Eight o’clock and the tubes were on strike again. Graham started at the bus stop closest to his bedsit but after two 19s sailed past, both packed to the gills, he began to walk down Blackstock Road. He passed three more stops, all besieged, before reaching the tube station at Finsbury Park, the first place the 19 took on passengers. People were standing three-deep in the road, shifting for position, waiting for a bus to come and carry them off to work.
Because we didn’t know his name, and he played air guitar outside Family Dollar, we called him Air Guitar Eddy. He had two dogs. We called the pit bull Pitbull, and the other, a terrier, Funky Bitch. Funky Bitch was pregnant, bursting at the seams, and she would sit and pant in the shade. Because it was Family Dollar, Air Guitar Eddy, Pitbull, and Funky Bitch didn’t get much by way of charity.
She closed her eyes and looked.
In all her years of seeing she had never looked quite like this. This was seeing.
The ‘accident’ was now over ten years ago, and she was resigned if not reconciled with the state of affairs. The impairment to her vision had been absolute. The ophthalmologist had been kind and empathetic but quite definite in her assessment. 100% sight loss and not a chance of recovery. The diagnosis was certain. And so, began a new life.
Silence is the color
in a blind man’s eyes
Leo wondered if it was some kind of contest, if it smacked of more than what it seemed. He had heard the poem a hundred times, Chornby always walking around with the book in his shirt pocket or back pocket suddenly reading it to him, again and again, and Leo, the Blind Man of North Saugus, let the words sink in and become part of him, part of his sightless brain. Just like Chornby had become part of him. Chornby’s face he could not picture, nor eyes, nor beard, nor jut of chin, but settled on the imagination of Chornby’s hands and could only do so when he felt his own slim unworked hands, the thin fingers, the soft palms, the frail knuckles, how the fingers wanted to touch a piano but couldn’t, or a woman, but who wants a blind man?