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Chris is Crazy

Chris. His name was Chris.

My boss hired him and I adopted him as one of my employees. We made customized wheelchairs. He was a shop-boy doing everything from sweeping to light mechanical work.

He was a big kid. Tall. Big head. Big arms. Big legs.

Chris was a bit, ummm, terched. Loony. Crazy. Really, he was. I had to let him out early three days a week to go to his shrink or social worker or whoever she was. I wasn’t going to really press him on where he was going.

Chris once told me, “I’d kill my father, if my mother didn’t love him so much.” I believed him.

Chris tormented the other employees. We were all intimidated by him. He’d go off on a crazy tirade, diatribe, or soliloquy and the shop would become as quiet as a grave yard. No one wanted to be the object of his psychosis

“Jim, you have to do something. You have to get rid of him.”

“I’m not firing him. I have a baby daughter at home. She needs me.”

On one occasion he had Jack, a small retired guy whose main job was wheelchair maintenance, pinned in a corner telling him about his dad. Chris had a screwdriver cluched in his hand. His knuckles were white.

Jack was very close to death.

“Jim, do something. You’re the boss.”

“Jack lived his life. I’m just going to watch.”

“Seriously, Jack’s in trouble. Do something.”

Jack really was in trouble. Moving slowly, I got to Chris’s side. He was lost in a world only he would understand. Jack, bless him, just kept his head down and continued working on the motor of a powerchair. He feigned obliviousness. It was his only defense.

I grabbed Chris’s arm and I said the only thing I could think of - a line from an obscure Lenny Bruce skit - “Don’t you move, you Psychotic.”

Chris snapped out of his nutty trance, grabbed my head under his arm, and put me in a head lock.

“Oh-my-god, he’s going to kill Jim,” someone said. I swallowed hard.

“Whatchoo say?” Chris asked.

“I said, ‘Leave Jack alone. He’s old. You’re scaring him.’” Jack just kept tinkering.

Chris’s grip tightened on my neck. “Tell my daughter that Daddy loves her,” I whispered.

And then suddenly Chris’s hold, while still tight, changed slightly. He began kissing my head. “I love this guy! I really love him,” he announced. And then kissed me some more.

I wasn’t going to die.

He let go of the head lock, put my face in his hands, and pulled it close to his. Nose-to-nose, I put my hands on his cheeks too. “Leave people alone, Chris. We like you. We all like you. But you scare the hell out of us. Okay?”

“I love you.”

“Okay?”

“Okay. I’ll leave people alone.”

He didn’t really leave people alone anymore. But we were pretty sure he wasn’t going to kill any of us. Besides we hired Woolly Bear shortly after that incident. Woolly was a big, red-headed, lovable giant of a kid. I was certain he could have taken Chris out with one swipe of his paw if Chris stepped out of line.

Chris didn’t last a year with us. Last I saw him he was making submarine sandwiches at a local sub shop. I went in from time to time for lunch.

He always made me a free sandwich.

I really did like Chris.

Comments

Ray said:

You've told this yarn before, and it's one of my faves. Good one.

Posted on Aug 26, 2005 01:06 PM

Jim said:

Considering my complete lack of archives over the past several incarnations of JimFormation (5 years?), I figured I'd have to retell some of my old stories.

What brought this story to the front of my head was a song I heard on the radio: "Like the Way I Do" by Melissa Ethridge. Chris was a huge Melissa Ethridge fan.

Posted on Aug 26, 2005 02:57 PM

Reid said:

"Considering my complete lack of archives over the past several incarnations of JimFormation..."

Tennis, anyone?

Posted on Aug 27, 2005 01:51 AM

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