Archive for February, 2007


He looked so small. Was he really that thin? With all the bruises on his face he looked entirely different. For Doris, that hit home with her unique and uncanny ability with faces. Even though John had only visited her twice, he had left an indelible impression.

A police officer entered John’s room and Doris stood to greet him.

“So you say he was mugged?” she asked.

“Yes Ma’am,” the investigating officer said.

“I see.”

“So you’re his next of kin?”

“No!” Doris said, a little more forcefully than intended.

“So who are you then?”

Doris just shook her head.

***

She sat with him every day, every night. Every spare moment she had, she spent it by his bedside. He was now breathing on his own but he still hadn’t regained consciousness. She had told Dr. Matheson about Stevie or what she knew of him, at least. He told her that they would deal with that later. “Let’s just see if he can open his eyes first,” he had said. “But it does explain the fact that there weren’t any defensive wounds found on him. That’s very strange for a case like this. He was either completely taken by surprise with no time to react or he didn’t even attempt to defend himself at all. My guess would be the latter based on the extent and type of his injuries.” Doris wept quietly when Dr. Matheson left the room.

Oh what to do with Johnny, she fretted. He couldn’t talk. He couldn’t tell her his story. Surely he had family somewhere, people who might be missing him? Strangely enough no one had filed a missing person report. She took to reading to him, anything to pass the time, any way to stimulate him into consciousness.

Fourteen days later, John woke up. Doris was at the hospital but had just left his room to get herself a fresh coffee and some air. When she returned, she was shocked to see him, wide awake and staring out the window. He tried to get up to greet her but was temporarily snared by his IV. Then he was gripped by his own weakness and flopped heavily back onto the hospitals pristine pillows.

“Hey Doris,” John spoke rather casually, “what are you doing here?” It seemed odd, she thought, that his first question would be regarding her presence in the hospital and not his own.

“Well kid, you gave us all a pretty good scare. Do you remember anything that happened to you right after you left the diner? You know, that time after you told me about Stevie?”

“You know about Stevie?” John asked incredulously? Obviously his memory was a little bit murky at best.

“I just said that you told me about him!”

“Oh, sorry…” John seemed to shrink backwards within himself.

“Hey, hey. Don’t do that. I’m not mad at ya. Just worried is all. Hang on, let me go get everybody; they’ll be so excited!” Perhaps almost as excited as Doris was.

Over the next few days, contact was made with John’s only living relative, Keith, who flew in from London as soon as he heard. He thanked Doris profusely for all she had done and the vigil she had kept at his bedside.

John ended up being let go from his job. Not for his failure to show up during his days in the hospital but for his entire career of tardiness in general. The mugging and John’s subsequent rehabilitation just gave the company a perfect opportunity to bid him adieu. Doris and John’s relationship was now cemented, however. She still visited him whenever she could, first in the clinic where he sent after release from the hospital and then in assisted housing where he was placed to live, as he could no longer fully support himself. Doris continued to read to him, only this time John actively participated and sometimes did some of the reading himself. With Doris’ help John managed to attain a suitable level of literacy and even picked up a part time volunteer job at a local community centre.

Doris continued working for the rest of her days at the diner. No one ever came in like that one customer, on another otherwise nondescript rainy fall day and that was just fine. In her eyes, no one could have ever replace her Johnny anyway.

And as for Stevie, he disappeared. John had several new doctors now and one of them had given him some medication to, as he said, “let Stevie be free.” It wasn’t that Stevie was bad and being punished, John was told, it was just time for him to go on his own. After all, John was now a man and Stevie was still a boy. It was just better that way. John was relieved but on some days he still missed Stevie. On those days, he would get out his watercolours and paint for hours…to remember all the things they liked to do and all they places they had visited during their time together.

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Whoosh…shuk…whoosh…shuk…

“I think we can take him off the ventilator now.”

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely. He’s breathing on his own…or at least he wants to.”

“Wants to?”

“Are you kidding me? This guy’s a fighter!”

“Well, he certainly came in looking like one.”

