Stories about adventure, travel, and living. Hope you enjoy.

The Chariot

  • Part 1
  • Part 2
  • Part 3
  • Last

Rick sped through the parking lot and parked in the space closest to the grocery store's front door. With a snicker he patted himself on the back proud to have taken the best spot in the whole parking lot. Reaching to the shelf under the dash he pulled out his self-made counterfeit handicap parking tag and positioned it from the rearview mirror. Feeling good about his unscrupulous behavior, he strolled into the market not noticing the van circling the parking lot looking for a parking space.

The grocery was busy as usual that morning. Rick was not in a hurry so he spent an extraordinary amount of time choosing a breakfast bar and lunch snacks. Standing in the long check out line he eyed the DVD rental concession and decided to see what they had in stock. He would probably be able to watch the movie at work and if not he could always catch it that night. Finally he returned to his vehicle and pulled out of the prime spot, wearing his smug grin and headed to work. Interestingly enough Rick never saw the van still trying to find an appropriate parking spot. Rick turned up the tunes on his IPod and sped from the parking lot.

The van, driven by a small young blond man, was finally able to park in a handicapped spot. The occupant lowered his powered wheelchair using the van's side door lift. ‘It wasn't going to be a good day,’ the young man thought. He was going to be late for work, even though he had allowed plenty of extra time to stop at the grocery store to pick up his normal snack and lunch fares. He loved to stop each day for fresh fruit. Waiting on the automatic front door of the store to open, the small man dreamed, ‘that man who ran in and out of the grocery, ran mind you, but was parked in the handicap spot. And then he took forever to return. He deserved a curse, a real curse. Nah, he just needed to see what it was like to live in someone else’s shoes.’ The door sensor seemed to be having trouble recognizing him but finally opened interrupting his dream. Reversing his chair he backed out of the way of three grocery carts exiting the store. The door opened for the carts, not him, he realized. It really wasn’t going to be a good day.

Seth had been handicapped from birth. He only knew movement while confined to a chair. Now that he was a grownup he disdained the insensitive ways of some of the homo erectus, if they only knew the ways of ‘homo chariot,’ they would behave differently.

Finishing at the grocery Seth left for work. He soon discovered that it really wasn’t going to be one of those days after all. Traffic was light that morning and Seth was able to park and begin his ride toward the office in minutes. His super powered chariot (his name for his wheelchair) also helped. It was fast. On a good day the chariot could out run a Segway which helped him make up a few more minutes of lateness caused by Mister SUV. Being timely was important to Seth, his office workers greeted him as he entered and smiled at the extra fruit he had brought for everyone.

All day long Seth thought of Mister SUV and the smug look he had on his face. Things like that normally didn’t bother him, but this guy acted like he thought he had gotten away with something by parking in the handicap spot.

Seth’s nightly read did not distract him, he thought of Mr SUV until he fell asleep.


Groggily Rick awoke with a stiff neck. In fact his whole body was stiff and for some reason the sun was shining in his eyes, blinding him. ‘I must have forgotten to shut the curtains,’ Rick thought as he tried to awake. Shaking his head he began to notice that things were different. Yes, different indeed.

Trying to recount last evenings events - nothing seemed strange. But now, Rick was sitting in a chair not laying in his bed. It was a straight chair not a Lazy-Boy and definitely not comfortable. The chair was located outside on a paved pathway. It was daytime.

Closing his eyes tightly he peaked out through his eyelashes. Though he hoped things were different, nothing had changed. Somebody was probably trying to pull a prank he concluded. He’d get up and find out just what was going on.

Rick tried to stand, but his legs wouldn’t move. He tried again, no luck. It was as if his legs were still asleep. He tried to wiggle one toe, but it didn’t budge. He was confused. To his credit Rick was not a quitter and soon he tried every toe, leg, and joint, but nothing moved. His legs were lifeless.

‘Whoever did this really got me,’ Rick thought. ‘I’ll really make them pay when I find them.’

Closing his eyes, Rick began to make mental notes on the possibilities of who the culprit might have been. His deductive reasoning led him to several friends who knew where the key to the condo was hid, then there were a few friends who worked in the medical field and would have access to local anesthetics, and then a couple of friends who would like to get back at him for various deeds, and several friends who ...

