The Antisocial





©2010 The Angst Guy (

Daria and associated characters are ©2010 MTV Networks




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Synopsis: A wheelchair-bound football legend looks back on his heroic career—and the two people who made his comeback possible.


Author's Notes: This story was inspired by Kalad1’s Iron Chef PPMB challenge in early August 2008: “The Iron Chef challenge this time is to write a story of any length wherein a character of the Daria cast, preferably a more central one, is, for a reason of your choice, permanently confined to a wheelchair.”


Acknowledgements: Thanks, Kalad1!










       “Nah, I don't hold a grudge,” said Tommy Sherman to the blonde reporter with the half-unbuttoned blouse. He wheeled himself along the sidewalk until he reached the memorial trees near the high school’s main entrance. There he stopped and rested his elbows on the padded arms of his sporty green wheelchair. “That's in the past, you know?” he continued. “The school system settled before we went to trial, I got into physical therapy, and now—” He raised both beefy arm and tensed, showed off his enormous biceps. “Maybe Tommy Sherman’s lower half doesn't work so well, but the rest of him is working pretty damn good!”


       He then leaned close to the blonde and whispered, “I'm not saying that all of my lower half don’t work, get me?” He finished with a wink and a sly grin.


       The blonde blushed and burst into laughter. She was damn hot looking. Melissa Somebody, that was her name. His grin widened. If he played this out right, she’d drop by his hotel room this evening to “check in on him,” and she’d find out in person just how well certain parts of his lower half still worked. He still had it, even now.


       “How did you get into motivational speaking?” Melissa’s pearly teeth flashed as she smiled. “I hear that’s quite a story.”


       Tommy waved a careless hand. “Well, you know, I’ve been pretty lucky. All those times I kept hitting the goalpost, running in those touchdowns for Lawndale, that should of finished me off. The doctors said that last time, when I knocked myself out for a week before I won the state championship, that should of been the end of old Tommy Sherman. They said he was a goner. They couldn’t believe I wasn’t dead or some kind of vegetable after that. But I woke up, got out of bed ready to go, and the rest is history!”


       He sighed in a well-practiced, wistful way. “Like I said, though, that stuff’s in the past. After the accident, I was sitting around feeling sorry for myself when this kid came up and asked for my autograph. I wasn’t going to do it, but the kid said, ‘You’re like that Superman guy! You’re Tommy Sherman!’ And I thought, well damn, I am Tommy Sherman, and here I am in a wheelchair just like that Superman guy, and I better get over my cheap sorry self and do something! I gave the kid my autograph, got myself into therapy, and decided to make something of myself again.


       “‘Cause of that little kid, I started talking to kids’ groups at school and stuff, telling ‘em who I was and who I used to be, and here I was like this, but I was still somebody! They like that! I show ‘em movies of when I won the state championship for Lawndale High, right behind me, then I lift some big weights and throw the pigskin around like when I was quarterback, do some wheelies, and they go wild. They can see I’m still somebody, even like this!”


       “That’s wonderful!” Melissa’s face glowed. Her eyes had that worshipful look in them, her lips were kind of open, and she didn’t seem to be breathing. Women love a winner, Tommy thought, and for a winner in a wheelchair, some women would do anything. They’d get crazy. Melissa would do it, he knew. As soon as she got off work at the TV station, she’d come knocking at his door. He wondered if she planned for “forget” her underwear. Some women did. He always liked that.


       “So, what kind of plans do you have for the future?” More of those pretty teeth and hot red lips.


       Tommy chuckled and ran a broad hand through his curly brown hair. “I tell you,” he began, warming to the speech, “I’ve got all kinds of ideas for stuff I can do to set an example for these kids. Kids need somebody they can look up to. They gotta know that there’s always hope, there’s always a tomorrow, and you can’t sit around and mope about stuff when life’s got you down. You gotta keep moving. You know, like those sharks. Somebody said that if a shark stops moving, he dies. You gotta be like that shark and keep on moving, as long as you can. That’s all there is to it.” He nodded, scratched his broken nose, then leaned back in his wheelchair, relaxed. “Anything else you need?”


       “Um, no,” said Melissa, checking her watch. “I have to get back to the station and file this. You’ll see the results tonight on ‘Channel 4 News at Six.’ My boss said he’s going to make it the top story, your comeback and your inspirational work. They want to make it big.”


       “Yeah, that’s nice and everything, but it’s not for me.” He motioned as if brushing something small away. “It’s for the kids. I just wanna do something for ‘em, show ‘em they’re not losers, no matter what happens to ‘em in life. That’s all that matters.”


