“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.”
After not eating in over thirty hours Garry was famished. He wolfed down his chili and fries like a man who had been on a shipwreck for several days.
After quickly demolishing his meal Garry felt like having a smoke. He walked down the hall to speak to the duty receptionist. Garry asked her if there was anywhere he could go to smoke a cigarette. The receptionist told Garry that there was a small outside courtyard that was all locked and gated on the outside fence. She said that the gate was kept locked in case anyone was thinking about leaving the hospital. Garry was given the directions to get to the courtyard.
As soon as he got there he opened the door that led to the courtyard. He reached in his jacket pocket for a pack of Marlborough cigarettes. His dad had been in the United States recently and had bought Garry a carton of red Marlborough cigarettes. Lionel had remembered that these were Garry’s favorite brand of American cigarettes. Garry pulled a cigarette out of his crumpled pack. He must have scrunched the pack up somehow when he was on the Greyhound bus. He lit the cigarette up using a lighter that had a picture of the late Marilyn Monroe on it.
Garry then heard a voice in the dimly lit courtyard. The voice was coming from a wooden bench. “Can I get a light off you man?” the Voice asked.
Garry turned towards his left the direction that he heard the voice come from. From a light streaming out from a window on the ward Garry could make out an old well used park bench. ”Mind if I join you?” Garry asked.
“Sure, this bench is a four seater for regular size people but only a two seater for extra-large guys. We have a couple of really big guys on the ward now. What’s your name, buddy?”
“Hi, I’m Wally Stanfield. So what brings you to our delightful facility?”
“Oh, I was just in the neighborhood and thought I’d check out the place,” Garry said removing a Marlborough from its pack. “Man I hate these soft packs. They get crushed so easily and the cigarettes break. Would you like one?”
“I’d love to have a Marlborough. I haven’t’ smoked one in years,” Wally said.
Wally Stanfield was also in his twenties. He had a stocky build, wore bifocal glasses and when he wore his baseball cap Wally bore a striking resemblance to Michael Moore the documentary film maker.
“Okay, now all joking aside what’s your real story? Don’t worry. I’ll tell you mine and I’m not easily shocked.”
Garry leaned over and lit Wally’s Marlborough with his Marilyn Monroe lighter. “I was on a Greyhound bus on my way to visit my aunt and uncle in Kelowna. Sometime during the ride I got the crap kicked out of me by one of the other passengers. I just remember a fat, red neck, neo-fascist bastard that must have punched me in the face about twenty times. For an encore he kicked me in the ribs with his steel toe construction boots. The next thing I was aware of was the police taking me to the hospital.”
Wally took a long deep drag off his cigarette and turned toward Garry. “Okay, I can see that you obviously took a 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-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. At least my dad does. My mother passed away about a year ago.”
“Sorry. 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?”
After about five minutes had passed Todd brought Garry a cup of coffee.
“I hope you like International Delight creamer and Sugar Twin in your coffee,” Todd said handing Garry the cup.
That’s exactly the way I like it,” Garry replied. “I’m hoping this coffee will help clear some of the cobwebs in my head.”
“That haldol is pretty strong stuff. They also gave you lorazepam. I checked your chart.”
“Well, I’ve never been a big fan of meds.”
“I can understand that. The side effects of some of these psychiatric meds can be pretty wicked.”
“The worst is Seroquel. The doctors prescribed that drug for me the last time I was in the hospital and they made me continue taking them at the rehab treatment facility.”
“Which rehab center were you staying at?”
“The House of Hope in Winnipeg.”
“How did you end up there?”
“Well, about a year and a half ago I apparently caused quite a commotion on my parent’s street. I don’t remember much about the incident. They told me that the cops picked me up and took me straight to emergency at the hospital.”
“That must have been scary,” Todd said.
“It was, but it wasn’t the first time that something like that happened to me.”
Just as Garry finished saying this an announcement came over the hospital intercom.
“Todd, Garry’s supper has arrived at the front desk,” the ward’s receptionist said.
“I’m on my way. I’ll just get your dinner and I’ll be right back,” Todd said.
Todd returned shortly with Garry’s meal. “I hope you like chili and fries. That is tonight’s dinner special. There’s also some apple pie for dessert.”
“That sounds great,” Garry said. “I’m starving. I must warn you though that the chili gives me lots of gas.”
Todd laughed. “Don’t worry we have a window in your room to open if the smell gets really bad.”
Garry was really starting to like this guy.
“I heard that you had a rough time on the Greyhound bus,” Todd said.
“That’s an understatement,” Garry replied. “The bus was infested with reptilian creatures.”
“What do these creatures look like?” Todd asked.
“They all come in different forms. Some have heads like snakes, some look like large lizards and some resemble dinosaurs like T-Rex.”
“That must have been scary, seeing all these weird creatures. Where do these beings come from?” Todd asked.
“I know that they are from some planet outside our galaxy but they won’t tell me the name or location of the planet.”
“You’ve actually spoken to them?” Todd asked.
“Once or twice but they usually don’t like communicating with humans especially those that can see that they are really reptilians.”
“When did you first hear about these reptilian creatures?”
“I first read about them on the internet. Then I discovered that my parents are both reptilians too.”
“How did you find that out?” Todd asked.
“After a while I would start seeing their reptilian features for brief moments. My senses became more acute to recognizing that my parents were able to move in and out of their reptilian appearance at will. If a person does not know their true identities they are not likely to ever see their reptilian presentations. Only a select few, like myself, are on to them.”
In two minutes Todd was back with Garry’s supper. As he passed Garry his supper tray Todd’s cell phone rang. When Todd answered the call the fourth floor receptionist told him that he was needed immediately in the emergency department.
“Sorry, buddy. There’s a patient in emergency who appears to be on a bad acid trip and needs someone to talk him down. That job always goes to me when I’m on duty. I’ll come back to talk to you when I get back. Enjoy your supper.”