Keith and Brenda watched as the police car drove away with Tamara. As soon as the car turned a corner and was out of sight, Brenda sighed and looked desperately up at Keith.
“Keith, I need a hug,” Brenda said, as tears starting to run down her face. He hugged her and the two neighbors stayed in a tight embrace for over a minute.
When Brenda finally let go of Keith she asked, “Keith, can you come over to my house for coffee and maybe some pie or cookies?”
“I’m not working this afternoon. I’d be glad to come over. I think you need someone to talk to, my dear lady,” he answered.
“You couldn’t be more right about that,” Brenda said while letting out a huge sigh of relief.
Brenda owned a beautiful house in the Norwood Flats area of Winnipeg. She was now the sole owner of Brenda’s Cleaning Service. She had contracts with many major business offices in the city as well as having a solid base of residential clients. Brenda ran a successful janitorial service business that was known for its efficiency, reliability and charging reasonable and affordable prices for services rendered.
Before she set up her own janitorial company, Brenda had been a very successful and respected grade six teacher up until her last teaching assignment. During this time, Brenda was hit with a bombardment of both personal and professional crises. Her father had recently passed away after a long battle with prostate cancer and shortly after, the brother that Brenda felt the closest to was killed in a car accident by an impaired driver. That year the school that she worked at underwent a change of administration. Brenda now had to adjust to two administrators who had both decided that Brenda’s performance as a teacher was now below the minimum standards.
This series of crises, all coming together around the same time period, eventually pushed Brenda over the edge.
Things came to head on the day that one of Brenda’s colleagues found her in the staff shower room trying to hang yourself. A one -month compulsory hospitalization in a psychiatric ward, followed by two years of staying at home collecting long-term disability benefits effectively ended Brenda Cameo’s teaching career.
Living with Depression by Ken David Stewart
I have had to live with major depressive disorder for most of my adult life. I would estimate that this disease has consumed about forty percent of my productive years.
A few of the symptoms of depression are much more disabling than others. One of the most frustrating symptoms in my life is the severe and chronic fatigue that is commonly found in persons with this disorder. The chronic fatigue may be significantly prevalent for weeks and even months. Sometimes, I find that the fatigue and heaviness appears to go into remission for part of the year.
Why this happens, I am not sure. I am just extremely grateful to get these short seasons of relief. I tend to perk up a bit when the summer season comes along. This could indicate that I also have seasonal affective disorder.
The chronic fatigue that often accompanies depression may cause financial distress. Unless you have good group insurance benefits at work, you may find that your household income can be significantly depleted for parts of the year. When this occurs, worry and fear will usually appear.
I should state at this point that all chronic fatigue may not be attributable to the disease of depression. I have often found that a severe lack of energy may ensue after I have a serious viral or bacterial infection. When my cold and flu symptoms dissipate I have often found that my debilitating fatigue will continue for weeks or even months after. It is quite likely that I suffer from another illness known as CFS or chronic fatigue syndrome.
Keith took hold of his Roku remote and found the Creflo Dollar channel on his tv. He had just decided to call a halt to his substitute teaching assignments for the rest of this year. Keith was exhausted and he really hadn’t been feeling well since January of 2017. His doctors could not properly say what ailed him so Keith had to come up with a diagnosis of his own. Left to his own devices, after days and hours of personal research team Keith concluded that he was suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Both of these medical conditions caused Keith to lack any significant and sustained energy to get done what he both needed and wanted to do.
He wanted to continue with his substitute teaching gigs, but lately he had found his assignments to be extremely exhausting to the degree that he was unable to do much but lie on the couch when he got home from work. Keith had managed to struggle through the majority of this year by relying upon sheer willpower, a doctor prescribed stimulant and a concoction of natural supplements. For a while his self designed treatment protocol appeared to be working. For about one month he felt relatively healthy and could occasionally string together two or three days in which he cold actually engage in some of his extracurricular hobbies after working all day.