“Yeah, I know. How on earth he thought he could take on six guys, I have no idea! His tox screen was clear so I have no clue what was going through his mind.”

“The police questioned the other parties and they just kept saying something about him yelling for someone named Stevie?”

“Well, he’s got no ID. I don’t know but maybe ‘Stevie’s’ a relative?”

“Alright. Call that number, that place…it should be open by now.”

***

“Hello? Yeah, this is Doris… Who? I think you’ve got the wrong number…or at least the wrong Doris. Yeah? Uh-huh… Okay, okay let me see what I can do. I’ll be over as soon as I can.” Doris had no idea what was going on or why the hospital had called her. And a mugging? All they told her was that some John Doe had been found, barely alive, with her name and the name of the diner scrawled across a piece of paper in his pocket. She had no idea who it could have been but the nurse had been so insistent she felt she had to go. During all her years of service she rarely took time off so Lou was sure to oblige her on such short notice.

“Call Anne. I think she’s at home today,” Doris yelled as she flew out the diner’s front door, the cheerful clatter of its tiny bells lost in the sound of the city.

When she arrived at the ICU desk she asked for the nurse that had called her.

“I’m sorry Miss…Miss…I’m sorry, what is your last name?”

“Beckstein.”

“Yes, Miss Beckstein. We really had no other recourse. His wallet and ID were missing. If nothing more we thought you could at least provide us with identification.” Doris inhaled deeply, “Okay, if you say so.”

They walked down the hall and peered into the window of a private room that looked more like a laboratory than a hospital room. So much equipment! Doris had never seen anything like it?

“Well, here he is, Mr. John Doe.” Doris stiffened at the task proposed to her. Okay, I’m ready, she thought, half consumed with fear, half battling an intensely morbid curiosity. She entered the door and approached the man on the bed.

“Oh my god…Johnny..”

“So you know him.”

“Well, yeah but…”

“Alright, come with me.” They returned to the desk.

“I’ll need you to just fill out these forms…”

“What? Whoa, wait a minute…You said I just had to ID the guy.”

“Well, yes…and now we need you to fill out these forms.”

“Hey, I don’t know this guy. He just showed up at the diner a couple of times.”

“Oh. Okay, just a second. Let me speak with my supervisor.” As the nurse turned away,

Doris called, “Hey, does this guy have a doctor?” This was the real beginning of

Doris and John’s relationship.



Stevie wasn’t always so unwelcome. In fact, John kind of got used to him being around. John often had problems making friends. He had problems in school; he was different. Often found staring out the window or into a distant void–it seemed he was not often stimulated by his immediate environment. On the way home from school he would often become distracted. He loved climbing trees and would often be found in a nearby park well after dinner or bedtime in need of rescue. No, John wasn’t particularly good with keeping track of time. He was often late for everything.

Stevie kept him company when no one else was around, which was most of the time. John’s mother was a bit of an absent figure for him, working three jobs to keep her two sons clothed and fed. A myriad of babysitters were often present in the home. A frequent rotation of several different girls was often employed due to John’s demanding care requirements. Maybe that’s one reason why John rarely made it home on time. He never really cared for them. He only liked Keith, his older brother.

Keith was great and John idolized him. He wasn’t always around though, being seven years older and he always seemed busy. He was involved in so many clubs at school and when he wasn’t spending time with his friends there, he was playing lots of sports. Yes, Keith had lots of friends. John wasn’t jealous though. He had Stevie.

Stevie often came up with lots of games to play. Some of which resulted in John getting into trouble. Like the time when they painted pictures on his bedroom wall of all the things they liked to do together and all the places they wanted to visit. Or when they decided to play “buried treasure” with nearly all of John’s toys, digging up holes in the backyard, dropping the toys in and then creating a type of pirate’s map to recover them all. Yes, Stevie was a lot of fun.

Sometimes he had to disappear though. John would be fine for a while but would inevitably miss him. When it got really bad, Stevie would always return. Usually with another fun game in which they could indulge.

