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.
“Yeah, I heard something about that,” Rick answered.
“Well, it’s true, but the story has been greatly exaggerated. I spent about two weeks in a psychiatric rehabilitation facility in San Francisco. I was there basically for observation so that the doctors could make a diagnosis,” Misty explained.
“So, what did the doctors come up with?” Rick asked.
“At that time they told me it was manic depression. My psychiatrist in Winnipeg changed the diagnosis to schizo-affective disorder.”
“Yeah, I remember you telling me about that. Do you need to take medication?’
“Yes, lithium. For a long time, I wasn’t really taking it. I just lied to my doctor and my parents telling them that I was taking the lithium regularly. I got busted when they eventually took a blood test. The test showed that there was no trace of lithium in my body.”
“Why didn’t you take your medication?”
“Because it made me feel worse. To be more precise I didn’t feel any emotions at all when I first started taking it. Plus it was making me gain weight.”
“So, do you take lithium now?” Rick asked.
“No. My new psychiatrist in Winnipeg put me on chlorpromazine after he changed my diagnosis to what he called schizo-affective disorder. He said that I had significant symptoms of both manic depression and schizophrenia, so he couldn’t make a conclusive diagnosis for either illness,” Misty answered.
The restaurant was starting to get very smoky. Most of the restaurant’s patrons were puffing hard on their cigarettes while they sucked back the strong Salisbury House coffee. The smoke in the air was starting to make Rick’s eyes water.”
“Let’s go back to Memorial Park. It’s getting too smoky in here for me,” Rick said.
Rick and Misty started walking back across the Osborne bridge. Misty thought she saw the shadowing figure of a man trying to climb up on the railings of the bridge.
Rick said, “It looks like that guy is going to try to jump over the bridge.”
Both Rick and Misty started yelling, “ Hey man, stop! What are you trying to do?”
Garry Hardy invited Stephanie Richards over to secluded wooden bench just in front of a large oak tree. The demonstration had pretty much fizzled out by this time. The prospective hunters appear to have heard the sheriff’s zero tolerance message loud and clear. There wouldn’t be any danger done to Ogopogo on Sheriff George Anderson’s watch.
As they watched the last group of people get into their vehicles and leave the town commons, Garry and Stephanie started up a conversation. Stephanie was the first to ask a question.
“So, where are you from Garry?
“Originally I’m from Winnipeg. I was coming to Kelowna to visit my aunt and uncle, but my plans kind of fell through,” Garry answered.
“How did your plans fall through?” Stephanie asked.
“It’s kind of complicated,” Garry said.
“I don’t know if I should get into that with you. If I tell you the truth it could make you afraid of me or at least you’ll think I’m pretty weird and that you probably shouldn’t be hanging out with me.”
“What are you trying to tell me? That you killed or injured someone or that you just got out of jail?” asked Stephanie.
“It’s not that bad.” Garry replied.
Stephanie turned around and looked Garry straight in the eye. “Look Garry Hardy. I’m a very strong person and I’ve also had some issues in my life. You can trust me. I’m very good at keeping confidences,”
As Garry began to talk, Stephanie gently put her left hand on Garry’s arm.
“This is not going to be easy for me to tell you, Steph. Do you mind if I call you Steph?” asked Garry.
Stephanie laughed. “All of my family and all my friends call me Steph, so I don’t see why you shouldn’t. Besides I have the feeling that we are going to be very good friends. I feel very comfortable being with you already.”
“Okay. Here goes.” Garry’s voice was already starting to crack. I have schizophrenia and at times it gets me into a lot of trouble. That’s why I didn’t get to visit my aunt and uncle. Do you know what a psychotic break is?”
“Yes, only too well. I had one myself a little over a year ago,” Stephanie replied.
“You’re kidding! What happened?” Garry asked.
“I haven’t been diagnosed with schizophrenia like you. I have a different diagnosis. I have depression with psychotic features. This means that I occasionally have episodes of depression that are so severe that I lose touch with reality.”
“Wow! I think we are going to become very good friends,” Garry said.
“So. Tell me your story. What happened to derail your plans for visiting your aunt and uncle?” Stephanie asked.
“It all started in Winnipeg when I stopped taking my medications. I have always hated my medications and their side effects. The problem is, when I go off them for a few days, bad things happen. I see things that no one else sees, I hear sounds that nobody else does. I even smell things that no one else smells. When I go off my meds some people start looking to me like reptilian creatures including my parents. Only my father is still alive but when my mother was alive she, too, would look reptilian to me from time to time. I came to believe that my parents had the ability to change at will between their human and reptilian forms.”
“I have read quite a few books on schizophrenia and I remember reading that when a person has hallucinations and delusions they seem so real that they wonder why no one else can see them. They also can’t understand why no one else believes what they tell them,” Stephanie said.
“Exactly. That is absolutely true,” Garry said. “This is what all went down. I was staying at a psychiatric treatment facility in Winnipeg. I decided that it was time I got off my meds because I had no energy and no real motivation to even take a shower. So I started cheeking my meds for a few days.
My next move was to go AWOL. I had just received that month’s welfare cheque and I decided that I would take a Greyhound bus to Kelowna to visit my aunt and uncle. For some reason I thought that they would believe my story about my father being reptilian. When I got on the bus I started to see many of the passengers turn into their reptilian forms. I panicked and went up to the bus driver to let him know about the other passengers. The next thing I recalled was taking a severe beating by a big, burly man. I don’t remember too much after that until I found out I was in the Kelowna Mental Health Center.
“Wow! That was quite the ordeal. The next thing I want to know is if you are back on your meds now,” Stephanie said.
“Oh yes. I am. I’m feeling very stable right now. I think my new psychiatrist has me on the right meds and the correct dosage.”
“So why did you go AWOL from this treatment center?” Stephanie asked.
“Oh, I’m not AWOL. I got an extended pass to be out for two weeks. My rehabilitation counsellor phones me every two days to make sure that I’m alright. So far, so good.”
“You were telling me about a man named Winston and an expedition that you had joined,” Stephanie said.
“Winston Stanfield is my friend Wally’s grandfather. I met Wally at the mental health center and I got very interested in his stories about his grandfather. When Wally got permission for a weekend pass to visit his grandfather I asked if I could come along. Wally thought it was a great idea and I also got permission to go. Winston has been taking us out on his cabin cruiser to search for Ogopogo. I’ll tell you what. If you’re not busy now we can walk over to Winston’s place right now,” Garry said.
After Smackdown ended Winston made some more popcorn and offered the boys some more pop and popcorn. The conversation switched to the topic of mental health and life in psychiatric treatment facilities.
“The whole mental health system in North America is a disaster. The present system simply does not work. The only people it benefits are those who have important sounding job titles working in government bureaucracies,” Winston stated, pounding his fist on the coffee table. “From what I’ve heard, though, the Kelowna Mental Health Center is one of the better run mental health facilities in Canada.”
“That’s true,” Wally said.
“The front line rehabilitation staff is really cool and they know what they’re doing.”
“I have to agree with Wally,” Garry added. Our rehab workers, Todd and Shelly really seem to care about us and our psychiatrist, Dr. Weisenthall is also very good.”
“Well then, you guys are in the fortunate group of mental health consumers that are getting adequate treatment for their mental health issues. Many people with mental disorders, especially those with schizophrenia, simply fall through the cracks of the mental health system. A lot of them either end up homeless, in prison or are forced into living in filthy, cockroach and rat infested hotel rooms or old broken down rooming houses.”
“Nobody cares. That’s the whole problem,” Wally said.
“You’re right, Wally, but there are a minority of people who do care, but these are usually the underpaid and underappreciated front line workers.”
“Do you think that this situation will ever change?” Garry asked Winston.
“No, there are too many institutions, corporations and individuals who are benefiting financially from the way the system operates now.”
“This conversation is getting really depressing,” Wally said. “I’m getting really tired. Why don’t we call it a night?”
Winston said, “You’re right.
Let’s all get a little shut eye.
We’ve got lot of things to do tomorrow.”
Wally found two air mattresses and inflated them properly with a hand pump. The two young men were both very tired and fell asleep quickly.
In the morning the boys awoke to the enticing aroma of the bacon and eggs that Winston was cooking for them.
After consuming a hearty and delicious breakfast and a pot of coffee, Winston suggested that it was time to go for a boat ride.
“I was going to take you guys for a ride in my speedboat but on further consideration I decided we’d go for a ride on my big cabin cruiser. I’ve got a lot of brand new, cutting edge technology on the big boat that I’d like to show you guys.
Winston Standfield arrived at The Kelowna Mental Health Center promptly at 7:00 PM on Friday evening. Wally and Garry were waiting eagerly for him and ran out to meet Winston who was inside his 1994 white Ford Tempo. Winston had bought the Ford Tempo at a rather shady looking used car lot two years ago. He managed to buy the car for two thousand dollars. Winston had always liked old Fords but had no idea why. It certainly wasn’t because of their reliability.
He also owned his beloved white 1997 Ford Taurus. This car was constantly in need of repairs but Winston knew had to do most minor repairs himself. He would go to Canadian Tire and pick up the year and model for the car’s repair manual and would figure out the rest from there. Winston opened the back passenger door for the two young men.
“Hi Grandpa this is my friend, Garry Hardy.” “Pleased to meet you Garry.
Are you related to Lionel Hardy, the professor of marine biology?” Winston asked.
“Yes, he’s my father,” Garry answered.
“What a small world. Lionel and I go back a long ways. We’ve known each other since our university days. We’ve kind of lost contact the last few years, but I would certainly like to meet the old boy again. We have a lot of catching up to do.” “How’s your dad doing these days?” Winston inquired.
“I really can’t say,” Garry said. “My dad and I really haven’t been in touch for about two years now. Around this time I foolishly stopped taking my meds and caused my family a great deal of embarrassment in the neighborhood where they live. Since that time my mother has passed away and my father doesn’t want me staying with the family anymore.”
“I’m sorry to hear that son. I also knew your mother. She was an esteemed scholar of English literature.”
“Yes, both my parents were very educated people. I, unfortunately, could not carry on the family tradition when I became ill with my first episode of psychosis.”
“I know something about that illness with Wally being my grandson.”
“Gramps also knows a lot about schizophrenia as he has researched the disease extensively,” Wally interjected.
After about a thirty minute drive Winston Stanfield pulled up his white Ford Tempo in front of his lake side cottage. “Here we are boys, I have a feeling that we’re going to have a lot of fun this weekend. I’ve got plenty of wrestling videos, video games and a great collection of dvds that aren’t about wrestling. We’ll also have some great conversations and I’ll even take you guys out for a ride on my speed boat tomorrow. Does that sound like a plan?”
“It sure does,” Wally said.
“From what Wally’s told me about you, you sound like a pretty cool guy,” Garry said.
“That’s true. I am, come to think of it,” Winston said with a chuckle. “I’m what people call, young at heart and a free spirit. The way I look at it, life should be fun, at least most of the time.”
Winston Standfield was a tall thin man in his early sixties. His hair was snow white, long and tied back in a ponytail. Winston wore a unique pair of glasses with white/silver frames. He was wearing a gray tee shirt that appeared to have some kind of food stain on it. Winston liked to wear old, well- worn Wrangler jeans. He was fortunate to have lost all the extra weight that he carried when he had been a pro wrestler. It was also to his credit that he had stopped using anabolic steroids. By the time Winston had left professional wrestling two wrestlers he had once battled died early deaths related to their use of performing enhancing drugs.
Wally and Garry both carried in their suitcases that were packed with some clothes and toiletries for their weekend stay. “Can I get you guys any coffee or pop?” Winston asked.
“I’d wouldn’t mind a coffee,” Wally said. “What would you like Garry?”
“A coffee would suit me too,” Garry said.
There wasn’t going to be too much room for the boy’s refreshments on Winston’s coffee table. The long wooden table was covered with magazines like WWE Wrestling, The Marine Biologist, National Geographic, Guitar World and Rolling Stone. There were also recent issues of Men’s Health to be found somewhere in the mix. Winston also appeared to be reading at least three novels at the same time. The sofa that they were sitting on was well worn and was usually occupied by Winston’s two dogs who were both lying on the orange carpet by the boys’ feet. They both appeared to be very friendly dogs who were busy sniffing both Wally and Garry’s runners and blue jeans.
