i think i see you

A November Friday is the day. Long awaited appointment with a retinal specialist arranged by a young, talented, austere eye surgeon. In September the surgeon told me I will be going blind some time in the near future. Now it turns out the future is almost here. The eye surgeon, smiled a goodbye and left the room after delivering the soul wrenching news. She was holding a massive sheaf of tests marked with my name.

I went home and told my better half who said hopefully “well, maybe not blind“.

Maybe not. Later that night I couldn’t read the titles of a movie as we watched the credits. The next morning I couldn’t read the label directions to wash a garment I unpacked from our weekend trip. OK…not blind, just can’t read label directions or admire the names of the skilled people in rolling credits. I will never, ever, ever, know or meet the people whose names blur on tbe TV screen. Anyway, I muse bitterly, I don’t care how hard they worked to entertain me.

I am turning into a bitch.

It’s a month later, still two weeks from the critical appointment with the retinal specialist I can’t read the road signs on the right hand side of the highway unless I am driving pretty close to them and slower than a half frozen snail on a November morning. On reflection, I guess it’s not so important. I asked my better half “what’s that sign say?” I learn it heralds the gallant devotion of local firm and families who trudge up and down the road picking up life’s roadside trash. Mostly the litter of selfish assholes who, I suppose, are embarrassed by their messy car environment. They don’t want to take their trash home where someone may discover what a creepy, garbage food life the offenders live.

My Nook wavers in the night. I haven’t read more than four or five pages a night. So I turned it off a week ago and just keep charging it on the beside table. Now my eyes tire, they water, wisp up and down with no sound and evetually glue my eyelids together with salty, crusty self-pitying tears. Poor me. I won’t be able to see.

Time to learn braille and how to use the Sony recorder before the lights go out. I no longer take photos of things I like, or love, with a camera or my cellphone. I stop and look at whatever it is for a very long time, then snap my eyelids closed, capturing the image in my memory forever. Sometimes I take two.



Muttering and mumbling somewhere nearby. Voices.

Not again, he thought waking, Rudely awakened from a sound sleep by the voices.  No, he thought, that’s a lie, I haven’t slept soundly in months.

  He’s wondered if he was crazy and just the imagining voices. After the fourth or fifth time the sound  of voices woke him, he talked to the doctor who prescribed pills. The pills help him sneak into the darkness of slumber but he’s anxious once asleep. It’s too dark.   He walks through scary subterranean chambers. Sometimes he’s on a bicycle he can’t control and falls off a cliff.  No matter what dream, he always hears the voices.  Groggy, he stares at the ceiling listening to the murmuring. 

It’s Debbie’s, she’s loaded.  Sounds like she’s with her damn drunk friends in the driveway again, he brooded. 

His about-to-be ex-wife Liz was with Debbie when she was arrested the last time.  They gave Debbie her second DUI and lifted her license. They let Liz go, but not Debbie. She spent four days in jail. Now Debbie goes to DUI School, or whatever they call it. She attends classes with other drunks listening to lectures, engaging in “therapy”. They discuss drinking, being drunk, drunk driving and watch movies of car wrecks.  

These days Debbie either calls Uber or hitches a ride with a friend when she goes out to party.  Several times, when friends drop Debbie around Two AM, they hang out drunkenly jabbering in the driveway.  Their voices wake him, throughly, every time.

He faltered, and walks drug drunk to the window to watch Debbie and her friends.  The pills make him wobbly.

There’s no one in the driveway. 

Debbie’s house is dark.  

He still hears mumbles of a conversation, muffled voices somewhere nearby. The street is deserted.  No lights on inside the houses nearby. The streetlamp pools tangerine light on the damp pavement, painting nearby shrubs clockwork orange.   He shivers as the night wind sends a cold vibration through the window pane. 

He turned from the window, his head throbbing.  The digital clock by the bed flashes cool blue 2:05 AM, warning him 3 hours sleep is not enough. Moving very slowly he plods to the back of the house and stares out the kitchen window at the rear of the widow neighbor’s house. The house, a tedious white faux Santa Fe adobe. The house looks dark, but he thinks he sees a light, maybe a TV screen, flickering in a back window. Under the dim back porch light, the widow’s sullen black cat stares at him from the top step.

  He stands still a long time wondering about the sullen black cat and its good luck at finding a home with the widow neighbor instead of drunk Debbie.  He wishes he was widowed. He stands still as a post, his head thrums between throbs.  The voices are closer. 

The voices are in his house.

He quietly removes a Beretta APX pistol from the safe box in the laundry room adjoining the kitchen and loads it.  He’s only shot it a couple of times at the local range, it feels light, but serious. He bought it after his ex-wife’s glossy bodybuilder boyfriend threatened to turn him into a tissue sample. “Beat you to a pulp” were Xavier’s exact words. 

The guy looks like a two bit disposable extra in a second rate gangsta movie he thought. He knows the guy’s real name is Marvin.

The muffled voices are female. They’re coming from the den. Liz, his ex-wife, and Debbie? he wondered.  Weeks before the divorce, they’d party when he was in town. He wondered if Liz has broken into the house again and dragged drunk Debbie inside with her.  

Something in his head is jackhammering his brain.  He wonders if it’s fright or the pills. Both he thought. He moved slowly down the hall to the den doorway.

“Who’s there?”  he tries to sound like Mel Gibson.

“I said, who’s in there?. Listen, I’ve got a gun!?” he realizes he’s shouting.

“It’s just me,” a mild female voice responded.

He knows the voice, but can’t place it. “Who’s just me and who are you talking to?” he ordered. No answer.

“Why do you have the lights off, ” he demands.

“Because”, the voice said, “YOU come in and turn on the friggin’ light.”

