The Artist by xXx
Part II Everyone Likes Surprises
I was prepared for change. I was prepared for the daily inconveniences. I was ready for those awkward black trash-bag showers, accidentally banging my poor toes into well...everything, and even the death-defying task of carrying my martini while perched atop my trusty aluminum steeds. I was also painfully aware that for the next 12 weeks each day my wardrobe was going to be one improvisation after the next.
I was prepared for domestic change, but I wasn't prepared for the social change. They didn't tell you about that kind of change in those little pamphlets they send home with you: You and Your Cast. They tell you how to maintain your cast and what not to stick down it, but they don't tell you that everyone is going to stare at you and ask you questions. They don't tell you your friends are going to blacklist you as "the gimp" and treat you different. Maybe if it had been in the pamphlet I could have at least prepared for it...braced myself.
That first day was quite an adventure. In the morning when I woke up, I was kind of glad that everything hadn't just been a dream. The cast was still there. It was still as beautiful as I remember. Toe to thigh textbook beauty. Those thoughts flew out the window when I threw my legs over the edge of the bed and the blood rushed to my toes. I could feel the break in my tibia. Oh what a feeling. An overwhelming pain shot up and down my left leg. It was probably normal. Someone probably forgot to tell me. I sat there for a few minutes and it went away.
I showered. Same old story. Water cascading down the black trash bag covering my cast. It was hot. The stuff soft-core porn is made out of.
After the shower I just laid on top of the bed naked. Was I really naked? Did the cast count as an article of clothing? Or was I exempt for 12 weeks? I laid there for a couple minutes feeling the weight of it on my leg. The way it hugged the arch of my foot without any give. I just wiggled my toes. I tried to bend my knee, flex my ankle. I rubbed my right foot over the cast. It was coarse. I felt sexy lying there naked. Just me and my cast. I could have kept going but the clock reminded me that I have a job and I needed to hurry.
Standing in front of my closet was a bit depressing. I was definitely very limited with what I'd be wearing for a while. Well at least until the cast was trimmed down a bit. For now it'd be loose skirts and comfortable shoes. I really wasn't into the idea of cutting up all my jeans. I needed to hurry. I threw on a tight black V-neck long-sleeved shirt, my favorite loose knee-length gray skirt, and my old Chuck Taylor's, well the right one. At least I looked semi-professional. The cast still stuck out like a sore thumb. I kind of liked that. I debated covering up my toes. The magazine didn't have a "no open-toed footwear" policy, but I was currently a bit self-conscious of my toes since they were on display, and the current state of my nail polish was less than desirable.
"What the hell." I said to myself, "Let's go for the full effect." I threw some nail polish and nail polish remover into my messenger bag. Maybe I'd get some time at lunch to paint them, assuming I could reach that far. If not, maybe I'd be able to bribe some poor sap to do it for me. People were always willing to help people in positions like mine. Weren't they? I know I wasn't. I was a little late getting out the door, but I was out the door, unaware of what lay ahead.
Living in the city, the subway is really the only practical form of transportation. It was a hassle enough when I had two legs beneath me. I knew it was going to be a blast with such a large cast and crutches. Everyday, when leaving for work I make sure to wear headphones. People tend to bother me less. They still bother me a little, but the amount of people that do bother me drops exponentially. I also find that the music helps soothe me and center me for the day. The music wasn't going to help with anything today. Bob Dylan and Miles Davis weren't going to help with shit today. I needed something like Slayer. People were staring the second I got out of my building. They were trying not to. They hid it in downward glances. They saw how high it went as I crutched. It made in impression in the skirt as I brought my leg forward. They couldn't help themselves. They saw the drastic right angle my ankle was held at and how firmly it was held against my leg. Some didn't even hide it. They stared from a few feet away, then when in close proximity they'd glance downward at my foot. I felt so naked. Not the same naked as when I had been laying on the bed, but more exposed.
I had crutched the mere block and a half from my apartment to the subway and I was already noticing a trend in the staring. This was a broken leg not a Sociology experiment or was it? Most of the men were somewhat obvious about their staring. They took in as much as they could as you crutched toward them. The women hid their glances. They tried their hardest not to look, then BAM as you passed they give you that catty once over, or they'd check you over their shoulder.
I knew the subway ride itself would be a completely different experience. I tried to tune out everyone's stares. I tried to tune into the music as I struggled down the stairs. Everyone gave me these truly empathetic looks. They wanted to help, but there really wasn't anything they could do. Well they could carry me down, but that wasn't happening. Maybe it wasn't that they wanted to help, but they knew what crowded hell the actual subway was going to be.
I was relieved once I finally got to my platform. Finally, a break from the throes of crutching. I let my arms take a breather, rested my casted foot on my right foot, and tried to enjoy my music. So what was everyone staring at? What was their motivation? Curiosity? That didn't explain the downward glances at my foot. Speaking of which, I noticed a man, a business type, standing at just the right angle staring down at that general direction. I rubbed my toes over my shoe a little. He squirmed a little. His breathing was a little shallow for the everyday commuter. Maybe it was a bad heart.
