TOMMY AND THE ANKLE BITER,
by Roger Fritz, 5-6-00
The most interesting people wind up happy.
Tommy was born a few cards shy of a deck. His Aunt Muriel's theory was that his mother and father were too old when they had kids. In those days nobody knew what he had was called ADD. He was impulsive. He'd be sitting in the sandbox and suddenly whack the kid next to him on the head with his toy shovel.
He grew up in his mom and dad's basement, with a closet full of comic books and a wall of shelves filled with plastic models. As soon as Tommy passed adolescence, women and girls began to avoid him. He sexually harassed every woman he met. He liked to ask for hugs, and his wandering hands wandered, no matter who the woman was. He got slapped lots, and didn't seem to notice.
But he was fun to play with. I always liked him. He had a childlike innocence and good nature. He enjoyed life. The fact that he went through life causing a lot of pain and bother to those around him was hardly his fault, though he did have a streak of childlike cruelty that you had to look out for. Nobody thought he'd do anything but live the rest of his life in his mom and dad's basement.
But then he got a job as a janitor out at the airbase. He did his job well, and enjoyed it. And he met a woman named Evelyn, a former drill-sergeant, and the first woman in Tom's life who knew how to handle him. In fact, she liked him. They got married, and moved ten miles out of town to be closer to work.
Since Tommy's father died, Tom and Evelyn come into town most evenings and have dinner with Tommy's mom. Edna is in her seventies, and has always had dogs, since before Tommy was born. Mostly she's had Pekinese. One of the dogs she has now, Skipper, is an ankle-biter. She bites the feet of strangers and chews on shoes.
The first time he tried to bite Aunt Muriel's shoes, she leaned over and gave him a look that froze him in place. But the one person he bites without fail is Tommy, so Tommy wears boots when he and Evelyn come to dinner.
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