The Man with the Limp

In my busy practice at the Oakwood Asylum, I’ve treated numerous patients but none like John Abner. He woke up one morning with a limp. For many days, he walked around hobbling and shuffling. But when his work as a mailman began to suffer, Abner decided to seek help. I was the tenth doctor he had consulted, and everyone had declared he was fit as a fiddle. 

Abner was a plump little man, with pointed rat-like ears. When I first saw him, I almost jumped from my chair thinking a leprechaun had come to my office.

“G’day, doctor! How’re you? I need your assistance,” he said, fumbling.

“Of course! Please sit.”

“It’s over a month since I’m tottering around like this. So far all the doctors have declared nothing’s wrong with my leg. But my limp gets worse by the hour!” he said, wringing his hands.

“If they found no fault, then what do you think is the reason?”

“At first, I believed them. But later I began to suspect they’re hiding something. For endless nights, I lay awake pondering the cause of my affliction. Until I divined the answer last night. It’s very simple. Someone stole one of my leg bones; therefore, it limps!” His elvish face glowed with a grin like a Cheshire cat.

“I see!” I nodded, repressing a smile. 

“Doctor, please aid me in catching the thief and retrieving my bone. The police are useless. When I went to the station today, they laughed at me!” said Abner, fidgeting in his chair.

“Don’t worry. I’ll have you up and running in a jiffy.” I scribbled a prescription. “Now go home and take these.”

He took it and stumbled out. At the door, he turned around and asked, “How’ll these pills help in busting the burglar?” 

“Oh, they’ll help you see him. Then we can grab him and recover your bone,” I said, waving him away.

One week later, I was doing rounds when he came rushing towards me, staggering across the hallway.

“Doctor, I’ve found the thief! Come, hurry, or he’ll flee!”

He seized my hand and lugged me towards the door. His excitement was such that I decided to indulge him. We made our way to the park next to the Asylum. Abner tottered ahead in feverish haste and I followed, struggling to keep up.

“There he is! The villain who stole my bone, the cause of my insomnia, the crook behind my handicap!” he shouted, pointing to a shaggy terrier who crouched near a rose bush, holding a bone between his furry paws.

Abner pulled a large bun from his pocket and dangled it before the dog. The next thing I knew, the dog was gobbling the bun and Abner was holding the bone.

“At last, I can walk like everyone again! Bless you, doctor! I’m forever indebted to you!”  

Abner patted the dog, bowed to me, and kissing the bone, scampered towards the gate. I stared at him, dumbstruck. He wasn’t limping anymore.

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Beryl Zephyr

An occasional writer but a regular thinker, Beryl sometimes fiddles in speculative fiction. He sees both humour and tragedy in everyday events and is extremely concerned with the fate of other creatures trapped in the monstrous march of 21st-century human civilization.

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