Put on Hold

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Patience is a virtue; that means not everyone has it.” -Unknown

Put on Hold

Kevin sat in his small brick box, completely bored by his prospects.  This had been his life for the past five years.  In front of him were six gas pump units and behind him were six more.  He sat in his little glass aquarium, four windows allowing every customer to see any movement that he made.  Even when the weather was nice, the giant roof that encapsulated the gas station kept him from feeling any element of nature, be it rain or sunshine.  Over the years, he had contemplated quitting every single day.  The problem was that he needed to stay here or his life would never get better.

Many a time he had tried to explain the situation to people, but he never thought that anyone would believe him.  It had all started in the hospital.  Numerous wires and tubes had been running from his body to different machines and displays.  The morphine drip had been cut down drastically since the operation.  His face had been a beaten mess of purple hues and aching muscles.  But what had bothered him the most were his legs.  The formerly perfect limbs which Kevin had spent years enjoying were numb.  Every now and then a phantom feeling had shot out for his attention.  Yet, when he had reached to scratch his foot or turn his legs, he hadn’t felt a thing.

The semi-truck had done a ruthlessly efficient job.  Kevin had been crossing the intersection; the white-light man calmly had glowed to convince him that all was safe.  Halfway across, Kevin had noticed the truck.  It had honked and the driver had waved maniacally.  For the fleeting moments that Kevin had glanced inside the driver’s cab, and from the police report that came later, it had been clear that the driver had lost control.  The truck couldn’t have stopped.  Kevin tried to get out of the street in time, but he hadn’t a chance.  The semi barreled through the intersection and slammed into the front of a delivery truck with Kevin pinned in the middle.

Every time that a medical professional or friend had stopped into Kevin’s room, they had expressed that it was a miracle to be alive.  No one else would have survived being caught between those two massive vehicles.  He was supposed to feel blessed that he had somehow lived.  His legs, not surprisingly, were another matter.

If his legs had once been two strong oak trees, they were now more akin to sawdust.  From his hips to his ankles, every single bone had been broken.  As Kevin overheard one doctor tell a nurse, “There isn’t a single piece of bone left that’s bigger than my finger.”

Kevin had to admit that the doctors had done their best.  Eight surgeries in three months served as proof that they had tried to help.  Still, the result was inevitable.  Kevin was not going to be able to use his legs ever again.  Kevin had just begun to process that truth when he received a stranger.

At first Kevin had thought the man was the hospital psychiatrist.  He had been told to expect one since he had clearly been through a traumatic experience.  But nothing about this man seemed reassuring.  Every aspect of the man, from his bolo-tie to the canary resting on his shoulder, was just a bit off.  His brown hair had a little too much grease in it and his fingers had a few too many veins visible.  When the man went to shut the door, Kevin sat up taller in his hospital bed.  The man then closed the blinds on the window and sat on the side of Kevin’s bed.

Kevin ran through the scene every day since it had happened.  The man had heard about the accident.  The man had pushed against Kevin’s legs.  Kevin, of course, hadn’t felt a thing.  It was the man who had shaken his head at the limp legs and uttered things like, “such a shame” and “if only there was a way”.  The man had then gone on to suggest that he could help.  Before Kevin could ask what he meant, the man had reached up and pulled the canary down in his fist.  Kevin had been shocked as he watched the man snap the bird’s leg.  Kevin still remembered the rage and his attempt to snatch the bird away and pummel this man in the face.  But the man had stood up too fast.  He had told Kevin that, “Despite what you have heard, everything that has been broken can now be fixed.”

Kevin had watched as the man pulled a syringe from his pocket.  He had placed the bird, limping about in pain, on Kevin’s bed.  He had then injected the bird with a shot and pulled the leg into its correct position.  Kevin had lain on his bed, confused, as he saw it happen.  The bird had chirped, tested its leg on top of the hospital’s bed sheets, then it had hopped about merrily until it flew to Kevin’s lap.  Kevin had been speechless.

