I think I'm Schizophrenic--Just like me...

Part IV:  I Can’t Believe I’m Seeing This!

1989 Toyota pickup destroyed by sledgehammer
For Sale:  Newish Toyota pickup, a little rough on the outside,
runs like a champ, may need some body and interior work.  
Remember Tom Cruise’s ecstatic couch jumping escapade on Oprah because of his Katie Holmes love?  Watching Dale wail away on his truck was equally as disturbing, a voyeuristic moment of insanity that is forever glued to my internal retina. 

When Dale’s rage was aimed, his mark was true.  He swung that sledgehammer effortlessly, like a ‘roided up baseball player swinging his son’s tee-ball bat in the backyard.   

Disney's Pixar Cars Mater smiling
Shoot, I like what ya done to your truck
Dale. Gives it, style, like I got. 
The still newish truck was no match.  It caved and crunched and cringed with every kidney shot.  As iron sharpens iron, so does iron dull iron, and the Toyota quickly found itself in the quality category of Pixar’s Mater: A beaten-up shell of a truck.   But the paint, even where it crinkled and warped around new dents, still held the clear coat of a vehicle with less than 20 thousand miles.  Dale would correct that. 

Transfixed, Corey and I watched as Dale imploded on his truck.  Just when we thought the carnage and mental breakdown had been extinguished we disbelievingly stared as Dale reemerged from his house with a five gallon bucket of Orange Sunrise house paint. 

“Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey, Corey, check this out…I’ll show them.  I’m going 
Red Orange paint sample fabric
Honey, What do
 you think of this 
color? Will it match
the curtains, exterior,
truck and totem poles?  
to paint my truck red.  Then what’ll they say.”  Dale uttered to us and nobody at the same time. 

We didn’t respond.  We had no idea who “they” or “them” were.  Was Dale so disjointed from reality that he really thought the world was against him?  Can a few dozen sprouting wildflowers really ignite a self-destructive vandalism spree? 

The first strokes of the hand paint brush slid across the top of Dale’s truck.  Even as a preadolescent I knew that house paint and paintbrushes were not intended for a truck.  Dale’s craftsmanship proved it to me beyond a theory.  The paint was applied thick and unevenly.  The paint strokes were obvious and grooved.  And Dale either found a midpoint line, or was in some back pain from his sledging, for the bottom half of the truck was left unmolested and stock grey.  But the thick latex paint collected in certain spots, and gravity forced small dollops to seek the earth, leaving ten, maybe twenty drip marks daintily disrupting the bottom grey quarter panels.  Even the great abstract expressionist painter, Jackson Pollock, would’ve found no artistic merits in Dale’s work.  This was the visualization and creation of synaptic errors.  This was the brain, broken. 

Again, my father pleaded with Dale’s parents, who looked shaken, but not stirred enough to force action. 

Dale normalized for a while after his frustrations found an outlet.  He went back to his routines.  And we would’ve forgotten his latest worst outburst, if his truck art wasn’t a daily reminder. 

Ren and Stimpy It's Log:  It's better than bad, it's good
Had Ren and Stimpy marketed "It's Log" to Dale,
he would've found a practical use for it.  
But his frustrations became more frequent and his bad days resurfaced with more regularity.  Some days a few dents, a few swear words aimed at everybody and nobody would suffice.  His truck became his punching bag.  He broke out the back window, and claimed it gave him better “vision” of the road.  He tore out the bucket seat, discharging it in his back yard tree root fence-line.  He drilled a five-gallon bucket upside down as the driver seat instead.  Who hasn’t used a bucket as a temporary seat at one point in life?  Dale, using this practical knowledge, had reengineered his truck to fit his needs.  Comfort and safety= not necessary.  A hard plastic seat that can be easily removed and used as a handy storage device? Yes. 

Kelley Blue Book would have to make a new Used Value category for the level of destruction Dale’s modifications impacted that truck’s resale value. 

Dale’s pleas for help escalated later that year as he finally turned on the innards of his truck.  Until now, he had merely been a cutter, slashing away at the exterior beauty of the truck, but on this day, he left the truck running with the hood raised.  He held an axe and swung into the engine bay at no particular target. 

