“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.
They must be felt with the heart.”
- Helen Keller -
Barrett grabbed the square metal sign, one hand on either side of the frame, his finger tips disappearing into the black velvet interior. The steel base rocked against the terra-cotta tiles. Barrett spun and wobbled. The noise of it! Tumultuous! What a spectacle. He wondered how many pairs of eyes watched his absurd display. He couldn’t know. He had no eyes of his own. Blind as a bat without the echolocation. Blinder, it could be argued, if blinder was a word. Though he didn’t think it was, not in the context he was thinking of it. How can a person who is blind be blinder than another? Embedded in his head were glass marbles that resembled eyes, or so he was told. How would he know? Born blind he’d never seen his own face in a mirror.
The reverberation bounced off the asymmetrical walls in the high-ceilinged room. Had he not been clutching the sign for balance he would have covered his ears with his palms. He tried not to cry. Drops of salt water popped out of his still functioning tear ducts. He managed, only just, to control it. It happened all too frequently these days. He was fed up to hell with it.
“Goddamn it!” he shouted like a dog who howled to drown out the sound of a siren.
He knew Mitch watched him from his station at the Counter, across the expanse of giant clay tiles, so large he could place his feet, heel to toe, inside of one. It’s how he counted his steps. How he knew precisely where he was in the room. He had no need for his white cane in his workplace. He knew every inch of the vast building, every office, every doorway, every sound, and what that sound indicated.
Holding on to the sign was his lifeboat. He felt adrift in the Mediterranean. He might as well, he thought, imagine warm water. No point in feeling too sorry for himself bobbing about in the Antarctic. He thought it might appear as if he’d tossed back a couple of tequila shots at lunch, that he might seem inebriated. After all, it was not without precedent. Back in the day he’d returned from his lunch break holding tight to the elbow of one colleague or another barely able to stand. Not today. Not today. Today, life sat heavily on his shoulders, and if he loosened his grip on the goddamned sign he would crumple to the floor in a heap.
“Stop staring at me, Mitch.”
“I’m not staring, Barrett. When I hear a clamor of noise it’s only natural to look toward the sound to see what caused it.”
Frustration licked at Mitch’s words, but Barrett said anyway, “Damn right, Mitch! It’s only natural. Well, here I am, the source of all the racket!”
“Yes, Barrett.” Barrett heard Mitch smile. “Here you are, indeed.”
“Goddamn it to hell!” Barrett bellowed. “Who moved the goddamned sign? If I get my hands around the goddamned throat of the person who moved the goddamned sign I’ll squeeze the life out of them.”
A serial story… next segment tomorrow. Thanks for reading..