DF Smale

I’m endlessly fascinated by the ways people internalise the world around them, and how they express what they see through artistic mediums. My hobbies include scrapbooking, macramé, and ignoring trivial problems until they become insurmountable issues. I reside in a house with an exceedingly difficult and temperamental ferret named Fievel who refuses to listen to anything except post-modern interpretive jazz.

Art is how we come to terms with the world.


Feets Has Feelings Too

Feets walks past my window. Every day she tap-tap-taps down that sidewalk and up to the front door of the building like she just bought and paid for it. Makes me sick. Clackity-clack up the stairs to her apartment and through the rooms right above my head all night. Does she sleep in those goddamned skyscraper heels of hers?! She must have at least a hundred pairs; every time I see her she’s wearing different shoes. She mocks me with her whipcrack footfalls on the pavers outside, the stark comparison of my silent rubber wheels that roll soundlessly across the smooth wooden floor of my first storey apartment and very few other places. Even with a blanket over my lap, they stare. I can feel it every time I go out. The legs are missing. I know, believe me. I was there. Adults, they’ll sneak peeks, shoot sideways glances across. Assessing. How bad is it? What do you think happened? Maybe she was born that way, who knows. Some tragedy I bet. But children? Nah. Children have no filter, no sense of decorum. Take the kid at the chemist the other day. No more than eight years old, standing there in the middle of the floor with his finger jammed so far up his nose he was in danger of losing it forever and gawping at me like I was his own personal sideshow freak. As I wheeled up to him I saw his mother realise and start tugging on his sleeve, but no way, no sir, he’s not budging; he’s got eyes locked with me now as I’m getting closer and I lean down to him and I say “Wanna know what happened?” His eyes are like dinner plates already and I’m watching them get bigger and bigger as he slowly nods and I grin and I tell him “Well son, I stuck my finger so far up my own damn nose one day it cut the circulation to my legs clean off and the damned things just withered right up and fell bang on the floor!”

Can you imagine? You should have seen the look on his face. Bet he never picks his nose again.

Harvey’s a good guy. A total peach. Innocent as anything. I think he’s a bit backward, to be fair. He comes by every day, helps me shower. Cleans and cooks once a week, too. All my home-cooked pre-prepared tv dinners within easy reach in the freezer compartment. He even does my shopping. Best man I’ve ever had, even if he does get paid out of my disability money. He only got me the gun after more than six months of convincing. And only then because he knows how bad the pain gets in these phantom legs that don’t exist anymore. I’m glad that they’re dead and gone. I think about them rotting, decomposing somewhere nameless years ago, and it gives me comfort somehow. If I can’t have them then they certainly shouldn’t be allowed to endure without me. But poor Harvey, though. Every day when he comes, he gives me that golden smile. Tells me how glad he is to see me still here and it breaks my heart; or it would if I had one, because I can see the relief in his eyes and somehow, insanely, he really is genuinely pleased to see me still alive and rolling around. If he knew what I actually wanted the gun for, well. He sure never would have gotten it for me, that’s the honest truth. Probably, he’s going to feel really guilty about the whole thing when it happens. Really, he shouldn’t. I played him like the patient, bitter old hag that I am. And I won. I always win. Except when it really counts.

Maybe Jesus gives you bonus points for converting a disillusioned cripple. A free set of steak knives, or an island holiday. I’m not sure. I’ve never really understood how the whole thing works. All I know is, the only things that get sold to you by people knocking on your door are overpriced crap. Like those vacuums they named after a cartoon character. Or encyclopaedias. Except you’ve got the Google for that now, so I guess those guys are out of a job. Either way, I can’t stand her waffle, but the cookies she brings are outstanding. I don’t care that they’re bribe cookies, they still taste like peanut brownies to me. Maybe they’re pity cookies. I still don’t care. She tells me that her God has a plan for everyone. I tell her I might have a peanut allergy and ask her if her God has a plan B? And then I tell her I had plans, too. I still do. My current plan is to eat as many brownies as possible. After all, who have I got to watch my figure for? She tells me that her God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle and I tell her my hands are just fine, thank you, they’re not the issue here. She just shakes her head, and she tells me that her God tests all of his children, even the most faithful. “Remember the story of Job?” she asks me. And I tell her that yeah, sure I do. And then I ask her what kind of sick fuck makes a bet with his sworn enemy to torture the living hell out of some poor bastard just to prove a point about how devoted he is? If her God were a man and Job were his wife, we’d be calling God an abusive husband. The story would end in divorce and a restraining order, or Job being beaten to death in the kitchen; as opposed to some uplifting crap about how blind devotion can be a positive and life-enriching thing. And was it? Did Job get a Mercedes-Benz and a mansion with a heated swimming pool at the end of that story? I can never remember. I think I upset her. To be fair, I think I upset her most times when she visits, but her beatific old-fashioned Christian forgiveness won’t let her be defeated, not when there’s a soul to be saved. The woman has more cheeks to turn than a hundred-headed hydra. Really, the joke’s on her. I have no soul. Oh well. At least there are brownies. I wonder what she would say if I told her I plan on murdering the woman upstairs? Maybe we can discuss that next week.

They all acted like it was my fault, you know. The accident, the people in the other car,; all of it. Like I had somehow done it on purpose. As if I’d planned to kill two people and smash my legs to bits, crushed up under the dash and mangled through the wreckage. Just because you’ve been drinking, it doesn’t mean you’re drunk. I needed the drink. What do they call it? Dutch courage? Suicide’s a scary thing to contemplate, you know. And the sheer unfairness of it all. It should have been me with the windscreen through my throat, or my sternum crushed to bits by the steering wheel. Not them. Lucky bastards.

Which, I suppose, brings us back to Feets. She taunts me. Every. Single. Day. Walking around in her perfect world. What kind of a person makes it their life’s purpose to torture a cripple? I’m telling you now, someone like that, who does something like that; they deserve what they get. And she will. I figure, I only get to do this thing once; so I’m going to do it right and proper. Make it a statement. A legacy. Something for people to remember me for. Like that girl, you know? The one who didn’t like Mondays. Bob Geldof wrote a song about her and all. Not about all the dead kiddies, mind, just about her. I suppose I’d find that strange, if I cared.

Everything’s in motion now. It’s fifteen minutes past five and I’m waiting outside my front door. I have the gun, and it’s so warm in my hand under my comfort blanket. It can’t be seen; I checked in the mirror before I rolled out the door. Any moment now, Feets will walk up the front path. Who’s that clackity-clacking over my bridge? Because I am the troll, I am the ogre, and she is nothing more than the sacrifice to be made. Bang bang. But when she comes this time, late, she’s not alone and… she’s crying. Weeping. And for the first time I truly see it, I recognise the suffering in the tears on her face and I can almost taste that copper misery… and I can’t believe it. The terrible mistake I almost made. If she’s dead, then she can’t ever feel this way again. Such a gift given would be unthinkable. I remember now what I had forgotten for so long. The answer was always obvious, how could I have been so very blind for all this time?! I know what to do now; I can already taste the sharpness of the metal. And it tastes like home.

First published takahe
89 April 2017