At a well-proportioned four feet three inches Harry, technically speaking, was not a dwarf, he was a midget. But no one knew the difference, or cared, and to them he was just incredibly short. An oddity, a misfit, a topic of conversation. He was an excellent (and heartless) salesman.
Then he discovers a heart, his own. More
Harry felt fractional, part man part air. His flesh-and-bone part was squashed to four feet three inches by a fate and gravity too cruel to forgive, and the remaining two feet—he saw himself, his real self, as six foot three, not an inch shorter—see-through dream.
Just his luck to have overshot the medical definition of dwarf by a solitary inch (which denied him certain medical benefits along with some extra helpings of sympathy), yet he was one, in his own as well as others’ eyes.
Had he been larger, he would have been ugly. As it was, he was cute. But no less ill-intended. The feeling that fate had dealt him a spiteful hand never strayed far. His problem was who to blame.
“You have no idea,” he explained to a colleague once in an inebriated moment of weakness, “how it feels to always be looked down upon. How it feels to always look up at.” Even sitting down, bar stool to bar stool, the height his eyes had to scale to reach those of his colleague was well over a foot, and he felt like a servile dog looking up at his master, dog eyes always looking up, looking up. Always climbing that foot, that forever intervening, forever excluding, forever humiliating, foot.
“Can’t be all that bad,” said the normally sized man, slurring slightly as he was on his fourth drink, looking down at Harry. Then he belched rather loudly. “Sorry.”
“It is,” said Harry, who almost gagged on the fumes. “Trust me.” Then quickly turned the other way for some fresher air. Pizza, peanuts and beer breath was not pleasant.
On paper, the medically authentic dwarf is ill proportioned, some body part or other too big, too small, too long, too short, too fat, too thin, what have you (or some combination thereof). Not so Harry (which definitionally speaking made him a midget): all parts of him perfectly sized and proportioned, only he was built to scale. 1:1.5. An inch of him measured an inch and a half of a real man, he used to say. He’d also make the joke sometimes, usually in equally inebriated circumstances, that some mad model railroad engineer had put him together in his basement to run his engines, or as a ticket collector, something like that, only he got the scale screwed up, took 1:150 to mean 1:1.50, ha, ha. One tiny error, and there you have him: Harry. No one even remotely sober ever thought that funny, but laughed nonetheless—considering the source. Those nowhere near sober shrieked with glee and ordered another round (go easy on the little one, bartender).
Well proportioned. Yes he was that. He had even made sure of that, had measured everything and compared the result to encyclopedia dimensions of real people, or grown-ups (as he thought of those who so effortlessly rose above him). And confirmed it: 1:1.5, in every way. Pretty safe from circus recruiters, he figured (something he told himself often, sardonically); not grotesque (a circus requirement), just small, and, apparently, cute.
But it was a sham, good-for-nothing cuteness that never had bought him anything. He was cute the way a grizzly cub, or a small dolphin, or a baby turtle was cute. Something you’d pat with daring fascination, but never bed. Not on your life, mister. And in his own mean little heart he had to admit that he would never stoop to seeking out company his own size. So he wasn’t getting any.
Yet, it did have its advantages.