9. Mefloquine Dispatches: The Joker, 1997 & 2019 (Final)

by Shane Granger

When I finally start to work out what happened to me in early 2019 the shock of the memories sends me straight over the edge. I have pushed too hard (again). Way too hard this time. Into dark places. I’m almost 500-days free of alcohol. I’m using St. John’s Wort to assist with sleep. I’ll come to understand that this flower heightens Lariam dreams, rather than assist with sleep. By the second week I’m going through the horrors. I’m writing in a notebook. I ask a simple question.

Did the Army turn me into Batman or Joker?

I go insane again in late September 2019. This time I’m drinking. I made 537-days before I just gave up. It’s too much. They have me on Lithium at this point, but it heightens Lariam dreams. I’ve accepted that I turned into Joker back in the day. ANZAC Day 97’, I launch at a group of other AJs [Army Jerks]. I have no fear. I’m beating one of them to death in a nightclub because he sexually assaults my good friends partner. She is a Princess too. The Boys grab me. Put me in a taxi. The next day I’ll be in hospital. Anaphylaxis is mentioned. Allergies, they ask. I don’t even know what Mefloquine is. I’m calm by the time I hit the hospital. I love medics and nurses.

I bury a friend a month after my MLD [Mefloquine Loading Dose] and whatever else they give us. I tell the Land Commander the radios are killing us. I farewell my stepfather on a bed covered in blood. My face turns red in 2014. Psoriasis. It’s an accepted condition of Mefloquine. My Dad doesn’t die, and I don’t talk to him for 20-years. I’m lucky. I speak to him on the phone in 2017. He dies the next year. We never say our goodbyes face-to-face. Another regret. He leaves me $10,000. I use it to get sober. I start getting my memories back. My head is a horror show. Lariam dreams never go away.

I now live quietly in a small cabin with no hot running water and an outside dunny. I isolate when I feel my Joker coming on. I love the peace and the silence. Disconnection is part of the disease.

As I watch Joker, I see the similarities. I have written similar notes. I’m adopted. I look after my Mum even after I join the Army. I would wash her hair the same way. I will hang up the phone on my Mum in 1999 and never talk to her again. The laugh, I have a different laugh and it puts people on edge. I have a different dance but the scene in the toilet is so familiar to me. The same crazed run from the cops at the end. Before I caged my Joker I laughed at violence. Still do. I’m still running decades later, just from myself.

I write. It will help some, hurt others. There still a bit of Batman there. It doesn’t matter. Do I look like a guy with a plan?

I have grief. I have pain. I have no regrets.


Image: Warner Bros. Pictures