School Daze by Ken David Stewart
I’ve been thinking about writing this book for some time now. Over the years I have thought a lot about the experiences I had attending public school. I don’t know whether or not most people think about their school days that much. I need to point out a few things right off the bat. First of all, the names and locations that I talk about in this book are all either changed or fictitious. If the reader wants to believe that some of the stories are true that is their prerogative. This book will cover the decades of the early 1950s and the 1960s. School was a lot different at that time than it is now.
I should start by saying that I grew up in downtown Winnipeg. My parents and I lived in my grandmother’s rooming house. I used to call my maternal grandmother, Bapi because I could not say the Polish word for grandmother which was Bapcha. After a short period of time everyone in our neighborhood started calling my grandmother, Bapi. Bapi was a very strong woman both mentally and physically. She didn’t take any crap from anyone. I can still remember her physically throwing some of her unruly tenants down the stairs. Bapi was my primary caregiver during the daytime and she made damn sure that I attended kindergarten every day whether I was sick or well.
From an early age I was already quite the entertainer. I recall watching Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show. My parents bought me a toy guitar and I was soon doing Elvis Presley impersonations complete with shaking my hips and moving around my legs the way my hero did. This entertained my parents and their friends to no end because I was already a fat kid and my impression of Elvis must have been hilarious.
Unfortunately for me, during the time I grew up there were very few fat kids around. This fact was to lead to much name-calling and humiliation for me when I attended public school.
I tended to make things worse for myself because I liked to dress up for school. I don’t mean wearing a suit or tie. I’m referring to donning a fire-fighters hat or dressing up in a Zorro costume, complete with a toy sword. I still remember one of my classmates pointing out that the real Zorro was not fat. His remark really stung but I couldn’t help it if I was a fat kid. After all, my grandmother was always serving me a big piece of cake along with my tomato soup and sandwich for lunch.
So naturally, my name became Fatso. I can recall a few other highlights regarding my kindergarten experience. My kindergarten teacher told my parents that because I was so bright I should be skipped a grade next year. The reason for my alleged brilliance was that my paternal grandmother who I visited every weekend, was a retired school teacher. I called her Granny and she read to me and taught me the alphabet and numbers before I ever attended school. Needless to say, most of my classmates did not have this distinct advantage.
The other highlight that I can remember was having a mean kid destroy my art project as I walked home from school. For most of my early years at school I was a favorite target for bullies. It wasn’t until grade five that I realized that being fat didn’t mean that you couldn’t fight, but I’ll save that story for later.
Around the time I became six years old my parents and grandmother bought a house in a suburban area of Winnipeg. I’m not sure how they were able to pull this off financially, but I suspect that Bapi helped my parents out a great deal. Even though I had moved out of the inner-city I quickly found out that it didn’t mean that the other children would be any nicer. In many ways they were worse. I continued to get bullied not only by my classmates, but also by my teachers. The things that my teachers got away with then would quickly end the career of any teacher today. In the late fifties and sixties school teachers could pretty well do anything they wanted to their students. You didn’t even have to be bad to have them talk to you very sarcastically or even treat you cruelly, if they so desired. The problem was in those days the teacher was always right. If a child were to complain to their parents about how their teacher had mistreated them, they couldn’t expect to get any sympathy from their parents. Your parents were more likely to ask you what you did wrong to make your teacher so angry.
In grade two my teacher asked me how much I weighed. Not knowing any better, I told her the truth. I told her that I weighed 120 pounds. My teacher’s response to this, was to inform the class that I weighed more than her.
Not to be outdone, my grade 3 teacher told the class that I was enough to make a teacher swear. My grade four teacher did her one better by calling me ‘Stupified’ for spilling some paint during an art class.
However, I would have to declare that the all-time winner of all my sadistic teachers was my grade five teacher. In those days, having a messy desk was a capital crime. My fifth grade teacher had a habit of doing visual desk inspections during silent reading. She wore soft soled shoes so that her students could not hear her sneaking up on us. As I probably had the messiest desk of anyone in my classroom, in addition to the fact that I was fat, I was to experience the full and terrible wrath of my grade five teacher. During her one of her routine desk inspections she noticed that my desk was particularly messy. This prompted her to dump over my desk and to tell me to clean up the mess immediately.
However, this monster who called herself a teacher was not finished yet. She called me up to her desk, reached into one of the drawers and pulled out a laminated badge that featured the picture of an oversized pig. She promptly pinned this photo of a sow to my shirt this and told me that I was to wear the pig badge all week. Just to twist the knife a bit further, she stopped me when I was about to take the pig off before going out for recess. I was informed that the pig would now be transferred to my winter parka just so all the kids in that school could ask me why I was wearing a picture of a sow on my winter coat.
