I am only a lump of thought, unable to speak. I am able to use my bad hand, well what I used to refer to as my bad hand, the left, but as always when one no longer has ability in the good, the bad will fall in line and become its substitute, claiming itself the good. I lost the use of my right hand in an accident, along with the majority of my other useful appendages.
I was working at a steel mill located in the far west-side of Chicago when the accident happened. A coworker was driving his lift with an average load that was not tied right. Pipes slid out of the near-harnessed bundle directly into the top of my shoulder. It shocked us all, but now, even though it left me stuck in a rolling chair, the event seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary. Accidents happen and guilt fades, or is substituted as my dead hand.
The couple whom with I most recently lived thought themselves saints for taking me in. They spoke on endlessly about their god, especially when they needed to spend more time than usual cleaning me on a given day. They imagined me to be grateful for them when they wheeled me to a corner for a day to a table with a book on top too damn high for me to read without strain. My eyes were not damaged. These were the type of people who would drive a lift while its load was not harnessed in respect to physics. They worked forty hours a week because their parents did and went to church on Sundays because they heard only the bad of hell.
It was unavoidable that I often observed the two for hours. The man was named William. He was slightly taller than average, around six foot two inches or so, and was much heavier than most, but in truth, I did not get out into the public enough to really know what was typical in size, considering when I was mobile young adults were probably fifteen to twenty pounds lighter and even left their house on occasion. My impediments are uncommon; however, my reclusiveness became more acceptable and common since the injury – but back to William. He was a stern man and knew he was the man of the righteous duo. He hit his woman two and sometimes three times a month and it was usually resultant of being frustrated with his faith, lack of drink, or his not being paid what he felt a man of his caliber ought to be paid, although he was of a low caliber, but a man always feels he was birthed to be a billionaire, being a child of God and self-recognized, exaggerated form of his father.
The poor woman’s name was Ruth, fitting to her if you happened to see her. She was pretty for her age, which I honestly did not know, but I imagined her to be in her mid-forties. She looked like a youthful thirty-nine. She was prim and prissy around others and put all of what she was inclined to believe was her immortal soul into trying to induce her husband to view her as such. She did not work in the conventional sense, so I saw her most the day. She went up and down the stairs between the laundry machines and dishwasher, which was about what I expected when they brought me to her from the hospital following the guidelines of some ungodly church’s program. I did not understand why she would not just put the kitchen table and dishwasher in their basement. I figured she spent ten-percent of her life running up and down the steps as she dusted and tended to dishes and clothing. It was a pathetic and tedious routine, but within the first couple months of my stay I hoped to communicate as little as possible with her and William. Best case scenario: they would find me to be as ungrateful as I was and roll me off elsewhere.
Being I was not yet thirty-years old and the woman looked to be in her thirties herself, she was enjoyable to watch, swaying her hips as she dusted a high corner from a pliable cushion. Her looks were one of the few benefits of the home and my position in it. I cannot help but say I was fascinated with how many damn dresses she accumulated. They were her pride and she wore them as so. Her youthful look combined with these dresses made me often ponder how she fell into such a trap, but it all does not matter when given some thought.
Her hair was black – and I am continuing on describing her because she was of more interest to me than William – and there were somehow no grays yet woven throughout her bouncing locks. There was more to her than her husband, but I must say, they both seemed to have had characteristics stolen from them. My intentions in pretending to be more damaged than I was worked to my advantage. I did not write her notes although I was fully capable, and she was not even fully certain I understood the many books which she placed in front of me. She simply brought a list of books from the local store and I pointed and moaned, and within the hour it would be atop the always too-high desk before me. My melodramatized impediments allowed me to watch my old but young looking Ruthy as she strategically tended to her guilty pleasures. When her husband was not home she would put on the news and scoff at any attempt at worldly progress. She watched TV maybe three hours a day, which was far more than her husband would have allowed. She opened a window enabling her to see her husband return from a day of work while still being able to watch her coveted television unseen. When he did arrive home early, on the very rare occasion, she met him at the door and pulled off his coat, a well-crafted pretense for why she monitored the driveway.
Life as this was not torturous, but I often felt it to be meaningless, even before the injury. I’m not obsessed with the accident, but feel it is necessary to describe since it is the sole interest of others. One pipe slipped from a bundle and people then looked at me as if I were a pitiful monster. If it were not for the books and my pride in Ruthy’s occasional disobedience I would have put my good arm into the burner of her stove long ago, and all would have been a bad dream. My mark, as they say, would have been no more than charred tile.
My thoughts always eventually cycled back to the stove. It would have been a simple escape, but a life as simple as mine is difficult to abandon. I would not ask for my speech or my ability to walk again if I were to be condemned to working forty hours a week for a lifetime. It was an odd blessing that the home I lived in was bearable. I looked forward to small events in my keepers’ lives, especially one they were discussing the weeks before I left them. When I observed their everyday lives they appeared to be perfect examples of self-righteous complacency. They were motivated by a pride they carefully distilled within themselves, yet they took no action that could bring ubiquity to their convictions. This fuel within them was strong but unburned. I imagined their type to simply be a parked car filled with useless blood instead of gasoline; however, this event that they were considering would be an action. It had purpose and cause. I did not agree with the purpose of their cause to which they were determined to contribute – I was opposed, but I planned be present none the less. They needed me as a tool and I believed my presence gave them a fresh confidence which they understood to be a crucial variable of their uncharacteristic decision. What they did not know was that I could decide, whether or not they believed me to be capable of decision.
It is strange you can live with one for such a time and they can learn so little about you. I guess that was due to my reservations, but if they had shown genuine curiosity I would have let them in – well maybe not William. The two treated me like a parrot as I sat and stared out their windows. Their neighborhood, I must admit, was wonderful, and their property and its surroundings were much underappreciated. Their sidewalks had no cracks and within the matured trees birds sang in ideal intervals; once after breakfast and twice in the afternoon. I obsessed over many things; all which would have once went unnoticed. My favorite of their recurring, natural guests were a couple Cardinals. One had a burn on the right side of his body – yes, his. I even went as far to read a book on birds during my sentence of indolence. Another, second cardinal, was a starker red. The faded-red Cardinal would probably go unnoticed, if it were not for his burn. Half his wing was bald and looked to be a feathered fin rather than a wing, and sadly there was some type of bone sticking out from this fin which looked like a thicker than average toothpick – say a toothpick from the times when they were not yet machined in such precise bulk. Each time this bird dropped to the ground following a habitual attempt at flight, he fell into an unpredictable corkscrew yet tended to land squarely on his small claws. And to watch him fly back atop a tree or onto a power line was a treat. It spent on average ten-minutes to strategically position itself, likely with the assistance of the elegant algorithms only known to those in nature who are not swayed to sin, and flew himself in an unvarying arc to exactly where he planned to land, no matter how narrow the landing pad.
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