He sat staring at the door. Why weren't there customers? People needed their car fixed. Why didn't they come in?
His face twitched and he automatically slapped it. It was a habit—As long as George could remember, he had slapped his face when it twitched.
"Stupid people," he said with a slight speech impediment. "I just wish they would come in and get their cars fixed," He slumped down, put his had on the desk, and began to absent-mindedly trace the outline of his bug's bunny pencil holder with his finger.
"Hey Bugs!" he said slowly, pronouncing each syllable so he was sure he said it right. When he didn't say it right, they made fun of him. "I wonder why there are no customers today?" He said casually, making an effort to hide the pain in his voice. The smiling rabbit just stared back at him, holding a carrot near his mouth, almost like he was about to eat it.
George got up from behind the counter of his store and limped over to the waiting room chairs. He tried to fix the magazines sitting on a little table adjacent to the chairs, but his hands always shook too badly and they always seemed to end up worst then they were before.
He carefully limped back over to the desk, then promptly sat down. He stared again at the door.
"Maybe it's the sign," he said to the plastic bunny again. "Maybe the signs to old, and they think we've gone out of business!" His last words slurred together, causing him to blush slightly. "bus-ness" he pronounced again carefully. His hand twitched, and he slammed it on the table. The Bugs Bunny pencil holder jumped somewhat.
"Sorry Bugs," he whispered, staring again expectantly at the door. Suddenly, he heard a wonderful sound. Was it a car?
A slight whisper of an engine reaffirmed this statement. Using tremendous effort, he helped him self up, then limped hurried over to a small, unclean window on the door.
A car came into his view. It was a beauty, a nineteen seventy Cadillac convertible in powder blue. He held his breathe expectantly.
"Please stop," he murmured, his words barely recognizable. His eyes widened and a smile spread across his face as the car slowed down. His entire body stiffened, and his heart started to beat faster.
The car quickly sped up again.
Disappointment slammed through the glee his hope had built. He slowly limped back over, his head down. Pain extended it's claws and grasped the inner depths of his body. He closed his eyes tight and silently begged the tears to stop from spilling over the gates of his sore, red eyes.
"It was definitely the sign," he said softly to the bunny, his words running together. His words always ran together when he felt rejected. "It's an old sign. I should make a new one. Or at least paint the old one," He felt a sharp pain form in his throat.
"Maybe the folks in town are on vacation," he said, desperately attempting to slow down his speech to a comprehensible babble, trying to wipe his eyes, but found his hands to be shaking too badly. Tears flowed freely down the man's face, flowing over each little wrinkle.
"Maybe they just don't like me," He said hoarsely, choking back a sob. He closed his eyes, and took sharp breaths.
"I don't want to play with George!" His brother had insisted, looking down at the sobbing five year old. "George is stupid!"
"I'm not!" said the little boy, twitching, then hitting himself.
"Are too! No one likes you!" George's brother spat out. "I wish you'd just run away and never come home!"
The brother quickly ran out of the house, and went to join his friends outside. George watched quietly from the window as he watched the boys form into two teams and start a game of baseball.
"I want to play," he said softly, then slapped his shaking hand.
George didn't even attempt to stop the tears now. "They don't know, Bugs!" he sobbed. "They don't know how lonely I am! They don't know!" His hand started to twitch again.
"Damn hand!" he yelled through the bawling, slamming it on the table so hard his knuckles began to bleed. "Damn hand!" He hit it even harder this time, causing his Bugs pencil holder to go flying off the table. He abruptly stopped breathing.
"Bugs?" He asked, desperately falling off his chair to search for the pencil holder. "Bugs?" He called out again in a frantic voice. He felt a sharp pain in his hand. He slowly looked down, and found to his dismay a piece of a bunny's hand. "No," he gasped, his voice catching in his throat. He picked up the broken fragments in his hand, and carefully placed them on his desk. He strained every inch of his body in an attempt to pick himself up.