       He could tell by the way she looked at him then that she bought that smooth piece of bullshit hook, line, and sinker. She held on too long when she shook his hand, asked in a casual way what room he was staying in at the Le Grand Hotel, then waved and left with the bored-looking cameraman. Tommy smiled to himself. Tonight she’d be riding him like a cowgirl on crack. Women loved a man gifted with a serious Johnson, and these days his got more working out that all the rest of him put together.


       It was a great day. He reached in an insulated pouch in the side of his wheelchair and pulled out an aluminum can that had the Ultra-Cola logo on the outside. The can was full of cold draft beer. The can had been specially and secretly made for him by the Ultra-Cola Company, which was owned by a Pittsburgh brewery. Putting the Ultra-Cola label on the back of his wheelchair and doing local promotions for their product had turned into a gold mine. He had so much money from that and the settlement with the Lawndale County school system, he could fart through silk until he turned a hundred, and probably long after.


       Tommy turned and looked at the memorial trees—saplings, to be exact. They were only a couple years old. His gaze lowered to the sign posted over the small fence that ran around the square plot of earth where the saplings grew.










       “Hey, girls,” said Tommy. “How’re you doing today?” He kept his voice low so no one would hear. He put the can between his thighs, carefully backed his wheelchair onto the grass, and came to rest by the little fence next to the saplings. He popped the top on his disguised beer, took a long cold swig, then lowered the can and waved to a few students passing by. He was a familiar face to everyone in Lawndale these days, not to mention the rest of the state, so they waved back and left their hero alone.


       He sighed. The air, the sun, the sky, everything was perfect.


       “You know,” he said conversationally, “I still remember you two. The misery chick and the one who said she was gonna throw up on Tommy Sherman’s shoes. I remember talking to you two right before I went out and got hit by that big goalpost crate. I didn’t think about you much then, but later on, yeah, I thought about you two a lot.”


       Another long drink of cool refreshment, then he lowered the can and looked reflective. “You didn’t think much of old Tommy Sherman, I know, and for a long time I didn’t think much of him, either. Tommy Sherman thought he was washed up. His legs were busted up so bad, he couldn't walk anymore, much less run. All because the damn school got my name wrong on the goalpost. I saw it on the crate label. 'Tommy Sheridan,' it said, not 'Tommy Sherman,' like it should've read. I punched that damn crate with all I had and it fell on me. That was pretty damn stupid, yeah, but there it was. Tommy Sherman messed up all on account of some asshole getting his name wrong." He chuckled and scratched his cheek with a thumbnail. "I see they got your name wrong, too, Miss Misery Chick. Left out an F somewhere. Tough shit about that, yeah.


       "So anyway, there I was, just down and out, and then I read in the papers about you two going on that wilderness hike with your school and getting lost, and how they found you two frozen together under a tree, and Tommy Sherman thought, hey, that’s like a sign or something. Yeah, it was like a sign from God, something like that. You two disrespected old Tommy Sherman, but you went out and got a lot worse than Tommy Sherman did. I like that. It’s... what is it, it’s... it’s like ironic, like that song. That crate smashed up my legs when I was trying to dive out of its way, but here I am alive and getting more hot ass than I ever did when I was in high school, and your two asses are stone cold dead. Ironic, yeah. I like that.”


       He sighed as he settled back in the chair, enjoying the sun. “You know what?” he said in a low voice, not looking at the two saplings. “All that stuff Tommy Sherman fed that babe from the TV station, that was a lot of bullshit. There wasn’t any kid asking for an autograph. What got Tommy Sherman out of his funk was you two bitches dying.” He looked at the twin saplings, solemn faced. “It was, I’m not lying. It was you two freezing your skinny bitch asses to death out there in the snow that did it. That was when Tommy Sherman decided to make a comeback, and he did it, and now he’s here to tell you about it.”


       He leaned over toward the two small trees and raised the beer in the soda can in one hand. “Here’s a toast from old Tommy Sherman to the dead misery chicks,” he said. "I owe it all to you." His tanned face split into a wide smile. “Who’s miserable now, huh? Tell me, who’s miserable now?”


       He poured the rest of his beer on the mulch around the memorial trees, then crushed the can in his fist and tossed it over to lie exactly between the saplings. It was time to get back to the hotel. He set off on his long journey, waving at kids and thinking about the rodeo to come.






Original: 08/07/08; modified 10/18/08, 05/06/10