The day I started to walk with a limp was the day I decided that I might as well just act the part. I knew that it suited my appearance; my right shoulder was positioned lower than the other and consequently, my head hung to the right-side in a cramped, agonising angle. I tried to squeeze my muscles to relieve the pain a little. As I was hauling the lifeless leg behind me over the pavement, I suppressed a muscle spasm. My foot is carrying a small residue of gravel on the top of my shoe.
I pulled my olive coloured button-up down when I saw that I was approaching his house.
As I regarded the old naked man in the front window of his small middle- suburban two-story house, I watched how a few kids ran over the street without looking. How careless. A car could’ve hit them. Or a van could’ve intercepted them, captured them, and taken them to a far-off location in the woodlands and killed them. Or worse.
They didn’t know the danger; the eminent luring presence of an accident that might cause your leg to fall off or your ears to explode. I consider myself lucky that my leg is still attached. It could’ve ended differently altogether. It was just a limp now.
The naked man in the window waved and I smiled a half-smile and tried to maintain eye contact as I was waving back, but my peripheral vision couldn’t deny the dangling worm bouncing up and down. There was a rumour that I didn’t fully believe in, although it had some credibility since I had heard it from my mother. And there was the indisputable fact to the story that the naked man was indeed frequently seen naked, so that added to the story.
People love good stories anyway although they might not be true. Stories are like this; the truth is the trunk and the branches of a tree and the leaves are the lies that cover the branches so you can’t see that the branches are actually rotten. Just like my limp.
Anyway, the story is in fact pretty sad; the naked man is a man who was born in a large household of an absurd number of children, sixteen or something. Clearly birth control was not a known aspect in that family.
The parents did come to realise that they had an abundance of offspring when their savings began to suffer so badly that they had to give up colour TV and chocolate biscuits. When they heard the news that the sister of the mother of the family was infertile, I imagine they scratched their heads as to how to solve this enigma.
Enigma is a tough word that I learned once from my high school teacher when I met her on the train to Winchester. I had graduated high school only two years. While she was sobbing, she told me that her husband had left her and that it was an enigma why he had done so. I tried to imagine the pain she was going through. I had no experience in partner dramas, although my life has been clouded by many other sad matters.
But then I noticed how erratic she was behaving, and only now did I notice how aged she looked, with straw-like grey hairs in her black, short hair and yellow teeth. She was clearly not what he thought he was marrying at that time. How can she expect a man to stay with her looking like this? I felt disgusted at this pathetic person in front of me, so much so that I couldn’t stand her wailing any longer and I got up and left without a word.
The story of the naked man starts after the parents of the absurdly large family and the soon-to-be parents decide that the next baby that is born into the nineteen-sized family, is to be placed into the arms of the childless sister. This promised baby was sprouted within a year and a fortnight and after labour, handed over in not so much as a blanket.
The child grew up loved by his adopted parents but shunned by his biological siblings and parents. Because he had no one to play with, he never learned to socialise. As a 6-year old he would walk over to the house where his siblings lived and wait outside in the bushes until they came out; and he’d ask if he could play along, but they’d say: ‘you’re not one of us. We’re not supposed to play with you.’ At first, this made him very sad. But then frustration took the better of him. One day, he waited in the bushes, seeing how his brothers and sisters played inside, ate nice bread-rolls with meat, and got hugs from their mother. He felt the anger rise in him; it overtook him, like acid in the stomach when you’re nauseous. When they left the front door, he sprang out, ran towards them, and then tried to set his youngest brother on fire with matches he’d saved in the small pocket in his jacket.
The children dispersed in a flurry of frenzy when they saw the cotton shirt of their youngest brother flare up.
If the mother hadn’t been looking out the window, the child would’ve sustained serious burn wounds – although I’m sure the shrieks alarmed the whole neighbourhood. I was never to see his siblings or mother again.
When his adopted parents died, he inherited the house and lived a lonely life as a pizza delivery man with three cats. Maybe it would’ve been better if he moved since everyone knew what he’d done, but I can imagine that he felt that his only possession was the house. He had nowhere else to go.
Moreover, no one wanted to live next to him and so he became the lonely naked man from around the corner who waved at anyone crossing the street.
I grew a beard to accompany my limp to look more dishevelled.