He took a deep breath and leaned in, "What happened to your leg?"
"I broke it yesterday playing football with some friends." I extended it for him as if telling him he could have a free stare.
He took the bait. He devoured the hook too and wouldn't give it back. I was waiting for him to start drooling, "Wow..heh..Musta been some break."
"Yeah. Hurt pretty bad." He was still staring. I wiggled my toes for him. Luckily, my train arrived. Luckily, it wasn't his too, "Well, my train is here. Gotta run."
"Heh. Feel better." He waved.
The subway was packed as usual. Everybody gave me a look of disdain. There was no way in hell I was going to even think of asking anyone to give up their seat. I was just going to have hope and pray that someone still believed in chivalry. I really didn't blame them. I know if I saw one of "those" bubbly-no-brained-straight-from-a-bottle-blonde-bimbos with her French-pedicure toenails sticking out of a cast like mine I sure as hell wouldn't give up my seat, but you know someone else would. All eyes were on me. Everyone was just waiting for me to ask. They were calculating ways to be rude. Just as the doors closed and the subway jerked forward a woman in the back waved at me and pointed to the seat next to her. Saved. Everyone groaned as I inconvenienced my way to the back of the train. She was a middle-aged business type.
"Thank you very much." I smiled and sat down to my music. She gave me a mildly overzealous smile.
I was a bit cumbersome sitting there with my cast sticking out into the aisle. There really wasn't anything I could do about it. I was kind of thankful the subway was packed. People tried not to pay attention to each other. They just wanted to get to work and be done with it. So did I. I just wanted to disappear into my headphones and be and magically appear at work, but I was stuck on the subway.
Unfortunately there was more staring. The teenager slouching in the seat across from wearing headphones thought just because he was wearing an oversized jacket and slouching in his seat that I couldn't see him staring at the bottom of my cast.
"Quit being so paranoid. Maybe he's just staring off into space. You do that sometime when you really get into your music." I told myself. I seductively wiggled my toes at him. He shifted in his seat. So I kept it up until he got off at the next stop.
"First cast?" the businesswoman asked.
"Yeah, just got it yesterday." I said with a mild sense of pride.
"Oh wow, I thought it looked pretty new. No signatures yet. The fiberglass is still a bright white as is the stockinette." She said giving my cast the once over, "You handle'd that kid well back there. Just like a seasoned veteran. You'll get used to staring in no time."
"Have you been in a cast before?"
"Oh heavens no. Never broken a bone in my body."
I wanted to scream. My day had barely started and it was a disaster, "I don't mean to sound rude, but how do you know so much about casts if you've never worn one?"
"I supposed that does sound a sound a bit odd. I'm probably going to sound a bit odder," She was so nonchalant, she wore such a big honest smile through it all, she also threw frequent leftward glances, "About a year ago my husband managed to break his leg playing basketball with his buddies. The cast was just like yours, tight. It hugged the base of his toes and inched its way up to the top of his thigh.
The first couple of days were a little awkward, but we weren't sure why. I was jumpy and a little stand-offish. I felt guilty just being near him, but when he'd be on the couch watching TV and I'd be in the kitchen watching him I couldn't stop staring at him and the cast. I shivered with excitement every time he'd do something simple in the cast like wiggle his toes. I was going crazy. I couldn't take it anymore."
"So what did you do?" I was on the edge of my seat. I couldn't believe it. I'd become engrossed in this woman's story.
"That night in bed I told him how I'd been feeling. He said he'd felt different since he'd in it too," She looked around and then leaned in. With a hushed voice she said, "He'd been masturbating 3 times a day. He was too embarrassed to tell me how horny it was making him. The way everyone stared at him as he crutched, all the question people asked him, it killed him the how snug the cast was against his groin, and most all he loved looking at his toes trapped at the end. That was it. I was through. I sucked those 5 tootsies like there was no tomorrow. You can use your imagination from there."
I felt cheated. I wanted more. I was tempted to have her write up an account of their experience for the magazine, but then I realized it wouldn't fly. No one would understand. It was just me getting hot and bothered over a stranger on the subway.
"You're in for a lot," She bent down and lifted my cast up by the heel. She inspected it like some sort of fine antiquity, "Look at those angles, nice and smooth. Perfect toes. You could use a fresh coat of polish, but other than that everything is perfect."
I looked around. No one was watching or letting on that they had seen anything.
"So do you have any desire to wear a cast, a perfect one like this, hugging your foot, putting your toes on display for everyone to see? Have everyone stare at you? Have your husband treat you like you treated him?" Her smile diminished.