Now things were different. All throughout high school (or rather until John’s final year) they stayed almost completely intact. Right up until one game became a little too serious. Stevie had convinced John to steal a car. It was one of the new driver education cars parked at the school. John had seen all his peers learn how to drive and it was all they ever seemed to talk about. However, John’s challenges with school and learning automatically disqualified from the experience regardless of his ability.

These things disregarded, Stevie swore to John he could do it. And John wanted to do it. Badly.

The attempt did not go well. John managed to get the car started but in his excitement and confusion, he mistook the “R” for a “D” and sped directly into a rather large oak tree just in front of the parking lot. In a panic, he managed to shift the car into reverse but then, spun around and in further panic, shift back into forward gear and become airborne over a small embankment. When he came to, the police were there. No charges were laid but John was told, rather forcefully, that he would never be able to drive a car–ever.

Stevie got a little angry. In fact, it was the first time John and Stevie had ever had a fight. John tried to reason with him, tell him that it wasn’t such a big deal after all. Eventually Stevie acquiesced. After that, things didn’t seem quite the same between the two of them. The older John got, the more childish Stevie behaved. And for longer periods would he disappear. But when he returned, things weren’t always so pleasant for John.


The days ran into weeks and soon it was November. The city’s landscape was now a permanent grey. John’s world had not changed much. As he passed the neighbourhood park he saw some children playing with a kite. I wish I was a kite, he thought, only no string!

He’d been back to the diner several times but Doris never seemed to be there. He hoped she hadn’t quit. He liked her. She seemed smart but not mean like the other smart people he had met in his life. He rounded the same corner that he traveled almost every day to work only this time, he passed his workplace to go to the diner, in search of Doris, yet again.

It was a Saturday and the place was jam packed. However would he find a seat! John waited patiently for his favourite spot, the seat closest to the ordering station, the one closest to Doris.

Doris heard the faint tinkling of the diner’s doorbells over the din of the breakfast crowd. Immediately she recognized him. She never forgot a face. Years in the diner industry taught her to be good with faces. Not only did it mean better tips but it was also important in case any funny business happened. Several seats became available but John remained standing, nodding politely, albeit awkwardly, to anyone else who wished to skip ahead of him for their meal. Eventually, the mother and young daughter who were in John’s desired spot got up to leave.

“Well, look who’s back!” Doris beamed, “the fastest eater in the west. How are you?” John gave a stilted smile back. “Fine, thanks.”

“So, what would you like today? Even though it’s still breakfast time we still serve our lunch menu. Whatever you want, we got.”

“Do you have any eggs?”

“Do we have any eggs?” Doris’ throaty laugh filled the room. “Well, yeah. I think we could find some. What kind?”

“Scrambled,” John said decisively. He felt happy. Stevie had been good lately.

“So what’s your name, kid?” Doris had been feeling good lately too. Not for any particular reason, if only for the fact that work had been steady and tips had been good. And maybe for the fact that later tonight she was indulging herself in a bottle of wine, a warm blanket on the couch and all the Harrison Ford she could handle.

“John.”

“Well then Johnny, can I call you Johnny?”


“Sure, ” John shrugged. It reminded him of his brother. He used to call him that. He missed his brother. Why’d he have to move all the way up to Canada and then all the way to London? He said it was because of his job but John still worked in Brooklyn. Right around the corner from where they both grew up.


“Great. Pleased to meet you, Johnny.” Doris extended her hand. John took it slowly.


“Pleased to meet you…Doris,” he said, staring at the lily adorned plastic nametag she wore.

“So Johnny, tell me about yourself.” The breakfast rush was beginning to slow down.

“I work.”

“Oh yeah? Good for you! What do you do?”

“Shipping.”

“Oh yeah? Where do you that?”


“Just up the street.” John fell silent. Doris stared at him for a few seconds, laughed to herself and

shook her head. Turning to pick up her next order she refilled John’s coffee cup before heading to

the kitchen.

As soon as she returned, John’s face had shadowed. Just like that, she thought.

“Doris, has anyone ever talked to you and you didn’t want to listen?

