I saw a crippled man struggle with his aluminum arm-crutches. Bus shelter, 19th Avenue, San Francisco. Ankles splayed outward, soles at right angles to the sidewalk as if his dead feet had fallen from under him and landed on either side. If not for the crutches his weight would have snapped both ankles like toothpicks. With all of his upper body strength he fought to put his soles face down to the ground.
Flash past in traffic, and the image is done. But I thought about it all day.
Summer, 1980. Bus stop on Balboa Avenue, San Diego. I'm headed downtown, to catch the Greyhound to Redlands, to maybe prevent my relationship from breaking up. Across the busy intersection one of the special-ed kids from the nearby high school struggles to cross the crowded four-lane street. He has the walk sign, but, his balance is not right. Sways, throws a clumsy foot forward, spins like a weathervane, stops. Disoriented: facing the wrong way. Regains his direction, turns around, tries again. Sway, foot forward, spin, stop. He's trying so hard, but his body will not do what he asks. Third time: sway, foot forward, spin, stop. Failure. Defeat. Sinks to the ground in front of oncoming traffic at the top of a nearly blind hill. I want so much to run to him, but - my bus is here. Miss this bus, and I miss the Greyhound; miss the Greyhound, and I lose my girlfriend. A choice to make. Him, or her? Him, or her? I choose her. From the back window I see him holding his head, crying, alone in the street as his light turns red.
We broke up anyway.
Relationships fail, life carries on, we forget each other. I've remembered that boy crying in the street for half my life.
© 2002-2017 Mark Phillips.
All rights reserved.
This writing is fiction. Please don't confuse it with reality.
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Published 10/02: Comrades #13.
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