A vehicle suddenly zipped by Rick interrupting his thoughts. “Hey! Hey! I need help!” Rick shouted.

No one responded.

“I need help,” he called again desperately. He felt like crying but instead broke into a rage, “I don’t know who is doing this, but I will get even. I am Rick Bishop and you will have to live the rest of your life looking behind your back. I will get back at you!”

Another vehicle was approaching.

Rick clearly saw it coming.

Sitting up straight Rick frantically waved as the vehicle came and went. He was confused by the vehicle. It seemed to be a wheelchair or at least kin to one. The chair sat lower to the ground than any he had seen and moved very quickly. Rick decided it was a racing chair.

“I am a confused, I just need a little help,” Rick shouted.

Rick sat in his chair slightly to one side of the path. He was totally befuddled. Somehow someone had pulled the biggest prank in the world on him. He suddenly began looking around for a camera. Maybe someone was filming his predicament for “Funny Videos” or just a prank to go on You Tube.

Suddenly another chair approached. Rick’s eyes now had adjusted to the brightness of the day and stared at the rider saying, “Help, I can’t walk. Please help me.”

The chair sped by, but then stopped and returned. “What did you say?” asked the small man.

“I can’t walk.”

“Now that’s just too bad.”

“But I used to be able to walk, just last night I could walk.”

“Are you looking for pity?”

“I guess not I really just need some help.”

“Yes I guess it does look like you need help.”

“What do you mean,” Rick questioned.

“If I had an SUV instead of a chariot, I’d need help too.”

“I have a what?”

“An SUV, a Squarewheeled Useless Vehicle.”

“I didn’t choose it,” Rick pleaded. He looked below the arm rest of the chair and saw that indeed he had wheels and handrims of each side of the chair. The wheels were not absolutely square, more like a square with rounded corners.

“See if you can move,” requested the small man.

Rick tried to move the handrims but they did not budge. “I don’t think I can,” he pleaded.

“I’m so sorry, that’s what you get for having an SUV. I’ve got to go, best of luck. By the way, I can’t walk either, but my chariot is nothing but sweetness!” With adroit prowess the small man turned and vanished behind Rick’s stiff neck.

“Wait, I still need help. I can’t walk. Really. You don’t understand,” his pleas were not heard.

Determined, Rick pushed on the handrims and finally got the chair to roll one quarter of a turn. Landing on the flat, dead part of the wheel, the chair stopped again. With all his might Rick pushed again and the chair moved bouncing as if it was going over a curb, but then stopping again, almost dumping him to the ground. Anxiety sweat broke out over his body. ‘Wow, I thought I was a goner,’ he said aloud.

“I did too.”

Rick tried to look at the voice, but it was behind him. The pain in his neck had not eased, it was still practically impossible to turn.

“Push with your right hand and pull with your left, that will turn you around.”


“Push with your right hand, pull with..”

“I know but it’s so hard,” Rick whined.

“I know, you have an SUV. Next time you buy a chair you should try a chariot. Now, push, pull.”

Rick followed the directions and with slow awkward movements turned the chair.

A bald older gentleman sat in his chariot staring at Rick. “It’s about a quarter of a mile to town, but at least now you are pointed in the right direction. All you need now is to roll your chair on into town. Don’t worry there are no hills.”

“But, it doesn’t roll.”

“Yeah, you got an SUV remember.”

“Can’t you help me?”

“Do what?”

“You know give me a push or pull. I am handicapped. I can’t help myself.”

“Oh, I am so sorry, I didn’t notice.” the man answered with a hint of sarcasm. “I need to get to work. You know, I have other things to do; but don’t worry, you’ll get there. It’s only a quarter of a mile to town.”

The man left Rick to his cries of despair.

Rick continued trying to roll the SUV. Each quarter turn heightened his level of anxiety as the chair jerked to a stop on the flat section of the wheel. His hands hurt from the friction. Several chairs passed him but did not stop and listen to Rick’s pleas. A group of chairs came from the direction of town but they stopped short of him. Rick yelled for help, but they did not respond. After watching for a few minutes they turned and sped back toward town. Rick was sure they only came out to gawk at him.

Rick continued to move the chair slowly. Inches at a time the chair lurched toward the town. ‘This town had better be worth it,’ thought Rick. ‘I just hope they have a doctor. I have got to find out what is wrong with me.’

