“Where’re the funny pages?”
“You know, Garfield, Peanuts… The comics, man.”
“From yesterday’s paper?”
“Yeah, man. Yesterday’s paper.”
“Well, to be honest, I threw it away.”
“Darn it, Sam.” Matt wheeled his chair towards the recycle bin. He saw a nearly empty soda cup on top of the pile. The ice had melted and soaked the stack of paper.
“Recyclables only,” hissed Matt as he wheeled himself back to Sam.
“I’m sorry, man. I thought you’d seen them.”
“No worries.” Matt looked out a window before continuing. “Hey, I’m gonna shoot some hoops. You game?”
Sam leaned back in his chair and pushed against the wheels. “I’m gonna pass. I’ve got some work to get done.”
Matt nodded and wheeled himself across the floor.
* * *
“Calm down, son.” Matt heard a pleasant voice.
“What’s going on?”
“Open your eyes, son.”
Son… Thought Matt. I haven’t heard that in a while. He opened his eyes and lost his breath. He couldn’t believe what his eyes saw. “Dad?”
Matt’s eyes teared up when he saw the face of his father. “It’s me, Matt. Are you okay?”
“I think…” He swallowed hard. “My legs…”
The face looking down at him showed concern. “Is something wrong with your legs?”
Matt reached down and his heart raced as he felt below his knees. I have legs! He struggled to sit up.
“Maybe you should lie still while I call an ambulance.”
“To hell with that.” Matt tried lifting himself with his arms, but didn’t have the strength to follow through. He lifted one of his legs and rotated his hips until it hung over the edge of a bed. “Help me up.”
His father reluctantly assisted him into a sitting position. “Please call Doctor Fitzgerald at the facility on Ninth.”
His father stared blankly. Ignoring his father’s stare, Matt continued. “Uh, Dad, can you bring me a phone?”
His father nodded and left the room quickly.
* * *
“How long have you had these dreams?”
“They’re not dreams.” Matt threw his arms up. “Just forget it.”
The doctor tapped a pen against his lips. “Start from the beginning.”
Matt sighed. “I was in a car accident about ten years ago. My dad died and my legs had to be amputated below the knee.”
The doctor didn’t respond, so Matt continued. “I’ve lived here in this facility with my roommate, Sam.” Matt looked away and muttered, “Sam squared.”
The doctor dropped his pen. “Sam squared?” He leaned forward. “Sam Samuels?”
“Yeah, fastidiously clean, pops a wheelie like no one else.”
“Come with me.”
* * *
Matt saw Sam lying in a bed, machines breathing for him. “What happened?” he whispered.
“Sam attempted suicide several times. The last one almost took.”
“That’s not possible. I stopped his second attempt right here in this room.”
“I wish someone had been in this room…” The doctor whispered. “It may have made a difference.”
Matt watched his vision get fuzzy on the edge before everything faded.