Replace Braille Man with Something by Greta Browne


When I was a tumultuous child I watched as a braille man leaned out his window to crane his swan neck at the people below. The bodies on the street were ants and beetles and bugs crawling this way and that, all at once clawing over one another and snapping like turtles. Entranced by the very human-ness of their begrudging behavior, and the angriness that each of them candle-lit within, the blind man sat back and crooked a smile, shaking his head in a way that could only, would only, translate as “what a wonderful world we’ve made”.

What a world indeed, I had thought, when a braille man can see more than me and all of our eyes are blinded by the obscene light of our own misadventures. I wonder if when Pandora opened the box and watched them all escape, if she saw the human pride in its true form. An injured animal yet still dragging itself forward, denying all forms of help and gratitude.

The braille man licked his lips and called out to the people. His voice was coarse and chapped and cracked as he held his aching and humped back. The words he clipped together were those that steal your breath and lock it away where you won’t be finding it again. His sentences and phrases and comforts that he wallowed at the ants bounced down into the crowd and were lost. Frustrated, he screamed and none turned up a head nor noticed. Their beady heads were down, cocked at strange angles as they watched the patchy pavement. Braille man swallowed gravely still whispering and crooning at them, waiting for one of them, for their deafness to hear.

The events that played endlessly on the street weren’t ones born and crafted of love for one another. They were the evils of the world swirling in a plastic cup and dumped into the sewers. Ants and beetles clawed one another’s eyes out, relishing in the blood split, because one was an ant and another a beetle. Although both were bugs, they were different, which meant that one had to be better than the other. Both wanted to know whom it was.

Occasionally as the braille man sobbed in his soundlessly terrible way, I would sit on the windowsill and watch it all. I nudged him one day with my foot as he laid on the floor. “Braille man,” I encouraged, “are you awake?”

He sat up and brandished a question mark within the features of his face. “Why do you call me that?”

“Well,” I skittered, “you are blind.”

Braille man allowed for another one of his oxycodone purple tears to track down his face, a stray drop of paint on a masterpiece. “I’m not blind,” he said bluntly.

I stood, planting both of my stubborn hooves on the floor, “That doesn’t make any sense! You can see them,” I point at the massacre of culture that was the streets below, “and yet you still adore them? They’re beasts and killers and rapists, doing awful actions in the name of their deities and honor and love or passion. You’re better off just killing them.”

“You don’t understand, I did this to them. I did this to me. This is their nature and it will never change. War, annuity, and violence will always breed and flourish among them—that is the way of the world.”

I stomp my foot, “Then why don’t you stop them? Control them! Just make them do what you want.”

He smiles and this time it’s horrible, the way his lips tremble back and reveal his incisors.

“That’s just the point. I can’t. I may have created their beginning, but they will create their own end.”

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