by Norm De Plume
An immediate hush fell when Brance Jansen walked into the restaurant. The only sound was the whisper of 50 motor chairs, as the diners all rotated a few degrees toward the door to get a better look.
Everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of The Man Who Moved Around Using His Legs.
Ducking through the door, Brance flashed a cockeyed grin and acknowledged the attention with a slight wave. The maitre d’, his motor chair purring, escorted him to a table in the back.
“Jesus,” said Ralf, once conversation resumed. “Take a look at that… freak.”
“Yeah,” said TonE. “I never knew people looked like such freaks when they’re not in a motor chair.”
“I hear,” said En1d, leaning in and whispering conspiratorially, “that his dad was an eccentric industrialist trillionaire, who raised him to move around using his legs instead of a motor chair.”
“Ugh, that’s just sick,” said Ralf. “It’s child abuse. God, it must be so painful to support your weight on your legs all day. Anyway, I could probably move around like that too, if my legs were thick like his.” He glanced down at his own withered, useless, lower limbs.
“Yeah, but those thick legs look so freaking weird. Must be a birth defect,” said Ton E.
“I think his legs are big because he uses them all the time,” said En1d.
“Ooh, I wonder if he has any other body parts like that!” giggled J8ne.
“J8ne! You can’t be serious!” said Ralf.
“What? He’s rich, he’s handsome… so what if doesn’t use a motor chair?”
“God, you are so disgusting. I can’t believe you’d even consider… with that… freak,” Ralf threw his napkin on the table and angrily revved away from the table and out the door.
“Oh, Ralf… I was only joking,” J8ne, aware she’d gone too far, followed quickly behind.
Ton E and En1d finished their meal in awkward silence, paid the bill, and left.
Six months later, only a year after coming to town, Brance Jansen was dead. The official cause of death was listed as trauma to the heart caused by overuse of the legs. A rumor on the street claimed that he’d actually been murdered by a jealous husband. The true cause of death, however, was an acute infection of the big toe, caused by its repeatedly having been run over by motor chairs over the past twelve months.
Soon, The Man Who Moved Around Using His Legs, was largely forgotten. However, his name still lives on in lingo used by paramedics: a “Jansen Call” is one where an ambulance is dispatched to aid a man who has fallen after taking leave of his senses and attempting to impress a woman by getting out of his motor chair and walking.