The town was close but still seemed a long distance away. Everything looked short, nothing was tall. It seemed like a fairy land to Rick as he continued to grunt forward. Hours passed as he drew closer to his objective. He was hot, tired, hungry, and thirsty. Rick’s hands and arms were so sore that he could hardly grip and push again. Marking the boundary of the township was a small banner, ‘Wheeling’ draped across the path.

Speaking aloud Rick said, “Great I must be in West Virginia. How did I end up here?” Shaking his head he continued, “Wheeling is a large town, I’ll find a doctor there” Only the grunt of his effort continued as he made his way under the sign. The low slung banner whipped across his face as he made his way underneath it.

Wiping the sweat from his brow, he surveyed Wheeling. All Rick could see were the unusually short buildings and people in wheelchairs. One chair sped toward him. It was the same little man he had seen out on the path.

“You made it,” the small man said.

“Yeah,’ Rick answered and then under his breath continued ‘but no thanks to you.’ Trying to gain help from the small man he pleaded, “I really need to find a bathroom, and then I need something to eat, and then I need to see a doctor.”

“Well, let’s see, the closest restroom is in the shop, the second door on the right, just straight ahead. Then there is a restaurant across the street and down a few buildings. The doctor is back up in the first building on the left side of the path, but the doctor’s office is closed for the day.”

“Doesn’t he make emergency calls?”

“Where is the emergency?”

“Well, I can’t move my legs, I have a crick in my neck, I have a sore back, my arms are sore, my hands are so sore I can’t even make a grip, and if I don’t find a bathroom soon my kidneys are going to burst.”

“I am so sorry,” the small man replied slowly. “I hope I was of some help with the directions, but now I better go.”

“Wait, you can’t go. You’ve got to help me. Didn’t you hear it’s an emergency.”

“Well, it sounds like it will be, if you don’t get moving. You still have a couple hundred feet to go before you get to the restroom. Don’t want to keep you, bye now.” The small man sped down the street.

Rick watched as he left. He moved so effortlessly. He was one with his chair or chariot he called it. The chair seemed to obey his every thought. Grunting, Rick tried again to roll the square wheeled chair. It was indeed useless, he thought.

Chairs zipped by Rick as he inched along. The riders made no contact with Rick. No one thought it was odd that he was there. The other riders chairs were all very low to the ground, quick and nimble. His chair on the other hand was unusually tall for a wheelchair. He was almost as tall as if he was standing. He felt good as he towered over all the low chairs. Height is power he thought.

Nearing the shop which housed the promised restroom, Rick tried going faster, but his hands only allowed so much torture. It was a hardware store. “I bet they have lots of wheelchair parts” Rick chuckled.

As Rick maneuvered the chair closer to the door he confronted the stark realization that the chair was too tall, it would not fit in the door. As he was in range of the sensor it opened the door to the shop. The chair was at least a foot too tall.

Distraught Rick yelled, “I don’t fit.”

The bald man he had met on the path rolled over from behind the counter to the front door of the store. He asked “what’s all the commotion?”

“I need to go to the restroom, but I am too tall to get through the door.”

“Ah, yes, you have one of those SUV chairs and well to be frank other than them being double wide, super comfortable padding, and very tall - they are not worth much. They take way to much energy to operate and are tipsy because they are so tall. To each his own. Most folks that own them build bigger houses just so they can get in the doors. I couldn’t do that for my little store. But in the meantime, I guess you will not be able to use our restroom. Sorry.”

“But I have to go,” Rick pleaded.

Rolling out the front door of the shop, the shopkeeper looked around and said, “I guess you can go over in the bushes on the side of the shop, but be careful that chair could turn over on you. And mother’s flowers are over there, if she catches you going on them, she will be upset.”

Desperately, Rick rolled off the front porch of the store and onto the ground beside the building. His chair immediately was mired in the spongy grass.

“Oh, careful you don’t get your chair stuck. You wouldn’t want that to happen,” called the shopkeeper.

Though he had only moved a few feet from the porch, Rick had to relieve himself. Unbuckling his pants gave him instant relieve from the building pressure and despite all his efforts to hold it for just a minute longer, he soiled his pants and chair.

