Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Blind Man Who Didn't Bluff

So, I kid you not. I’m walking down the Metro Raumier stairwell on St Sebastopol in Paris, loaded up with bags of Apero and Rose from  MonoPrix and heading back to our apartment. I’m focussing on the gazillion steps with a bung knee and dodging the peak hour crowds to avoid spillage of the bag contents which include le saucisson, pate fois gras,  a rather nice sock-smelly Cambembert, corcherons and two still warm and yeasty smelling baguettes. I also need to ensure that the chilled and succulent bargain-basement bottles of Rose stay nestled in their now slightly-tearing extruded plastic bag.  Oh the guilt I feel for not having the foresight to bring my green bags. Shit that bread smells good.

I’m teetering down the steps against the crowd with one heavy bag in each hand. My camera bag slung over shoulder with the solid bit bashing into the small of my back and banging uncomfortably just above my bum. I’ve come down the steps on the right, against the wall and now wedged in a rather familiarly urine stenched corner, squished by the outpouring of peak hour bodies surging upwards towards the surface.  I have about three more steps down before I hit the platform and everything begins to roll in slow motion.

And I mean slow. Keanu bullet-dodging slow. Watch the replay of that googly bowl by Ricky Ponting slow.  Like a fly watching a human hand trying to swat it slow. Take that you fetid little insect and you know all the time he’s sitting there yelling “Is that all you’ve got you biotch . . hit me!” Before the little buzzy bastard pisses off and leaves you smacking some unsuspecting appendage with a sting. Yeh, that kind of slow. Yeh, like that.

Noise slows down like it’s being played on a vinyl LP just after the power’s gone and it’s grinding to a halt. The fabric of everyone’s garments ripples languidly but discernably, trains glide in and out with a serenede of muted screeching and then he comes into the frame. A blind man with one of those extra long guide sticks with a big red knobbly thing on the end of it.

He’s short, wearing dark glasses which always strikes me as hilarious, “Hey dude, you’re blind, you don’t need the shades!” He’s wearing a black three-quarter winter coat which is also weird because it’s hot as hell down here and humid as a whore’s underwear.  Do whore’s wear underwear? Perhaps that’s not a great analogy. Then I get to thinking, well he’s blind, maybe he didn’t realise what he was wearing. I mean I have friends who look like they get dressed in the dark and they’ve got 20/20 happening.  Anyway he’s walking normal speed right. Cane outstretched, swinging wildly from side to side, working that red knobby thing.

Now I’m still moving when I see the cane sweeping the pathway as if he’s wielding a machete in a corn field or a scythe in a hay meadow, scanning for gold or detecting landmines, this man’s on a mission. I’m thinking, get out of the way, jump that thing but hey, the dude’s blind, I could knock the bastard over or worse do some damage to the Rose bottles so I just keep going, sure that he’s going to mark a target as big as me. Then, WHAM sure enough that thing cracks me fair and square on the side of the leg, and brings me down baby! Crumbling to my jetty stump knees on the cold tiles with a crash and a bottle of rose rolling menacingly towards the departing train.

Ok so the scene begins to speed up like my escaping bottle when a very nice man pulls me up to my feet, rather familiarly brushes my knees off. How very French I’m thinking as they have no concept of personal space but having your knees rubbed by a stranger is a little disconcerting. So before I actually told him to piss off and take his hands of me, he had the good grace to disappear into the crowd.

So now I’m on my feet, the train’s pulling away, no harm done to the shopping, the knees will live. No sign of the blind guy who has clearly had no problem navigating 75 steps in an overcoat at speed and without knocking anybody else over whilst swinging his knobby cane at a 180 degree angle in front of him. How rude. Not so much as a ‘pardon madame’. Bastard. I hope he gets run over by a bus.


Rather late Theme Thursday Post for "Stairs"

13 comments:

Brian Miller said...

he probably never saw you...smiles. i hear you though and i had a thought but think i will hold it...smiles. have a great day baino

i beati said...

You are an excellent writer.Do you write in your job at all??Cold in S Fl.but that's ok a respite. wrestling today and a short trip - New Year rolling along

California Girl said...

I like Brian's first sentence before the ellipsis...

Kate Hanley said...

I bet he wasn't blind but I love the story, very well told. Was the Rose good?

Roy said...

Ouch! Oh well, at least the wine bottles didn't break.

Janice said...

Genius writing...loved the humor of your words.

Kath Lockett said...

I like the idea of him not being blind at all but taking out his frustrations at everyone by pretending to be!

Still, at least the rose was safe :)

River said...

i'm finding myself agrreing with the others, maybe he wasn't blind, he just acts blind to get coins in his cup when he reaches "his" street corner.
I wouldn't care at all who was brushing off my knees, at least you got help.

Blind people wear glasses so sighted people won't be unnerved or otherwise disconcerted by the staring eyes which look nowhere else just straight ahead.

Tom said...

wow, the pacing...sweet

Wally The Walrus said...

Maybe he was blind, maybe not... there's a lot of beggars in Paris and they all seem to have their spot - appearing in the same place each day.

And I hear you about the smell of the bread. I just wish I'd found the good wine - that which I selected (having no idea at all about French wine) was a rather acidic and disappointing red. Still, Monoprix was an awesome supermarket (chain). If the one you went to was anything like the one I went to then I've love to see something here similar.

Tina said...

Glad I found this while searching for a friend...Loved the piece. And am praying all will be well eventually and that he returns. He's a unique voice, and YOU are a true friend to leave him so many ways to see how much you cares.
Tina

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