The Man With Half a Heart
It wasn't easy standing there on one leg trying to clean up the blood, the muscle, the bits of bones, the entrails, and even the dripping feces, and it was even harder to turn the handle on the paper towel dispensary using just one hand.
His wife Delia had just told him, while they were eating dinner on their anniversary no less, that she was leaving him. She looked right at him with a steely, heartless gaze and broke the news. Then she stood up, tossed her napkin on table and strode out of the restaurant like she was walking toward a job interview with God.
And, oh yeah, she took half of him with her. The left half. He suddenly felt a lot lighter, so he looked down and noticed that she had sliced him neatly in two, starting at the top of his head and exiting below his crotch area. He was just starting to wonder just how the f**k she could done the thing so neatly and so swiftly when he remembered that Delia wielded words like a highly trained samurai wielded a katana blade, and she also had a natural gift for turning his own words into weapons that drew blood.
As far as the people eating at the surrounding tables knew, he was okay. Sure, they had witnessed the tossed napkin and the storming out, but to the outward vision, he was still in one piece. He played along with the charade, paid the bill, and slowly made his way into the restroom where he stood before the marble counter and carefully surveyed and listed the real damage.
Anybody knows that possessing half a heart is damned near as worthless as having no heart at all. But a lot of people do not understand that the heart is also a seat of memory and the hub of all emotional activities. So, all of his emotions now entered in a limbo after discovering the hub was missing. They wandered about the halls of his consciousness lost, lonely and confused, sometimes hooking up with the half baked ideas that were still being emitted by the still intact right side of his brain. This resulted in a lot of strange behavior on his part. Sometimes he fell in love with an episode of CSI, at other times he would rage at the sight of cute squirrel eating a peanut in the park.
It was his daughter Lacy who had to have the talk with him. She had won the honor because she drew the short straw, actually a piece of spaghetti, in a contest with her sister.
"Dad, people are starting to talk."
"What the f**k do I care bout what they think? Your mother took the half that cared, remember?"
"She's gone, Pop. She died. You, on the other hand are still here, and that means you need to get your shit together."
"You been telling me that for years. And I know it don't look like it, but I'm trying. It's just hard hard to do things when you only have half a body."
"You look fine."
"On the outside, Hon. On the inside, I'm missing a lot of pieces. It takes a lot of time to grow things back to where they were. I was forty-eight years old. I had a forty-eight year old heart, and a forty-eight year old fully functioning brain full of forty-eight years of life experiences that helped me make solid decisions. Now, I can barely see a little nub starting to grow back where my left ventricle used to be, but it's going to take some time, Sweetheart."
"Dad, it would help if you found something or someone to love."
"I do. I love you and your sister."
"You know what I mean, Pop."
Later that night, at the Casino, he thought about what she had said. He wondered what the odds were that he could find someone who was missing the right side of her body. Someone who was left brain analytical and who just happened to need someone with a more spiritual outlook on life. Someone whose own heart had been torn exactly down the middle.
For some reason, he had taken to playing the Romeo and Juliet machine hidden deep on the left side of the building, and he didn't really know why. He assumed that it had something to do with the idea of fateful, ignorant assed love, an aspect that been missing from his life ever since Delia had stormed out the restaurant that night.
He was twenty-five dollars down when he felt the presence of someone standing behind him observing. A minute later, a woman sat down beside him at the Space Journey machine.
"Hello there, having any luck?"
He turned to his left and saw an attractive looking red-haired lady, maybe a little younger than himself, smiling at him. He smiled and replied, "Not a whole lot, but I just got here. How about you?"
"I just got here too. I always start off by playing that machine."
"Oh, I'm sorry. It won't take me long to lose what I've got in there."
She laughed, "Oh, don't worry about me. That's a terrible way to look at things though. You have to have some faith."
He laughed too, "I do have faith though. What I don't have is the sense to realize that none of this would exist if I was supposed to be winning."
"Well, you got me then. I don't really have much faith either. My husband did though. My deceased husband, I should say. He had more than enough faith for the both of us. I like playing that machine because it was his favorite, and it always reminds me that I need to have some kind of faith in something besides the numbers I crunch all day."
"You know why I play it? I play it because when you get the Bonus, or the nine little hearts all lined up, they morph into one giant heart. I know that sounds pretty damned silly, but it's the only way I can explain it."
She looked into his eyes with a sad expression, "You been widowed too. Huh?"
"Well technically, she left me before she died."
They both sat in silence for a moment before she blurted,"Hey, I got an idea. You've got a hundred bucks in there. What say, I put in a hundred and we'll go halfsies on the winning?"
He thought about, "Sounds good to me. Double our odds, or something like that."
"Good! We'll have to do one thing though?"
"Bet the max. It's only four dollars. Jerry used to tell me. If you ain't all in, the machine senses it and takes all your money become you aren't fully committed."
"Kind of like life, I guess."
They won two thousand dollars on the third pull and both joyfully leaped up and embraced.
They split the money right down the middle and decided to share a cup of coffee in the diner. On, the way to his car afterwards, he knew he was going to kick himself in the morning though for not asking for her number. He wouldn't even had known her name if wasn't for the forms they had to fill out.
But, at that particular moment, he was only thinking about the thousand dollars in his wallet, and the fact if he got there before midnight, he could still catch the two-for-one lapdance deal at The Shady Lady on the outskirts of town.