Rick wanted to cry. ‘What did I do to deserve this?’ he thought over and over.

“So what’s wrong now?” asked the shopkeeper, “are you stuck?”

He probably was stuck, but Rick wasn’t concerned about rolling. “No,” Rick sobbed.

“Are you crying? What in the world is wrong?”

“I couldn’t wait,” Rick exclaimed.


“I wet my pants.”

“Do you want an award or a towel?”

“I guess a towel.”

The shopkeeper returned to the shop. Rick could overhear him talking to someone on a phone but could not make out the conversation.

He returned from the store with a towel. “I made a call and got someone coming to help you get your chair back on the path. Those wheels aren’t good for much other than sitting still.”

Embarrassed Rick replied, “I don’t need help, now. I’ll get it out when I am ready,” He continued busying himself with cleaning and drying himself.

“Well, tell me what you need if you don’t need help? You just need to get over being embarrassed about things you can’t control. Why do birds fly? Because they have wings. Why do we roll? Because we can’t walk....”

Rick listened to the shopkeeper philosophize for the next ten minutes. In the meantime Rick just wanted to dry his blue jeans so that no one could tell what had happened.

The small blond man whom Rick had met earlier, appeared. He had a come-a-long, pulley type of device laying on his lap. Rick, still facing the bushes, could not see the small man or what he and the shopkeeper were doing. As Rick continued to dry his embarrassment, Rick suddenly felt the jolt of the come-a-long engaging.

“What are you doing?” Rick questioned loudly.

No answer was given but the SUV inched backwards toward the porch. With each movement, Rick held tighter to the armrests of the chair. He knew they were trying to rescue his chair, but hated not being in control. The chair’s jerky motion made Rick shake with fear. Desperately, Rick asked, “how much further?”

No response, still.

“How much farther, please.”

It was the small man who finally answered, “You’re almost there. Do you want to go faster?”

“No, no, no. You are doing fine,” Rick exclaimed.

The small man continued to ratchet the pulley slowly moving the chair through the soggy grass. Rick winced at every jerk; but the small man, it seemed, was trying to operate the winch smoothly and steadily.

Once Rick was on the path the small man said, “there you go. That wasn’t too bad was it?”

Releasing the arm rests on his SUV, Rick’s hands showed the evidence of his fearful grip. After a couple of deep breaths he thanked them.

“You done with the towel yet?” asked the shopkeeper.

Rick looked down at the towel and saw that during the excitement of his chair being hauled backwards he did not realize that the towel was not covering his pants. “No, I’m still a little wet,” he said turning shades of red.

“Listen sonny,” the shopkeeper started, “worry about the things that you can change, but learn how to deal with the things you have no control over.”

“What do you mean?” Rick asked.

“Your jeans.”

“If I could have gotten into your shop, I’d...”

“Wait a minute. Calm down. That is just what I am talking about.”

The small man spoke up, “I’ve soiled my pant too, many times. It’s hardly ever my fault, but when you go to a restroom that isn’t designed for chairs, well you sort of know what happens... That’s why we call them accidents.”

Rick nodded in agreement.

“Or when you can’t find a handicap spot,” he continued, “I need the lift to get out of the van, so I just have to wait for an opening. We can’t just run into the store or rest area, or restaurant or any place. We have to plan all our movements. Everything takes a long time.”

“So worry about things you have command over, like being a kind, helping, person,” the shopkeeper concluded.

Rick just sat there in silence.

The shopkeeper and small man moved away and were talking. The small man turned and rolled away down the street.

“He came up with an idea if you want to try it,” said the shopkeeper.

Puzzled Rick responded, “I thank you for all your time but I just need to cross the street, get something to eat and then see if I can find the doctor.”

“I already told you the doctor isn’t in his office today.”

“Look, I am not from here. I don’t know why I am here. I don’t know why my legs are not working. I don’t know why I am in a wheelchair. I just want to see the doctor.”

“Yes, those are legitimate concerns, but the doctor is still not in his office today.”

The small man came back wheeling down the street with a small cart behind him. Stopping at the shop he said, “I found the wheels. They were in the storage shed, they haven’t been used in a while, but they should work.”

The shopkeeper wheeled a lift from the store and a tool bag. Addressing Rick he said, “Just sit still it will only take a minute.”

