Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Mechanic

A man, whom I will call John to protect the idiot, had recently moved to Chicago. Having been born and raised on a rural Iowa farm, John had little knowledge of urban life. On the morning of his fourth day in his new neighborhood, he was shocked to find that his car had been vandalized sometime during the night.
~ Not familiar with area, he asked passersby on the sidewalks and strangers in a coffee shop, if they could recommend a good mechanic. After several "get losts," and those who just simply walked away, he was finally successful. The short order cook at a nearby deli gave him a name and phone number.
~ "Mario is the best mechanic in the city. And he is reasonable," the cook advised him.
~ Later, at the same deli, John saw a well dressed, well tanned man walk through the door. "You the one needa mechanic?" he queried.
~ Nodding, John noticed that Mario was wearing an expensive three-piece suit. "You like my suit?" he asked. "Something wrong with the way I look?"
~ Oh, no," replied John. "It's just that I've never seen a mechanic dressed so well where I come from."
~ "And where would that be, where you're from?" Mario countered.
~ In Iowa," John answered. "My mechanic there wore bib overalls."
~ "Bib overalls?" Mario roared. "Hey, Tony," he said over his shoulder to the cook. "Where did you find this guy? And you gave him my number?" Mario, not waiting for an answer from Tony said to John, "Okay. So you need a mechanic. Well, here I am, a well dressed mechanic. Now tell me why you need my services."
~ John, matter of factually told Mario of the fate that had befallen his car. He told him that he was new in town, and Tony was the only one who offered to give him help and the name of a good mechanic.
~ "Ah," said Mario. "Now we are getting somewhere. You need a wax job! So, you know who did this to your car?"
~ "Er, no. I was in bed. And..Wax job? I need have my car fixed! Not waxed!"
~ John noticed that a change came over Mario's countenance. His face seemed to redden. His dark eyes seemed to be burning. From the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of the cook slipping into a backroom. Suddenly two powerful fists were clutching bunches of his shirt and he was jostled roughly against a wall.
~ "Fix your car? Fix your car!" Mario yelled angrily. "You waste my time because you think I'm going to fix your car? That's what you think? A mechanic of my skill fixes cars? How about me waxing you, right here, right now?"
~ A half hour later, John woke up next to a dumpster in the alley behind the deli. His whole body ached. There was blood on his shirt. He tried to get up but he could not. The pain in his leg confirmed the worst, his kneecap was broken. He wasn't going anywhere without help. Mario had beaten the living daylights out of him!
~ It was several minutes before his cries for help were finally answered. The good Samaritan seeing his condition, said to John, "Who did this to you? Are you all right?"
~ It hurt to even talk, it felt like his jaw was broken. John managed to whisper to tell the man what had happened as well as he could remember.
~ "You definitely need a doctor!" he said as pushed a few buttons on his cell phone. "Some advice before help arrives. You are in the big city now. If you want your car fixed, look in the Yellow Pages. Don't ask anybody on the street in this neighborhood for a mechanic. If you want an eraser, make sure you are in an office supply store. Not on the street!"
~ His benefactor stood up and began to walk away, "Here comes the doctor now. Remember," he said, "Be careful what you ask for on the street, you just might get it!"
~ Barely conscious, John was trying to understand what the man was saying. He was still trying to fathom just exactly what happened to him in that deli. A sudden thought occurred to him; doctors in Chicago make alley calls?
~ The large man stood before him, looking every bit a well dressed giant from John's perspective. He knelt down looking John over. He poked him a coup[le of times as John winced from the contact.
~ "You musta pissed somebody off real good," he said. "They sure did a number on you." He nodded toward the entrance to the alley, "Your friend did the right thing not calling an ambulance. You definitely need a doctor. Your treatment can wait."
~ "What? What do you mean?" John said. In agony he slowly told his story to the doctor before him. John froze, he saw the same transformation he had seen on Mario's face now appear on the doctor's face. He could remember nothing from that moment on. He later learned that he had been in a coma for six weeks in the hospital bed he awoke in. It seemed like his entire body was in a cast. He learned that in addition to his shattered kneecap, he had also sustained two broken arms, several broken ribs, a broken jaw and multiple contusions and lacerations all over his body.
~ A nurse carrying a clipboard entered the room and said, "Good afternoon. How are you feeling today?" Making no attempt to to understand his muffled speech because of the jaw brace, she added, "We found your identification in your wallet, sir. And a telephone number for your place of employment. They confirmed that you worked there and were covered by their insurance."
~ John sighed. That was the first and closest thing to good news he had heard since he went to bed the night before he discovered his damaged car.
~ Atfer checking his vitals, the nurse started to leave to continue her rounds. "Oh, yes," she said softly, "Your boss asked if it was okay for him to stop by and see you. The doctor said it was okay for you to receive visitors." She pointed at the door, "He is outside now. I'll send him in."
~ What happened next is the stuff of urban legend. Of literally dozens of witnesses, several different versions of the story were told. The most frequently told story relates how on that day a patient with casts on two arms and a leg had jumped out of a second floor hospital window. Somehow the man had survived the plummet to the parking lot and then had disappeared. He was reported by several pedestrians to have been hobbling down Main Street.
~ To this day, it has been speculated that a man described by some as a mummy had boarded a bus chartered for Des Moines, Iowa. The man's boss and the nurse on duty that day were overheard stating the man had reacted in terror when told of his visitor. The man, as well as the employees at the company could find no clue as to why the man would be afraid of the boss. Why would anybody be so afraid of a taxman?

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