9.33 Dreams of Being a Kiwi
The next few blogs will be transcripts of the fourth season of Storytime with Paul Dore. This season is based on my latest novel Dreams of Being a Kiwi. Each episode/transcript will contain excerpts from the book, as well as an introduction to some of the characters.
Dreams of Being a Kiwi was the first novel I wrote a long time ago. It’s a story I continually return to and am finally getting it into print and on the podcast. The book is about a young man who suffers from a mental illness and how he navigates his way to find peace.
You can listen to the episode here. If you like what you're reading, find out more HERE.
Helen checked on me for the last time in the middle of the night, left my door open. She trusted me. After she left, I dramatically removed the bedspread to reveal that I had my clothes on already. I was clever that way. Nothing else was going with me. Every one of my possessions would remain as they were, they would only lack an owner. I said GOODBYE! to the bed I slept in for years. A bed that I had twisted and turned on top of and thought thoughts I didn't want to think anymore. I made the bed, I respected the bed that provided me with rest when the voices were asleep.
The hallway was empty, the plans unfolding in my favour from the start. Down the hallway to the stairwell – this was a low security area. They trusted me, we were usually on lock down in our rooms anyways.
The ground floor – the tricky part. The anxiety of the ground floor turned the sound up in the back of my head, but by the Grace of God it stayed to a low murmur. The sound I heard was fear and fear was only a feeling and I could control my feelings. Pushed it down, pushed it out of my head, down down down through my spine and farted it out – a smelly, juicy one. The really smelly, juicy ones contained fear bubbles leaving my body.
Through the door to the hallway, I saw the security station but before I broached that next level area of anxiety, the plan was to duck cat-burglar-like into the doctor’s station. The white doctor’s coat was a good fit, I could have been a doctor in another life. In the small mirror on the inside of the locker, I could be a doctor right now. Large breath thinking about the security station – remembered to breathe. There goes another fart. Loud. Maybe too loud? Smells. God help who was coming in here on their break to eat.
Remember, walk with confidence. Walk like I belonged. In a way I did belong but not in the way the rightful owner of this coat did. Another fart again, made sure I put on the silencer. The security station was encased in glass, the guard inside. Built into the desk were ten monitors showing different areas of the hospital. Hey, there I am on television!
Down the long country road away from the hospital, I stopped when far enough away to look back and said GOODBYE! to the hospital. These walls were good to me but I hit a plateau that no doctor would want to admit and it was time to move onwards and upwards.
The bus finally came, on the side it said it was a hybrid electric bus. Oh, have times changed. There was a pause before the doors opened, a pause like the world had stopped. At least, my world. This was the point of no return, a breath, a sigh, running between the spaces of the wind – the wind which howled furiously before now stopped, took a break, opened up a time capsule for me to review my choice to leave this place. My breathing stopped with the wind, held my breath, my mind clicked, someone inside me said, Do not get on that bus. The voice told me I could not do it, said I should sneak back into the hospital.
After a moment or ten, the driver stared at me. I remembered the other element to my plan – the very important part – the part where I acted NORMAL. I flashed him a smile – not just any smile, but a winning smile – one that said: I am sorry sir for the delay, just remembering if I locked my front door or not!
Everything was prepared in small envelopes – I wondered what these small type of envelopes were for, now I know. Envelope number one was labeled PILL #1. The kicker: it was not a pill. Not to brag, but it was a coding system developed in the event that someone found my stash. Failure surely would come with succinct envelopes that said something like BUS FARE IN ORDER TO SNEAK OUT OF HOSPITAL. Emptied the contents of the envelope into my hand, it should have the exact change. I was an old woman counting her pennies at the cash register. Dumped the change in the slot and smiled and almost felt like he should be congratulating me. He didn't, so instead I congratulated myself.
The roads gave way to cement. No airplanes visible yet but I heard them, flying overhead and criss-crossing each other without knowing how close they were to complete and utter disaster. We passed an area where several highways all merged together and in between them there was a large patch of grass with gravestones. Which came first: the highways or the gravestones? The people there must not rest peacefully, even at this time of the night there were cars, trucks, headlights, horns, airplanes. Only wicked people must be buried there because I heard they don’t get any rest.
