For the lame

1 Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. 2 Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. 3 Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. 5 One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”

7 “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”

8 Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”

9 Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath, 10 so the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! The law doesn’t allow you to carry that sleeping mat!”

11 But he replied, “The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”

12 “Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded.

13 The man didn’t know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. 14 But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.”15 Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him.

                            -John 5:1-15


Need to get to the kitchen.  Dang wheelchair.  Whose bright idea was it to make these hallways so narrow?  Dang it.  Don’t have the energy for all this.  Forget it.  The sandwich can wait.  Gonna have to.  Can’t keep banging this clunker around these walls.  Cheap paper walls.  Thin as toilet paper.  Stupid neighbor’ll come down barreling like a pack of wild bulls, give me her waxy look, her pasty face.  You okay?  You need anything?  No.  Get out, you dang on pasty face nosy neighbor.  Back to the living room.  Back to the light.  That window was the only reason why I chose this place.  Didn’t even put up shades.

Watching the clouds roll by.  Could sit here all day, all night.  But eyelids feel like stone.  They close but nothing else.  Where did I put those pills?  Stupid pills.  Blue pills.  White pills.  For pain. For sleep. For sleep. For pain.  Can’t sleep.  Got pain but can’t feel.  Rubber legs.  Rubber feet.  Rubber man.  Rubber band man.  Rubber band band, man.  Hah!  Yes, the band.  The music.  Drinks on Walter.  Another round of drinks on Walter.  Flashy Walter, smiling.  I have another idea.  I know how we can make more.  They will never know.  Boss will never know.  Brilliant idea, Walter, just brilliant.  Walter snapping to the beat.  More money, more breaks.  More money, more steaks.  Steaks on Walter.  Shrimp on Walter.  You’ll get it next time, buddy.  I promise you.  It will work.  Just stick with me. No snitching. Smooches from the ladies.  Brilliant, Walter.  You’re brilliant.  A bottle of champagne, will you?  Champagne in the car.  Champagne in the house.  Champagne in the kitchen.  The kitchen – that’s where I put the pills.  Dang it.  I’ll just sit here and sweat. 

Eight months.  Looked out this window for eight months.  Beetles out now; sticking to the window, lazy, useless, burning black in the yellow heat.  Hate ‘em.  Hate bugs.  Always hated bugs.  Big bugs, small bugs, flying bugs.  Flies.  Every kind of fly.  Smacked a fly real good that day.  Me and Walter and Darryl in the breakroom.  Walter looking left and right.  Close the door, Darryl.  Shaky Darryl pushed it slow, closed it with a soft snap after letting in a fly.  Saw it.  Medium-sized.  A thick sucker.  Landed right near me.  Listen up, guys.  Walter whispering.  I’m leaning closer, trying to avoid the fly but it just sat there.  Listen up.  Darryl, you open up the account in your grandmother’s name.  God bless her soul.  Walter smiling.  God bless your dead grandmother’s soul, Darryl.  Open up the account, send the bill and process it.  When the company pays, we’ll take it from there.  Fly just sat there, listening.  Darryl taking off his glasses, putting on his glasses, hands shaking.  I don’t know, Walter.  I don’t know.  Just do it, Darryl.  Don’t worry, it will work.  It’s brilliant, remember?  The idea is brilliant.  Boss will never know.  Fly jumps on me, trying to get on my sleeve.  Smashed it down with my hand.  Just like that.  Smashed it good and killed it.  Wiped it off with a napkin.  You okay, there?  Yeah, just killed a fly.  Come on, guys.  We don’t have time to waste.  We’ve got to get this going today.  The billing cycle starts today, guys.  Come on.  Stood up and threw the napkin away.  Hate flies.  Come on.  Are we in this?  No snitching, okay? No snitching or you’ll have problems with me. You snitch, you end up in a ditch. Its gotta be all of us or none of us. Rinsed off my hands before shaking Walter’s, Darryl’s.  Walter smiling.  Darryl sweating.  Light from the small window was shining on him, making him sweat.  Darryl?  Walter slapping his back in the light.  Darryl, this is going to give you a whole new life….

