(Editor’s Note: A good and cherished friend of ours lives in Hawaii and occasionally sends email dispatches about life on the Sandwich Islands. First names have been changed, but otherwise this is his email exactly as sent. We think it ranks right up there with Mark Twain’s articles on those same mystical, merry isles.)
Sam is back, He am. He was sitting in the park where he used to sit. He’d sit there all day long, guaranteed. I used to talk with him, and he told stories of how he used to work in Detroit as an engineer for some car company. He had an idea on how to pick coconuts with an automated machine, and he warned me not to steal his ideas. He said he had to go over to town to see his shrink and convince her he was nuts so he could get crazy money. He did, he told me later. He doesn’t eat at the Catholic church because he’s got money to go across the street to the grocery store to buy food. That was quite a while ago, and I hadn’t seen him since.
Me: It’s been a long time, how’ve you been?
Sam: Oh, okay, I could sure use a ciggarette. You don’t have one do you?
Me: No, I don’t.
Sam. That’s okay. It’s alright. I was staying with my girlfriend for the past 2 and a half years, but we had a falling out because of the cops. They were torturing me for about 3 weeks.
Me: Torturing you? What did they do? Where was that at?
Sam: Do you know what psionetics is?
Sam: It’s these little microphones and these directional speakers, and they can go through walls. The cops were using them on me through the wall while I was sleeping. Every hour at night they’d blast that through the wall and into my head. She thought I was talking to the wall.
Me: Was there anything on the other side of the wall?
Sam: Yeah, about 10 cops. They were torturing me! They were doing it for the past 2 to 3 weeks. And she didn’t believe me. You know me, I ain’t sh***ing you.
Me: You still carrying an axe with you?
Sam: No, they took all my stuff. Hey, you wouldn’t happen to have about 15 dollars I could borrow, would you? I’ll pay you back.
Me: No, I don’t have any money on me.
Sam: that’s okay. It’s alright.
As I was riding away I realized that Terry may very well be just like Sam. Just sits there all day. He used to joke a little bit about being nuts, or wondering if he was. But then he’d get angry with anyone who suggested there might be something wrong. He used to bum ciggies off people, and probably still does. He told me he’s gotten real good at asking for money from people. A professional beggar, he said.
But then things got worse, like for Sam. Now Sam’s hearing words in his head, and he really does believe they’re from the outside, and not of his own making. Terry says he’s had these conversations with Jesus and the devil, and things like that.
I talked with a fellow, my age, a few days ago about his son, who was having a hard time in life, and could never hold down a job. I had spoken with him a few years back, and had met his son. He was quiet, and I could tell something wasn’t right with him. Well the son is schizophrenic, and is being treated, but it’s a very long process, and he’s in some “home” situation where he’s constantly watched. It costs about $4k/month. Maybe more. The goal is to help him live on his own, with some kind of job. He’s gotten into all kinds of trouble, and hurt people along the way, including his dad. Not too different from Terry.
So, I guess I’ll start reading up on schizophrenia. I understand that the symptoms differ between people. That’s about all I know. But the symptoms of Sam, and this other man’s son, sound similar to Terry’s.
I’m still noticing more and more people who are homeless and not normal. I ran into Debbie yesterday. She had her normal stories about Queen Elizabeth, and the cops, and swapping out heads, and sticking peas up someone’s rear end to make them act differently. Nothing new there.
The guy with the book who walks in the middle of the street reading, I said hello to him the other day, and he just looked at me very strangely as I passed by. There’s some dude who wears a hood, and hangs around secluded beaches. I saw him this morning. And there’s a wooded area I saw a black guy with a good looking woman come out of yesterday. Every once in a while I see a good looking woman come out of that area, and I haven’t the slightest idea what goes on. But the cops know the area for drugs. There’s another guy I’ve seen lately who is usually in the vicinity of the Catholic church where food is provided. You can tell he cut his hair on his own, and his face is sunburned and doesn’t look normal.
Then there’s Peter. He knows my name now and says hello when I pass by. He’s getting darker and darker, because he stands out in the sun with his cross all the time. He’s the most normal of them all. He’s just doing what he thinks God told him to do. I’ve seen a woman come give him a plate/box of food now and then. He sleeps in someone’s car, he said.
Then there’s Ralph who sleeps in his van, though there’s hardly any room in it for his tools and stuff. He says he’s doing well, and is in good health. Of them all, he’s the only normal one. He’s where he is because of colon cancer.
My friend Jason hasn’t been on line since Sunday when he said he was going in for his TURP. But he’d been bleeding for a long time, and so there’s something else going on, probably. I hope he’s just recovering and is okay. He’s on medicaid, and SS I guess.
My uncle, my dad’s youngest brother has worked his whole life building houses as a “hobby”. He was an English teacher, and 4 of his 6 kids became English teachers too. Three of them, taught at the same school. So, after school, and on weekends and holidays, and during the summer, he’d be building houses, and it was taxing on his body. Now in his 80’s he’s suffering. Constant pain in the knees, and lungs and everywhere. He’s the stake Patriarch, and his son is his stake president. He’s in such pain that he can barely get through a patriarchal blessing now, and he has to fight thinking cuss words all the time.
What’s the moral of this story? I don’t know. I suppose it’s that every life, righteous or not, is a trial.