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 Coffee-can Assignment
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Copyright © June 07, 2007  Andrew Alberti Jr

It was the 1950s and polio was all the rage, not that it was good, it was just cropping up in groups within neighborhoods in New York City.

Polio was something that you didn’t want to get.  There were pictures on television and in newspapers of people who had Polio and were in an iron lung. An iron long was a 7 foot long cylinder about 30 inches in diameter. It was large enough so that a person could fit length wise into it except for their head, which stuck outside at one end. When you got polio, if it affected your ability to breathe you had to be in this machine. There was additional equipment, like an air compressor and some valves so that air pressure would increase inside the cylinder causing your lungs to exhale. Then the pressure inside the cylinder would be decreased and your lungs would fill up with air. All this to enable you to breathe and stay alive.

This was not the only effect of polio. Some people lost their ability to walk and other muscles atrophied from lack of use. Once crippled by this disease the cure was, well there was none.

People could be seen with braces on their legs so they could stand and move about with crutches. As pre teenagers my friends and I talked about this and we hoped none of us would ever have to endure this awful disease, Polio.

I had my own bedroom on the second floor of our home in Mastic Beach ,New York. It was a pretty big room fashioned from the original roof when dad put up a full length dormer. Did it himself. Quite a job.

Our home was heated with hot water circulating thru cast iron radiators. For the most part I kept the radiator valve in my room turned off, since I would get plenty of heat as it rose up to suffocate me from the  rooms below.

Most evenings I would sleep with the window open, even on the coldest nights. I loved to be under the comforter with just my head and bare feet sticking out.

One morning, after a great nights sleep,  I woke for school up at my usual 5AM and while still under the comforter, did my good morning wake up stretch. I was still a bit groggy and while looking down at my feet discovered that when I moved my right foot the left foot sticking upright out of the covers moved.

OK! A bit more alert now, I moved my left foot and the right foot sticking out of the covers moved. I panicked and immediately Polio came to mind.

Now I was really paying attention and tried the foot thing again. Panic is calm compared to me now. I threw back the covers and oh my God. My legs were crossed and I couldn’t feel it.  I was OK!

What a relief. I have never slept with my feet out of the covers or with my legs crossed again.


Copyright © 2007 Dan Schinhofen  All Rights Reserved

He knew she was in there. He saw her enter the old warehouse from his vantage point across the street.
“She must be one of the drug dealers,” he said to himself.

After checking that his gun was fully loaded, he made his way into the warehouse through a side door.

It was a dank, dark place. Old machinery filled the middle of the huge structure. He could hear scuttling in the corner and knew without seeing that there were rats here. From the sound of it, there were plenty of rats. He hated rats.

From the far corner came a noise that wasn’t from rats.
“Gotchya” he mumbled to himself.

He silently made his way around the machinery listening intently for any other noise. As he rounded the machinery, a gun was placed against his temple.
“Gotchya”, said his quarry. “Now who the hell are you and maybe you should know that I am a bit nervous.”

“Take it easy lady. I’m a cop,” he replied.

“Sure you are,” she said, “I’m a federal agent.”
“Sure you are,” he replied. “That’s why you’re
sneaking around this warehouse so late at night.”

“If you’re a cop then show me your badge and move nice and easy or my gun just may go off.”

He chuckled slightly, “Well if it does than you would be a cop killer and I might suggest that you look down as my gun is pointed at you heart.”

She chuckled, “I’m not falling for that old gag. You’re one of the drug dealers I’ve been waiting for. Now show me yours and I’ll show you mine.”

“I haven’t heard that since I was in grammar school,” he said.

She pulled back the hammer on her gun. Her eyes widened as she heard his hammer pulled back on his gun.

“Maybe we should both show each other,” he continued. “Or else we can both stand here until the real drug dealers get here. I’m sure that they would be happy to show us theirs.”

Slowly they both backed away. She lowered her gun and he shot her through the heart. Her gun went off and the bullet slammed into the floor.

The doors flew open and a group of men came rushing in with automatic weapons drawn.

“Easy Paco,” shouted the man as he lowered his gun. “I just had to remove a federal agent before we could finish our deal.”