72. Nursing pain home
Check-out time at Dodgy’s motel didn’t matter. I was up early, sending my knee- mails to the same address as every morning. It was a similar scenario as my emails to Rebekah - I sent lots of them at anytime, not just Friday’s. I never received a verbal or written reply, at least a reply I could show Isobel to confirm my belief. But I saw, and still do everyday, the wonderful evidence that my knee mails were not in vain. People who deny God’s existence, because they have never seen him or heard his voice are blind and deaf spiritually. I see God everywhere. I hear HIM listening to a birdsong, the cry of a newborn baby or a rendition of “The Holy City” by a skilled orchestra.
For the first time the next morning I felt like a tourist. After a cup of coffee, paid for in hard cash, I returned to Dave’s house to thank him for allowing me to stay. “Sleeping on the hard floor did wonders for my back”, I told him. Just as I was about to cross to leave, I recognized the receptionist driving into the car park. I was prompted to walk around the back, catch her ear to shout a brief good-bye and to thank her for the cup of water the day before.
The sun was truly shining that morning. I looked forward to going home. Waiting for the Greyhound Bus to take me into LA City I spent a wonderful 1 ½ hours wandering around Downtown Riverside. I pledged to return one day as a proper tourist and show Isobel where it all happened. As a gang of street cleaners swept the footpath (something I had not seen in years in Australia) I watched two workers unfold and drop the “stars and stripes” from the top of the building. The flag was so large it covered the top three floors of the office block. I sat outside the library in a park, enjoying the sunshine and writing my diary.
Ever since I was 16 years old I had written diary. Not every year and every day, but enough to be able to keep my mind occupied for hours. It happens only seldom, but every time I dig into the past and take a journey to relive a tough battle or celebrate a glorious victory, I discover myself again. Writing a diary is like recycling your days. Why live them once and throw them away?
The long bus ride to Los Angeles proper made me realize how far away I had been. During one of the many stops a young black man boarded, holding a box in his hand. It was about twice the size of a shoebox and had the name “Robert Schuller” clearly marked on it. For a moment I thought my US journey was going to turn back to Anaheim. But I did not receive any inspiration to head in that direction. (This had nothing to do with my feelings towards the church concerned. On the contrary, one of my highlights each week starts at 5 am every Sunday morning on TV Channel Ten).
The other visual clue was a shirt worn by another passenger. Only later in the day did I comprehend that the letters EY were a message that would form part of this factual fairy-tale (if there was such a thing) you are reading. The bus was due to arrive at 1.05 pm. From my arrival at the bus station to my departing flight late that night, all things worked together very smoothly.
There is a Flight Centre in Los Angeles. I found it with no trouble. A friendly young man with a biblical name served me like a VIP. United Airlines only charged me $ 100 AUS Dollars extra, not the 800 I had dreaded. I possibly would not have been able to produce it. (Isobel had deposited some cash, but only less than half of that amount). The bus to the airport was to leave right outside the Flight Centre. At $ 2 US the cost for the bus ride to LA International Airport was far cheaper than expected. I had three dollars left to have a bite to eat at a fast food restaurant. I spent it without feeling guilty.
I had a few hours to kill. Now I really felt like a tourist, strolling amongst the tallest buildings of Los Angeles. I did not recognize any landmark from my previous visit in 1988. As I passed a huge building marked Ernst & Young the gears in my brain engaged. Gary, my host the previous Sunday, worked for this well known, worldwide accounting firm. He told me how far he travels to his workplace every day and I assumed it was in this building.
I took the lift to the EY reception on the fifth floor. Suddenly I remembered seeing these two letters on the shirt worn by the Greyhound bus passenger; the full name was EY Anderson. I also recalled that the name of the Graphic Arts business that my daughter and five of her friends had formed three years earlier, was Fifth Floor! They had re-designed my website at the time.
The receptionist knew which Gary (I gave his surname) I was referring to. I said I would just like to say good-bye before flying back to Australia. She tried to reach him without success. I sat down in the comfortable lounge in the foyer and used the time to write my diary. Things had happened so fast, I feared, unless I recorded it, I may forget some of the wonderful details that took place. Gary was nowhere to be found, so I said I would return at 3.15 pm to try again. Looking around the beautiful city of Los Angeles, with its magic atmosphere made me feel sad that I was to fly out again within hours. One day Isobel and I would visit this City of Angels together.
