Friday, August 12, 2005

“I loss my legs in ‘nam.” The man offered without needing me to ask.

“Really? How old were you when you went?”

“Oh. About forty.”

“I don’t mean to be rude, but isn’t that pretty old to be fighting in a war.”

“I couldn’t tell you.” He smiled showing a mouth full of rotten teeth and fillings. “I lost them in the country. Not the war. No. No blaze of glory and all that crap. I was an engineer there before the war really got started. I didn’t have the foresight to even lose them on the job so I could claim some cash. No. I lost them to one of those mad fucker bus drivers that used to be all over the country. To be more exact, the bus just broke ‘em up real good. It was their backward monkey medicine that caused them to get hacked off. Ever since, I haven’t done shit. I get my check on the fifteenth and I watch the world go by from the spaceship.” He slapped the frame of the medical scooter he was perched upon. It was filthy and blackened. It had a frame with a clear plastic that served as weather guard and windshield, but it was stained completely with the sickly orange pallor of nicotine. Tape and twine held the plastic molding to the frame. There was a cup holder held in place with a ridiculous amount of brown packing tape. “My ass hovers a couple feet above the earth and I watch the humans go about their lives. I got biscuits for doggies and curses for any goddamn cop that tells me to move along. But, they mainly leave me alone these days. I don’t trouble anyone. I used to kick up all kinds of shit and holler. They would finally drag me and my spaceship off to jail, but I made sure it was always more trouble than it’s worth.” He chuckles with a nasal and harsh laugh punctuated by a cough. On clear days he will roll the plastic windows up, but I don’t think it helps him see his way. His glasses besides being thicker than my finger are as grimy and in a similar state of disrepair as his scooter. I have seen him for weeks. He parks his scooter at different points around town. He does just sit there and watch the people and offer treats to dogs as they are being walked. No one really notices him. He is landscape like the bus stops or mailbox.

“Do you always sit in the same spots each day?”

“Yep. They’re the best spots. I start my morning over on 3rd street and Grove. There’s a distribution center over there and I get to watch them load up the vans and the sunrise.”

“How early do you get up?”

“oh. four or five. I have always gotten up early but as you get older it gets earlier and earlier. I don’t mind. I love watching the city wake up. I am usually there before the vans. It’s great to watch how the city wakes up each day.”

“What other spots do you go to?”

He smiles another dirty grin. “I am always in front of the hospital at eleven. That’s when the nurses take their cigarette breaks. I sure like to watch those cuties.” He wolf whistles and gives me a hugely magnified wink.

“Why do you sit here?”

“All the puppies, of course.”

“Do you have a dog yourself?”

“Nah. I like up because I don’t have to clean up after them. How the hell would I scoop up shit from this thing? Alrighty. Good talking with you, but I’m off like a dirty shirt. see you around.” And without waiting for my reply his scooter jerked into action and shot down the sidewalk.

1 comment:

  1. When I was traveling in Vietnam, a couple years ago, I got dengue fever and collapsed off a train platform onto the tracks. It wasn't quite as dramatic as it sounds, but I did get a scar on my knee, sadly fading now. I do get weird pleasure though from the look on people's faces when I tell them,"Oh yeah, I got that in 'nam."