Street. After living there for only two days Blake tried to rob a Chinese restaurant two blocks away. The truth is that Blake is not a very smart criminal. It only took the cops about an hour to arrest him,” Tamara answered.

“When is he going to be released from jail?” Keith asked grabbing another corned beef sandwich.

“They’ll probably keep him for a few months as Blake gets into trouble with the law a lot. I think that Blake made a poor choice when he decided to be a career outlaw. The truth is that he is not very good at it, but he hasn’t figured that out yet.”

“Are you in love with Blake?” Keith asked as Tamara took a sip from her glass of water.

“It’s hard to say. I don’t really know what love is. If you are talking about a physical, chemical attraction to Blake, yeah, it’s there. I don’t approve of his lifestyle though. I wish he’d grow up, get a job and have some positive direction for his life.”

“It sounds like you want a good quality life. How did you end up moving to Winnipeg?”

“That was Marilyn’s idea. She’s my stepmother. She didn’t want me living that close to the Everglades. Marilyn is worried that it’s too dangerous a location for me. About a month ago, she was watching tv and saw a news story about a nine- foot Burmese python that wandered into one of our neighbor’s yard in Orlando. The snake had eaten their dog. Marilyn phoned Brenda, my grandmother, and asked if I could live with her for awhile until I found a place of my own in Winnipeg. Marilyn didn’t know that Blake was coming to Winnipeg with me.”

Episode Eight

“After lunch do you want to take your dog for a walk? We can take mine too. He’s an American cocker spaniel. I left him at Grandma’s house,” Tamara asked.

“That’s a great idea. I usually take Rex out for a walk just about every day. We only walk for about ten to fifteen minutes. Rex is strong and I’m an old man. I’m planning to get myself in better shape this summer, though. Do you have a bicycle, Tamara?” he asked.

“Yes, I have a red and white Trek,” Tamara answered.

“Would you like to go for a bike ride with me? I like to cycle around St. Vital Park.”

“I would love to. That would give me more motivation to exercise,” Keith responded.

Just as Keith took a long sip from his glass of water, he saw two police constables walking up to his front door.

“I wonder why the police are coming to my house. I didn’t call them,” he said looking puzzled.

When Keith opened the door for the two police officers, a young male constable looked Keith in the eye. “Do you have a young lady named Tamara Cameo staying with you?”

Keith shrugged. “Yes, but I just met her. She just came over for lunch.”

Tamara stepped in front of Keith and confidently confronted the constable. “I know why you’re here. You’re going to pick me up for breaching my parole last night.”

“That’s right,” said the other constable, a young, attractive female police officer. We were just at your grandmother’s house and she told us you might be here. Place your hands behind your back. I’m going to have to handcuff you.”

“Just as the police constable was putting the handcuffs on Tamara, her grandmother crossed into Keith’s yard to see what all the excitement was about.

Brenda Reeves had a slim build and was an attractive lady who had just celebrated her fifty fourth birthday. She presented with a calm demeanor as she approached the police officers.

“Sorry about this, constables. I was just telling Tamara yesterday how important it is to meet with her parole officer.”

“I didn’t think that they would arrest me today. I just got caught for selling a little bit of weed,” Tamara said as an annoyed look spread across her face.

“The court takes skipping mandated appointments very seriously, my dear,” the young, blonde police officer said as she checked to see if she had positioned the handcuffs correctly.

“We came over to your grandmother’s house as soon as we were notified by your parole officer that you failed to attend this morning’s meeting.”

“I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I was going to phone Sarah, my PO, to find out if I could meet with her later today. What the heck. Prime Minister Trudeau is going to legalize marijuana next year anyway,” Tamara protested.

 

The young, handsome male constable took Tamara’s right arm and started to move her towards the police car.

“That’s all well and good, but you still have to wait until next year. Maybe by then, you can get a license to sell weed legally and maybe open up your own shop,” Constable Williams said with a grin.

Tamara started to chuckle. “That sounds like a plan, but I guess you guys have to take me to jail today.”

“That’s right,” said Constable Humie, the attractive blonde female constable.

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 close 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 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 where 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’s teaching career.

Episode 10:

Brenda asked Keith to take a seat at the center bar in her kitchen. It was made of marble, 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, I’m in a lot of pain. 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-thirties. 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 the 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 11:

“Ah, hell. That was decades ago. When I was going to high school I’d take a toke off a joint as it was passed around at a party. I never liked weed enough to even buy a nickel bag for myself. Besides I couldn’t roll a decent joint by myself. I never thought of using a pot pipe. No one I knew had one,” Keith answered.

“Did you enjoy smoking grass when you were young man?” Brenda asked

“Not really. I much preferred drinking beer. I was quite shy when I was young guy and found it difficult to have a conversation with anyone when I was sober. All that changed after I had about three beers. Suddenly, I became loquacious and was the life of the party. When I got stoned on pot it had the opposite effect upon me. I would try to carry on an intelligent conversation with someone and would find that I had trouble getting the right words out.”

