Snakes and Pills

157 - live change

Drops of rain fell from the sky. Yancy couldn't turn his head up to look, but in his peripheral vision he could see the gray clouds. The morning news had said that today would be rainy, but it took until the afternoon for those predictions to come true.

Yancy was glad that he had prepared for the occasion. He manipulated the control stick on his wheelchair to bring himself out of the busy flow of pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk. He parked himself in a little alcove next to the stoop of some residential building.

Not that the people on the sidewalk wouldn't give him enough space. They usually did. Yancy just liked to have a bit of a buffer zone, to make sure nothing went wrong with the process. When things went wrong, and he was by himself, the situation always became a mess.

With his surroundings as clear as they could be, he pressed a few buttons on his control pad, and his chair came to life. Yancy could only see parts of the action, but he heard it all. The servos and motors whirling to life, going through the motions he never could.

His chair was facing out toward the street, and Yancy watched the passersby as he waited for the machine to do its work. He saw them thoughtlessly pull umbrellas from their bags and pop them open. Buttons pressed, pressure applied. They casually held those umbrellas up with one hand, or balanced against their shoulders.

He thought how lifeless his chair had been when he first found himself plopped into it. The doctors and his family had just assumed that was how things were going to be for him from now on. Capable of a few actions, but otherwise stagnant. A chair was just a chair. A cripple just a cripple.

For a while, Yancy felt the same way. But eventually he realized there was no reason he couldn't bring this machine to life. If it could tread for him, it could put on a raincoat for him. It was just a matter of engineering, and he was an engineer who suddenly had a lot of spare time.

A smile struggled to stretch across his face as he finally saw the thin metal arms drawing the hood of the raincoat over the top of his head. The hood was the last part of the process, and it had been the hardest part for Yancy to figure out. The arms pulled the last of the zipper tight, and then retracted back into their storage compartments on the sides of his wheelchair.

Yancy pushed on the control stick to bring himself back onto the sidewalk. Though he had no way of feeling whether he was wet or dry, he knew his apparatus had successfully dressed him in his raincoat. The pitter-patter of raindrops bouncing off the plastic was confirmation enough.

Most of the other people on the sidewalk gave him no attention at all, being absorbed in keeping themselves dry. But he did catch the attention of one young man passing by him. His eyes carried a look of disdain, and Yancy was certain he had heard him mutter something as he walked by.

"That thing looks freaky."

Yancy was well-aware of how he must look. The raincoat wrapped around his body and the chair so that he looked like a rolling vinyl pyramid with a head sticking out the top. He supposed that his appearance would fit most definitions of the word "freaky." But still.

He wished that the man's eyes and words hadn't bothered him. He tried to shrug them off. An asshole was just an asshole.


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