The terminal looked different from the last time I was here, although that was many years ago. The building was quiet. A man shined the floors with a machine. The machine was quiet and the floors already looked clean. Must give him something to do this early in the morning.
A camera was in the corner watching. Someone inside me started chattering that I was being watched, had been watched ever since I left the hospital. My actions were being recorded, they knew my every move, they were waiting, biding their time until they caught me. They were just letting me think I was making the choices I was making, and that my life was my own, when in reality they would catch me at the gate to board the airplane, “Okay, you’ve had your fun now back home with you.”
Envelope #2 read PILL #2. Part of my code. I didn’t want it to read KEY TO STORAGE LOCKER WITH PLANE TICKET, PASSPORT AND MONEY TO ESCAPE THE COUNTRY. That would be a bit much.
The storage lockers were on the second floor. It was tough to look around for suspicious people because it made me be the suspicious person. The envelope opened in my hands and the key fell into my palm. The number was memorized - locker #405. Nice touch by my sister as it was my hospital room number. She had a flair for the melodramatic. The key turned, it was actually turning. I pulled the door open, it actually opened. Inside was a small leather document case. It was mine. The cameras were watching me, I must have looked confident. Remembered to look like I belonged.
Up to the next floor, I entered a stall in the washroom, locked the door and sat down. Inside the leather case, there was a plane ticket in a stranger’s name. The name was PAUL DORE and I wondered where in the hell she came up with that bizarre name. The destination on the ticket was first to Los Angeles, then on to Auckland. Auckland was at the top of the North Island of New Zealand.
There was a striking resemblance between my sister and me as everything in the case was in an individual envelope. In the second envelope there was Canadian money, in the third envelope American money, in the fourth envelope New Zealand money. In the middle of the New Zealand bills was a tiny window that you could see through. The fifth envelope had a passport and a driver’s license with my photograph on them, but with Paul Dore’s name, which was now my name. There was a sixth envelope, directions to where I would be staying. My sister really had taken care of things.
I approached the checkin counter. I was strangely not nervous. There was no line up, only an airplane representative half asleep at the wheel. I stood before her a few moments, she did not notice me. After dropping my leather case, she was still unaware of my presence. Coughing was my next go-to. It took three coughs and on the third, she woke.
“Good morning!” I said a little too cheerily for so early in the morning. She held out her hand, I shook it, she shook her head, I shook my head, rolled my eyes and handed her my ticket.
“You’re going a long way with no baggage.”
Shrugged my shoulders, I mean, she was right. She shrugged her shoulders, took my passport. She clicked some keys on the computer, handed back everything with a mint condition boarding pass. Inside there was another voice but this voice was shouting good things like HORRAY! and WELCOME TO NEW ZEALAND, MR. DORE! The airline representative returned her head on to her hand, went back to sleep. I winked at the camera – this might be a bit much but what the hell?
Here I was at the gate that corresponded to the one on the plane ticket. I was early and I sat not too close but not too far. There were cameras all over this place, so I sat off to the side holding my boarding pass in my hands. I clutched it, grasped it, the pass was my pass to the other side of the world. Fatigue was coming but I was still wired and kept my eyes peeled for suspicious activity. Nothing happened. There was no one around and I was bored with apprehension.
On the ramp I stopped, I took in all the air I could, held my breath, looked around, let the air out, took a step and no alarms went off. Took another step and everything seemed fine.
The tunnel was attached like a giant suction cup to the plane – the air was different – the suction had changed the pattern of airflow, it stopped and when it stopped you could peek between it and saw what was there, you saw if you are right or wrong or insane or sane or happy or sad or just plain fooling yourself.
