A rather gray-haired gentleman named John sat alone at the bar one night. He’s known around here as a Jack-of-all-trades. People who are acquainted with him say he can fix anything.
As happy hour was ending two people came in together. A young man named Jacob, who was walking with bit of a limp, and his mom Nora. Jacob had lost his leg over in Iraq a few years before and Nora was sort of forcing him to get out and have some fun. He hadn’t been anywhere besides home and hospitals for quite a while and was nervous about going out in public because of his prosthetic leg.
Jacob helped his mom into one of the tall chairs at the bar, and then pulled out one for himself. He stumbled a little as he angled into it and seemed like he was embarrassed by the misstep, which to me seemed understandable for someone adjusting to a prosthesis. Once Jacob had his leg situated they ordered a couple of beers. The poor guy looked like he wanted to crawl under a rock for having drawn attention to himself.
John had been observing unobtrusively the whole time and once they were settled he offered to buy their drinks and said, “Hey there, young man. You doing okay? Looks like you’re having some trouble with that leg.”
Jacob nodded but didn’t say much else and Nora smiled and said, “Thank you for the drinks, sir. My son lost his leg in Iraq and he’s been having trouble with his prosthetic for a while, but doesn’t want to go back to the doctor. He said he’s through with going back and forth to doctors after all this time. He’s a bit stubborn but I can’t say I blame him. I just wanted him to get out and have fun for a change.”
The three talked for a while, and eventually Jacob opened up and explained how he’d lost the leg. It was clear he didn’t like being the center of attention.
John said, “Son, it’d be an honor for me if you’d let me check out your prosthetic leg. I might be able to help with adjusting it, since I have some experience with them.” As he said this, John pulled up his right pant leg and revealed his own prosthetic leg. “Motorcycle accident when I was twenty-five years old.”
Jacob blinked at John’s leg for a few seconds and then a slight smile formed on his face. “You’ve lived with a prosthesis all these years? I kept telling the people at the clinic and the therapists that I was having a hard time balancing and they insisted that was due to my head injury, that I’d just have to adjust. My head feels fine but balancing is still a problem. I’m just really frustrated.”
John frowned as he reached out and lifted Jacob’s pant leg a notch higher and peered at how the leg was attached. Then he nodded at Jacob and gestured with a thumb to the front door. “I think I know what you’re talking about, with the balance problem. I’ve got tools out in my truck. Seems like anything is better than you hobbling around when you don’t need to.”
Jacob followed John outside to his truck. When they came back about thirty minutes later the Jacob’s limp had all but disappeared. He was smiling from ear to ear when he answered his mother’s inquiries. “He fiddled with it and made me walk up and down the sidewalk to test it out and then fiddled with it some more. I’m a little sore from all the exercise, but I can handle a little pain if it means getting around without you having to hover over me and worry so much…” He chuckled and shook his head. “This is the most solid and stable I’ve felt on my own two feet since I was back in Iraq.”
Nora’s eyes grew misty as she looked him up and down, standing tall and straight without something to hold on to for balance. “Son, I never minded being there for you.” She looked up at John as if he was a hero. “Sir, I don’t know how to thank you. This is incredible. How did you do that so quickly?”
John chuckled and blushed a little, and said, “Well, little lady, I used to fix typewriters and there’s not many mechanical devices I haven’t repaired in my life. Just have a knack, I guess, and the right tools of course. You don’t have to thank me, but I’d love to take you to dinner tonight.”
She blushed beet red and said, “Oh my, that would be lovely…but…”
She looked up at Jacob and he said, “For goodness sake, Mom, quit worrying about me. You’re the one who needs to have some fun. You haven’t left my side in three years. Please go have fun.”
One of our bartenders, who knows Jacob, leaned in and said, “Hey, y’all go have a nice dinner and I’ll make sure Jacob gets home, okay?”
They left after a half-hearted protest from Nora who was still blushing and smiling.
Jacob returned to his seat at the bar and gave a huge sigh of relief as he signaled for another beer. “Thank God. I thought my mom was never going to date again. She’s been great and stuck by me through everything but she needed this. Thanks, man.”
The bartender tipped his head and said, “Hey, it’s the least I could do after all you did for us. Thank you. Looks like someone wants to meet you,” he added, pointing over Jacob’s shoulder.
I grinned as Jacob turned to look in the direction the bartender had pointed and his jaw dropped when he saw the cute redhead standing there.
“Is this seat taken?”
His mouth opened and closed a couple of times and then he smiled. Patting the seat he said, “It sure is. By you.”
“Smooth,” my bartender said with a grin as he turned to stock the cooler.
Looked to me like Jacob’s wasn’t the only balance that was restored that night. I’ve heard recently that Nora and John are engaged and planning a beach wedding on some pretty Caribbean shore. And Jacob and that cute little redhead have been seen in here on Saturday nights, mostly two-stepping on the dance floor.
All Material ©Heather Rainier 2015