Safe as Sandwiches

It takes a little time, but I know I’m going to be asked. They always ask. They can’t help but ask. They need to know what happened.

They need to know what happened to my face, not that there’s much of it. Well, I have one eye, some teeth, and a tongue. Actually, the right side of my face is fine. It’s the left side that’s missing. When I say missing, I mean completely missing from the front to the back. It’s gone. Poof. … bye bye.

The guys at work are used to it. They didn’t even give me a hard time after it happened. I wish they would of ya know. Like the time when Frank got this enormous hemorrhoid and he had to bring in his daughter’s Little Angel Pony pillow to sit on. We all razzed him about having to sit on the pony’s face and how his daughter was going to lay her head on a pillow that had been right next to his hemorrhoid. Yep, that’s how it is. Frank gets a little swelling around his anus and gets all the attention. I lose half my face and zip – nothing.

The guys at work saw it happen. They don’t talk about it anymore. My problem is the customers. Minute they walk into the shop; they got to start their own little investigation. Most times customers don’t even talk to me directly. They’ll just walk right past, like I’m some kind of shadow and ask Ira or Nick what happened.

“Can he talk?” they whisper, rolling their eyes in my direction. Sometimes, Nick would tell them I was dead and the ambulance was on its way to pick me up. I used to play along with it. I’d slump in my chair and gurgle a little, but Alfred, my boss, didn’t like it. He didn’t want to scare the customers. He’s a good boss and was real nice to me and Emma after I lost my face. He even gave me a little time off with pay after Emma took the kids and left me. She’s living in San Antonio with her sister Crystal.

There’s a bowling alley next to the shop. Emma used to work there and sometimes we’d have lunch together, at the bowling alley. That’s how we met. Used to be a pretty good at bowling, but now my equalization thing … the doctor said the tubing in my head ain’t right and I can’t keep my feet underneath me. That’s why I mostly sit at the shop these days. Alfred says I need to sit at the back of the shop, right next to the tires, to keep an eye on things. You never know who’s who.

Doctor told me there was this other doctor in Cleveland who could make me a new face out of plastic. Told me, it almost looks like a real face, except I couldn’t get a tan and I had to take it off when I ate or drank. It only cost two thousand dollars for the mold, but Emma didn’t care for the idea. She needed the money to get herself to Texas. She told me she had to take the kids because my face scared them too much. Gave my little girl nightmares, she said. Yep, it’s best they’re away from me.

Sometimes, I put my face to the edge of mirror and it looks like I’ve a whole face again. Sometimes, I think I’m turning invisible.

I know you’re wondering about my brain. It’s half gone. Doctors did a real good job reconnecting what remained. They told me that right after it happened, what was left of my brain swelled up to the size of a watermelon. Imagine that! Not too much different from Frank’s hemorrhoid. They used all these chemicals and drugs to shrink it back again. Then they took a laser and started reconnecting everything. Everyone and Emma say I’m a different person now. They say I used to tell lots of jokes and I liked quiz shows. I try to remember, but I think that’s gone invisible too.

I hit my son Jesse in the back with a shovel. He was an imposter. Everyone has an imposter. He did the funniest thing. What was it? We were in the garden and what did he say? He said, “No, it’s a tomato.” That wasn’t the name for it. I’m not too good with names or faces anymore. Everyone looks the same – like everyone is copy from a copier. Between you and me, I have my doubts that people are people. I think they do the old switch-a-roo on ya. Oldest trick in the book, if you want my opinion.

They can’t do the old switch-a-roo on yours truly, can’t duplicate something that’s invisible.

Alfred started taking me to church on Sundays. It’s a real nice place with lots of singing and not too much preaching. I get to sit up by the choir and help turn the pages for the organist. I can’t sing no more, because of my mouth, but I try to say the words in my head. Alfred thinks I need to find God real quick. I just hope God can find me.

The doctors are always asking me about colors. What’s this color? What’s that color? What number do you see in the dots? Then, they take a needle a poke my right hand. Feel that? Feel that? I try to tell them that I don’t have no more control over my arm or leg. The other guy has that part. He does all the work needed to get me around. He finishes the job. I don’t even have to tell him to do it. Just knows to move my leg or my arm when I need it. I think they call it telepathy. At night, sometimes the other guy goes to sleep and my right arm and leg start flip-flopping all over the place. The other guy gave Emma a big fat black eye once, while we were sleeping.

I can’t do my old job anymore. The insurance company told Alfred I didn’t meet the minimum qualifications and I wasn’t even allowed to lift the hood of a car, let alone check the electric motors. The insurance company said it would be best if Alfred fired me and let me live out the time I had left at home. I was real worried for a little bit, but then Alfred told me he had a better, more important job for me at the shop. I’m now the shop watchman. I keep my eye on everything and report it back to Alfred. What happened to me isn’t going to happened to anyone else, not on my watch.

At work, before the accident, the thing they told you to watch out for was capacitors. These things look like my daughter’s building blocks, but they hold electricity and they can strike ya like a cottonmouth snake.

Before any work on the hydrogen engine could begin, the standard procedure was to discharge the motor capacitors. All you needed to do was stick a special key into the motor lock, turn it twice, when the red light turned green, you’re safe as sandwiches. No charge – no electric spark and no ca-boom! In my line of business, sparks are very bad.

Sounded pretty simple to me. You see, the doctors told me my brain is like this gigantic capacitor. It holds an electrical charge, but now that it’s damaged, the electricity slowly leaks out. That’s what they’re saying to me. My capacitor is slowly draining away and I’m losing more and more control. I tried to tell that it wasn’t me; the other guy had taken over.

Doctors tell me there’s no other guy. They say the other guy is really me. See, he might look like me, but he’s an imposter. Everyone has an imposter. They call them Doppelgangers. I heard that on a tape at the library. At night, they do the old switch-a-roo, but my imposter only gets half, because the other half is invisible. He’s getting wilier though. He’s feeling around and getting more and more of me. Maybe he has the special key? You know, two quick turns and its goodbye me and hello Doppelganger.

At work, safe as sandwiches is what they tell you and you have to know you’re safe, because you could be surrounded by an invisible enemy, hydrogen. It don’t have no color or smell. Sometimes the engine membrane leaks a little gas. I don’t care what you read in the papers or on the Internet, they can’t build the membranes right and the invisible enemy builds up in the cell casing.

So, I’m going to tell you what happened to my face, but you need to use your imagination.

Just pretend that your best buddy, Larry gets the old switch-a-roo in the middle of night and then the next day he’s at work with you. But you don’t know that it’s really one of those Doppelgangers. These kind of monsters don’t know how to fix cars and they don’t know how dangerous hydrogen is.

So there I am. I’ve lifted the hood and removed the ion and vector plates and before I crack open the hydrogen fuel cell, I ask my buddy, “Is the light green Larry?” and he tells me, “We’re safe as sandwiches”.


Safe as Sandwiches


Las Vegas, United States

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Artist's Description

I was paid $16 for this story, then the magazine went broke. Here it is for your enjoyment – FREE

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