This was where it would happen: the pilots were not pilots but police dressed as pilots. They would apprehend me in my sleep after I was comfortable in my seat with my eyes closed and they would toss me out the door when the plane was in the sky. The voice was back strong because this was the moment – this was where I stepped from one place to another. The air had been sucked out of this tunnel for me so I would recognize it, so I would see the choice I was making. I saw the damn choice – I didn't want to be reminded of some things. I punched the voice in my head, struggled with it, aware that those around me could not see the turmoil that churned in my insides. They could not possibly comprehend what happened on the inside but that did not make it any less real. I told myself to focus, told myself to put the voice in a full nelson, told myself to take a step so the air could flow once again, so the world could be right once again.
They did a final check and so did I and we pulled away from the gate. They were coming – no they are not, yes they are, no they are not. We taxied out, stopped. They were coming to get me. The engines warmed up, got louder and louder. We screeched along the runway, going faster and faster. My heart went faster and faster – it was moving all over my body, thumping everywhere all at once. One wheel left the earth, the other wheels joined it and we were flying, we were in the air. The plane went up up up and the world got smaller and I said GOODBYE! to everything that I had known for 33 years.
Everything was gone, I was starting new, leaving things behind I did not need, gaining everything I had always wanted and nobody was out to get me. We went faster into the sky, we sliced through clouds – we were above the clouds! Everything inside me dropped, I moved my heart back to my chest – it stopped thumping, it was going to sleep. I wanted to listen to it – I listened to my heart – that was all I wanted was to guide my life by what my heart thought and it told me to sleep, that it needed rest, that I needed rest. It told me I had done good today and that I was on my way. I let out a silent fart, a fart just for me and it smelled sweet. It was not the smell of fear it was not even the smell of victory it was something much better: oh yes, it was a freedom fart. My heart was light, it was falling asleep, it said GOODNIGHT! It said go to sleep, so I did.
We were crossing the International Date Line, which meant that all clocks got set back to zero so I set my watch to zero. This was where all time starts and ends and I thought it fitting that I crossed this line. I had already crossed many lines since I left the hospital but this was an important one because it applied to everyone. It meant that I was included with those that crossed the date line and we were all the same. I was happy to be among peers as I heard the announcement to fasten your seatbelts, we were landing soon.
I was welcomed to Auckland. I had no bags to claim, I walked into the air – the air was so fresh, it was warm even though it was January. The air, THE AIR smelled different, it smelled like something I had never smelt before. I listened to people talking and I liked their accents – some were really thick, I could barely understand them, while others were perfect British-sounding accents. They all seemed like such nice people and I wanted to hug them all.
The train rolled in, I got inside, showed my ticket, kept myself in check. I glued my face and smashed my nose to the window the entire trip. I saw mountains, lakes, rivers, oceans, more mountains, vast landscapes I had never seen, valleys that went on and on forever. I took out my sister’s envelope that held Paul Dore’s passport and driver’s license. Paper clipped to the license was an address in Christchurch where I was scheduled to pick up the car.
I started the car up, it had a nice sound, it purred. At one point while driving, the roads zigzagged up and around and down mountains. I was driving and some fog rolled in. It was difficult to see, then I realized that this was not fog, it was clouds – I was driving through clouds. I was driving up up up through the clouds. I wanted to keep driving up into the air past the blueness of the sky and into space. I wanted to park on a star, meet some aliens there and say, “Hello my friends!” They would welcome me, they would feed me whatever it was they ate, we would live together forever in harmony and we would laugh at what went on below.
Drove clear across the South Island, it was not far. I arrived in the small town of Greymouth. It was called Greymouth because there was a mountain nearby with the same name. It was beside the ocean. I stopped at the ocean, looked out at it, listened to the waves but I was tired, I was having trouble hearing the waves.
The apartment was above a store that sold flowers, maps, other tourist stuff. I was almost there, my body had been running non-stop, been exposed to stimulations that it hadn’t seen in a while and it needed rest. I reached the top of the stairs, the hallway opened up to the small apartment, there were two rooms, it was furnished: the room I was standing in had a small kitchenette, a television, a small couch and a small table with small chairs. I looked in the other room, there was a bed and when I saw the bed the room started to turn upside down and not even the voice had enough energy to speak. I flopped on the bed. I made it. I could sleep now.