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Love for a Deaf Rebel:
Schizophrenia on Bowen Island

By Derrick King

Copyright 2021 by Derrick King

e-Book Edition ISBN 978-981-18-0575-2

Published in Singapore by Provenance Press

Pearl is priceless, so this book is not for sale. This book is published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (International) License. Everyone is free to download, print, copy, search, reuse, modify, redistribute, or link to this book provided this book is cited and the author is identified. For license details: creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

National Library Board, Singapore Cataloguing in Publication Data

Name(s): King, Derrick.

Title: Love for a deaf rebel : schizophrenia on Bowen Island / Derrick King.

Description: Singapore : Provenance Press, [2021]

Identifier(s): OCN 1243509349 | ISBN 978-981-18-0574-5 (pdf) |

ISBN 978-981-18-0575-2 (ebook)

Subject(s): LCSH: King, Derrick--Marriage. | Love. | Man-woman relationships. |

Deaf--Marriage. | Mentally ill--Marriage. | Deaf--Family relationships. |

Schizophrenics--Family relationships.

Classification: DDC 306.7--dc23

“Never Comes the Day” words and music by Justin Hayward, Copyright 1969 (Renewed), 1970 (Renewed) Tyler Music, Ltd., London, England. TRO-Essex Music International, Inc., New York, controls all publication rights for the USA and Canada. International copyright secured. All rights reserved, including public performance for profit. Used by permission.

This is a true story. Most written conversations are abridged from transcripts. Signed and oral conversations are recreations from notes and records. The author tells the story as he experienced it, with Pearl’s earliest history revealed last. The names of living persons have been replaced by pseudonyms.

Dedication

To Pearl

Sometimes with one I love, I fill myself with rage,

for fear I effuse unreturn’d love;

But now I think there is no unreturn’d love—

the pay is certain, one way or another;

(I loved a certain person ardently,

and my love was not return’d;

Yet out of that, I have written these songs).

Walt Whitman

Sometimes with One I Love, 1860

Contents

Part I: Together in Love

Under the Clock

Shall We Be Magnificent Couple?

A Silent Movie

Guatemala by Motorcycle

The End of the World

Part II: Partners in Adventure

Bowen Island

Trout Lake Farm

Men Can’t Be Trusted

Rich Couple’s House

Shooting Pigs in a Sty

Alberta School for the Deaf

Part III: Divided by Destiny

I Want a Baby

Where Are the Bullets?

How Did You Find Me?

Down the Road

Love for a Deaf Rebel

Epilogue

About the Author

Press Reviews

Reader Comments

Also By The Author

Part I: Together in Love

Under the Clock

I walked into a roar of conversation, bought sushi, and shuffled through the lunchtime chaos of the Pacific Centre Food Court, looking for a seat. Umbrellas and overcoats dripped water onto the white tile floor.

A black-haired woman sat under the clock, her back to the wall, scanning the crowd with radar eyes. Her porcelain face, brown eyes, and high cheekbones gave her face a long-distance presence, yet her elegance was neutralized by a brown dress and a perm. Her drab style contrasted with the gaudy colors and big hair of the 1980s. She wore no makeup or jewelry. Her radar locked on to me as I looked for a seat.

The seat opposite her became vacant. I elbowed my way through the crowd and sat down. I was wearing a blue suit with a white shirt and a silk tie; like most bankers, I only removed my jacket on the hottest of summer days.

I loosened my tie. I ate while she studied me with the barest hint of a smile. I smiled at her and looked away. She looked at me while she ate fish and chips and sucked down the last of a Coke with a gurgle.

“What are you staring at?” I finally said.

She pointed to her mouth and then to her right ear.

“Are you deaf?” I said, at first puzzled and then surprised.

She nodded.

I took the gold Cross pen from my suit pocket, picked up a napkin, and wrote, “Spicy horseradish.”

I turned my napkin to face her. She read it and smiled at me as if she expected me to write more.

I wondered why you looked at me. I never met a deaf person before.

I watch lips. If you speak and I ignore you will think I am rude. I don’t want hearing to think that deafies like me are rude.

“Can you lipread?” I said.

The woman shook her head.

Most people never look at each other. They only look at the floor. That’s why I spoke to you.

She smiled. “We are 200,000 deafies in Canada. Our language is ASL—American Sign Language.

I’m getting an ice cream. Do you want one?

The woman scribbled on the tattered napkin and pushed it across the table.

Almond.

She smacked her lips, grinned, and put the napkin in her purse.

I bought two ice cream cones at Baskin-Robbins and stuffed a handful of napkins into my pocket. The music of Madonna played in the background. We sat on a bench in the mall and continued to write. I noticed her fingernails were badly chewed.

Congenitally deaf?

The woman shrugged.

Born deaf?

Mother had measles at 4 months pregnant. Lucky not 2 months or I am blind and deaf.”

I smiled. “That’s life.”

That’s me. I accept my deafness. My children will be hearing.” She looked at her watch. “I go back to work. Nice to meet you.”

The woman stuffed the napkin into her purse and disappeared into the crowd as I watched her walk away.

I went back to the food court just before noon. The silent woman was sitting at the same table under the clock. She looked up and waved at me. I sat down. She looked at me expectantly. She seemed to be about my age, almost thirty, yet her face hadn’t a wrinkle.