"Not really and I don't think I could handle it. I'd wear a sock on my toes and the most concealing clothing. It's different when the tables are turned." Her smile was completely gone. "Well, kiddo, this is my stop."
"It was great talking to you." I gave a big toothy smile.
"You too. Hopefully I'll see you and that leg of yours soon." She took one last devouring stare as she stood.
I felt like kissing the stranger next to me when my stop was announced, by luck that would fulfill some strange fetish of his. I lucked out again with the geographical location of my office. The office building that housed the magazine was only a block away from the subway. Did I foresee this broken leg when I started the magazine and when I went apartment hunting?
The magazine. My magazine. My place of employment. It was a little more than a job though. It was part of my life, kind of like the cast was now. It started out as just a stupid little zine that my friend, Sylvia, and I started to feature our art in and rant about whatever was on our overly emotional little minds. At first our distribution was just our small group of art fag friends and anyone we could convince to pay a dollar for our rag. Then as we matured so did our art and so did our zine. Our circulation increased exponentially. It eventually exploded into a full-fledged magazine.
I paused in front of the office building where the magazine is now housed to catch my breath. I had to prepare myself for the insanity or inanity that was awaiting me inside.
"Good morning, Ms. Blacke, Sorry about the leg." Petey, the Security Guard, stood from his chair and tipped his hat as he always did. No look of surprise registered on his face. He had definitely already been prompted about orthopedic tragedy. They were expecting me. I looked back at him harder. It was if he was trying not to smile.
"Good morning, Petey." I heard some people enter the building behind me.
"Oh god! Bon! What happened?" It was two interns who hadn't been at the party. I really didn't want to tell them, but surely they'd find out through the office game of telephone. I was positive there was already an official memo floating around.
"Football accident." Each furrowed an eyebrow. Neither were regulars at our parties. Regardless, I was going to have to get better at this. I only had 10 trillion more people to tell.
"Is it broken?" I couldn't believe they had the audacity to ask. What gave it away? The cast or the fact that the cast never fucking stopped?
"In two places." I had to play it up. It was my civic duty as an invalid.
"Oh my god."
The three of us got onto the elevator.
"So how long do you have to wear the cast?" Damnit! I could feel one eyeing my toes and the other my cast.
"About 3 months."
"That's a long time." She stated. As if I was not aware just how long 3 months was. I was making a mental note that she was not to come back. Her body was to be disposed of in a vat of acid.
Unfortunately we were all going to the same floor for the daily meeting to check on the progress of this month's issue. Annoying Interns That Ask Stupid Fucking Questions of Their Invalid Bosses.
"Does it itch yet?" Just as the elevator halted on our floor I felt like feeding her one of my crutches.
"Nope," I said curtly, "Not yet."
I hadn't thought of that. Is it going to itch? Wasn't that just a myth or something from the movies? Possible story idea. Wait. Do people who read our magazine care about shit like that? Or is that something for Elle to handle?
The elevator doors opened to reveal the insanity I had expected earlier, but I had let my guard down. The interns were definitely never coming back. They were to be fed to the intern eating alligators in the dungeon.
"Surprise!" The magazine staff shouted from around the production table. My jaw dropped. Everyone wore party hats and the lot. Above the table hung 3 very large blown up pictures from the infamous party. The first one was just after the dog pile had dispersed. I was sitting on my ass with my feet in front of me making the most horrendous face. I was crying or screaming or doing my best Mary Tyler Moore. I was also clutching my left leg. You could also see my expensive shiny, heel-less, high-heeled, pointy-toed designer shoes. They were my favorite and now I can't find them.
The next picture was me in the ER waiting room sitting in a wheel chair. My left shoe has been removed. My left pant leg of my capri's was rolled up past my knee and I looked like shit. The hospital lighting highlighted the slightest blemish on my face. The picture was taken just after the X-rays. I must have been shitfaced because I don't remember anyone standing in front of me taking this picture.
The third picture was me passed out in the back of somebody's car. I'm sitting with my back against the back door. My left leg is resting the length of the back seat. I have a very pleasant smile on my face. It is actually a very beautiful picture. It captures the beautiful craftsmanship of the cast. The angles. The way it captures the contours of the leg.
"Very funny," Everyone was laughing and having a gay old time. I don't know why, but this sort of hurt my feelings. Had Sylvia been in my place I probably would have gone even further. I would have laughed even harder at her propped on a pair of crutches with her leg in a cast because I know she'd be completely helpless. She didn't know how much it hurt. I was in a lot of pain. Hell it still hurt, "You're all fired."
I meant it. They laughed harder.
"Sorry. Only I can do that." Sylvia reminded me once again that she was the Editor-in-chief, and that I was the Creative Director. She had a way with words, well mostly on paper she did and I had the real artistic talent, but she really ran the magazine.
"Well at least get to work goddamnit." I looked down and my knuckles were white from gripping the crutches so hard.
Copyright xXx 2005