Unfinished – Wheelchairs…

Fix the errors in “Get your hands of my chair young man.”

The second woman on the bus is now a younger woman, maybe in her twenties, and she’s in a wheelchair because her legs have been blown off at the knees by a bomb in a train station. She’s the only one who survived. She’s on her way to the TV studio to be interviewed. The host, the collagen-lipped Susannah Fontaine-Williams, is going to surprise her with a new Chevrolet Malibu equipped with hand controls so she can drive it. The audience whoop and rhythmically clap.

Then Susannah Fontaine-Williams announces that they have an even bigger surprise in store for our young hero. The lights dim and a video of the woman’s boyfriend displays while inspiring patriotic music plays. “And here on special leave to share your special day, Lieutenant George Michael W…” and rising up through a platform in the floor through a fog of dry ice is her longtime boyfriend. The Lieutenant is a soldier stationed somewhere in a dangerous part of the world. He too is a bombing survivor. He still has his legs but his hearing has been damaged. In a moment, Susannah Fontaine-Williams is going to present him with a state of the art ear implant and the resulting thundering audience applause overtake the pair who break down and weep.

The damaged young bombing survivor cum celebrity glimpsed Rose as the bus rolled away from the bus stop. She caught Rose’s eye and smiled politely. She hoped the interview will be over quickly and thought about how she’ll spend the check for appearing.

Unfinished – Two wheelchairs on a Bus

The bus pulled up for Rose at the corner of Columbus and 75th. The driver extended the ramp and she haltingly pushed forward to get over the edge of the ramp and grab a handrail inside the bus. It was slow going. She felt her chair nudge forward and turned her head around to see a man giving her a helpful push.

“Get your hands of my chair young man.” She said. “No one asked for your help.”

“Sorry,” he said and backed away from the chair.

“You have no right to just push someone like that.”

She resumed jerking her way forward finally managing to round the bend past the driver, turn the chair face forward and parallel park herself into the space vacated by the seats that had been turned up for her. The driver strapped her wheel in. She adjusted her hat and sighed.

With her hands in her lap, she waved an arthritic finger at the helpful man as he walked by. When he’d passed her, she smiled, adjusted her summer hat, a straw thing with a wide brim that hid her thin hair and the bald spot that had made camp atop her head several years ago and would not leave.

The bus moved forward and she noticed the woman sitting across the aisle, also in a wheel chair, also with a hat, although hers was white.

“I hate when people do that,” the woman said.

“It doesn’t like you’d need a boost with that thing,” Rose said with a nod toward the woman’s chair.

It was a beautiful chair, with smaller wheels than Rose’s, pneumatic tires, a thick, padded seat with a head rest and joystick controls – a lovely, motorized chair. “I know you. Aren’t you…,” Rose started to say, then looked the other way out the window.

Here we have these notes jotted down in a notebook six and one half years ago. I typed the notes into a word doc on June 1, 2007 presumably to flesh out a story. I remember the incident – the old woman with the funky hat rolling on the bus and the young man who pushed her (me, not so young) and the reproachful look she gave me. The notes end there and though I can recall the moment I don’t remember if the other woman an old friend, someone who stole a lover, or someone famous she recognized.

No matter. They sit in their wheelchairs on a bus on Columbus Avenue heading downtown in 2007 at the beginning of a conversation in an unfinished barely begins story waiting for the words that form their thoughts and construct their sentences and drive their actions.