Episode 3 of Chaos:
To Roger’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 Roger went to his doctor for a complete physical and weighed in at three hundred ten pounds. This was a turning point for Roger. He had been avoiding looking at himself in the mirror for quite some time now. Roger 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, Roger felt much better about himself. He could now look at himself in the mirror without fear of embarrassment. In fact, Roger 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. Roger was now very proud of himself. With hard work he had achieved a major life goal. He now felt a lot more confident when he went out in public.
Chapter One Hundred Eight
Mike O’Grady was moving between his cameras and camcorders in an almost athletic manner. Jack and some of the crew could hardly keep from laughing out loud as they watched their three hundred pound visual technician dance acrobatically between his cameras. Mike was breathing heavily and perspiring profusely as he barked out directions to the divers telling them in which direction to move his wooden masterpiece. Mike was so engaged in what he was doing that he didn’t seem to realize that it was very unlikely that the divers could hear him. In an almost trance like state Mike paid meticulous attention to the pictures that he was taking. He wanted the model Ogopogo’s movements to look as life- like as possible.
Under the water, one of the divers was startled by a heavy object bumping into his body with considerable force. He quickly rose to the surface in time to see a very unusual creature come to the surface. One of Jack’s crew called out to him, “Jack, look to your right!”
“What?” Jack said as he was drinking a beer and had been joking happily with one of his lighting technicians. When he turned to look to his right, Jack dropped his bottle of beer on the deck of his cabin cruiser. It shattered in pieces.
“I don’t believe it! What is that thing? It’s trying to jump on the back of Mike’s model,” Jack said, his face registering extreme fright.
The lighting crew turned their lights on high beam in order to get a better look at the phenomenon right before their eyes.
The creature was small in relation to the size of the replica but it looked eerily similar to the model. It was greenish in colour and could be as much as ten feet long. It had a long neck and thick body with visible flippers. It was trying hard to get the model Ogopogo’s attention.
“You can call me crazy, but that animal looks like a much smaller version of Ogopogo,” Jack said, who was now pacing around the boat’s deck and was wildly gesticulating in the direction of the creature. Jack didn’t pay any attention to the shards of his broken beer bottle that he was stepping on.
“Why is it trying to get on top of the model’s back?” asked one of the lighting technicians.
“It’s trying to play with the fake Ogopogo. So far it hasn’t figured out that it’s not real,” one of the muscular crew members answered.
“Who knows? The little guy might think it’s found its mother,” Jack surmised.
“Move the boats closer!” Jack Kimberley yelled to the two men at the helm. “I want to get as close to this thing as we possibly can. I want Mike to be in a position to get the best possible video footage. Lighting crew, turn up the lights. I want this footage to be as clear as is technically possible.”
Mike O ‘Grady worked his video equipment like a man possessed.
“Jack, do you realize that this is going to be the most credible evidence ever of Ogopogo’s existence?” said Tyrone, on of Jack’s crew members.
By this time the Ogopogo, junior edition, had taken notice of the two boats. It had probably become cognizant of the fact that the wooden replica was not alive and was therefore not one of its own species. The bright lights and the cameras appeared to have angered the creature. It st moved rapidly in the direction of the two boats. It swam right up to the side of the cabin cruiser and began pounding one of its flippers against it.
With an unbelievable display of courage Mike did not leave his video equipment and kept his camcorder focused right on the creature.
Justin, one of the other crew members, screamed at Mike to stop the filming and to move away from the creature. Unfortunately, Mike was too mesmerized by what was happening to pay any attention to Justin.
Within a matter of seconds the creature raised its long head and neck out of the water. It opened its mouth revealing a menacing set of teeth. It wrapped its mouth around Mike’s right arm and in one swift bite tore it off.
Mike screamed in agony and passed out from the shock of his sudden amputation.
By this time the smaller crew of the speed boat had climbed aboard the cabin cruiser. As Jack and the crew members of both boats rushed to Mike’s side trying to attend to him, the creature suddenly submerged with the greater part of Mike’s arm in its mouth.
What little was left of Mike’s right arm was spouting blood profusely all over the cabin cruiser’s deck. Fortunately, one of the crew members that Jack had hired, Brian Kelly, was a trained paramedic. Thinking ahead, he had brought his medical supply bag on board the boat. Brian immediately took a large bandage out of his bag and expertly applied a tourniquet to the stump of Mike’s arm. He then applied all of the large bandages and gauze that he had available to him.
