They tell me I saved four or five thousand people, but I don't really remember much of it all. Watching the videos, I can hardly believe it's really me grabbing the lines on that balloon. Even when I rub the scar tissue on my wrist where my left hand used to be, I can almost convince myself that the hero on the screen and the "hero" in the mirror are the same guy.
I know I sound ridiculous talking this way. I hope I don't sound like I'm not aware of how much my actions meant to everyone. For the spectators who were about to be victims of the terrorist plot, there's nothing fake or minimalist about having diverted that parade balloon packed with the nerve gas bomb. That's real. To deny them the opportunity to thank the guy who saved them would be churlish in the extreme, especially since their savior had his hand burnt off by the concentrated nitric acid in the bomb.
It's just that I don't feel like that hero. The nerve gas did something to my mind, screwed up my short-term memory somehow. The doctors said it would have been lethal if the liquid compound had been allowed to gasify, but wasn't "sodium gap labile" in the liquid form.
None of that really means much to me, even though they've explained it a hundred times.
I pose for photos, I mostly say what the politicians tell me to say, I take the medicines my doctors tell me to take, I walk when it's time to walk, I eat when it's time to eat, I sleep when it's time to sleep.
I don't leave the hospital, though. Can't remember the last time I was alone.
If I *am* a hero, if that really is me doing those things, I can only think that I must have been a hell of a guy.