The Blind Man & The Lemonade

{for Clarence}

I can tell that you are lying,” Andy said into his cellular phone. “Do you know how I can tell that you are lying?”

But by that time Carrie had hung up the phone on Andy, which was probably for the best since he hadn’t thought of a clever way to answer his own question.

Andy was angry about his relationship troubles.

‘It burns,’ he thought. Bad news, probably.

So Andy cinched his karate pants, slipping his cell into his pocket next to the Skittles. He checked his digital watch and wondered about the government. That’s when he heard the tapping.

Across the street in the park walked a Blind Man. He was wearing dark sunglasses, and a rainbow visor, and he was tapping a walking stick. His right hand was in the air, feeling for obstacles. His mouth hung open and his bare feet were missing socks and shoes.

“Assistance,” spoke the Blind Man emotionlessly, and Andy ran across the street.

“Assistance,” spoke the Blind Man again, and Andy took hold of his hand.

“Hello?” yelled Andy.

“Let go asshole,” said the Blind Man without feeling, and he pulled his hand away from Andy’s.

Andy blushed, embarrassed, and took a closer look at the Blind Man. This Blind Man was not your average Blind Man, he was a deviate. Filthy stubble poked out of his chin, and his breath smelled like a sour-milk smell- the way milk smells after it has gone sour. There was the name of a woman’s private organ printed in block letters on his T-shirt and he wore a tattered Army jacket.

“What can I do for you, Mister?” sighed Andy.

“Give me the information,” said the Blind Man.

“Are you Mr. Anthony?” Andy asked.

The Blind Man raised his cane over his shoulder and swung it down swiftly, striking Andy’s hip and fingers. Andy bit his lip to keep from screaming.

“What made you call me Mr. Anthony?” wondered the Blind Man without inflection.

Andy was still smarting from the sting. “That’s what it says on your cane: ‘Property of Mr. Anthony’”

The Blind Man smiled, a little bit, and said, “No I’m not Mr. Anthony, but he gave me his cane. It was a fair and legal transaction, I’m sure.”

“Well, what can I help you with?” asked Andy.

“No, I’m not Mr. Anthony,” continued the Blind Man.

Andy had lost his patience. “So long,” he said. But the Blind Man stopped him.

“Wait,” he said dispassionately, “I need a glass of lemonade.”


The Blind Man drew his cane back and struck Andy in the neck.

“Ow!” yowled Andy.

“Accidental,” spoke the Blind Man without conviction.

“Let’s get you that Lemonade,” Andy said.

And so Andy led the Blind Man through Anxiety Park, down past Matview Avenue and Dean Peeples’ Plaza, around the Galaxy Overpass, and under Milo’s Mile. And there at the end of the dirt road was the Lemonade stand he had been thinking about.

“I hope you have money,” spoke the Blind Man, and Andy said yes.

They approached the stand together, where three children of various ages were sitting about, fingers up their noses.

One of the children sneezed, a cosmic glop emerging from his nose and splattering his fingers and wrist.

“Nothing happened,” said Andy, and the Blind Man seemed to believe him.

“Want some Lemonade?” the Little Girl asked.

“Lemonade,” spoke the Blind Man colorlessly.

The girl waited until Andy had handed her the fifty before she stood up, walked to the back of the rickety stand and lifted a pitcher of yellow juice. There were flies buzzing about and the girl had to stand on her toes to pour. Lemonade spilled everywhere as she filled the glass, and a handful of driveway gravel stirred at the bottom. The girl placed the pitcher down and reached a filthy hand into the brimming glass, emerging with a long blond hair. She handed the glass to the Blind Man.

The Blind Man raised the glass to his lips and Andy could see he was nearly toothless.

The Blind Man drank, Lemonade spilling over his chin and onto his T-shirt and coat.

“Buy something or leave,” said the Little Girl.

The Blind Man turned to Andy. “Thank you for the Lemonade.”

“You’re welcome,” said Andy.

The Blind Man turned and walked away, up the long dirt road, tapping his cane in the dust.

“Assistance,” he said flatly.

Andy texted Carrie: “Let's see other people.”


Henry, First Burn

Mom and Dad got into the car, through the window glass, and the car pulled backwards from the driveway, leaving Henry home alone for the very first time. He didn’t understand it, couldn’t recognize the feeling, but there was something in his stomach going strong. He liked it, wanting to be here, almost as badly as he wanted to be with Mom and Dad, and he took a moment to wander the house, seeing things different, even though everything was where it had always been. But now the place was empty, and now the house was his own. He found himself at the stove top, turning the ring of the burner to ten. Ten was the highest. As far as it goes.

Mom and Dad were going where? To Aunt Mary’s? They never left in the middle of the day like this, and their clothes and their apostrophes said something else was wrong: Mom in makeup and a scarf, Dad in rusty overcoat. Henry was old enough to sense the lie... too young to untangle it. He watched the coils on the burner waking up, quiet rising black to bright red. Mom and Dad had warned him on the stove when they weren’t home: it was Rule Number One, the Rule of the House. The coils now, glowing wide and making hot, that Henry could feel it from here.

He reached out and placed his palm on the burner, fingers cooking quickly, roasting, going black and charred, hand meat fusing to the tenacious spiral, while the smell of his own barbecued beef made him hungry for spareribs. Henry’s eyelids fluttered, comic, and by the time he yanked his hand away most of the skin had been torn off, blood pumping to skeletal finger bone, mortified at being seen naked. A Jolly Roger. Back on the stovetop Henry's handmeal smoked to ash as it smoldered lazy.

The next thing Henry remembered was seeing Mom and Dad above him, yelling furious, reciting gospel, chanting chapter, and he closed his eyes with a smile because… just because… They could be so silly sometimes.

And then he went to sleep, saying a silent prayer that his eyes would open up again.