What must it feel like to know you’re being operated on. Hear the happy surgeons chat about vacation homes while they stab and reach inside you. Just a few steps from the diner door, the first blow paralyzed me. I fought my body as it fell, but couldn’t make it move. Arms dead, legs dead, trunk as dead as lumber, I fell like a tree and felt my forehead break against the parking lot and rolled onto my back with one arm painfully jack-knifed behind me and could not move it, and could not move. The one with the bat came looking, for awareness, for an apology. He stared into my eyes. I couldn’t close them. I gave him that same level look he’d caught me giving him in the diner, while he bullied the waitress, the one I couldn’t help then either. Tell me again why I need this operation. The one without the bat came closer and stepped down hard on my curled fingers. Not such a tough guy, now, he told me. We heard the fingers snap. I didn’t flinch. My reticence insulted them. The waitress came out, judging from her accent, talking to someone else. Did she see me lying here in need? I heard their footsteps recede across the lot. I wondered if I would pass out. They kicked me then, to get a reaction, and each blow turned my head. I saw glimpses of the neighborhood, the signs in several languages. I saw the waitress getting into her boyfriend’s car, and cinders from the crumbling parking lot brought tears to my forever open eyes. They leaned in close and put the bat to my neck and delivered me my lesson. Unless you were born here, they told me, It’s none of your business.

Copyright © August 17, 2007 David Hodges