So, I’ve been posting stuff on here as I write for my new book, using the old to be a nice prologue to the one I’m writing now. I usually post a chapter from the old after finishing writing for the new. But I’ve hit a bit of a block, and I’ve read the best way to get past them is to write other things, then come back to your other project. So, here’s another little short story for your enjoyment!
I used to work at Western State Hospital just a few years ago. I was dreaming last night about a patient I haven’t seen in a long time. His name was John, and the guy could be one of the nicest people in the world, or the biggest prick you’ve ever met. Just depended on how he felt that day.
John lost his legs in a drug deal gone bad. The dealer shot him, and due to complications, they needed to amputate both of his legs.
Now, to hear John talk about it, all of his problems would have been solved if he still had a pair of working legs!
Then the other day, I was watching a TV show on the science channel, about all the new technology we as a society are developing for those with physical disabilities. The dream came together, and here is a story based off what I saw in my dream.
John wheeled himself towards the hospital, glaring at anyone who dared try to help him. His caretaker walked at his side, trying not to hurry John, as he wheeled his way up the sidewalk and into St. Joseph’s Hospital. He went to the front desk, his monkey on a leash in tow.
“Yeah, I’m here to see Dr. Fraiser.” He told the only person behind the desk. He hated talking to this receptionist, she was rude.
She rolled her eyes at him, putting aside her magazine and looking John in the eye. “Name, date of birth and last four of social.” She replied, her expression full of boredom.
John rattled off his information, and the receptionist told him to take a seat and wait his turn. Half the time he couldn’t tell if people were using a pun. Still, today was an exciting day. He would be getting a pair of new legs. While he hated the idea of having metal attached to his body just so he could walk, the thought of being stuck in his wheelchair for just one more minute filled him with disgust.
A tall nurse came out, “John, the doctor is ready to see you now.”
John wheeled his way into the hallway and down the corridor to one of the patient rooms. His caregiver had decided to wait in the waiting room, wanting to give John as much privacy as he could. The nurse took John’s vitals, then stood to walk from the room. Before leaving, she turned back and said, “The doctor will be with you in just a moment.” Then closed the door behind her, leaving John alone in this room.
He looked at the print on the wall, wondering who thought the pattern of demented butterflies and bees would be comforting. He read through all the pamphlets, even the one on quitting smoking. John knew he would never quit smoking.
Just as he felt a little insanity setting in from the wait, there was a knock on the door, and Dr. Frasier entered the room. “Hey John, how are you this wonderful day?” He asked, looking to his wheelchair bound patient, “Looking forward to trying out your new legs?”
“You bet your ass I am.” John replied a little more tersely than he meant to. “Sorry Doc, I want to have more enthusiasm, but today didn’t start well, and it’s still affecting me.”
“It’s all good, John. Still, we do need to get one of the specialists in here to hook your legs up. Once they’re on and calibrated, we’ll put you through a few paces and go from there.” Dr. Frasier clapped his hands together, then climbed to his feet. “So, lets get you headed towards Physical Therapy. Then, once the legs are attached, let’s get you up here and make sure it’s all working right.”
“Sounds good to me, Doc.”
John watched three people get their legs before him, the looks of joy on their faces with their first steps. He struggled against his temper, resisting the urge to yell and scream about how it should be his turn.
The specialist they gave him was kind and courteous, at least making the attempt to help John feel comfortable. He attached the legs, hooking the appendage to a set of wires already implanted in John’s skin. A shock traveled through him as the connections were made, though it wasn’t an unpleasant sensation.
“Okay, all good. Can you try to stand for me?” The specialist asked, holding out a hand to John.
Slowly he pulled himself to his new metallic feet, a little uncomfortable and unsteady. He had been in his chair for over fifteen years, and standing on legs was taking a little getting used to. But in no time, he was striding around the room. A smile lit his face, an expression none of his caregivers would have recognized.
The specialist had John sit down, hooking up a calibration machine to the legs. “Well, looks like everything is in order, John. You can head on back up to your doctor’s office.”
It felt amazing to walk under his own power, and John exulted in the feeling of freedom as he walked the corridors. He barely even heard the whir of the servos as his mechanical legs did their work.
John’s doctor did a perfunctory check, then sent him on his way to enjoy the day with his new legs. Now he and his caregiver were walking down the street, side by side. The sun felt amazing on John’s skin, like just getting a new pair of legs changed the entire world around him. He had yet to quit smiling.
Then it happened. John watched as a man ran behind an old woman, snatching her purse and taking off down the street. “Help! Help! Someone stop that man!” She cried, but everyone ignored her.
Anger flashed through John, and before he knew it, he was giving chase. His new legs were amazing, and he found himself catching up to the man quickly. “Hey!” he shouted, drawing closer to the man, “You better drop that purse, or you’re not going to like what happens when I catch you.”
The man ducked down an alley way, looking to lose his pursuer, but John’s new legs were amazing. The criminal jumped a fence, thinking to leave John and his metallic legs behind. John laughed at the puny obstacle, jumping the fence in a single bound, and continuing his hot pursuit of the perpetrator.
He was in arm’s reach now, and John told the criminal, “Last chance, drop it before I get angry.” Still the man ran. John lost his temper, he grabbed onto the man’s collar, and stopped. While the man’s upper body stopped, his legs kept going. He landed on his back with a loud thump, John standing over him. “Give me the purse.” he said, reaching down to take it from the man.
“Here, take it!” The robber managed to choke out. John let him go, and the man took off down the street, running as if John were still chasing him.
John turned back the way he had come, finding the woman whose purse had been stolen and giving it to her. “Here you are, ma’am, I think I caught him before he could take anything out.” She thanked him, reaching into her purse for her wallet to get a reward, but John refused. “I don’t need a reward to be a good guy.” He told her, then turned to his caregiver to continue on his way home. Something told John that his life was about to change, and for once, it was going to be for the better.