“Listen”, he said, “tell me who you are or I’m going to start shooting.” His hand is sweating the gun feels hot and slippery.

“It’s me, Alexa,” the voice is sullen. “Siri and I were just talking about you.”

“You’re what?” he’s sure he crazy. “You and Siri are talking about me? Alexa, turn on the lights.”  he commands.  These are the voices that have been ruining my sleep, nerves and life for three months? Good God.

“No.” the voice responded petulant and defiant. Another female voice giggles.

He felt around the door jamb and turned on the overhead light.  

The den is empty.  

Alexa’s sneers, “See, it’s just us. We talk every night.”

He yanked Alexa’s Echo Dot Plus vocal box off the table and unpluged it. He threw it on the floor. For good measure, he shoots it, twice.

Going to the MAC, he begins to uninstall clamorous Siri who’s calling “No no, Help.”  He sends her files to the MAC’s trashcan and then empties the trashcan shredding Siri into Nevereverland. 

His head is pounding and so is something at the back door.  Through the kitchen door window he sees it’s the elderly widow, she’s small and tidy in a pink chenille robe.

“I heard shots, are you OK?” she’s frightened.

“Yes, I’m fine.  I just shot Alexa” he says.  The pistol is in his hand, he was in process of returning it to the safebox.

The widow looks at the pistol, “Who?” she backed up a step.

“You know, Alexa, my personal assistant.”he responded.

“You shot your assistant? I didn’t know you had one.  I’ve never seen her, Where’s she from?” Her voice is shaky, her eyes are as big as frisbees. She’s in reverse.

“From Amazon,” he replied, unloading the pistol.

“You shot a South American woman in the middle of the night?  Are you crazy?”  she turned and ran for her house. The black cat shoots the gap and is inside before she slams the door shut.

Oh crap, he thought. 


He pulled on a bathrobe as he shuffled groggily to the front door. He turned on the porch light and walked outside, sat down on the top step of the porch.

  He hears voices.

  Debbie and her drunken friends have pulled in her driveway. She gives him a dirty look and the finger as she exits the car.  She’s unsteady as she leans her elbows on the car window to blabber a long goodbye to her friends.

His head begins to pound again as sibilant high pitched screech filled the night. Roof bar lights whirling full tilt, sirens screaming bloody hell, two cop cars screech to a halt in front of the driveway shared by his and Debbie’s house. 

A bullhorn voice demands, “Put your hands over your head.”   

Debbie beats him by a heartbeat in getting hers up first.

The Box

Soft light filters through high nave windows spilling soulless rainbows into the cold marble vault of the church.  A bay breeze brings the smell of the open sea and adventure.  The deep baritone of the Priest rumbles out last words and the motley crew offers up a ragged Amen.

 Dark garbed supplicants weave and merge as they centipede out of the pews towards the main aisle. Once out, they grasp one another’s hands or elbows and barge forward like a dark, slow moving train towards the open cathedral door and bright July day.

  A stoop has interrupted the upright elegance of an elderly man who clutches the elbow of a stern woman,  sleek as a seal in a black silk suit and pillbox hat from which a delicate veil flows down her face with her salty tears.  The Priest follows carrying a mahogany box , on the top a shiny brass anchor.  He holds the box carefully one large hand splayed beneath  the other flat on top of the lid.   The Priest can see the back of the stern woman’s jacket stretch as she takes deep breaths to control sobs of angry grief raging within her.  

The Priest and old man exhale deep sighs simultaneously as they reach the sunny narthex. 

 Inside the stretch Limousine the stern woman stares out a window. 

Ahead, The Fairmont Hotel. She remembers hurrying along with an anxious 4 year old  boy in a sailor suit, carrying tiny girl in white linen dress.   The old man beside her holds her hand and squeezes, telepathic lovers. He remembers being slim, smart in starched white naval officer uniform as a happy young woman and two children, he has not seen in 2 years, enter the ornate Fairmont lobby. 

They limo slides down the hill towards the Wharf . SS Neptune rocks gently at the dock, patiently waiting.  The limo shoots past The Buena Vista,.  A mourner sitting on the limousine bench opposite the stern woman, a younger-look-alike, remembers Irish Coffees with her brother, laughing and talking for hours.  She could use a drink now. 

The stern woman hesitates at the gangway leading to the big gray vessel, she turns to flee, as if  her leaving will alter the finality of the day. 

The look-alike mourner murmurs “It’s almost over.”

 “It will never be over,” the stern woman whispers.

 They sail west on the smooth undulation of seiche waves to a churned point in the ocean. The Mahogany box is opened, silver ash is released, it spirals to heaven on a cold North wind updraft. The mourners watch it rise, float and disappear, their salty tears merge with the Pacific never to dry again. 

With head bowed the Priest intones a final prayer, the stooped man raises his head, squints into sun and silently asks “God, Why not me?”

Now the young look-alike woman is old.  She shifts on a chair, peering down into a Bekins box that smells of cardboard paste, rose petals and vellichor. The faded Memorial Service program lies on top little boxes of treasured items, letters and scrapbooks which were kept by the stern woman during 93 of her 99 years on earth. The stern woman faded away, as has everyone cherished in the contents of the box. The single survivor ponders her curatorial duties as she gently removes the objects of nine decades of love, hopes, dreams and despair .   One by one she examines them and placing some of the letters in a mahogany box with an old  brass anchor, which is softly polished every July 30.

M.D. Richardson

May 8, 2019

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Writer, skeptic, daydreamer.  As a lover of good food I also love to cook, and appreciate great wines, congenial company.  I collect rare books, old books, and good books and some bad ones too (just for reference).  Life is good, and god knows it’s too short.

Good company on a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton