Hanz. He was like my leprechaun, a hippie jewelry maker I met in an Irish pub on St. Pattie’s Day.
I wasn’t supposed to be there. The library had been my plan, but I needed a drink on this night, too tired to think. Thinking myself invisible in a corner, I sat in my wheelchair, pen to notebook ready to write whatever comes to mind, avoiding everyone’s blood-shot, cheery eyes.
“Hello, pretty one. What might you be writing so diligently on such a celebratory evening?”
Wow! This guy actually has a vocabulary, I thought.
“Just free-writing right now.”
As I finished my first glass of cheap green-colored beer, I looked into his stunning Kelly-green eyes, then followed his tiny nose to his thin yet cushy grin that sat amidst a trimmed beard. Mesmerized dumb, I smiled and stared.
And he slouched stone still except his smile, which was widening with every second that passed, as if he could read my mind.
Slow he leaned forward on his elbow, “I was fixin’ to leave before you wheeled through the door. Now, I think I’ll stay for one more. May I buy you a drink, maybe I can help you think of something to write about?” He asked with a corky grin.
My eye lashes flashed my excitement as I replied, “Sure. That sounds much better than what I had planned for the night.”
With a side-slide, he literally hopped up, dust in a cloud beneath his Burkenstocked feet, and his short legs, clothed in multicolored patch-work pants, scurried over to the Irish maid filling beers at the tap. He was the most adorable Leprechaun I’d ever met, and just my height if I were standing up or lying down in my bed.
Engulfed in looking busy, I wrote, Hanz sat down and told a joke. And out-loud I laughed, covering my mouth.
“Never cover up your smile, my dear. Seeing your smile brings those around you cheer,” he states with a wise wink.
Splotched red on my hot neck and chest, the beer playing with my head, I said, “You don’t talk like any guy I’ve ever met.”
Like fire-flies his eyes glowed green as he spoke low, “Maybe it’s just I’m the right guy for a woman with your kind of mind on night like tonight.” He gazed into me.
I couldn’t resist the thought, Is this guy for real?
He read my skepticism, “I’m Hanz. What’s your name?”
“Kelley. Nice to meet you.”
“So, Kelley, what are you studying on this fine campus?”
“My MA in literature.”
“Art with an MA creative writing.”
Now it all makes sense! I think.
Hanz continues, “I’m graduating in May. Just enough time to sell all my jewelry and move away.”
Interest peaked, I attack, “Then What?”
“I’m gonna Jack Kerouac it to Washington state. Maybe work on farms along the way. In the end, I hope to meet up with a gal I know Amy Weinschenk.”
“No shit!” I exasperated. “I know her from my dizzy days, I mean, my time as a Delta Zeta. She was the only person in the sorority that was truly cool, and actually, the first person I smoked pot with on campus.” We laugh together.
“That’s Amy. I miss her madly. We’ve been friends since our first year here, met at orientation.”
“She was the reason I joined that sorority shit mid-way through the semester. I hadn’t known that she was going to graduate that semester.”
“Back when we started this school was scandalous with the party scene. Now, it’s lame.” He winks, “But these days so am I. Too busy working on projects for others to buy.”
“I’d love to see what you do sometime.”
He obliged me by pulling up a hemp rope with a whittled wooden cross at the center. He took it off and handed it over to me, saying, “This has always brought me luck. You can have it now. Something to remember me by.” Again with a wink of his right eye.
I examine the intricate detail carved into the wood, and I tingle as I say to it, “I’ve got a bottle of wine and some left over chicken tacos ‘n’ rice, if you’d like to join me for the night. Honestly, anymore, I’m really not the social type.”
“I’d be honored if you’d allow me to push you out.”
“How ‘bout you just walk with me to my house. With the recent crime spree, it’s not safe to travel at night alone.” With that he bowed, then escorted me home.
I fixed us a snack of tacos ‘n’ rice and poured two glasses of a cheap Cabernet, while he sat in a chair and watched me.
“Do you mind if I light these candles?” Before I could respond they were lit, and the lights were off. “How long have you lived here?”
“Just a little over year. My quaint garage house has been good to me.” I chuckled, looking round my humble abode.
“It’s crazy we never met before…Ok, so who’s your favorite poet?” He asked as he took a bite of a rolled taco.
Chewing I pondered my Canon of names, and with eyes popping out, “I’d have to say Chaucer. He took every day people and made their tales meaningful and entertaining. His life was a trip! Did you know…” I stopped realizing I was about to go off, “Sorry, when talking about the greats, I tend to pontificate.”
Feeling a hotness that burns my cheeks with an anxious thought, He’s probably smarter than me.
His green eyes glowed mesmerizing in the candle light, “You sound like a teacher.”
“I paid my dues to Social Security for almost a decade. In the end, instead of feeling like a supported member of a team, I felt like I was in high school again. Teaching and even students sucked and parents were worse. That last year, I was done watching cell phones murder the English language and stunt the growth of kids.” I shoved a bite of rice in my mouth, realizing I’d probably said too much.
“I don’t carry,” he laughs, “too many people want to keep in touch.”
“I avoid it at all costs!” Pushing his plate to the side while we laugh, he leans on his elbow and traces my hand with his fore-finger.
“You’re quite an impressive woman. Do you know that?” He put my palm in his, smoothing the top with his thumb.
I felt as if I’d lost my breath, and inhaling quick, I began coughing on a piece of rice let loose from my back tooth.
Ready to save me, Hanz leapt from his seat, throwing his arms under mine to Heimlich me, but I grabbed his arms in a hug instead, while showing him I could breath. He held me and the back of my wheelchair against his gut, until my choke-rocking let up.
Hand on his heart, he then stood before me and expressed, “That was terrifying! I can’t lose you yet! We just met!”
I then took his hand, “You’re my lucky charm. Will you come help me fall asleep. I’ve got Shakespeare in the morning and need my wits about me.”
“Anything you need, Kelley.” And he followed me to my twin bed to rock me to sweet dreams.
Turning on my bedside lamp, I hit play on my stereo for some Celtic music to lull us to sleep, or other things. I locked my wheelchair in place, angled to my headboard, and I lifted my butt up and bumped onto my little bed, tossing my legs out straight.
“Wow. You’re good at that,” Hanz said from my doorway.
“Been doin’ it for quite some time,” I replied with a wink.
With seriousness darkening his vibrant eyes, “May I ask what happened? How’d you end up in a wheelchair?” At the end of my bed, patient, legs crossed, hands in his lap, he waited for me to respond.
I paused, thinking, I wonder how much I should divulge? “I was in a car accident when I was fourteen. I broke my back, shattering two vertebrae and severing my spinal cord completely.”
“That musta been tough.” Like a curious child, he bounced and asked, “So could you feel it if I tickled your feet?”
Full smile, I replied, “Give it a try.”
He pulled my foot onto his lap and began tickling it like a cat, and my toes like whiskers started to twitch. Laughing inspired, he played itsy-bitsy spider while watching my body’s mechanical reaction. Amazed he inquires, “And you don’t feel anything?”
“That’s crazy…” He shook his head. “God…Your feet are so soft!” He rubbed his hands over my foot and thin calf.
“That’s because they’re not used and abused.” I giggled as he replaced my foot. I turned onto my side, propping my head up on my arm.
“You have a great attitude!”
“Not always. I can be a bear in the morning!”
“I forgot! I’m putting you to bed, aren’t I?” Hanz hopped onto his knees and laying down next to me, he mirrored my position, head on palm, lips pursed, studying me as I studied him.
“I like the music. Very tranquil.”
“Helps me think.”
With a coy side-grin arching one eye-brow, “And what is Kelley thinking about now?”
“I think it’s time to turn out the light and make shadow puppets in the light from my bedroom window.”
Tossing himself on his back, he stretched his fingers, which cracked with the clink of the light.
“Show me yours, and I’ll show you mine.” Hanz challenged.
Shit! I’ve got nothing! I rushed my mind of this childhood game and came up with nothing!
I stuck up a peace sign and bounced it along the window’s shadow-line, “I’m Peter Cottontail, hoppin’ long the bunny trail…” I then hid my face in my pillow, muffled, “It was a joke. I’m such a dork!”
Looking up at the shadow next to me, I covered my mouth with my hands, chewing on my finger’s calloused surface, wondering, Is he still there?
Out of nowhere, his hand took mind and he placed it on his bearded cheek, his lips resting upon my palm. Breath warm on my wrist, he spoke in a low tone, “You, my dear, are way sweeter than you appeared. And I mean that in a good way. In the bar, you seemed so confident and serious, almost aloof. You were intimidating…ya know…outa my league…”
My hand still in the shadow of his mouth, I spoke too loud, “That’s funny! That’s the total opposite of who I am.”
“I can tell that now,” he chuckled, then gave me a tickle-kiss on my wrist. Then, lips traveling up my arm, he asked, “Would you mind if I stole a kiss?”
Too excited to speak for fear of ruining the moment, I bowed my lips as he leaned in with his. Our lips like cushions of slow warm friction collide, until sucking on my overt bottom lip, Hanz cocked his head to the right and pushed his short fat tongue to find mine.
It was like eating rainbow sherbet for the first time, moving tongues in cheeks with the impression of true passion, when suddenly a muscle spasm in my leg threw me to spank his teeth!
However, un-phased Hanz just continued kissing me, his hands lacing in my hair and massaging my face.