“Wait, what are you doing?” Rick exclaimed.

“Just gonna’ lift up your chair so we can change your wheels. Then you will be able to roll even if you do have a SUV,” said the small man.


“It won’t hurt,” small man said calmly to Rick.

The shopkeeper had a very simple, modified car jack, he used to lift wheelchairs. The lift only needed to raise the chair a few inches, but the lifting cradle took a few minutes to adjust. As the shopkeeper worked Rick filled the air with noise making it obvious that he was unhappy with the current circumstances of his life in the chair.

Rick squalled as the chair rose from the ground.

In less than five minutes the shopkeeper and small man changed the wheels.

“Be careful now, that’s still a tall unstable chair, we only made it so that it would roll,” warned the shopkeeper.

“I have been driving since I was fifteen, I think I can handle a wheelchair,” Rick said chuckling.

With a couple of pushes on the handrims the chair zipped down the street. Rick smiled with delight at the ease of movement. He returned to the shop and slid to a stop. “Wow, this is great,” he exclaimed, “thank you so much.”

“Be careful,” warned the shopkeeper again.

Rick said over his shoulder, “I am going to find that doctor.” He quickly sped across the street, tried to skid to a stop, but instead jumped the curb and rammed into the side of the building.

Rick lay motionless.


Answering the alarm clock Rick woke. He felt miserable. It was Tuesday and he had to get to work earlier than normal. Laying in bed waiting on the snooze, he remembered he also needed to leave home even earlier because he had to stop at the store.

Hoping into his SUV he backed out of the driveway and headed to the store. At the four way stop he allowed the other vehicles to go before him. As Rick nodded to one of the other drivers he thought, ‘I’m not in that big of a hurry.’

At the grocery he swung into the lane that took him to the front of the store, all the spaces were filled except for the handicap ones. Uncharacteristically, Rick drove past the designated spaces and into the second row looking for an opening.

Rick was hurrying into the store as a van pulled into a handicap spot. Continuing Rick browsed the store for just the right breakfast items and snacks. Paying for his goods he saw a small blond man enter the store in a wheelchair. Rick couldn’t see the persons face but strained for a glimpse. Suddenly his trip to Wheeling came back to him. He became dazed and confused as he thought through what was reality and what was possibly a dream. Grabbing his bag of groceries Rick almost ran across the floor to see the small man. Rick stopped a few feet in front of him staring.

“It is you,” Rick said shaking.

“Yes, I am Doctor Runner. May I help you?” Seth said defensively.

“I am the guy in the SUV.”

Seth looked at him in amazement wondering why he was so proud to be making such a claim. “I see,” Seth responded stalling the conversation. Reconsidering Seth asked, “oh, were you the guy that parked in the designated handicap space yesterday?”

“Yes,” Rick answered softly as he was ashamed to admit it.

“I know that many people have handicaps, but those of us who are confined to a chair, or a chariot,” Seth said added proudly, “that’s what I call my wheelchair.”

“I know,” interrupted Rick.

Rick’s matter of fact comment put a pause to Seth’s speech. Seth spent a second wondering how the SUV man would know he called his chair - the chariot. Cocking his head a bit sideways Seth continued, “I need extra room to exit my van. I thank you for not taking up the space today. I don’t mind waiting my turn but at times....”

“Sorry,” responded Rick meekly.

A sweet southern voice interrupted their meeting, “Doctor Seth Runner, how are you today? May I help you select your fruit?” The voice came from the store manager. She acted as if she knew and helped the small man regularly.

Jealous, Rick watched the small man being led away by the attractive woman. Rick had met her before. In fact he had complained about things in the store just so he could talk to her before. She and Seth were laughing and at ease with each other as they moved along the produce aisles. Confused by the coincidence Rick started walking out the store. He stopped, turned, and looked again at the small man, suddenly he realized, he was the doctor! “You’re the Doctor,” he shouted.

Turning the chariot toward the man, Seth showed the reddening signs of embarrassment caused by his loud outburst. Seth waved to the strange man. ‘I guess he just needs a doctor,’ Seth thought. ‘He should go by the office. Well, I’d better hurry or I’ll be late for work. I hate being late.’ Seth turned and rolled his chariot down the aisles of the store finishing his shopping.


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