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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. 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.


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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