Brian has successfully stopped the blood from gushing, but he knew that the crew had to get Mike to a hospital quickly if he was going to survive. Mike regained consciousness when Brian started giving him medical assistance, but was now rapidly going into shock.
Brian had now taken charge of the crew and started giving orders. Jack Kimberley was not about to invoke Brian’s authority realizing the severity of the situation.
Brian Kelly began to bark out orders. “We need to immediately get these boats back to shore. You two guys, who were manning the boats, get these boats moving immediately. Time is of the essence if we are going to save Mike’s life. He needs to get to a hospital emergency room as quickly as possible. Jack, do you have any blankets on board your boats?”
“Yes, I do. I think have three large blankets,” Jack answered.
“Good, let’s get them out now. Mike is in shock and we need to keep him as warm as possible,” Brian said. He was no longer acting as a crew member, but as the true medical professional that he was trained to be. Jack’s boat travelled to the lake front at top speed. With Mike’s life being in danger, no one thought of retrieving the replica of Ogopogo. The divers would not have been willing to risk their lives trying to get the model back on the boat. They did not know if Ogopogo was still in close proximity. The replica was to remain floating on the surface of the lake.
As soon as Jack finished his phone call with Bobby O’Connor he called Mike O’Grady.
“Hey Mike. It’s Jack Kimberly.”
“Who? Jack Kimberly? From high school?” Mike asked.
“The one and only. Look Mike. I was just talking to Bobby O’Connor. I have a big favor to ask you. Is there any chance I can come to visit you this afternoon?”
“I don’t see why not. I hope you won’t mind a very messy apartment that doesn’t smell that great,” Mike said.
“That’s no problem. I should be at your place in less than half an hour,” Jack said.
When Jack parked his new white Ford Fusion in front of Mike O’Grady’s apartment, he could see that he was definitely in an inner city neighborhood. He saw what used to be a corner grocery store with boarded up windows. An animal scurried across his shoe. It was moving too fast for Jack to see it. He shuddered and hoped it wasn’t a rat. He walked up the rickety stairs that he prayed would hold his weight. One of the handrails shook and vibrated as Jack grabbed a hold of it.
Mike O’Grady’s apartment was on the second floor. As Jack climbed the steps he could smell the faint odor of urine in the hall. He knocked on Mike’s apartment door. Mike answered the door promptly and invited Jack inside.
Mike was not exaggerating when he talked about his place being a mess. It looked like his apartment had been hit by a tornado. Mike’s dining room table was covered with computer monitors, hard drives and an assortment of old computer parts and tools.
Jack looked around the room trying to find a clear spot where he could sit down. Finally, Mike moved a box of books off an old easy chair. The chair was well worn and had an assortment of holes of various sizes. Most of the holes looked like they were from cigarette burns.
Jack finally cleared off a spot on Mike O’Grady’s ragged, old easy chair. This chair has seen a lot of mileage and probably hasn’t been cleaned since Mike bought it at a local flea market.
“So, how you been Jack?” Mike asked as he sat on an old broken down couch that appeared to be on a downward slant.
“I’ve been better,” Jack said. “And you?”
“I get by. I should have taken better care of myself when I was younger. Of course, back then, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about my health. Now I’m paying the price. I’m fat, I smoke too much and I’m pretty well crippled up with arthritis. Fortunately, I collect a disability cheque every month. I make a little extra cash fixing up people’s computers and doing a little photography on the side. The government doesn’t know about this. If they did they would either reduce my pension or take it away altogether.”
Mike took a cigarette out of his pack. “Other than that I can’t complain.” Mike started a laugh that soon turned into an ugly, hacking, coughing spell.
“So has life been kicking you around a bit, too?” Mike asked. He was barely able to catch his breath long enough to get the words out.
“Life was actually treating me pretty well until our mutual former classmate, Blake Riley pulled the carpet from underneath me. I thought that Blake and I were pretty tight the last few years. We were very successful business partners until Blake decided to cut me out of the partnership. I thought that we had each other’s backs until very recently. I would even have said that we were close friends at one time, but Blake met a female entrepreneur that swept him off his feet. To paraphrase Marlon Brando, she made Blake a business offer that he could not refuse. Unfortunately I didn’t seem to fit into the happy couple’s business plans. Blake tossed me out like last week’s garbage.”
“You sound very angry. Are you planning to get Blake back for this travesty of justice?” Mike said.
“You bet I am and that’s where I need your help,” Jack said.
“Oh, where’s my sense of hospitality? Would you like a cup of coffee, Jack?”
“Yeah, I’ll have a coffee once you get your percolator all fired up.”
Mike got up and slowly and carefully manoeuvred his way off the couch to make the coffee in his small kitchen. Getting off the couch was an ordeal for him. There were so many dirty cups, plates, dishes and bowls that Mike had to move a lot of cookware out of his way in order to find the coffee percolator. He’d worry about finding a clean coffee cup after the coffee was brewed.
After he finished setting up the coffee maker Mike returned to the couch. It looked like the couch had swallowed the big man so far inside it so that he was now a part of it.
“Okay coffee’s on. Now how can I help you get revenge on Blake?” Mike asked, his ponderous weight sucking him into the ragged, old sofa like a black hole.
“Mike, do you remember that model of Ogopogo that you made in grade eleven, for the science fair?”
“Of course I do. I put a damn lot of work into that thing. At that time in my life I was fascinated by lake monsters. I took great pride in carving my model out of wood and then painting it.”
“Do you still have it?” Jack asked.
“You bet,” Mike replied. “It still has a place of honor on top of my bedroom dresser. I even dust it off once in a while,” laughed Mike.
“Can I see it?” Jack asked.
“Sure I’ll go get my little treasure from my bedroom.”
It didn’t take Mike long to retrieve the model and bring it into his living room. It was not hard to see that Mike had put a lot of hard work into his science project. Mike’s eyes sparkled as he held it. Ogopogo was carved to a very precise scale and its body was a blend of the colors gray, green and brown. The replica had two flippers and some glued on paint brush hairs that were painted emerald green and formed the mane on the back of Ogopogo’s head.
“Wow! That is a beauty! Can I handle it up and study it for a minute? I see now why it won first prize at the science fair,” Jack said. Mike slowly passed it to him and Jack held it carefully in his hands.
“Is there any way that you could build a large replica of this model, say fifteen to twenty feet long?” Jack asked.
“I could if I had the supplies,” Mike replied.
“What if I offered to pay for all the materials you would need plus pay you generously for your labor?” Jack asked.
“As long as you pay me better than my computer repair customers do,” Mike laughed.
“Say I do agree to build you a life size replica of Ogopogo. What would you do with it? You know. I think our coffee should be ready by now. I’ll go get it.”
Jack watched Mike try to extract himself from his couch. It was too painful for Jack to watch. Weighing in at over three hundred pounds Mike had to position himself so that he could use his hands to grab onto the coffee table in order to gain some leverage.
Jack couldn’t stand watching Mike struggle a second longer.
“Don’t try to get up, Mike. I’ll get the coffee for us.”
As Jack gave Mike his coffee he began answering Mike’s question.
“There’s a couple of ways we could go with this, once your life sized model of Ogopogo is completed.
I also have a plan in mind. I will hire somebody to phone Blake and tell him to immediately get to a certain location on the lake. The caller will state that he has been watching the lake demon for about ten minutes now. Blake won’t waste any time getting his boat and crew out to the specified location. Meanwhile, I will have hired a couple of divers to manoeuvre your model beneath the surface. Blake will be sure to take a ton of pictures that he will send to the Kelowna Daily Courier. I have no doubt that Blake and his crew will even try to capture the phony lake monster, but I will tell my divers to submerge the model and get it out of Blake’s sight.
If Blake’s crew does manage to capture the artificial Ogopogo I will have my own video crew nearby to film the look of shock on Blake’s face when he discovers that the Ogopogo he caught is a carved, wooden model. I will then send this video to Bobby O’Connor at the Kelowna Daily Courier. This time Blake will look like a gullible fool.”
“You sure want to get revenge on Blake Riley, don’t you Jack?” Mike said, with a chuckle.
“With every fibre in my being,” Jack replied.
Episode 24 of Infinite Realities
Rick just sat on his sofa and stared at a picture on his living room wall. It was a picture of a beautiful female with orange hair. Rick would guess the girl’s age as being about sixteen. He had found it at a flea market several years ago. Rick had often had fantasies about the picture becoming real. These daydreams usually occurred when he was having a particularly bad day and wished that he was totally removed from his present life.
Rich had placed his tablet on his glass coffee table. Suddenly his reverie was broken when he heard Darren’s voice coming from the tablet.
You like her. Don’t you Rick? Would you like to meet her?
“What do you mean meet her? She’s just a picture drawn and painted by a talented artist,” Rick answered. He shook his head at the absurdity of the notion.
Darren’s image appeared on the touch screen of Rick’s tablet.
In your present dimension of reality you are right, but remember Rick, you are no longer compelled to remain in your present dimension of time and space. You still have your tablet. So it’s your decision. Do you want company this morning or not? Just pick up the tablet and put a check mark in the box where it says ‘Yes’.
Rick was still very angry about being removed from his wonderful fantasy where he was the lead vocalist and organist with The Pirates.
Rick texted Darren back;
Look buddy. Maybe later. Not right now. I have a few errands to run on this plane of existence. I’ll text you back when I’m ready for more Twilight Zone adventures.
Rick lived on the third floor of his apartment block. His health had deteriorated significantly over the last seven years. Due to his obesity, fibromyalgia and mild case of COPD, he now found it challenging to climb up the three flights of stairs to his apartment. Fortunately, going down the stairs was much easier for him.
Of all his numerous medical disabilities, the fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome bothered him the most. Only by taking prescribed stimulants and narcotic painkillers could Rick live a somewhat functional life. What he really hated was hurting all the time and having to carefully manage his daily activities to prevent total exhaustion from setting in.
Episode Thirteen of Infinite Realities:
Rick had certainly enjoyed the new adventures that he was having with his new tablet, but it was time that he got back to the real world or his life as he used to know it. He poured himself a cup of Folger’s coffee topped up with his favourite brand and flavor of coffee creamer. Rick added a generous amount of International Delight Southern Pecan along with two Sugar Twin packets to his coffee. He liked his coffee sweet and chuckled to himself. That’s part of the reason you are so big Rick. You can never stick to a diet. You like your creature comforts too much.
Rick picked up his tablet and to his delight found that all his favorite Kindle book downloads were on his new tablet. At present Rick could choose among about fifty different titles. He scrolled down his collection to see what he would like to read now. The Devil’s Knot by Mara Leveritt caught his attention. This book is a true crime story about three young men who were found guilty of murdering three little boys. The accused were believed to belong to some kind of satanic cult. Rick had just started reading the first chapter of the book. Only a few books could entirely grab Rick’s attention but this was one of them. Just as he found the page that he had last read his phone began to ring. Rick put his tablet down and said, “Damn. What now? It should be illegal to disturb someone while they are reading.”
Rick reluctantly picked up the phone.
“Is this Rick Chandler?” asked the caller.
“Yes, speaking.” Rick was now trying to hide his annoyance about being taken away from the book that he was reading.
“Hi Rick. This is Michael Reeves. I’m an industrial psychologist and your insurance provider, Canada Life, assigned you to my case load. Are you free to see me this morning?”
“Yes, I’m free. Where do you want to meet?”
“I could come to your place. What time would be good for you?”
“You can come right now if you’re in the area.”
“That sounds great. I should be at your place in about twenty minutes.”
“I’ll be waiting for you. I’ll have a fresh pot of coffee waiting for you.”
Episode Twelve of Infinite Realities:
In his daydream Rick would become Dick Thornton the Blue Bombers punter and back -up quarterback. As soon as coach Bud Grant gave him the signal Dick put on his helmet and ran onto the field to form a huddle with his teammates. The Bombers were on the Hamilton Tiger Cats forty yard line. This was going to be the last play of the game. Dick’s team needed a touchdown to win the game. If they didn’t score six points or more they would lose the game and be eliminated from next week’s Western Conference playoff game against The Edmonton Eskimos.
In the huddle Dick Thornton called for a Hail Mary pass to any eligible receivers. As he broke up the huddle and took his position directly behind the center the rookie quarterback felt both fear and excitement. If his play succeeded, Dick would be the star of the game. If his play failed he would have let down the noisy home field crowd.
Dick dropped back to the slot. He deftly evaded two of Hamilton’s linebackers who broke into the backfield. Out of the corner of his eye Dick could see a receiver a few feet over the goal line that was a few steps ahead of the defensive back covering him. Dick threw a long accurate spiral that was easily caught by the open receiver. The crowd erupted in joy and Dick was mobbed by not only his own team but also by Bomber fans that had run onto the field. Rick was startled out of his delightful reverie to see his tablet flash a brilliant gold color and to hear the voice from the tablet talking to him.
Do you remember how easy that was when you were a kid, Rick? Do you remember how good you felt at that time? For a few moments you were no longer the fattest kid in your class who was regularly humiliated by the other students and teachers. You were now Dick Thornton, the unlikely hero of a crucial football game. Didn’t the applause feel better than the shame?
Now you have that same kind of power to change unpleasant experiences and circumstances into how you would like them to be. You are holding that power in your hands. It resides within this marvelous tablet. The emotions you feel will be the same. Your subconscious mind does not know the difference. You have the same imagination now as you did as a young child. I take that back. You now have a much more developed imagination than you did as a kid. Press on another application and see what happens.