In a few minutes Winston Stanfield returned with the boys’ coffees.
“I hope you guys like Tim Horton’s coffee with some International Delight creamer,” Winston said.
Garry was the first one to take a sip of his coffee. “Wow, this is delicious, sir. It’s much better than the coffee they give us at the mental health center.” “What you get there is good old stock institutional coffee. I know. I have some acquaintance with mental health facilities myself. Oh, by the way Garry. You don’t have to call me, ‘sir’. It makes me feel old and much more mature than I actually am. You can call me Winston or just, ‘man’, as far as that goes. We’re pretty informal at my place,” Winston said.
“I kind of invited myself over to your house,” Garry said “When Wally told me about your encounter with Ogopogo I wanted to meet you. He also told me that you’re a very cool guy.”
“Well, I do, indeed have an Ogopogo story to tell. The actual encounter with the animal was more, Cody’s, my assistant. He was diving in the lake after I got a digital image of a large object on my radar. The young man got quite a scare down there. He told me that he got a pretty good look at Ogopogo from a distance that was a little too close for his liking.
Cody told me that he would never go diving in Lake Okanagan again.”
“Wow, Cody’s lucky. He’s probably one of the few people in the world that had a close up look at Ogopogo,” Garry said.
Winston chuckled at this. “Oh, I don’t think Cody considered himself to be that lucky. It was more like he was scared out of his wits. There’s likely a lot more people than we can imagine that have seen the lake monster. They don’t report their sightings because they don’t want to be laughed at.”
“Like what happened to you,” Wally said. “You actually lost your job over it.”
“Oh, it wasn’t the only reason they got rid of me, but I don’t want to talk about it right now. Let’s watch some wrestling. It’s just about time for Friday Night Smackdown.”
“Wally, is there any chance that I could meet your Grandpa, Winston Stanfield, in person?” Garry Hardy asked.
“Well, you’ve bummed me a lot of Marlboroughs. I think that I could try to set something up for you,” Wally answered as was buttoning the top button on his blue lumberjack jacket. It was a little chillier than usual out in the courtyard this morning.
“I was hoping you would say that. Here’s another Marlborough as a sign of good faith,” Garry said. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll be seeing Gramps this evening. I’ve got a weekend pass to stay with him until Sunday evening. I could give Gramps a call right after our smoke and ask if he wouldn’t mind if I brought a friend along this evening. By the way, do you like watching pro wrestling, Garry?”
“Are you kidding? I used to watch Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown all the time. Most of the time I could even get my parents to order the pay per view events for me.”
“That’s great. There’s only two kinds of people in this world as Gramps always says. Those who love wrestling and those that hate it. Why I asked is because old Winston and I have marathon sessions watching both current and classic wrestling videos from the seventies, eighties and nineties.” Wally said.
“There’s only one thing you need to do before we can make this gig happen. You need to get permission for a weekend pass from the staff,”
“Who can I ask?”
“Either Todd or Shelly,” Wally answered. “They just need to get the okay from Dr. Weisenthal. They may tell you to give them more lead time in the future but they can probably make this happen for you.”
Garry Hardy was very happy to find out from Todd Finlay that he was approved for a weekend pass to accompany Wally Stanfield on his visit to his grandfather’s place.
“You’re set to go,” Todd said as he dropped by Garry’s room while doing his rounds.”Dr. Weisenthall told me that you’re doing really well and should be ready for some approved day and weekend passes. I agree with him. I’ve seen a lot of growth in you over the last month.”
“Thanks Todd. I really like it here especially your classes.”
Todd laughed, “I’m glad that you approve of my teaching. I wish you worked in administration. Some of the administrators find my teaching to be a little over the top. So all you need to do now is get packed for the weekend.”
“Do you like pro wrestling Todd?” Garry asked.
“I love it. I used to be on the amateur wrestling team when I was attending at university.”
“Who’s your favorite all time professional wrestler?”
“That’s easy; Mick Foley. He had three different personas and would attempt stunts that no wrestler in his right mind would dream of trying,”
“Of all Mick’s personas who was your favorite?”
