The Sad Man Saves the Day

The invalid laments the loss of his mobility. His wheelchair is wider than his front door. Each day he mourns religiously before the vista beyond his window which calls and mocks him like a child rattling a bird cage. Everyone tells him how brave he is to press on in his condition. He’d end it all if he had the strength.

He performs a gymnastics routine every time he has to pee thanks to a clunky wheelchair and an absence of legs. This happens frequently thanks to his ruined kidneys.

His heart too, is weak thanks to his crippling condition.

The view through his window becomes murkier daily thanks to his diminishing vision.

They say the man’s sexual functions ought to be limited by his condition too, but he wouldn’t know thanks to the depression that plagues him. His vision is on its way out, but his ability to see beauty and goodness disappeared long ago. Sexuality is of no use to such a man.

He sits in his wheelchair; hands folded neatly in his lap. He mournfully regards the view. He can not see the birds, nor the sheep, nor the clouds. Nor does he see the see the little girl who walks to the bus stop each day waving vigorously.

He’ll never see her waving because he is blind to the goodness around him.

She’ll never stop waving because she can see the good in him.

One day, the girl’s jaunty walk to the school bus attracts the attention of an escaped attack dog. It plays with its prey, biting her and retreating, before biting her once more. It seems to be taking pleasure from the sound that it can conjure from the pretty little creature. Each time the dog bites the girl its teeth sink into her like she’s made of sponge-cake. Her strawberry filling spills out with a scream, and for the first time the man in the wheelchair is aware of her existence.

The man’s weak heart kicks into gear. With all his strength he bashes his way through the rotten door frame with his too-wide wheelchair and tumbles down the two front steps. The dog’s attacks intensify and the girl’s screams are met with the man’s brave, guttural roars. He may be no warrior, but when he’s needed, he can at least sound like one.

He can’t see the danger. Only blobs of colour. But he’s able to distinguish the blob that has turned its attention to him and is beginning to charge. Lying on the ground under his heavy wheelchair, he begins to charge as well.

The man’s defibrillator is always at arm’s length, and with the flick of a switch it’s ready to go. He embraces the dog as its jaws grip his throat. There’s just enough contact for the defibrillator to conduct. The dog chews through the man’s vital tendons as the device proclaims in a robotic voice “all clear.” The man wraps the cords around the dog’s neck with his final strength but it’s too strong.

Suddenly, the dog goes limp. The man pulls a little harder on the wires before the dog comes back to life.

All clear.”

The dog goes limp again. The man tightens the cords one final time, and neither of the two warriors come back to life.

The girl still takes the same route to the bus stop each day. The man’s house is empty, but she still waves. He couldn’t see her before, but without the ailments of his body, she likes to believe that now he can, and maybe she’s right. Maybe he’s waving back at her as he stands invisible in his front doorway, grateful for the chance he had to play an important part in someone else’s life.

T.

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