|No Warning: A Christmas
By R. D. Flavin
A Few Years Ago:
"Oh, God," she
thought, "he's looking right at me!"
her neighbor across the street as a primal dork. He wasn't
skinny, or didn't dress in bad plaid,
but he acted and spoke like a lead-paint victim. Whenever she was
leaving for work in the morning and he'd stutter some inane greeting or
advice about the weather, she'd feel wet under her arms, like she was being
held hostage in a bank robbery or something potentially painful.
The guy gave her the creeps...
he yelled out, stepping off the curb.
Marty took all
his fares down Freehold Street because he could zip along and get to the
bridge without stopping at any traffic lights. Actually, his "shortcut"
was the same length as waiting for the lights, however the customers always
felt like it was FASTER because the taxi was MOVING. FASTER=TIP.
Marty always enjoyed Freehold Street and had probably earned enough money
with the "shortcut" over the years to buy his own taxi, but his drinking
problem prevented any real possibility of savings. When he hit the
guy stepping off the curb and saw the blood on the windshield, he admitted
to himself that he'd have to stop drinking for awhile.
He had her schedule
down pat and knew she'd be outside at eight-thirteen
exactly. The handmade scarf from
Korea had cost him the price of breakfast, but he truly believed this sexy
neighbor would be worth it. Eugene called out to her, held up the
wrapped gift, and began to cross over to her side of the street. The yellow
cab coming toward him seemed to be speeding.
It was over in
a second and Cheryl felt her morning glass of orange juice shift
position in her stomach. Not that
she wished the dork any personal harm, mind you, but the way his body was
all twisted on the other side of the street could mean answering questions
from the police, and she'd already been late twice that week. Her
year-end bonus could be effected by another tardy, and wishing the dork
a pleasant afterlife, she walked to the train-station, and went on with
Eugene felt the
curb buried into his spine and thought about doing one of those KUNG FU
flips, righting himself, and landing on his feet. Unfortunately,
for Eugene, he couldn't feel his feet. But, he could CLEARLY hear
the taxi-driver screaming at him... He knew he was in trouble.
One Year Later:
gave Eugene a sense of control, being able to speed up, slow
down, or perform real nifty turns.
It had been a year recovering from the accident and though he'd NEVER walk
again, Eugene was thankful that he was the only one who'd gotten hurt.
Every day the newspapers have reports about the tragic deaths of innocents
trying to cross the street and what guided him along the long road of recovery,
was the sure knowledge that HE had crossed the street to meet his neighbor,
hadn't been lazy, and called HER to him. He couldn't have survived
if he'd cause pain to another. Especially not someone he was going
Cheryl left her
apartment feeling GREAT! Her rent was raised a mere three
percent, her college-loan payments were
caught up, the crazy dork across the
street was out of her mornings forever,
and her recent promotion was a sure sign
of better things to come. Her family
was actually telephoning more often and she'd had three dates in the last
month! If only her male cat would stop peeing on everything she owned,
her life might come close to being ...wonderful!
he called from his wheelchair across the street. "I still have your
present from last year..."
It had taken months
in front of review boards and standing in line at City Hall, but Marty
had eagerly jumped through every hoop the system put in front of him.
Driving a cab was his only livelihood and he believed he was good at it.
Apparently, so did a state judge and the licensing review board.
A stiff fine, night classes, probation, and he was back behind the wheel
doing what he loved. Marty loved being in control, taking his fares wherever
he wanted, and using his Freehold Street "shortcut." He didn't see
the wheelchair until it was too late...
She watched the
wheelchair fly in one direction and the crippled dork another. Cheryl
immediately comprehended the fragility of the human body, as the dork bounced
off of several cars and showed clear signs of extensive injuries, while
the wheelchair landed on the sidewalk, bounced twice, and seemed to survive
the crash fairly well. The dork had been carrying a package in his
lap when he was struck by the taxi, and Cheryl stared at it for a moment
as it lay in the middle of the street, gift-wrapped, and with a shiny red
bow. "It's probably an animal organ," she thought, hurrying to work
and trying (again) to forget.
and a computer allowed Eugene much more freedom than he
thought he'd ever be able to achieve after
the last accident. His extensive injuries had left him severely paralyzed
from the neck down, only being able to move his left, third finger an inch
back and forth. It was just enough to operate the controls of his
new electric wheelchair. For the longest time during recovery it
seemed like he'd spend the rest of his suffering life helpless to the whims
of nurses and social workers, but this new chair was GREAT!
Her new haircut
was short, sassy, and befitted a vice-president in charge of
advertising. Cheryl had slept with
the president of the company, gotten pregnant, and the subsequent abortion
was rewarded with a new office, a title, and a hefty raise. The condo
she'd just closed on would need work, but with the right contractors, she
hoped to be out of her old neighborhood by springtime. The neighborhood
came with baggage, memories, and reminded her of things she wanted to forget.
As she left her
apartment, she saw the dork across the street in his new
wheelchair. "Oh, God," she thought,
"he's looking right at me!"
Eugene yelled out, pushing the toggle forward and commanding his wheelchair
to cross the street.
He hadn't had
a drink or a cigarette in almost a year. The judge had ordered
that he chauffeur old people and the handicapped
around free-of-charge for four
months as his fine. The inside of
the cab reeked of too much cheap cologne and
burst colostomy bags. Sometimes
the stench was so bad, fares would ride with the windows down, even when
it was raining. When he turned down Freehold Street, a tiny voice
screamed inside his head, "Marty, watch out for the dork in the wheelchair!"
"Son of a witch!"
Marty swore, slamming on his brakes.
his head, saw the yellow taxi a few inches from his wheelchair, and smiled.
"I still have your Christmas present!" he called out to his sexy neighbor.
swore, noticing the dork had a beautiful scarf in his lap.
was out of town visiting her sister and he was racing to get his kids to
their last day of school before Christmas break, as he'd overslept and
they'd missed the bus. The taxi he'd been following for three blocks
gave no warning whatsoever when it stopped. As the airbag smashed
into his face, he wondered if his wife would ever forgive him for killing
All she could
think about was the aquamarine scarf, how it was a perfect
accessory for her gray evening gown, and
the dork was babbling something about her taking it. So, she did.
It was a miracle there was no blood on it, as when the taxi was struck
from behind, it jumped forward and crushed the dork under its wheels.
She'd wear it that night at the office Christmas party, but wouldn't dare
tell a soul where it came from.
Oh, maybe she'd
say Santa came early this year.
c. 2002 by R. D. Flavin
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