The man had presented his case rapidly.  Certain groups had new technologies at their disposal.  There were ways to get a body’s genetic material to rewrite itself.  The man called it a “rebooting”.  Kevin was promised that he could have his legs back.  Kevin had been trembling with excitement, yet he had been wary about the man’s ethics.  “You didn’t have to hurt the bird”, he had said with his jaw set firm in anger.  The man had only shrugged and said something about, “having to prove it worked”.

That was how Kevin found himself in this gas station, day after day.  The man had given him a phone.  It was a typical, out of date cellular phone, but it only had one button.  Kevin had been told that he was in charge of this phone.  The man had gotten Kevin a job as the gas station attendant, but his real responsibility was guarding the phone.  Kevin had been instructed that every once in a great while, certain individuals would come and ask for the specific phone.  The phone only dialed the people that the man represented.  The phone was the only one encrypted to dial the number, so it was paramount that the phone be available to those that needed it.  And, as the man had warned, if Kevin ever tried to dial the number himself, the car wreck would look like a walk in the park compared to what they would do to him.

Kevin thought about that meeting every day.  The phone sat underneath the keyboard of his register, constantly taunting him from out of sight.  Kevin felt his gaze falling to his wheelchair.  It was parked along the side wall of his booth since there was not enough room for it and the wall of cigarette packs.  Kevin constantly kept on an eye on the wheelchair partly because he didn’t want it stolen, and partly because it served as a reminder of why he was there.  Once in a while a couple of kids would try to steal his wheelchair, but so far Kevin had been able to scare them off.  What scared him was the thought of never getting his legs back.

Kevin wondered if the man could actually do what he had promised.  Maybe the bird had been some sort of trick; perhaps even a robot.  It wasn’t like Kevin had poked under the wing and examined the bird.  However, there had been two occasions that made Kevin believe the story he had been told.  Over the past five years, two different men had coming looking for the phone.  They had both run up, bleeding or worse, and demanded the phone.  Each time Kevin tried to point them towards the pay phone and each time they had shaken their heads.  “No”, they said with angry voices, “THE phone.”  Kevin had given them the phone and watched as they had run away yelling into the device.  One of the men looked like he had been shot in the chest and Kevin thought he had seen the other with a gun tucked into his belt.  The next day the man Kevin had met in the hospital had returned and handed Kevin a new phone.  He hadn’t said anything, hadn’t offered any answers, he had only dropped off the phone and walked away.  Kevin had banged on the window, had demanded to know how much longer he was supposed to be stuck in this tiny booth with his life on hold.  The man, no canary in tow, had walked away dismissing Kevin both times.

Kevin often considered his options.  He had sacrificed much for this lousy booth.  Weddings, dates, vacations; all had been put on hold as he had waited.  Maybe he should listen to all his friends and get fitted with prosthetics.  Kevin stiffened at the idea of losing his legs to two machines.  He wanted to run and jump again, but he didn’t want to lose half of his body to do it.  No matter how high-tech a machine was, it was still a chunk of foreign material to him.

More and more, the idea was growing on him.  Kevin was not made to sit in a tiny booth.  He was caught in the middle of some shady dealings that he had no control over.  He had no desire to be the operator that connected calls for some rather despicable individuals, no matter how important their “cause” was.  Kevin was tired of smelling like gasoline all day and every day.  He had long ago grown weary of selling cigarettes to people that were clearly addicted.  However, he wanted his legs back.

Kevin missed hiking.  He missed walking to work on nice days, “just because”.  How could he know when the man would decide Kevin had worked long enough?  What if the man decided to help Kevin out when he turned sixty and was no longer able to fully enjoy his legs?  How long was Kevin going to put his life on hold?  He didn’t know if he should have a little faith or if he needed to kick himself in the seat of his pants and get on with life.

Kevin wanted to be out in the world.  He didn’t want to be under the thumb of heartless thugs.  At the beginning of their arrangement, Kevin had been willing to wait.  That patience was eroding as Kevin considered all he was missing out on.  He started to think that when that third person eventually came for the phone, Kevin might not be there to hand it over.

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About anecdotaltales
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

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