Need those dang on pills.  Sun is baking right through my brain.  Beating, beating.  Boom, boom, boom.  My heart beating in my ears.  You’re gonna make it, sir.  You’re gonna make it.  Just hold on.  Sirens blaring.  Boots shuffling around.  Black night.  White light.  Nurses.  You’re gonna make it, sir.  We’ve got you.  Just hold on to me, okay?  Hands.  Hands all over me like I was a lump of dough.  Pulse?!  Is he breathing?!  Get the doctor!  Shifting.  Turning.   Something on my face.  Something on my chest.  Ow.  Something stinking in my arm.  Something pushing up my nose, down my mouth.  White light.  Blurred faces.  You’re gonna make it, sir.  We’ve got you.  Feel like I’m gurgling.  Then nothing until I see clear.  Light from a window.  Yellow, sweet.  Walter sitting in the corner.  Arm in a sling.  It’s bad, man.  It’s real bad.  Walter?  It’s Darryl, man.  He didn’t make it.  Walter not smiling, but not frowning either.  Placid.  Shaking his head.  Moist eyes.  He didn’t make it, man.  He just didn’t make it.  My heart racing up.  Boom, boom, boom.  Machine starts screaming like an angry toddler.  I’ll get the nurse, man.  Walter walks out, slow, adjusting his sling.   Light shining bright; shining on my face, making me sweat.  Darryl.  Darryl’s face in my mind; Darryl sweating; Darryl smiling a shaky smile; good ‘ol Darryl; Darryl looking at a picture of his wife, his kids; my old friend, Darryl, looking at me the way he used to look at me in the school yard when they kicked him and pushed him down and then I bopped them real good for hurting my good ‘ol friend, Darryl.  Nurse.  Walter.  Don’t worry man, Darryl didn’t say anything.  His desk is clean.  Cops don’t know anything.  But he was my friend, Walter.  Darryl was my buddy.  Aw, man.  Just get some rest.  Things happen.  We’re still in the clear.  But I didn’t mean for this to happen to Darryl.  He was my friend.  Walter smiling now, looking out the window, looking at the light.  Darryl’s in a better place, man.  But what about me, Walter?  Walter turning to leave, looking at his watch.  Sunlight bouncing off his silver watch.  Don’t worry about anything.  When you get out of here, call me.  We’ve got work to do.  Boss doesn’t know anything and we’ve got to keep it that way.  Snitch and its over for you, man. Snitch and you end up in a ditch. Boom, boom, boom.  Heart thumping in my ears, in my head.

Gonna make it to the kitchen this time.   Need those pills.  Flip on the hallway light.  Okay.  Slow, slow.  Roll straight.  Okay, good.  Almost there.  What’s that?  Why can’t I move now?  What is that?  A shoe?  Dang it.  How did that get there?  Haven’t worn shoes in eight months.  Wheels too thin.  Can’t roll over it.  Arms still work.  Let me push it out the way.  No, no.  Can’t slide out of the chair now.   No, not now. No!  Dang it.  Now what?  Who can I call?  Pasty face?  Shouldn’t call her that.  She only tries to help.  Had so many friends, couldn’t even count them.  Now, can’t find one.  Lost my best one.  For what?  Money’s sitting in an account collecting dust.  Can’t spend it.  Can’t go anywhere.  Don’t want to spend it.  Doesn’t feel right.  More money, more breaks.  More money, more steaks.  No, Walter was wrong.  Always wrong.  Don’t know why I followed him.  Don’t know why I even talked to him.  No good Walter.  Knew Walter was no good from the beginning.  Always scheming; always planning.  Never stole in my life until I met Walter.  Never took anything until I met no good Walter.  Was just me and Darryl, double-dating with our sweethearts, drinking cold ones Friday nights, watching the game.


Mouth so dry, can’t even scream right.  Let me try again.

“Help me!”

That should do it.  She’ll start stirring any minute now.  Should hear her coming down any second now.  Come on.  Why is it so quiet?


Maybe she’s out.  She’s never out.  Always checking in on me.  You okay?  You need anything?  Should’ve been nicer to her.  She just tries to help.  Walter never does.  Sends me a postcard from yet another island.  That’s how he helps.  Got me to kill my own best friend.  That’s how he helps.  Got me to steal.  That’s how he helps.  Got me living like a stinking lump of dog poop; can’t walk; can’t use my feet; can’t do anything but look out a window all day.  That’s how he helps.  Got me stuck between a chair and wall, cramping, sweating, crying like a pathetic idiot.  That’s how he helps.  Got me missing Darryl, my good ‘ol friend, Darryl.  That’s how he helps.  No good Walter.  No good me.  No good me.  Where is she?  Why is it so quiet?  Maybe she knows.  Maybe she knows the truth about me.  Why I’m really like this.  Maybe she can see it.  The guilt.  See it on my face.  Probably why she looks at me like that.  Walter looked at me once and never came back.  Couldn’t take it.  I can’t either.  I can’t take it either.  Not anymore.  Somebody’s got to help me.  Somebody?


“Jesus, I’m sorry for what I did.  Sorry for stealing all that money from the company.

Wasn’t like I really needed it.  You gave me everything I needed to live well.  I don’t know, just got greedy, I guess.

…And then it just got easier because no one suspected I was doing it and Walter was so happy.

Got trapped in it.

Sorry, Lord.

