[Continued from the previous entry]
For the first time in over a week, I’m as excited as a kid on Christmas morning.
I’m sitting across from Dr. Massey in an enclosed private room on Henry Ford Hospital’s ground level. He wears a drab grey suit and black tie. He removed his black hat and laid it on the desk before sitting down on a folding chair. His dark hair is slick and combed back on his oval head. His eyebrows thick, nose narrow.
There are very little pleasantries. Dry and monotone, the doctor doesn’t exude the warmest of personas. It’s right down to business.
He pulls out his notepad and pen and we quickly get to it.
“What is your name, in full?” he asks.
“Donovan Anthony Galloway,” I respond.
His bushy eyebrows cock up.
“Could you spell that?”
Evidently, the name isn’t too common where the doc is from.
He scribbles it down.
“When were you born?”
“September 2nd, 1982.” He doesn’t even flinch at the year.
“How old are you?”
“Thirty-two. That’s the thing, it’s 2015.” He casually waves me off. I assume I’m just supposed to robotically answer questions and save any elaboration for later. I’m not a fan of his deadpan, borderline prickish attitude, but if this shrink can set me straight I’ll do whatever he asks. I’m at his mercy.
“And you have family?”
“Amanda, my wife. Nicholas and Connor, my boys. Nicholas is six, Connor three.”
“Where were you born?”
“Royal Oak, Beaumont Hospital.”
He pauses, then writes. I get it. There’s no Beaumont Hospital yet.
“So, tell me what you do remember,” he asks.
I’m about to formulate my thoughts when I see him dig his hand in his suit jacket pocket, withdraw a pack of Lucky Strikes and pick out a cigarette. I stare wide-eyed as he extracts a lighter from his pants pocket, pulls it up to his ciggy and ignites it. A plume of smoke wafts from the tip.
In a hospital?
Never mind that, I convince myself. Back to the story.
“Where do I begin? Nothing extraordinary happened, at least not at the beginning. I got home from work, changed into my casual clothes, played with the boys a bit, and then drove over to Rochester Park to walk a few laps. I do this at least twice per week. I was on my last loop around the park when it happened.”
“Do you mean Avon Park?”
“Is that what it’s called now?”
He quickly nodded. “What happened from there?”
“Well, everything went dark around me, and then it felt like I was suffocating. All the hair on my body stood up as if there was static electricity covering me like a blanket. Then I blacked out. This all happened in a matter of five or ten seconds.”
He jots more in his pad. “Mmm-hmm.”
“Open my eyes and I’m buck naked, crouched up like an animal,” I tell him. I’m getting more anxious as I relive the moments, PTSD-style. “Listen, I know this sounds absolutely crazy to you, but you have to believe me. Something is serious wrong with me. I have memories of my life, but I don’t know where I am. I have nothing to prove it. My wallet, my phone, my credit cards, everything I had that could prove I’m not some flake are gone. But I can tell you in the most minute details of my life leading up to this point.”
I start to shake and feel my eyes well up.
“Mr. Galloway,” the doctor says. “What year do you think this is, right now?”
“2015. But everything I see around here said 1947. But that can’t be.”
He nods and keeps writing.
I need proof. Not only to this guy, but to myself. I’m not the biggest history buff, but I have some decent knowledge of the mid-twentieth century. I know events around this time, so maybe I can hit on something that’s just around the corner.
“NATO. Do you know that?”
“NATO? No, I don’t.”
“The North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It’s a group of western allies from World War Two that form an alliance against the Warsaw Pact. It forms in ’48 or ’49. I don’t remember the exact year.”
“Who’s the mayor of Detroit?” I ask.
Doctor takes a cigarette drag and looks up. “Edward Jeffries.”
I never heard of him. “So, Albert Como isn’t mayor yet. I think he gets elected in 1950.”
Wars. That’s it.
“The Korean War. 1950.”
“The Korean War?”
“North invades the south. America sends in the troops to fight alongside the south. It lasts for several years. And the President. Is it Truman?”
“He will continue to be until 1952.”
Dr. Massey flashes a quick half-grin. “Are you sure about that?”
“Yes,” I say. “He’ll go against Dewey in 1948. In fact, one of the newspapers will get it wrong and announce that Dewey won. I forgot which paper it was. But he’ll get another term until Eisenhower wins in ’52.”
He looks up again. I know he thinks I’m nuts. “General Dwight Eisenhower?”
Sports. What about sports?
“Baseball. The Yankees will pull off several years in a row in the World Series. Starting either next year or the one after.”
“The World Series begins tomorrow.”
“Are the Yankees in it?”
Dr. Massey thinks for a moment. “Yes. Yes, they are.”
It feels like the Yankees are always in the World Series.
I dig back in my memory banks.
“The Lions. Super Bowl winners in 1952 and 1953.”
“The what bowl?”
“You know what I mean. NFL champs.” That’s right. Super Bowl doesn’t exist yet. Not until the sixties.
I continue to reel off as many factoids as I know about the late 1940s until he raises his hands to stop me.
“I think I’ve gotten enough information today,” he explains with the nearly fully-smoked cigarette dangling from his mouth. “I’m going to recommend you get admitted into a psychiatric hospital tomorrow in Westland for further diagnosis and treatment. By accordance of Truman’s National Mental Health Act, we can only keep you for a specified period of time, after which you’ll be transferred to a state-funded residency in Detroit or another facility. You’ll be prescribed medication…”
I’m seeing the doctor’s mouth move, but the words barely register in my brain. Maybe I expected too much from this visit, as if he’d snap his fingers – or I’d be handed ruby slippers to click three times – and I’d be whisked back over the rainbow and into my modern home. Wherever, or whenever, that is.
He stands up, tosses his cigarette butt on the floor and crushes it with his polished black shoe, and gives me a stale, professional handshake as he forces a weak smile. I’m just a patient to him, of course. Another loon. Someone who isn’t playing with a full deck of cards upstairs.
A dolled-up nurse meets us at the door and she escorts me back to my room.
Tomorrow I’ll be transferred.
I’m not sure I care. I built up all my calm sanity for today, so I can chat like a rational human being with Dr. Massey, telling him family statistics, how events unfolded at the park, and a bunch of fortune teller predictions. And that was it. It’s all scribbled down in his little notebook to take back with him to U of M to get filed away with all the other mental cases.
Now I’m left alone in my hospital bed surrounded by 1940s décor. Alone with my thoughts. The seconds, minutes, and hours tick away as my mind floats in a myriad of different directions. I think about my wife, my kids, my friends, my co-workers, my life. Eventually, the ambient hospital sounds from outside the hall get muted as I mentally check out.
It’s really happened.
I don’t know how, but it has.
I’ve traveled back seventy years through time.
Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit in 1947, where I spent my first few weeks in my new era.