by Joe Squance
He delivered the items we ordered from a medical supply store. He came to our house four days in a row. His name was Devon, and we loved him, my mother, my sister and me.
He was a big man: tall, black; he had an outrageously fat torso, but with a regular-sized head and limbs. His head was bald and flat as a worn tire, his ears curled like little pretzels. It was summer and he shone with sweat. He couldn't seem to keep his shirt tucked in.
He came first on Tuesday. He delivered a four-wheeled walker and a deluxe lightweight transport chair. He showed us how they folded up for easy storage, showed us how to apply the loop brakes with our feet. He slapped the part where your butt would go, said this'll get you where you need to be, and we beamed. His idling van jittered and shook in our drive. It was a lovely day.
He came again on Wednesday, he brought the four-in-one commode. He set it up right there in our kitchen, showed us how the legs were height-adjustable, demonstrated the drop-arm release mechanism for easy patient transfer, explained how it could be placed anywhere it needs to be. He held the 12-quart easy-clean aluminum bucket by its handle and rapped on it twice with his thick knuckle. He said, just don't forget to use the splash guard, all right, folks? and we all laughed together, all of us standing there by the closed door, my mother, my sister and me.
On Thursday he brought the luxury adjustable bed. It came in bits and pieces. It took a while for Devon to put together, but we all stood around and watched, and when he asked for parts we handed them to him. Sweat came off him in rivulets. Big oily bulbs of it dropped from the tip of his nose. When he was done he showed us how it was head- and foot-adjustable, pointed to the heavy-duty casters, the backboard brackets, the wood trim skirting. He told us that the bed breathed, fired up the whisper-quiet dual motor, and we all leaned in, pointed our ears and listened as the mattress slowly filled with air, held its breath and then slowly let it out again. We waited and waited for the cycle to start again, smiling, giddy with suspense.
He came back on Friday to take it all away. He took the four-wheeled walker, the deluxe lightweight transport chair. He took the four-in-one commode, he took the luxury adjustable bed. He loaded them all into his shuddering van, which he'd backed into our drive, and closed the wide swing-out cargo doors. He came last for his tools, which we'd tried to hide in our dishwasher, but he found them right away under a hasty pile of crusty plates. He turned to go, his shirt untucked, darkened with sweat. Stay, we said. Stick around, we said. He was bashful. He said, aw, and smiled so wide his eyes almost disappeared. I got to go, he said, looking at his watch, scratching at his scalp. Can't you stay for a while? we asked. People brought food, look. There's no way we can eat all this ourselves. Have some squash soup. Have a quiche. We smiled. We touched his arm with our fingertips. Come on, we said playfully. Don't poop on our party. We love you.
But he went. He had other deliveries. We watched him go, stood in the doorway as he walked to the van, pulled himself in. We smiled and waved as he drove away, felt a sickening thrill as his taillights flashed but then went out again, smiled and waved as he turned the corner and disappeared. We stood that way for a very long time, long after he had gone, the three of us, smiling and waving. It was a lovely day.
About the author:
Joe Squance teaches creative writing at Miami University in Ohio. His work has been featured in KEEPGOING.org and he is the Managing Editor of Oxford Magazine.