Unfortunately, he had neither discovered the secret to sustained energy nor the fountain of youth. He woke up one morning to find that this get up and go had got up and gone. He found this realization to be very troubling and depressing.
Keith sure didn’t need any more things to make him feel depressed. He suffered from what is clinically termed double depression for pretty much all of his adult life. Double depression means that one is mildly depressed most of the time, but will occasionally succumb to severe episodes of major depression.
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.
Bill walked over to the coffee table and picked up the tablet. As he examined it he knew that this electronic device was very new and advanced technology and could not as yet be purchased at your local Best Buy or Future Shop. He could not recognize any of the apps or icons on the tablet. Bill wondered how the disheveled old man he saw in the hall acquired such a sophisticated piece of technology. Was he the inventor? And why would he give it to Bill, a total stranger?
Bill decided that he didn’t need to know the answers to these questions right now. He needed to see how the tablet worked and what it could do. It didn’t come with an owner’s manual so Bill would have to figure things out by randomly touching the icons on the screen.
Bill looked forward to the challenge. He didn’t consider himself to be a geek, but he was very interested in technology. Bill owned an HP desktop PC, a Dell laptop, a PS4, a smart phone and a Samsung Galaxy tablet. When he wasn’t working or spending time with Blake, Bill was usually engaged with one of his electronic toys.
Bill Hainsey was forty-four years old. He was five feet ten inches tall and weighed approximately two hundred ten pounds. He was in the best shape of his life due to his extreme dedication to his self- created physical training program. He did resistance training and worked a different body part every day. Bill took every Sunday off to rest. This was also his cheat day in which he would eat anything he wanted. He usually treated himself to a hamburger or a pizza. During the rest of the week he ate only healthy foods. During the rest of the week he ate only healthy foods. This was known as ‘eating clean’. Bill also loved riding his Giant mountain bike through a local park. It usually took forty-five minutes for Bill to complete his route.
Bill was on long term disability. His wife Janine had dumped him about the same time that Bill encountered the most difficult class of his twenty-year teaching career. Like a perfect storm of stress, Bill’s life and mental health began to fall apart. His principal was aware that Bill was struggling with his new class of grade eights called Bill into his office. Worried about Bill’s health he told him that he should definitely go on stress leave.
Al’s Dad told him that he could break his son in as a referee. After a few months of being a referee, Al felt that he had what it took to be a professional wrestler. Al learned the trade quickly. He had all the lumber to be a successful wrestler. He was a strong athlete and had good on camera skills. Al made it to being a mid-card wrestler and was employed in this capacity for about twenty years.
As he began to age Al found that wrestling life was taking a heavy toll on his health. By his fifteenth year in pro wrestling Al had broken nearly every bone in his body as well as enduring several concussions.
Early on, in order to cope with his physical pain Al turned to drugs both legal and illegal. For the pain of his physical injuries he took Tylenol three with codeine and later graduated to Percocet. The other wrestlers told Al that there were doctors in every city who were very willing to prescribe all kinds of drugs for them including steroids.
The fact was that most wrestlers used drugs. The painkillers became an absolute necessity. Even if the wrestler played it right and did not intentionally try to injure his opponent, professional wrestling was painful by its very nature. It’s true that wrestlers learn all the tricks to avoid serious injury, but accidents still happen. Every wrestler is going to have an off night once in a while. Also, the ring mat itself is hard very unforgiving. Within his six months of being a professional wrestler, Al was already a drug addict. His alcoholism manifested itself a couple of years later. In some ways the life or a professional wrestler is similar to that of a rock star. They both have sex and drugs in common. You could also throw in rock and roll as some wrestlers developed rock personas and each wrestler’s entrance music was almost always a rock and roll song.
Steroids entered the picture in Al’s fifth year as a pro wrestler.
Garry Phelge 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,” said Todd 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?” asked Garry
“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,” answered Todd.
“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.”