Thor Larsen
John A. Ward

He was a friendly giant. He threw the shot put in college, acted in community theater and worked at Gus Speigelman's Garage after classes. He filled gas tanks and washed windows at the full service pump. When he started, he checked the oil, too, until a Porsche Targa came in and he couldn't find the hood release. He moved something behind the nose bra and figured that was it, but he was strong enough to move anything. He tried to open the hood, but it wouldn't come, so he unleashed a mighty heave. It came, completely detached. He puzzled over the world of flimsy things, opened the door and crammed it into the passenger side. He completed the service and went in to ring up the sale.

The customer, who was inside reading a Road & Track magazine, paid him and walked out. He came right back in and asked about the hood. Thor said, "It was defective. It came right off in my hands." The customer looked at Thor's hands and drove to another garage to get it repaired.

At an indoor track meet, he over-rotated his approach to the toe board and lofted the shot out-of-bounds toward the track. It cleared the curb and crashed through a pine board on the inside lane as the quarter milers were coming around the first of four laps. They scattered like geese.

He played the sheriff in The Desperate Hours. Sitting backstage, he fiddled with his prop handcuffs. He found out that the stage manager didn't have the key after he accidentally shackled his wrist to the arm of the chair and heard his entry cue. "No problem," he said, ripped the arm off the chair, stuffed the cuffs up his sleeve to conceal them and walked on stage to do his scene. He was proud of himself for finding an excellent solution to the problem. And it would have been too, if the chair had not been an antique that rich Missus Lacey had loaned to the theater for the show.

That night, Thor sat at the cast party for a long time, alone, looking at his hands that would have been more at home on a grizzly bear than a man. In the weeks to come, he gave up the garage, sports and acting. He started helping out at the old folks home. He was surprisingly gentle when he was handling frail flesh rather than hardened steel. One of the ladies taught him needlepoint and he took to sewing samplers with lines from the poems of e.e. cummings. He gave his favorite to the lady who taught him to sew. It said, "nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands." He became a surgeon. He specializes in mending the broken bones of children.

First published: November, 2004
comments to the writer: Knob'