My only contact in Los Angeles during this visit (Gary) was still nowhere to be found at 3.25 pm. I waited for another 10 minutes, he still didn’t show up. Later I wondered if he really worked there. People don’t just disappear from a workplace. I left a message to say good-bye to Gary. By chance I strolled around the back of the building and discovered an outdoor book-exhibition. My mysterious mind looked at a display of books with titles that stirred my linking mind. My brain, somehow, had the ability to read titles and linking them to my (or should I say HIS) story.
The previous year I had witnessed another book miracle. Our only major daily newspaper The Advertiser conducted a Books-for-Schools project. Each day over a period coupons were printed in the daily papers. Parents, Teachers or anyone could donate the coupons to a participating school, which in turn traded them for books to stock the school library. I had suggested my road safety book to be included in the range of available books, but it didn’t eventuate; possibly because the range of books was for a younger readership. At the time I was starting my one-way email traffic with the newspaper. My “outside-the-square” ideas on certain issues explained their reservations about me and my book.
Later in the afternoon I caught Bus No. 439 right outside the Flight Centre to LA International airport. The route at one point went through the Howard Hughes centre, a famous name in the aviation industry. For the first time at the airport I saw people wearing masks. The worldwide SARS epidemic, which would cost hundreds of lives and billions in economic losses, had just started. I had a few hours to fill in; time to write a few more thoughts in the diary. Much happens in 5 hours when your mind sees so much around you. My ears picked up a repeated announcement at the departure lounge: “Would passenger on flight UAL 815 please proceed to gate … to get a black stamp for clearance”.
I had never heard of a black stamp for clearance, but had my boarding pass stamped anyway. The long flight back to Australia gave me much opportunity to read, sleep and get mentally prepared to meet Isobel. As usual I picked up many names and incidences that I could not help noticing and chewed them over. The most dramatic tale was that of an ex-Mormon named Brian David Mitchell. He had held a girl, Elizabeth Smart, hostage for 9 months, before releasing her at a place called Sandy.
The plane landed in Sydney early on Friday 10th April 03. There was an element of fear arising about returning to Adelaide. I considered phoning my brother-in-law during the brief stopover. But my own pastor had advised me to return, so it must be safe. In Melbourne I bought a ticket to Adelaide, resenting to have to spent over double the cost of my flight in.
The Virgin Blue flight had left 15 minutes late, yet still arrived at the scheduled time of 1.05 pm in Adelaide. The route it took seemed unusual; it flew very much south, along the Coast, over the Murray Mouth, the entrance of the Murray-Darling River into the Southern Ocean. I also recognized that we flew right over Happy Valley Reservoir as our flight approached Adelaide airport. I told Anna, a nice lady visiting Adelaide for a wedding, about the strange flight path the plane had taken.
For the second time in five months I knew I would have to face the music. In November, after returning from Europe, I had feared retribution, the first 30 000 words on dieterfischer.com. Chapters 4 and 5 held particular sensitive, coded information about criminal activities. If I was correct in my assumptions I had invited the wrath of a very nasty element in Adelaide. On top of that, I was about to face Isobel.
She arrived very late. Nothing had changed, that’s Is. Her reception was very low key as I had expected. I knew in her eyes I had been a bad boy. She let me know it. Not so much in active, open hostility or even verbally. It was more of a subtle, passive aggression, which hurt just as deep, possibly even deeper. Right from the beginning of my return I was the ’mental patient husband’ again.
My ‘madness’ had been sending emails or making phone calls. These were of little consequence to my family. Shooting across to America, unannounced with no money, just blind faith, was another matter. Did Isobel worry more about the wasted money or did she honestly care about me? If indeed my trip was the result of a mental problem, I needed more understanding than ever. But I could not blame Isobel or my family for thinking that my unorthodox actions were indeed a mental condition.
My self doubt grew into sheer und utter frustration. I was the target for scorn and condemnation of what I had done. The wrath of the whole family every day was almost too much of what I could bear. The daily pain of being an outcast amongst your loved ones was overwhelming.
I still had not found home.
Autobiography - Dieter Fischer
1. More in number 2. A sound mind 3. Now I'm found 4. Candle and the Wind
5. Realm of Nature 6. All in his Hand 7. The Wonder of it All 8. To Think God loves