Life had always been cruel to Arnold Fletcher. Born with two legs instead of one, he was the village outcast. As a young lad while the other children of Hopsville were hopping around gleefully, playing games of tag, football and the national sport of hopscotch, poor Arnold slithered about helplessly.
“Ha-ha! Look at stupid Arnie,” screamed the children as they took turns picking Arnold up and watching him fall to the ground, legs flopping uselessly.
“You wait,” cried little Arnold, “one day, after expensive surgery, I’ll be normal and then you’ll be sorry!”
Poor Arnold slithered off, to the jeers of the entire village of Hopsville until he vanished into the horizon.
Years passed, many in fact, so many, that many had forgotten the poor crippled Arnold.
Until one dark autumn night; when a strange sound echoed through the village of Hopsville.
Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch. It was the sound of leaves being hopped on, only it wasn’t a hopping causing the crunching. This was something never before encountered by the village folk. By dawn a crowd had gathered in the village rectangle. All eyes turned towards the direction of the unknown sound.
In the distance they saw a figure. It seemed to be a man, but it could not be. This creature did not hop. This thing’s leg was split down the middle. Both halves swung to and fro carrying the creature towards the village. The men of the village rushed the women and children indoors. Frantically the men hopped back to the rectangle to protect their land from the approaching monster.
Steadily the creature became easy to see.
“It’s Arnold Fletcher! Ha-ha! We were afraid of him? Ha-ha!” the village folk burst with laughter.
Arnold stopped two feet in front of the crowd.
“Remember how I said, ‘I would return,’ do you?” Arnold pulled out a baseball bat and began breaking leg. He rushed into the houses where the women and children were hiding reaping his vengeance from the past. Finally everyone was helpless.
Throughout the village all one could hear was the moans of the men, women and children. Above it all stood Arnold, laughing madly.
“You bunch of misfits,” screamed Arnold, “now you need me. Don’t you?”
Arnold then pulled out a chainsaw and proceeded to cut off one of his legs. Arnold place a tourniquet above the stub of his left thigh.
“I said, ‘I would return,’ and I have,” screamed Arnold above the roar of his Black and Decker Chainsaw. In just a matter of minutes Arnold had joined the ranks of the normal. While hopping for joy, Arnold tripped on his amputated left leg, fell into the wishing well, and drowned.
Life had dealt Arnold another cruel blow. He had been born with two left feet.
The questioner challenged us to think of people who had been canonized or maligned, and had influenced us or society. This person couldn’t be a well know celebrity. Rather this individual should be a second tier newsmaker. The whispered conversations of others started around the room. Each group was discussing who impacted them individually and was not an icon, good or bad. As with most discussions, the original topic gave way to peripheral subjects.
These conversations entered my consciousness in snippets:
“. . . direct deposit . . .”
“. . .electronically pay bills through the bank . . .”
“. . . and no checks. The Home Shopping Network . . .”
“You can have groceries delivered to . . .”
“. . . never leave your house . . .”
In my mind, I drifted back. I remembered, and as I floated through the clouds of my memory, I remembered, gorj link. As you read through link’s day, a day that changed his life and my thinking, perhaps you will consider who has been misunderstood or misrepresented. Some of us know gorj link, some may know gorj link. Maybe you have had an experience similar to gorj link, but we may all be guilty of treating others like gorj link.
* * *
T’was a fair day in Midport. The paperboy was delivering the paper, the milkman was making his rounds, and the postman was knocking twice at the doors where he dropped off the mail.
Just off Main Road in a little blue room, life was stirring beneath the sheets. gorj link, the local ‘nobody’, awoke once again, as he had done for the past thirty-one years. After struggling to his feet, gorj link took the usual two steps from his bed to his front door, where once again the paper, milk and mail hadn’t been delivered.
“No mail for me,” mumbled gorj as he’d always said every morning. Except for on Sunday, as no mail would be delivered.
Taking two very precise steps out of his door onto the front porch, gorj saw the bus pull up to its stop exactly on time.
“10:07,” stated gorj, resetting his watch and taking two very precise steps back into his blue room.
gorj returned to his bed and turned on the small twelve in television set that sat on his wood chest beside his bed. The set snapped, crackled and popped to life as gorj reached to the night stand and poured a bowl of dried corn flakes. As he had done every morning for the past thirty-one years.
“Aaah, good as ever,” said gorj to on one in particular.
Into the blue came a sound. Someone was knocking at gorj’s door.
“Who could that be?” queried gorj to himself. Taking two very precise steps to the door, gorj opened it and saw Mr. Least, the town’s self-made ‘somebody’.
“Hello, mr. link. I hope I’m not disturbing you, but you see, you disturb us. Please, would you tell us why you live at all?” asked a visibly concerned Mr. Least.
“Please come in Mr. Least. Would you care for some water? Perhaps a bowl of cereal?” asked an equally concerned gorj.
“No. You must address yourself to the question at hand,” boomed Mr. Least, as he gently placed his claw on gorj’s left shoulder.
“What is the question? Surely you can come into my house and chat with me for a little while,” sheepishly asked gorj.
“I have no time to talk to you. We the people of Midport demand to know why you do the same thing day after day. Every day you wake up, see there is no milk, mail or paper, and then set your watch by the arrival of the bus. Meanwhile, we go to work every day except Sunday, as no one works on Sunday.”
“Well Mr. Least . . .” started a startled gorj.
“I have no time for this, my break is almost over. I have to get to work. I shall be back later mr. link, but now I must catch my bus. Good day.” Mr. Least removed his claw from gorj’s shoulder and walked down the road.
“Good day, Mr. Least. Stop back soon. I enjoyed our talk,” stated gorj as he shut the door and took two very precise steps back to his bed.
gorj decided, after a while to change the channel on his television set for the first time in thirty-one years. It had been that kind of day.