Doris raised one eyebrow, “Kid, are you serious? That’s a good one. Yeah, sure. What are you gettin’ at?”

“Nothing,” John dismissed her.

“Hey, Johnny, are you okay? Someone giving you a hard time?

“Oh no!” Johnny said. “Stevie would never do that. He gets a little annoying sometimes, that’s all.”

“Who’s Stevie? Your little brother?”

John started laughing so hard he almost fell off his stool but then, magically straightened. “I never thought of it that way…” He was now staring off into the distance, a slight melancholy present in his eyes.

Doris was mesmerized by John. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Maybe it was his childlike manner despite his lanky, almost gawky frame. He couldn’t be much older than 25.

“So who’s Stevie?” It was almost like talking to a child!

“He’s the voice in my head.”

“Oooooh…”Doris nodded. Of course! This guy was a nutcase. But he seemed harmless enough. “So what’s he tell you?”

“All sorts of stuff. But he’s so young! He doesn’t know anything!” John retorted back in a surprisingly abrupt and loud tone.

Edit: Apologies for the formatting; Blogger’s being cranky.

Johnny and Doris – Part I


I wrote this very short story several years ago. Cleaned it up a bit for posting here. It’s a bit long for one installment so will be done in several. Thank you.

Leaving the building, he realized he had forgotten his umbrella. “Damn It! It sure looks like it’s going to pour.”

A diner was a block and a half away. As John entered trying to shake himself dry, his stomach growled. He glanced at the menus hoisted high above the long grills, deep-fryers and stainless steel counter space. Perhaps they had an all day breakfast or maybe just a coffee and a slice of pie. Sure, that was easy.

John waited patiently in line. When he arrived at the front, his eyes locked with those of a thin and weary woman, maybe 20 years his senior. Her name tag read: “Doris” and had white lilies patterned above the plastic pin that indicated her identity.

“What’ll it be?” she sighed.

“What kind of pie you got? Fresh.”

She threw him a long stare just to see if he was being sarcastic. Instead, she saw John’s rather focused expression, like he was awaiting news about the current rainstorm on the radio, hanging onto the forecast as if he had plans later that afternoon to go sailing of play baseball in the park.

“Apple and blueberry, if you want cherry, you come tomorrow.”

“Apple’ll be fine,” John nodded as he took a seat at the counter nearest to the ordering station, gingerly removing his soaking jacket to avoid dampening a nearby customer. Doris brought him his order and he ravenously dug in to the pie like he hadn’t eaten in days. Then he slurped back his coffee and wiped his mouth along his shirtsleeve.

“That was impressive,” Doris smirked. John returned her cheerful advance with only a blank stare. Doris straightened in demeanor. This guy was kind of strange. She had never seen him in the place before. They kept a pretty regular clientele. In this part of Brooklyn there were lots of places to choose from so Doris liked to think of all her regulars as family. Not that she wouldn’t treat any newcomer like this guy any differently, it was just harder to joke around and gauge their reactions and this one was a prime example. “Can I get you anything else?” she inquired politely. John shook his head.

“How much?”

“Two eighty-five.”

With that, John threw a crumpled two dollar bill and a handful of change on the counter and left. It had stopped raining and he could now walk safely home without his forgotten umbrella.



I’m a big gadget fan.

Yes, even if they sometimes mystify me.

Alright, I’ll try and stop and get off the Apple Train but I am consumed. My little poll isn’t helping me. It’s current results are sitting at an even 50/50. I think part of the problem is that I’m not used to spending large quantities of money on myself. I’ve never really had any money so I have always lived a rather frugal existence (barring hypomanic spending sprees that have resulted in ridiculous amounts of debt–and regret–later.)

I have a terribly impulsive habit of buying things and then letting them sit to gather dust. Will this new “toy” encourage me to pursue more creative outlets of days long past? Can I make it into a useful tool?

