It took two weeks for him to work up his courage to approach the man in the gym. Ever since he first saw him, he had thought that the man’s physique would be perfect for dance. He was not a naturally outgoing person though, and while he knew the dance studio was desperate for new members (and funds), he still couldn’t bring himself to even enter.
Today, though. Today he would do it.
As he stood outside the big glass windows, he peered inside – the man was there. He was on the short side, but had a compact physique that was lean instead of bulky and had displayed surprising agility while performing his exercise routine.
Something about the man suggested he was listless, and it was this quality that finally convinced him to at least try. The security at the door eye-balled him when he entered and he re-evaluated what he must have looked like standing outside.
The man was surprisingly friendly and called him back after he stuttered out an explanation for his odd behaviour and practically shoved the dance-studio pamphlet in the man’s face. He expressed a nonchalant interest to see the venue, and introduced himself as Harry. After an, “Oh, you’re James? That was my father’s name,” they ventured out.
His enthusiasm to have found a possible new member was stomped into dust quite thoroughly as the owner and instructor explained in an agitated voice that their studio could no longer be saved. Their inability to make the rental payment the previous week had been the final straw – the landlord wanted them out by the end of the month.
The owner apologised to the man for wasting his time.
The man – Harry – was looking at a poster against the wall though, and cut through the apology with an inquiry about the rehabilitation program Mister Tailor had qualified for.
“My mother,” he explained, briefly touching on how the mild stroke she had suffered had caused nerve and co-ordination damage, and he had taken up the task of her recovery, earning certification in the process. “As I will be out of a job soon, I may consider consultations of the sort if you know someone who might be interested.”
It was an off-hand comment, but the man frowned and stared into the distance for a moment, obviously considering it.
“Let me talk to your landlord,” he had said. “I’ll pay your rent two months in advance if you are prepared to rehabilitate... an acquaintance of mine.”
Mister Tailor had frowned. “What is wrong with them?”
“He suffered a severe snake bite to the neck some time ago, and spent a few months in a coma-”
“No, lad. You misunderstand me. Why are you asking me, and not an occupational therapist?”
The man sighed. “He is a harsh man with a unique skill to bring out the worst in people. If he doesn’t send them out in tears the hospital staff usually have to summon security to prevent them from murdering him. With them I cannot interfere, but if I were to suggest this,” he motioned at the room, “I can at least arrange to be present to minimise the damage he will do.”
“And why would you go to that length for such a man?”
Suddenly the man looked much older; older and damaged and sad.
“Because I know that he is a good man. I know what he has suffered through to make him like this, and I will be damned if I abandon him after everything he has done for me.” He looked Mister Tailor in the eye. “Will you do it?”
“Yes, lad,” he finally replied. “I’d like to meet him first, but I’d like to do it.”