Hector’s Friend in Line

BandagesUsually Hector despised it when total strangers asked him about his missing foot, but the man behind him in line at Au Bon Pain went about it in a very delicate way.  After much surreptitious peeking from behind a two-week-old copy of Timeout, he finally allowed the magazine to rest at his side and began a series of throat clears that grew more and more rigorous as Hector continued to ignore him.  Finally, unable to bear the dirty looks of the other people in line – I’m just standing here on my one foot, I’m not the one coughing! – he turned and gave the tiniest of polite smiles, allowing the man clearance to ask an inappropriate question.  But all he said was, “that’s quite a nice bandage, may I ask where you bought it?”  Hector was a bit taken aback, but managed to say very politely that he purchased it at a local RiteAid and it was fairly inexpensive.  This led to a series of questions about how long he could go in between bandages, what percentage of his leg was covered by the bandage, what was his preferred method of securing it to what was left of his leg, while never touching on the reason the bandage was needed in the first place.  It was pleasant, actually, to speak about the stump as just a regular part of his body, subject to the same concerns a pregnant woman might extend to finding the right belly band.  By the time he reached the cashier and ordered his ½ sandwich ½ soup he actually felt normal.  And when he reached into his coat pocket for his wallet and found it missing, along with the man behind him, it still couldn’t take away the lingering pleasure of the interaction.

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