There are (and have been of late) rumblings and eruptions in the workplace. I am trying not to think of losing my job. I’m not leaping over the edge into catastrophic thinking but surely you live in a bubble if you think that your job is safe at all in today’s world. My MacBook would surely help me if I needed to go back to school and (eek!) think of pursuing a career in Nursing again. Or something else. Or it could perhaps just amuse me as I lay in bed completely depressed that I had lost my job. Or it would again gather dust because I would be so distraught I would not be able to move.

Anyway, enough of that talk! I am reasonably sure that my job is safe…for now at least.

I emailed a friend of mine, my “Mac Guru” for his advice. I haven’t heard anything back. I will surely need his assistance. He helped me the last time, well, actually the last two times I bought old PowerBooks and loaded me up with all that I needed and got me up and running. They were both second hand machines so virtually useless. He’s a whiz and I’m a dolt so I will need him.

But speaking of some “non-technical” toys, I bought a couple a while ago.

The first was a Newton’s Cradle. I’ve wanted one for years! It’s really cheap though. I want a better one! Again, perhaps I am too frugal. I don’t know who likes it more, the cat or myself. Probably me because I have a slightly longer attention span? Granted, with this sort of thing, since it’s a real “stim” toy (i.e. self-stimulatory behaviour) I could play with it for hours! I love watching the motion of it, staring at the shiny metal balls and hearing the steady click-click sound that it makes.

The sound reminds me of a metronome we had in the house as a child. I loved that metronome. I can not play the piano but my sister managed to teach herself when she was younger (lucky girl!) No one else in my immediate family plays but somehow she managed to aquire some innate musical talent. She can also play guitar but she hasn’t really touched either in years.

I get upset with my Newton’s Cradle, however, because it won’t keep going! I never want it to stop. I become transfixed but I need to keep setting it in motion again and again. Because of this fact, I try to play with it only when I am alone. I fear that my obsession with it will drive anyone else around me and it completely bonkers. I was tempted to bring it in to work but that would not be a good idea for several reasons. Apart from the point previously mentioned, I already have too many other “toys” on my desk and in now looking around…well, it’s always in a complete state of chaos. It would only add to the mounting clutter–just not a good idea.

I also bought a Mancala set. If you take the time to read about it in the link, this game is very old. I first played it while on vacation with a friend and his children in Antigua many years ago. It is deceptively simple but you can try to employ strategy. I’ve taken to actually setting it up and playing it by myself to try and see how to strategically “win” this game. It’s a little difficult, however as there are variations as to how you can actually play the game.

I used to play chess as a child. My father taught me when I was young as I was curious about it. When I was about 10-12(?) instead of playing and running and jumping about the schoolyard with all of the other children, I had two other boys that I used to play it with when we had breaks from class or “recess.” Yes, I was an absolute geek. But when we all advanced to a new school, the two boys went off to different ones and I lost my chess mates. And at home, things were growing more and more out of control and it seems I had lost my father as a chess mate as well. I’ve never played chess since.

As for games now, I will play anything that has to do with Trivia. You can’t keep me away from it. I may not have a clue or sometimes I may score well but it’s always fun.


I just had a wonderful, long talk with an old friend of mine.

Years ago, I was fired from a job for being “mentally ill.” Of course, this was not the reason they gave but no matter, we all knew that was the truth. I had chosen to be open about my illness–I had no recourse. I had been hospitalized twice; I had even been visited during one of them by my Manager and Supervisor (much to my horror!) I believed they were trying to be supportive. Maybe at the time they were. I do not know.

I had no means for litigation–I was broke! I was close to living on the street as I had to barter my last month’s rent by painting and doing some odd job work in another unit in the building lest my landlord try to evict me. I chose another “free” route via the government to seek what was owed to me.

I was “vindicated,” I suppose. I did not receive the full settlement I was entitled to by law but I did receive a portion of it. That was all they were willing to give and I could have rejected it but I couldn’t face going through the entire process again. It was too lenghty and too upsetting.

The company could have appealed everything entirely but they chose not to. I guess this means that in doing so, they were admitting that they were in fact liable and it was a case of “wrongful dismissal.” I did not receive any apologies, however. The victory seemed hollow.

