out of view

A man in a wheelchair crosses the street. There are three lanes of traffic: in the north curb lane a woman in a Mercedes Benz observes, in the center lane a man in a beat-up half-ton pickup truck watches. In the south curb lane, a bike messenger waits for the light to turn.”

Sandy straddles her bike at the light. She wipes sweat from the corner of her eye with her sun-weathered knuckle, slightly lifting her shades. “Shit!” she thought as she watched the man in the wheelchair cross the street. Seeing his black leather glove grip and release the chrome pushrim of his rear wheel, she realized she left her gloves at the reception counter on her last stop. Now she would have to double back after the next drop. It wasn’t a long ride but the sticky, breeze-less city air made the extra trip irritating. As the light changed, she clenched her handlebars almost as tightly as that man. “His gloves look brand new and a full size too large”, she thought as he rolled out of view.

“Asshole!” Toni shrieked, as the florist minivan ahead of her slowed down at the yellow light but continued through the jammed intersection leaving her the red light. The sudden stop ejected her meticulously collated presentation to the passenger floor. “Not today” she barked as she watched the man in the wheelchair cross the street. As she reached down to retrieve her papers she stopped. On the side of his pale, thick neck she saw a crisp tattoo of a hooded grim reaper with a sickle. “Is that supposed to mean you cheated death tough guy? You merely placed it on law-away” she snarked out loud. His head turned slightly as she spoke. Had he heard her? It didn’t matter. As the light changed, she was relieved when that tattoo rolled out of view.

Stopped at the red light, Mike released his grip on the steering wheel. He was listening to Henley’s Last Worthless Evening playing on his radio. He turned the volume up a little as he waited at the light. He painfully thought of his wife as he watched the man in the wheelchair cross the street. In the final stage of her cancer, he would hold her hand and play this song. It seemed to comfort her when the pain meds couldn’t. Looking at the man, he noticed how healthy his legs appeared in the wheelchair. Even though his track pants covered his legs, Mike could see noted definition in his calves and thighs. He knows how the body wastes away when the muscles aren’t used; how clothes eerily cling to the body. “Why does he look so healthy” Mike wondered. As the light changed and Henley crooned on, Mike couldn’t shake the feeling something was off. He drove off slowly, adjusting his rear view mirror to watch the man roll out of view.