“The new cannabis products that are available are much better than the pot we used to smoke in the seventies. Would you like to try some?” Brenda asked.

“You mean right now?” Keith asked.

“Yes, I use cannabis often. It helps to relieve my anxiety. I have a couple of joints rolled already.”

“Yeah what the heck. I’ve tried almost everything else to treat this chronic pain,” Keith replied.

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.

Episode 13

Keith reached over to the coffee table and immediately started to devour  an extra large oatmeal raisin cookie.

“Two tokes and I’ve got the munchies already. This isn’t going to help with my weight problem Brenda.”

“Don’t worry. If I know my daughter, she will be offering you plenty of opportunities to work off that excess weight. Tamara’s very athletic. She gets up early every morning and goes jogging with her dog. She also likes to go for long bike rides on her Trek. When that’s not enough for her, she goes to Shapes gym for a workout. I can tell that she likes you already Keith.”

“Even though I’ve only just met Tamara the feeling is mutual. She seems to be a really smart kid. Very cool.”

“I would greatly appreciate it if you could spend some time with her. Tamara really needs a good male role model in her life. Her father left his family when she was only five years old. She’s been hurting over her loss ever since. And she doesn’t always make the best decisions when choosing boyfriends.”

Episode 14

Keith Ross was an early riser. This was not by choice. His faithful black lab, Rex would wake his owner up by licking his bare feet. Keith hadn’t slept on his king-sized bed since the night his ex-wife left. He didn’t like the dark. It scared him. Every emotion attached to living alone scared him. He chose to sleep on his old worn out leather sofa with Rex right beside him. Keith didn’t own a pair of pajamas. He preferred to fall asleep on the couch in his street clothes that usually consisted of one of his favorite tee shirts and a pair of black sweatpants with white stripes running down both sides.

Keith bore a strong physical resemblance to the late, great Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. He was actually a big fan of Jerry Garcia. Keith just wished that he could master a musical instrument the way the Grateful Dead’s American icon did with ease.

 

Jerry Garcia Guitar

Episode 3 of Alligators in the Sewers


Episode Three:

Joshua Jacobson could best be summed up as being a nerd. He was seventeen years old and attended Manhattan Central High School. Joshua’s level of intelligence would be close to the genius level. He excelled in all his grade twelve subjects, but he liked his math and science classes the most. Joshua was an intellectual in every sense of the word. Although his great desire was to be a famous scientist one day, he was also a voracious reader with interests in a wide variety of subjects.

Joshua read nearly everything he could get his hands on. Although his parents were at the lower strata of the annual income spectrum, and neither one had earned a high school diploma, they were very aware and were very proud of Josh’s intellectual accomplishments. From an early age they had a sense that God had given their son and amazing brain for a reason. Although Josh’s parents were poor, they used what little extra money they had to further Josh’s ambitions. As Josh enjoyed reading and conducting research so much, his parents paid for his monthly subscriptions to Audible Audiobooks, so that their son could choose a new  audiobook to listen to each month. They also invested in a subscription to Scribd,a website service that allows its subscribers to read an unlimited number of books on a wide variety of topics. Science fiction books had always been Josh’s favorites.

Attending high school was at times pure hell for Josh. Senior years schools have long been known for bullying students that did not fit the predetermined criteria of what was considered normal. The social aspect of high school was based on cliques. Every high school student ended up in a clique that was defined by possessing certain, identifiable physical and mental attributes.

There was some overlap, but generally all high school students receive a mandatory designation that they were in some group or clique or another. There was sometimes some overlap, but rarely got a student into more than one or two defining groups.

The first category was known as the brains. This entity consisted of all kinds of all the students that were known for getting the highest marks in all subjects on the secondary education curriculum. The brains were usually not very popular with the rest of the student body. These academic high achievers were either disdained, ignored or were used by their peers. The brains could be helpful to their less academically gifted counterparts in certain situations. Brains came in handy when one needed to cheat on a test or exam or copy yesterday’s homework assignments. The trade-off or you can say the upside for the brains was that some of their fellow students who required their services were offered the brains protection from other students that would bully them, steal from them or threaten to beat them up.cropped-images-112.jpg

Episodes 1 and 2 of Alligators in the Sewers


Alligators in the Sewers A Novel by Ken David Stewart

Russ Bridges was enjoying a long, restful nap on his new black leather couch. He was startled out of a deep sleep when he heard a loud pounding on his front door. Russ had just turned sixty-six was enjoying his first year of retirement as the former superintendent of sewers for the city of New York. It was 2:05 PM on June 11, 2017. He had been reading the novel It by Stephen King. It was not unusual for Russ to fall asleep on his couch while reading in the mid afternoon. Stephen King was Ross’s favorite author and It was his favorite novel by the most popular horror writer of the century. This was usually how people defined Stephen King as a writer, but the author hated this limited, restrictive view of his writing.