"I've got to help Bugs," he said to himself. "I've got to, to help him! I've got to help Bugs!" His hand slipped, but he didn't give up. "I've got to help him!" He exclaimed to his hand. He eventually found himself standing up.
"Glue!" he realized. "I need glue!" He rapidly began the search through his office, ignoring the throbbing pain of his wounded hand.
A chilling realization suddenly came to him. He didn't have glue. He never bought it!
He slumped by his desk, picked up two pieces of the broken bunny, and tried to desperately fit them back together with shaking hands.
"Please," he mummery, tears, having returned, gently falling onto his now bloodied hands. "I'm sorry Bugs! I didn't mean to! I—"
George dropped the pieces and curled up into a ball, sobs shuddering through his body. Loneliness consumed him, eating him to the core and leaving him a shivering, incoherent man. His heart was swelled with the immense amount of pain, causing him to gasp for air in between his sobs. He looked down at his hands through his tears, and tried desperately to rub them on his soiled jeans.
"Got to get up," he said sadly. "I've got to get up for the customers,"
"Why?" a voice in him challenged. "There are no customers. There haven't been any customers for along time!" His face twitched once again, and he slapped it, leaving a trail of blood on his face. He slowly pulled himself up and faced the door.
"They'll come eventually," he whispered, his eyes clearly depressed, but his expression blank. He tried at all costs to avoid staring at his broken friend, but his attempts were in vain. His only friend now lay before him, pieces of what used to be.
"George won't ever go anywhere!" his mother said through tears. George was supposed to be in bed, but the conversation had intrigued him.
"His teacher's are constantly talking about how he can't even hold a pencil. A pencil, Rob! How can we expect our son to do well if he can't even hold a pencil!"
The teenager felt hot tears surface in his eyes, but he refused to release them. The boys at school already made fun of him, he didn't need to supply them with reasons. Rejected, he slowly limped back towards bed. His face twitched, and he slapped it again.
"I'm sorry Bugs," he whispered again, his eyes puffy and red from crying so hard. "I didn't mean for this to happen. I didn't want this to happen," He tried his hardest to make his words clear. This was a last goodbye to an old friend—It had to be special.
"You always listened," he said slowly, then laughed at the sound of it. "You were my only friend," he said, once again growing somber. "I'm terribly sorry. Really, I am!"
The ancient door to his office slowly creaked open. He stood up abruptly. A young, sheepish woman slowly entered.
"I'm terribly sorry to bother you," she said softly, politely trying not to stare at the gentleman's bleeding hands or puffy eyes. "I'm traveling with my little boy, and he had to use the bathroom, and I saw your sign, and I figured you could help us," she paused, unsure if she should continue. "I—I heard crying…from outside the door. Are you alright?"
The man could feel himself becoming self-conscious. "It was nothing," he said as slowly as possible, trying to control the waver in his voice.
"Are you sure?" the woman pressed, moving closer to the desk and surveying the pieces of Bugs. "Did you break your pencil holder?" she asked, searching his face.
"I…" George tried to say. "I…" Tears threatened to spill down his cheeks once again. The woman's expression was filled with compassion. He immediately broke down into sobs. He tried to tell her about his pain, about his entire life, about what it was like to be him, but grief took hold of his tongue and refused to release itself.
"You live here, all by yourself?" the woman gently pressed, reaching into her purse and pulling out a handkerchief. Stepping around to the man, she gently took his hands and wiped the caked, dried blood away, then applied pressure to the cuts. With the patience of a mother, she reached up, and brushed his tears away. He didn't have to answer her question.
"My little boy and I are on our way to Florida," she said softly. "Would you like to join us?"
The man lifted his chin to stare at her, his face in awe.
"Yes," he said clearly. "I would like that, very much,"
Smiling, She stood up, gently took his hands, and began to lead him outside to her car. Gently squeezing his new friend's hand, he began to walk outside. A sudden feeling of pleasure burst through George as a realization dawned on him. George's face had twitched.
And for the first time in his life, he didn't slap at it.