My tireless legs and tired mind took me to an unknown part of the town. A narrow road separated a row of dilapidated houses and a wasteland, neither deemed worthy enough to be lit up by streetlamps. The darkness around me was intimidating. I tried finding the spotty obsessed lover in the sky, but he was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps musing about giving up, finding solace in Clapton blues to forget her blue face.
My foot hit something hard and limp and I went tumbling to the ground. A thump and a cough resounded through the abandoned houses. I got up at once, for I hadn’t coughed. A man lay in the middle of the road, arms folded under his head, gazing dreamily at the sky.
When life puts you in bits and you’ve tried weathering all storms on your own, the seething rage erupts at the tiniest of pricks. I gathered all energy in my right toe and kicked his leg.
“Oh, that tickled,” he said with a chortle as smug as his speech. A moment ago I had thought I couldn’t be more furious. I was proven wrong. I moved to kick him harder, but my rage dissolved in an instant like a switch had been flicked off. Something had caught my eye.
A toppled wheelchair.
A bigger wave of guilt and shame smothered me than the anger that ebbed. I fumbled with words and mumbled an apology.
“Why are you lying in the middle of the road?” I asked after a few seconds of nervous silence.
He turned his head to look at me and blinked slowly, twice. A gust of wind made one of the wheels of his chair groan.
“Oh, right! I apologize,” I said, picking it up and wiping away some of the dirt after smacking my head. “Do you want me to…” My voice trailed off with the words. He beckoned me to go on with a nod, while I pointed to the chair to convey what I had in mind.
“Of course, feel free to take a seat. I’m quite comfortable here,” he said. Even in the dark night, my face must have gone red as a ruby. I flitted about trying to correct the misunderstanding, but my limbs went limp. The accumulated exhaustion from hours of drinking and even more hours of walking weighed my body down.
“It’s not really comfortable, this chair,” I blurted after a few seconds.
There are very few statements that can’t be blamed on alcohol. That was one of them.
“I’m sorry my wheelchair isn’t comfortable for you,” he said with a sigh. I got up and fidgeted with my jacket. My entire body was drenched in a cold sweat. It was only when the supine paraplegic laughed boisterously that I realized I had forgotten to breathe. “I’m sorry but I just couldn’t resist joking!”
I suddenly felt extremely lethargic and slumped back into the chair. Most of my inebriation had subsided by now. I could think clearly.
“Sorry to cut this rendezvous short, but I’ll get moving now,” he said.
Standing from the chair and helping him on would have been the polite thing to do. But I didn’t move. I couldn’t, because he had. He was standing over me.
“Oh, right. I’m not a quadriplegic. Just short of one leg. Lucky for me that you kicked my artificial leg! This chair belonged to Mr Stroker. He was real excited to get this new motorized wheelchair. It can almost move as fast as a two-stroke engine! Too bad Mr Stroker had a stroke on his maiden ride.”
I watched him incredulously as my legs moved on their own accord. He sat down, sighed, and rolled away.