As the pounding on his door became louder, Russ managed to lift his substantial bulk off the couch. When Ross opened his front door he saw Sean Webb, the new superintendent of sewers. Sean took over Russ’s position when he retired. Sean looked very anxious when Ross opened the door for him. “Can I smoke in your house, Russ? I’m all stressed out and I need to talk to you.”

“Sure. Come on in Sean. Yeah, you can smoke in my house. I gave up smoking about ten years ago. Now I just vape like the young people do. You really look agitated. What’s up?”

“Thanks for seeing me on such short notice or rather no notice,” Sean said as his trembling hand reached into the front pocket of his shirt for his pack of Marlborough cigarettes.

“I got a serious problem at work and I really need your advice, Russ. Have you ever heard or seen anything to do with alligators in the New York sewer system?”

“Yeah, I know quite a bit about the problem, but I haven’t told anybody about it. Before I retired from your job, I had to sign a bunch of papers swearing me to secrecy concerning that topic,” Russ answered.

Episode two

“Why don’t you find a place to park yourself in my living room, Sean?”

Sean was feeling faint so he was relieved to have a place to steady himself. He spotted a bright orange Lazy Boy chair in Russ’s living room. It was the first time that Sean had been in Russ’s house and he found it odd that Russ would have been orange easy chair and wondered where Russ got it.

“Where did you find in orange easy chair, Russ?

“On eBay. It’s a rare color for an easy chair but don’t ask me how much I paid for it. Would you like some coffee to go with your cigarette?”

Russ reached over to his fireplace mantel and took a very weird looking ashtray from the top of it. The ashtray was a beige color in the shape of an alligator. Russ placed it on the glass coffee table in front of Sean’s chair.

“You are starting to freak me out Russ. This ashtray looks a lot like a white albino alligator. This is like a prophetic symbol of why I’m here to meet with you,” Sean said.

“What do you like in your coffee? Some coffee creamer and Sugar Twin would be great if you have it.”

“You’re in luck. That’s exactly what I put in my coffee. My favorite flavor is hazelnut. What’s yours?”

Sean managed a nervous laugh. What a coincidence. That’s my favorite too.”

“My wife gets on my back quite a bit about using Sugar Twin. Ruth’s a nurse and she never fails to tell me that artificial sweeteners cause cancer. I told her that I don’t worry about that because I want to die before she does. I’m being serious, too. I don’t know how I would manage to get along without my wife.”

Russ hated the aging process. He didn’t like the fact that he could not do all the things that he was able to do at age forty. Russ had been somewhat of a high-energy freak of nature when he was younger. He was still trying to make a difficult adjustment to his new life as a senior citizen. This was not an easy transition for him. Since his retirement started he had put on about twenty very unnecessary pounds that he did not need that were causing him to slow down in his daily life activities. Russ found that with each passing year he seemed to either reduce or had to eliminate one of the activities that he had enjoyed doing the year before. Life wasn’t fair. A man of Russ’s intellect and drive could not understand or accept the inevitable fact that he was being forced to slow down in his senior years.

Russ wasn’t very happy with his life now that he was retired. It bothered him that he no longer knew how much time he had to live. His father had passed away at age forty-two after suffering a massive heart attack. This really shook Russ up, and he started thinking about his own longevity.

Russ had a lot of regrets even when he was in his prime. He had a poor self-image. He knew that he had excelled in his work for the city of New York, but felt that in most areas of his life he had been a failure.

Sean’s hand was still shaking as he took a long way drag from his Marlboro cigarette. “I’d sure like to hear any information you have, Russ. I feel like I’m going crazy. Sure, I heard some stories about alligators in our sewer system, but I thought it was just an urban legend. So did most of my coworkers until they started claiming they actually saw alligators while they were performing their sewer maintenance duties.At first, I didn’t believe them when a couple of my staff told me about their encounters with these reptiles. I just figured that seeing that I was their new supervisor they decided to tell me these stories as sort of an initiation prank.

alligator 3

Episode 14 of Keith Ross Novel


Episode 14

Keith Ross was an early riser. This was not by choice. His faithful fifteen- year old black lab, Rex would wake his owner up by licking his bare feet. Keith hadn’t slept on his king-sized bed since the night his ex-wife left home permanently. He didn’t like the dark. It scared him. Every emotion attached to living alone scared him. He chose to sleep on his old worn out leather sofa with Rex right beside him. Keith didn’t own a pair of pajamas. He preferred to fall asleep wearing his street clothes He usually dressed like the late Jerry Garcia, the legendary lead guitarist of the Grateful Dead. Like the great American musical icon, Keith tended to favor black tee-shirts and black sweat pants or stone washed blue denim jeans, relaxed fit of course.

Keith was actually a big fan of the Grateful Dead and lead guitarist Jerry Garcia in particular. He just wished that he that he didn’t resemble Jerry so closely and dreamed of having the musical talent of the late American icon.

When Rex had licked Keith’s feet long enough out to wake him up, Keith heard a loud knock on his front door. He groggily arose from his couch almost tripping over Rex in the process.

 

Jerry Garcia Guitar