“I would rank Dude Love third, Cactus Jack second and Mankind first,” Todd answered.
“Did you know that Mick Foley is now a professional writer?”
“I sure do. In fact, I own and have read all his books including his books about his wrestling career, his two novels, Scooter and Tietam Brown and his children’s books.”
That’s why I like talking to you Todd. You and I share so many of the same interests.”
Wally took a long deep drag off his cigarette and turned toward Garry. “Okay, I can see that you obviously took a royal shit kicking. That explains why you’re in the hospital but it doesn’t explain why you’re in the psych ward.”
Garry stared at the ground and focused on the yellow and orange leaves on the ground. ”Well, obviously they think I’m crazy.”
“So what would give them that idea?” Wally asked.
“The doctors and nurses didn’t believe me when I told them what I saw on the bus.”
“So, what did you see?”
“I saw several people on the bus that had reptilian features.”
“You mean like snakes and alligators?”
“No, their heads were shaped more like flesh eating dinosaurs like T-Rex and Allosaurus.”
“I think I watched a documentary about people who could change their appearances back and forth from people to dinosaurs.”
“I saw that show too. What they were saying was true, Wally.”
“Have you ever seen these reptilian creatures before the bus ride?
“I see them practically everywhere I go. Even at home. My parents both have this power to change their appearance from human to reptilian. At least my dad does. My mother passed away about a year ago.”
“Sorry about your mother. Wow. That’s a far out story man. No wonder the doctors and nurses didn’t believe you
“So that’s my story? What’s yours?”
“Wally took a deep drag from his cigarette. “I tried to run away from the last group home I was at.”
“So why did you leave?” Garry asked as he ground his finished cigarette into the ground with his boot.
Wally laughed. “It would take about an hour and three or four more cigarettes to tell you.”
“That bad, eh?”
‘Worse, they run the place like a jail. It’s all about rules, regulation and control of the unit. In short, all the things I hate. I value my personal freedom and privacy above everything else.”
“So how did you get to the hospital?”
“The police found me wandering the streets so they picked me up. I hadn’t taken my meds in a few days so I was starting to hallucinate a lot and was pretty disoriented,” Wally explained.
“When you were telling your story about your parents it reminded me that I have some weird relatives, too. Especially my grandfather.”
“What’s weird about your grandfather?” Garry asked. “Do you want another cigarette?”
“Well my grandfather has quite the story. It easily rivals yours about the reptilian creatures.”. “Now you got me hooked. What’s his story?”
“Where shall I start?’ Wally wondered out loud.
“Up until about two years ago my grandfather worked for the provincial government in B. C.
He was a scientific researcher for The Department of Fisheries. That was Grandpa’s official title anyway.”
“What was your Grandpa’s name? I might have heard of him. My father is a marine biology professor at UBC and he may have mentioned your grandpa’s name.” Garry said.
Grandpa’s name is Winston Stanfield. His parents named him after Winston Churchill. His full name was Winston Churchill Standfield. Most people who know him think that he’s crazy, or if they have a gentler nature, they would say that he is eccentric.
Personally, I think he is the coolest guy around. He definitely marches to his own drummer and refuses to be confined by anybody’s rules. He had a diverse, eclectic set of interests and past times. If he were born about a century earlier he would have been admired as a rugged individualist or perhaps, a Renaissance man. He is the last person that should have been working for the government.”
“Wow, your grandfather sounds like quite a fascinating individual,” Garry interjected.
“A character would probably be a better choice of words. Gramps is like a character in a novel. What can I say? He’s my hero. I haven’t told you yet that Gramps was a Vietnam Vet and both a wrestler and an independent wrestling promoter.
“Wow, you could write a book about this guy?” Garry said.
“Believe me. I plan to someday.”
“I want to hear more about your grandfather another time but I see that the nurse is signalling for us to come inside,” Garry said.
“Yeah, next time you want to go for a smoke come find me in my room, 109. I think that we will be having some interesting conversations,” Wally replied.
Garry walked back to his room glad that he had made a friend. He sat alone in his room for a few minutes pondering his conversation with Wally.