A blind man came up to me the other day,
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tap, tap, tap, with a stick in one hand,
a seeing-eye dog harness in the other.
Asked me if I'd seen his dog.
"No." I said.
"Well, I haven't either," he said.
He appeared to be tired and somewhat winded.
I invited him to my porch to sit a spell in my chaise lounge.
He obliged while I sat on my concrete steps.
Lemonades later, he had relaxed.
He began to speak, words gushing out of him in a mindfully slow manner.
"They tell me he is a black lab, a black labrador retriever.
I guess he is black, but then again, since birth,
everything is black to me.
They told me there are colours for everything,
green for grass, blue for sky, yellow for sun, white for lies.
But I wouldn't know, couldn't know, couldn't know know, could I? Even black is abstract to me, don't you see?
My dog, he is real, but what if he isn't really a dog, what if he is something else named a dog? What a cruel trick they play. I should not be blind, not like this."
"How long has your dog been gone, lost?" I asked.
"I don't know, for days, I guess.
Longer maybe. Maybe only today.
We were walking along this road, lots of intersections, you know.
I didn't believe him when he stopped, when he started, when he pulled, when he slacked.
I hit him with my stick, hit him again, again and again.
How can you be a realist if you can't see? How can you love something you don't believe in?
Somehow he slipped his harness, slipped right out of it. It was no small trick.
Funny thing, he never howled when I hit him, never whined or whimpered, he just left like a puff of air, left a lingering trace of smell, his smell behind. I remember his aroma, it is still in my nostrils, but I guess he is long gone.
How I wish he were here, back with me, he is the only one I ever really thought I could trust and didn't. If only he would come back, do you hear me? Do you?"
"No, I don't, I don't, can't hear you. I'm deaf, I only read lips, been deaf since birth." I said.
"Then you must know what I mean, I mean, don't you?
How do you know a bird sings if you can't hear it?"
"When I touch a bird, I feel his vibrations, and I know, then I know."
The man got up to leave and thanked me for the lemonade. Tap, tap, tap, away he went.
I said to him a little loud, louder than I wanted, louder than I meant to. "Maybe if you throw your stick away, your dog will come back."
He stopped, turned a little, said, "I guess, but what would I do without my stick?"