Yoharie: Inside (part one)
Back when he had done the stuff, Yoharie had suffered a little (keeping it to himself), from an attitude problem. As to suffering, the physical therapy was pretty harsh. But they said if he didn’t stick with doctor’s orders…the insurance people said…they couldn’t just pay on, for the pain meds. He had to be trying to make progress.
He’d had a year left on his own, the latest of cheap policies signed on for whenever he got a job. Then he had Dawn’s—speaking of progress. Hers was willing to count him a significant other, and cover one or two bills of a non-pre nature. But he was a drag on his best friend, he was getting her in trouble. Yoharie found it hard, understanding these things, but when Dawn got to drawing on her retirement, it was like income… Apparently. He might be dead, and her still paying his bills.
Anyway, she was too smart to marry him.
He had got off, done Medicaid, which he could, not owning anything.
“I got blown up in oh-six,” he liked to say.
His lawyer, in 2014, had said: “Take it, it’s a good settlement. They won’t go to trial, what I told you from the start. I don’t call it a bad lesson, or a bad effort… If you were a hot chick, maybe they’d star you in a movie. But nobody gets justice. They don’t want a verdict, Big Frack. Precedent. They’ve done to a lot of guys what they did to you.”
To Dawn, the lawyer hadn’t made a friend of himself.
“He’s an honest guy,” Yoharie said.
“Well, yeah. He makes jokes about taking your money. How a tort lawyer’s got a great gig, didn’t he say?”
“So…? I don’t need hearing all the terminology.”
She had given Yoharie that face, that said, you’re right. Not. Dawn never argued.
“But if I was Nuengen, or their CEO, or whatever, and I said, oh, too bad, we almost killed you, ha ha. I mean…I’m not good at jokes. But bald-faced and honest aren’t just exactly the same.”
The whole system failed on justice; the present life didn’t compensate…and the guy getting blown up this month got nothing from Yoharie’s settlement out-of-court two years ago. No legs was a bitch, skin grafts were a bitch, unexplained shit malfunctioning on the inside was a bitch.
Blown-up Yoharie was still a better man than he had been. Leave 2006 out of the equation, and he couldn’t have met Dawn, he couldn’t have had his two kids under his roof. The accident would be another guy’s… Fate saying, “Here’s your deal. You’re not going to appreciate the irony until it’s too late.”
And if he asked Trevor, “There’s some kind of thing about what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…”, Trevor would know who said it. Trevor was another new good friend.
The change in Giarma most of all. That he had a daughter who didn’t like him hadn’t seemed to Yoharie worth crying over. She probably still didn’t, a hundred percent. But she did.
Which was ironic enough.
“Think about whether you could. Tina…” Giarma had lowered her voice. “Doesn’t… I don’t see why, as long as we can say we’ve made arrangements…”
“Doesn’t have to come with us?”
She ducked her head and laughed. Her father laughed.
“No. I mean, Cathlyn and Roberta, they could either come or…Cathlyn especially…can tell us who to hire.”
“No, sweetheart. I don’t need home care. I’m going to Florida.”
He was going to Florida, a long van ride, so he needed to not be a pain in the ass, or worse, fall into some crisis.
The attitude problem had been the guy. He was young, kind of reddish-haired, with a voice that was a little…smooth. He watched Yoharie do the exercises. At some point, he would say: “You’re cheating.”
Dry, deadpan. That little smile.
This regular encounter had grown into a phobia. Maybe. It didn’t completely make sense…that was, Yoharie knew he cheated. He never exercised at home. He never pushed himself to endure just a few seconds more, another few reps. If it hadn’t been for the eagle eye, he would have half-assed the whole session.
That was true.
But, in some way meaning to do good, and doing good, intersected. He cheated but he wasn’t a cheater. A future time had always seemed possible, when the settlement came, when every put-off thing would get done. The settlement, (while Dawn could see it, and tried her best to educate him), had got to be the pot o’ gold. It sat on a horizon, almost visible…an easier, happier day.
No lawyers, no insurance people, no have-to-be-someplace, have-to-hire-a-van-can’t-afford-one, have-to-get-Dawn-back-on-her-feet, back-on-the-phone…
No more going to bed worried, waking still Blown-up Yoharie, and depressed.
But the pot o’ gold wasn’t the settlement. It was his treasured, commonsense partner. Dawn knew how they needed to spend the money, what they needed to save, and Dawn had made a nest for the kids to fly back to.
So it was that Yoharie’s doctor, asked to recommend a physical therapist who could get Yoharie in shape for travel, even roust him into those prosthetic legs, had said:
“Ah. Well, did you know my wife is a physical therapist?”
(2021, Stephanie Foster)