Jonathan McLahen

Jonathan McLahen was an average man. I would guess he was about five feet, eight inches tall and weighed about, oh, I would say one-hundred and sixty pounds. His hair was not short or long, it was just long enough to comb to the side and out of his face; however long hair must be to do that.

His eyes were dead and dark, but the brown-rimmed glasses he wore on his crooked nose often reflected the florescent lights, giving the illusion of having no eyes at all. His disproportionate face was covered with mounds and craters like some zombie in a low budget film, and his cheeks were red, giving the appearance of perpetual embarrassment; what could he have done in some previous life to deserve such cruel, teenage acne?

He looked somewhere in his forties, though he could have been much younger, I hear smoking and drinking gradually make you look older than you really are. Hell, for all I know, he was smoking and drinking since birth. You see, I didn’t really know anything about Jonathan McLahen other than what I had observed.

There was a patch with red, cursive letters reading “Jon” on the gray full-body suit that he wore everyday. But then again, I can’t blame him for that; we all wore the same thing everyday. The Young Men’s Christian Association was, and as far as I know still is, strict about their uniform policy.

In his gray jump suit, he would go from room to room spraying, wiping, mopping, and plunging his life away. Like a sidekick, he would push around his yellow janitor’s cart for convenience. That yellow cart was loaded like the nickname we gave it, Air Force One; it was an entire warehouse of cleaning supplies and miscellaneous accessories on wheels for easy accessibility so he would not have to go to the janitor’s back room to grab something.

Other than saying a quick “hello” when he clocked in for a shift or telling him what needed cleaning or repairing, I had never talked to Jonathan. Ever. Excluding brief, accidental eye contact, he would never look anyone in the eyes. His head was cocked down over the Air Force One, looking up just to make sure he didn’t roll into someone’s heals. In fact, the only time I would see him actually look up was when he had to fix lighting fixtures or to talk to Cassandra Kline.

She was his wanna-be better, no, angelic half, his weakness, his idol, his guest-star in his nightly “Who would I do?” game show. Cassandra was Jonathan’s catalyst. When absent, he was everything I have just said. When present, he looked up, his posture straightened, he spoke, his eyes lit up, he smiled, and he even laughed.

In talking with my co-workers, even though they disagreed, I had said that Jonathan was just like any other guy. “Nothing’s wrong with him.” I would say…and hope. But it was in his interactions with Cassandra that proved that he was, or at least could be, normal. Those interactions proved he wasn’t some “asylum escapee” as Megan put it one day.

It was all of this, everything I’ve just said, that intrigued me so much about Jonathan. It was his social awkwardness, even rudeness, and his fragile state-of-mind that captured my curiosity. And it was this pursuit that saved my life two years ago.


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