The engine coughed and wheezed and corrected its timing against each unbelieving blow.  Mom, watching from our bay window, had had enough.  She called the police.  Corey and I had already made it out to the back yard; keeping our distance, but wanting to get closer so as not to miss a single detail to tell our classmates. 

Ghostbuster's Slimmer action figure toy with slime and food
Some days, when I'm eating like Slimmer, I also wish
I could slime people who question my "food choices."
The engine had survived four or five of these chaotic axe blows, but before the cops could arrive to stop the assault, Dale's final blow severed an artery.  I think it was anti-freeze; as it was green and watery, but it could’ve been anything.  The blow was met instantaneously with a grunt and spewing of liquids directly at the attacker.  It must have been hot, because Dale’s scream was like a Nazgul from LOTR.  He was covered in a thin layer of green material, like Slimmer had just ectoplasmed him.  The truck, like a beaten slave, had finally got its revenge, and sputtered, stalled, and died. 

Dale’s pain was temporal.  But it got him out of his insanity.  He found his bearings, saw us, and said, “Did you see that?” 

Yes Dale.  Your insanity is worn on your shirtsleeve.  We’ve seen it all, and we’ve had enough.  It’s no longer funny.  You need help. 

The sympathetic and tired cops who showed up agreed.  Dale was surprisingly cooperative even still covered in his victims green blood.  I think he wanted incarceration or medication or help.  But there were was nothing the law could do.  No laws had been broken.  If somebody wants to destroy their own property, bearing arson, insurance fraud, or endangering other people, it was their God given American right. 

The officers talked at length with my parents.  My dad implored them to get a social worker, a psychologist, anybody with medical expertise out to have Dale looked at.  The officers agreed it was necessary, then talked about being handcuffed by bureaucracy and formalities, and how the process usually takes months before anything actually happens.  They recognized the threat that Dale represented to our neighborhood and himself, but until he actually threatens somebody or harms himself, there is no statute to force help upon him.  He needs to seek it himself. 

Dale, though, rather than knowing how to ask for help, showed he needed help by his childlike actions.  Weeks later, maybe in retaliation for the visit by Johnny law, or maybe just another fissure in his psyche, borrowed a long industrial chain from his parents and attached it to his carport and then to his truck. 

I heard the scene before I witnessed it.  It sounded like a demolition derby.  Dale’s truck, miraculously running despite its maltreatment, was revving close to redline RPMs.  The back tires spun on the loose soil that once was cemented driveway, fishtailing a little to the right and left.   Pulled taught was the industrial farming chain, hooked around the main support beam of Dale’s carport.  The building desperately held its place against the horsepower of the truck.  It shook and shivered and creaked like an old staircase.  The integrity of the beam and supporting structure was violated at key load bearing points and small fragmented splinters shot off at awkward angles.  At last the whole structure met its breaking point and the truck lurched forward, expelling the beam from the side of the house, and pulling 60% of the carport behind it. 

House destroyed by tornado exposed living quarters
Nothing cuts through seasonal depression like a little natural sunlight. 
Dale’s reverse bulldozing ripped at his home like shrapnel.  It tore part of his back bedroom exterior wall off, broke his side entrance door, and shattered a window.  An elephant could’ve waltzed into his home if it could find a safe way to avoid the nails and splinters and viciously angled broken 2x4s and debris. 

A tornado had just touched down on the corner of Dale’s home, but instead of being a victim, Dale exited his truck, and whopped and hollered like a Cowboy watching an 8 second bull ride. 

 I wasn’t sure if that made us or him the Rodeo Clown.  

        *(Next installment, Part V, is that last...I swear this time).  

Rodeo bull riding and rodeo clown
Mess with the bull,  you'll get the horns.


  1. Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    I'm schizophrenic
    And so am I
    -Bill Muray "What About Bob"

  2. Is this some radical new therapy? -Bob.

    Love that movie. So many quotable lines, and Dreyfuss is the perfect counter to Murray. Probably have seen it 15 times in my life. "Is this corn hand shucked?"