My cousin Ray is in his late forties and recently lost both legs below the knee to diabetes. The news came as a shock, because for most of my life Ray was a shirtless mountain behind my aunt and uncle’s screen door. Atop that mountain was the Fuller trademark, a volcanic shit-eating grin. Be it a pack of smokes, booz, or a woman, Ray’s foul smirk preceded word of a conquest. He saw it as a consequence of the world’s folly. Ray was always getting away with something, but now times would be hard, I thought. Ray had no feet.
Ray moved back in with his parents but found his old room taken up by his younger sister Rhonda. They’d both been in jail a handful of times. Rhonda had stolen to feed a crack habit, and Ray looked at theft like an easy fart. Now that they were both back with Aunt Shell and Uncle Curt, there’d be some story swapping around the Aunt Jemima. There might even come an understanding.
Each had a set of gifts and an inner core that craved dicey situations and big pay-offs. Sharing would transpire, and when Ray fell asleep in the sewing room, on the futon he set up beneath Aunt Shell’s thimble collection, he’d know that life had taken but also set him kindly right in the globe of familiar revelry.
Ray got used to his wheelchair; it was nothing fancy. He liked when Rhonda took him to town; he was ass-level. Every feminine cheek in Cherry Hill beckoned. Every card game was a chance to minister to his pals about what they’d missed.
“Vern, it was all I could do not to bite this one lady. She had that vanilla spice or cinnamon shit on. You know, the kind that makes your pecker go ho, ho, ho,” he might say. Ray’s belly serves as a shelf for his words, and in that case it would be a platform for any three dimensional ass that cared to manifest.
On Black Friday, Rhonda left her two teenage daughters home with Aunt Shell while she and Ray took the truck to Walmart. Ray was the mastermind. Rhonda was the feet. A security guard in electronics, added due to the massive crowds, was the first to reach for his walkie talkie. A man in a wheelchair was stealing a laptop, and would someone check out the very flat chested woman beside him with the shit-eating grin.