For many years, I kept a private notion that those in life that face a great misfortune, particularly a physical one, are so far influenced by that misfortune that it leads to “enlightenment.” Through their injury, those afflicted folk become something greater. They become the most caring, kind, and hardworking sorts. Even with crippling wounds, they carry on with unfaltering resilience, never giving into negativity or sorrow, and despite all odds, they would always succeed. (Mind you, this was all in my head.) As I watched these silent sufferers passing by in life, I was inspired. I was inspired by their archetypal quest, by their epic under-dog-ery, by they way they faced such a cruel fate with such bravery. In my eyes, they were gods among men. And I respected them, any and all of those hurting folk, to the highest degree. The respect I had for them was one that never faltered, diminished, or failed. Until I met Frank.
Frank was a dick.
Frank was a paraplegic dick.
Allow me a moment to summarize Frank as the sub-human being he was, and is.
Imagine Tiny Tim. Not any of that “God bless us” crap, but Tiny Tim’s physical figure. This is the basic exoskeleton of Frank. Seems pleasant enough, right? Now cut off Tiny Tim’s legs. Ooh, creepy, but he is still just a rather small and frail child. Now, add 45 years onto Tiny Tim, inject his belly with a good 40 pounds of alcohol-derived blubber, and hang a picture of a permanently scowling, ruffled older-than-his-age man over his face. Now, in place of the good will for mankind and hearty kindness residing in Tiny Tim, place in him instead a burning, psychopathic, aimless rage, a rage only quelled by belittling whatever misfortunate person, or thing, Frank decided should be put below his crippled self. Add an inferiority complex comparable to a self deprecating Tyrannosaurus, the common sense level of a dodo bird, and a bad attitude comparable to Lucifer himself, on a bad day.
To say the least, Frank was an unpleasant person.
I first met Frank when I was working a graveyard shift at the local garbage heap of a fast food restaurant, The Shack. If there was food to be found at The Shack, it was sub-par. It was a ratty, ugly, flea-ridden hole of a miserable estate. I often use it to justify the highly unfortunate state of the planet Earth. You get the idea.
At about midnight, someone pulled into the drive thru. If only I had known the horrors in store for me. The headset beeped into my ear, awakening me from my fast-food trance (those of you who have been employed at a fast food restaurant understand) and my mind snapped into half gear. The lightbulb over my head buzzed.
“Welcome to the shack. Just… Go ahead and order.” I hated working there.
“Excuuuuuuse me… sir.” a voice slurred, “I came through earlier….” A long break. I sighed. “And I have a… complaint.”
If only I hadn’t responded.
The soon to be catalogued voice whipped into instant fury.
“Watch your tone mister, or I’ll make you regret that you’re still a virgin, you half…….. Moron!”
I winced. The headset shrieked with metallic malevolence.
“Listen man, we close in like.. ten minutes, why don’t you just cool your…” A click. He was gone. I shrugged.
A crow bar asserted its way through the glass of thr drive-thru window.
“MOTHER MARTHA!!” I exclaimed with fearful vigor. (I am still unsure of the identity of Mother Martha.) I recoiled in horror as I stared into the wide, blood-shot eyes of the the hockey-masked face of Frank. He looked displeased. And drunk.
I raised a hand halfway to my gaping mouth, where it remained suspended awkwardly, leaving me in a pose one would only observe in a award winning foreign interprative dance. The masked man in the wheel chair threw his arm out, and pushed the smashed window inwards.
“Come over here boy, and ill give those sorry nipples of yours a good twisting!”
I felt like I was in a long lost Monty Python skit.
I fumbled for the work phone at approximately the same moment the crow bar hit me in the face.
When my eyes peeled open, it was 12:23. I slowly sat up.
Glass from the broken window was spread across the floor. The register was ripped open, and tattered Washington’s and Lincoln’s fluttered in the cool evening breeze. The lightbulb over my head buzzed. It appeared as if Frank had relieved himself through the window, into the restaraunt, and some of the puddle had reached my legs. I rubbed my thouroughly swollen left eye, wondering how a man with no legs managed to pee through an open window, near the level of his head, and hit me at such a great range.
I fumbled for the phone yet again, and dialed 911.
“911, state the nature of your emergency.”
My drive-thru was just ransacked by a drunken cripple!”
The you-just-got-hung-up-on fairy began its monotone solo. I’ll admit, in that secretary’s shoes, I would have hung up too. Working this late sucked. And that particular sentence was not one of literary genius.
The next call I made did not go so well either. To summarize: after a short conversation, the owner of The Shack made a late night visit. After I explained the story to him, he gracefully bestowed a stunningly accurate synopsis of my character upon me, using a very poetic, rhythmic repitition of several choice words, and sent me home. Several days later, I received a phone call from a charming man, whose name I have forgotten, but title I have not.
One lawsuit later, I was out of work and out of dough. The appartment followed the rest of my minimal fortune through the window. I spent some time in a homeless shelter, thinking up my own character synopsis for Frank, heaven forbid I meet him again.
Sure enough, I did.
Who would have thought next time it would go worse.