And it was truly brutal facing my Ex-Manager (who was now also my Ex-Friend,) my Ex-Supervisor, the head of Human Resources and the completely ridiculous lawyer they had hired all by myself.

Anyway, I had not spoken to this friend of mine in a long time. He still works there. Many changes have taken place since I left. I have found out that Ex-Manager/Friend and Ex-Supervisor had “been removed” perhaps due to performance issues and one has failed miserably (Ex-Supervisor) in a new position. I have also found out that the company has lost the contract where we all worked and will probably never get it back–it was worth a lot of money. I have also found out that over the years, several other people have deluged them with other wrongful dismissal claims.

I wonder how they made out?

Call me a bitch but I am still bitter to the core about this. I was treated horribly and the things I was asked to do, the way I was made to “behave” after I came back to work at this job–it was sickening. I was trying at the time to figure a way to get out but apparently that decision was made for my by a bunch of ignorant, discriminatory, unfeeling assholes.


I was drooling over MacBooks while bored at work today. I have taken to sitting up at night working on my obsolete PowerBook where equally obsolete pieces of writing reside. Well, some of the pieces are still useful, I have found. Also slightly out of date but useful is some of the software on the machine.

I mentioned this to my partner when I came home and she simply said:

“Well, you can afford it. Buy it!”

Perhaps not the sort of encouragement I need?!

Now the first order of business would be the ability to transfer my entire iTunes library from PC to Mac. I believe this can be done? And then presumably, my current iPod should work? I believe at time of purchase, when you specify for Mac or PC the only reason is for the software. Otherwise, the unit is the same?

Forgive me for I art technologically dumb.

I hate the PC we have at home. It’s a Dell which should be reputable but it has been buggy since it was first purchased.

So what do you think, everyone? Should I get a MacBook?


These words are used almost interchangeably in every day parlance but there is a subtle difference.

To assume is to take for granted, as proof, with or without having the facts; to presume is to do the same on the basis of probability or belief–perhaps even based upon future revelation of fact. To look at the Latin prefixes, a- means without and pre- means before.

I tend to assume a lot. Well, sometimes? Alright, hard to measure but I try not to. However, I find myself doing it, even if I don’t like to admit it.

So many times I find there are so many unknowns and I am constantly grasping at straws, reaching for answers. I’ve always believed that I was a patient person and I do believe that I can be but some people have proven me completely wrong in this respect. Of course, I haven’t liked it. How often do we like to be proven wrong about ourselves?

I can also be incredibly impulsive and yet at other times, I can labour over a decision that seems like an eternity that most people would make in a split second. Very simple decisions!

I used to have such a “clear vision” of myself. Was that the hypomanic, energetic, frenzied version of PA who never doubted anything? And if she made any “assumptions” then, was she right, was she wrong? Was she so absolutely filled to the brim with confidence that it didn’t matter?

Now having grappled with the diagnosis of Bipolar for many years (and for a few less years ADD) things are more complicated. Unpredictable mood swings, impaired judgment, medication rollercoasters and living in a constant state of flux can set you up for a permanent state of readiness for “assumption.”

Also, when you are a trauma survivor and you have little to no memory of your abuse you are practically born to assume. You have no one to ask so many questions to! Really important ones! Well, you can but they are not always the right people. The people that I need to talk to, the people that hold the keys to all the secrets are not accessible to me.

This leaves the mind to wander…and unfortunately to assume. I try not to let all of the above pervade my life too much in allowing my thoughts overwhelm me but I know that I am only human with a very overactive brain. I need to accept that as well.


Oh crap. I have been asked to put together some sort of “social function” for work. I am not good at this. I positively loathe “event planning.” I am the furthest thing from a social convenor imaginable! My decision making skills fluctuate obscenely but in this area they are virtually non-existent. Ugh.

The majority of times I don’t even like to attend social functions (work or otherwise but especially work) but can and will when necessary. Depending upon how things move along, I may even (eventually?) enjoy myself but it really depends on a lot of factors.

This is going to be ugly (probably not so much the attending, just the preparation.) And I don’t think I have a lot of time. Shit.