I reached into my suit and pulled out a few sheets of paper and my pen.

I remember you.”

She put down her chopsticks and wrote, “Ha-ha.

How are you today?

I feel bothered about my real estate. I am stuck to pay mortgage and apartment rent.

You must have a good job to afford two places.

I work at the post office. I sort mails. Managers and union fight. Something not nice to work there. Good pay but I have Medical Lab Technician diploma at St. Paul Technical Vocational Institute. They have interpreters there.

Then why do you work in the post office?

After divorce I come back to Canada to Vancouver because a lot of deafies in Vancouver so I can get a good job. But no hospital would hire me. All refused because I am deaf. I got a temporary job at the post office.” She turned the paper to face me so I could read it and then took it back and continued writing. “Six years ago. Temporary. Ha! But I am lucky to have education and job not to be unemployed. Most deafies are unemployed—80%. 1/3 quits high school.

I studied too. Electronics engineer, but I work for a Dutch bank. Boring but better than a post office job! I study Spanish at night school. I will start an MBA in September. I want to work in another country. I taught at night school, so a teacher and a student at the same time. My name is Derrick King.

Pearl.” Pearl pointed at herself, looked up to check the time, and mimed punching a time-clock. “I must go. 15 minute walk back and PO is strict. Bye!

Whenever I went to the food court at my usual time, just before noon, Pearl was sitting under the clock, and we started writing.

I met my husband at TVI in St. Paul but he is from North Dakota.

How long were you married?

9 months. Then I found him in a gay bar in Fargo!” She stuck out her tongue and hung her wrist limply. “I lost my mobile trailer down payment from mother—my wedding gift. All my furnitures. That was 7 years ago.

I pointed at “Fargo.” “My wife and I were married in ND too! A strange coincidence.”

How long were you married?

7 years.”

Who left who? And why?

She left. She said she didn’t want to be married anymore. She said she was a feminist so she needed to be single. As soon as she could support herself she told me she didn’t need a husband.”

Respect is important. Did you want her to stay?

Yes.

I want a family with Mr. Right. Children are first then the husband is second.

I’m Mr. Write! Kids need a house. Nowadays that means two incomes.

Two incomes until children are small. Then wife should be home to be mother if husband will afford. Depends on location.”

Yes. Where do you live?

Kitsilano near the beach.

Me too, 2125 2nd Ave.”

Pearl grinned. “2168 2nd Ave.

That is the other side of the street! Another strange coincidence.

A man with a gray comb-over was sitting at the table next to us. He wore several sweaters. He leaned over to Pearl with a big smile, as if we were his grandchildren, and said, “And what kind of game are we playing?”

Pearl shrugged and turned to me for an explanation.

“She’s deaf, so we are writing to each other.”

He pulled back as though I’d said we had leprosy. “I’m so sorry!” He stood and walked away.

I told Pearl what he had said, and her face became flushed with anger. “I HATE when hearies make pity.” Her pen plowed into the paper.

“Hearies” was a new word to me, and I was one of “them.” Pearl slurped her Coke and grinned.

You carry a paper in your pocket now.

I laughed. “It is for starting fires.”

I jogged downhill to Granville Island Public Market. As I approached the market, I spotted Pearl walking with a woman. They carried their groceries in shoulder bags and backpacks to leave their hands free to sign.

Pearl looked over her shoulder as if she had eyes in the back of her head. She waved at me. I waved back, wiped the sweat off my brow, and walked through the crowd.

“Hello, Derrick,” said Pearl’s friend in a hollow voice.

“Do you know me?”

She grinned. “Pearl tells me everything.”

Pearl tapped her arm. “Tell him you’re hard-of-hearing and can interpret,” Pearl signed, as the woman interpreted. I was astonished at the transparency of her interpretation; it was as if Pearl had spoken to me herself.

“So fast! I’ve never heard Pearl speak before,” I said, as the woman interpreted.

“When people hear my accent, they don’t realize I’m hard-of-hearing. They think I’m Swedish,” she signed and said. She pulled her long hair back to reveal a finger-sized hearing aid behind each ear. “I’m Jodi.”

“Don’t interpret everything,” Pearl signed, as Jodi interpreted.

I laughed. “I must be careful about what I say.”

“Derrick is curious—his eyes sparkle,” signed Pearl. “Will you eat with us?”

“No. I can’t jog home with a full stomach.”

“Then rest with us,” signed Pearl, “so you can run faster on your way home. Today we will eat Vietnamese food.”

We sat down at the Muffin Granny. Pearl put her bag in Jodi’s lap for safekeeping and went to buy food.

“Is it hard for hearing people to learn sign language?”

“That depends on you,” said Jodi. “How badly do you want to learn?”

“That depends on Pearl.”

Pearl and I became friends slowly and cautiously, seeing each other for lunch two or three times a week for two months before we progressed to a date. Our first date was on 14 April 1984—for dinner, at Pearl’s invitation. With a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, and a notepad, I walked across the street from my apartment, one of the best-kept buildings on the street, to her apartment, one of the most run-down.

At the entrance, I studied the intercom. Her suite was the only unit with OCCUPIED instead of a name. I rang the buzzer. A few seconds later, the electric door opened. I walked down the corridor and saw Pearl peering from a door. She grinned and waved. I

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