It cost Darryl his life.  He was trying so hard to make enough money for his family.  And now his family is living without him.  That was my fault.

Should have never insisted that he drive that night.  Kept telling him to drive faster, turn here, turn there, go, go, go, take the back roads, just go, get us out of here.  We were getting sloppy and I was getting greedy.  I was the one who insisted we break into the mail room, not Walter.  I didn’t think about the silent alarm.

It was my fault.

All I could think about was getting caught.  If that angry letter from the customer about their balance got into the wrong hands at work, then I was going to be in big trouble.

That’s all I cared about:  myself.

God, I should’ve just let it happen.  Should’ve just let the company investigate the customer’s complaint and if it led back to me, then it led back to me.

At least Darryl would be alive….

And this guilt wouldn’t be this bad.

It’s killing me.

Where did I go wrong?

How did I get like that?

You gave me loving parents.  You gave me a happy home.  You gave me good education, intelligence.  You gave me Darryl.

You gave me everything, Lord.

Yet I still stole.

I’m no better than Walter.

If I could fix it God, I would.

Please, Lord, help me.

Forgive me of my sins.

I can’t take it anymore.

…I deserved it.  I should’ve died that night.  I should’ve died but instead, You allowed me to be only maimed…and for that, I thank You, God.

Lord, I just ask that You remove my guilt.  Lift it up from me.

No one can help me but You.

Father, God, please.

Please remove my guilt.

I…I surrender to You.”


What is that lump under my pillow?  Oh, the new whistle she gave me.  Don’t know how it got there.  Had it around my neck last night.   Last night.  Wait.  Last night?  It ended after I pushed myself out of the wheelchair on the bed.  Turned off the light.  Looked at the ceiling.  Closed my eyes.  That’s right, last night ended after I closed my eyes.  It ended.  Went black.  No thoughts, no nothing.  That means…I slept.  Hot dang it, I slept.  I slept for the first time since I left that hospital; since Darryl’s funeral; since Walter’s one and only visit.  Wonder of wonders.  And I don’t feel too bad.  Actually feel pretty good.  Stomach’s grumbling like a souped-up Maserati.  Let me sit up.  Wheelchair’s where it should be.   At least that’s normal.  Alright, let me pull that thing closer.  Swing my legs over.  Ow.  Dang it.  Should’ve bought those fancy plastic wheelchairs.  Don’t know why I bought this metal clunker.  It’s as big as I don’t know what and-  What?  Toe hurts?  Toe.  Knee.  Thigh.  Tingling when I pinch?  Can’t be.  Must be dreaming.  Must be in my head.  Side effect of those pills.  She made me put those pills in my bedroom.  Make sure you take them every day.  Let me know if you need anything.  Just blow that whistle and I’ll hear you.  She just tries to help.  Gotta be the pills.  Legs’ll go numb in a minute.  Just wait.  Should I pray again?  Blow the whistle?  No, just wait.  Bright morning.  Must be late.  At least after nine.  Slept good.  Sunlight dancing.  Clouds breaking.  Blue skies.  Maybe I’ll roll out today.  Roll down the sidewalk.  Breathe some fresh air.  Can’t be.  Toe still kind of sore.  I can move it?  My toe?  My ankle?  Both my feet?  Well, if this is a dream, please don’t wake me!  Alright.  Steady now.  Don’t move, chair.  Let me just push off you.  Steady now.  Legs weak, but firm.  Blood gushing up and down.  Feels like tiny needles.

“Can’t be.”

Wobbling, but standing.  Whoops.  Thank God for furniture to hold on to.  Thank God.  God?  Could it be?  Let me take a step.  This can’t be happening.  It just can’t.  Walking?  Like this?  Just like this?  Could it be?  Whew.  Living room’s bright as the sun.  Hot.   Left the whistle in the bedroom.  Don’t think I need it.  Let me let go of this.  Standing.  I’m standing!   Lord, I’m standing.   Lord.  My Lord.  Could it be?  You heard me.   Is this Your doing?  Feel cool inside.   Feel cool and regular.  Almost normal.  Almost like I was when Darryl was around.  If this is Your doing, then I’ll do it for Darryl.  It’s only fair.  It’s only right.  Thank You, God.  Thank You for this.  Didn’t think You’d hear me at all.  Where’s the phone?  Where’s that dang on phone?  Hiding behind the couch pillow.  Legs like Jell-O.  But I can make it.  I can make it to the couch.

“Police Department, can I help you?”

“Yes, I need to speak to a police officer.”

“Is it an emergency?  What is the purpose of your call?”

Forget Walter.

“I want to turn myself in for theft.”

Copyright 2020. Michelle St. Claire. All Rights Reserved.

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2 years ago

Loved it

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