The next few hours were a blur. The storm passed on, and we drove to Erickaís office so she could examine Mike more thoroughly. The rest of us waited in stunned silence for her prognosis.
" ĎEy, Len . . . ye know, yer jaw is really squared off now . . . almost like Mickyís!" Davy suddenly spoke.
"Youíre seeing things Davy," I said.
"I donít know, it does look very square now . . . " Isa said softly through her tears.
"Yeah, it does . . . just a little," Peter added.
Micky grabbed my chin and forced me to twist around in his lap so he could see. "No, theyíre right, itís startiní to look like my chin!"
"Really?" I asked.
He nodded and suddenly I was seeing myself, through his eyes. I mentally reeled a little at the sudden switch of viewpoint, then I eagerly examined my chin. They were right. I now had Mickyís chin.
How did THAT happen? I wondered.
The link? You seem a bit taller too, and your hair is starting to curl a little. Itís almost as if youíre turning into me! Micky replied.
Oh, the HORRORS! I mock-gasped. This link must be deeper than we thought . . .
Ericka came out then, alone. "Heís blind. For how long, Iím not sure but it is temporary. It could be a few days, it could be a year. Thereís no way to tell. All of you will have to help him adapt." She pulled a piece of paper from her pocket and handed it to Peter, who was nearest her. "This is a list of books that will help you." Mike stepped out of the office as she said that, gripping the door frame with both hands. "Mike, I said Iíd get you when I finished speaking to them!"
"Iím fine Doc . . . just . . . just let me go home," Mike gasped.
"Can we take him home?" Isa asked.
"Yes. But I want you to come back to me once a week so I can check your eyes, and come immediately if anything changes -- for the better or the worse, understood?" Ericka replied. Everyone nodded.
Peter offered Mike his elbow and led him to the car. When we got to the car, Mike said, "I want Len to drive."
"But . . . " I started to protest.
"Itís high time, shotgun. And I want you to go get that license tomorrow, like we planned."
"Without YOU?" I gasped as he held out the car keys to me.
"Yes. You can do it. Now, take the keys and take me home."
As I took the keys, I noticed my hands trembling. Mike and Isa sat in the middle seat while Peter and Davy took the back. Micky bounded into the front seat next to me.
I hope you know how to get home from here cause I donít! I told him while I cranked the ignition.
I do. Iíll tell ya where and when to turn, he said confidently.
We managed to get back to the Pad quickly and without incident. Mike insisted on sleeping so Isa led him up to his bedroom. I ran next door to her place and got her pajamas so she could stay by his side. Micky offered to take the couch for the night.
The next morning, I woke up earlier than usual. Dressing in my favourite blue Nehru shirt, blue and white pants, and moccasin boots, I slid down the staircase to find Peter making breakfast.
"Morning big Peter!"
"Morning Len. Are you ready to get that license?" he smiled.
"No but Iíll do it anyway, for Mike."
"Well do you mind driving me to the library either before or after? I want to find these books Ericka suggested," he asked, flipping over an omelet.
"Iíve got an even better idea -- after breakfast we go to the DMV, get my license, then hit the library. We can save time by splitting that list in half."
"Okay! What kind of omelet do you want?"
"What else? Cheese, cheese, cheese."
An hour later we left a note for Micky and Davy, both still dead to the world, and hopped in the Monkeemobile. There was no line at the DMV and I was behind the wheel of the Monkeemobile with an instructor in a matter of minutes. He was cranky, not a morning person from what I could see, and it made me even more nervous.
Relax. Youíll do fine! Youíve been doing fine! came the calming voice of my other half.
Micky! Youíre up early! I cried.
Yeah your panicking woke me up. Iím right here, right with you, so just take a deep breath and pass that test! Micky said.
And I did. The instructor remarked at how well I handled such a large and unwieldy car. I then was rushed through the lines for the written test, the eye test, and then I got my picture taken.
As we drove to the library, Peter examined my license. "You look great in this photo Len!"
"Yeah right! Itís a driverís license photo, Peter. Itís an unwritten law that everyone looks lousy in it!"
When we got to the library, Peter pulled out the list. I scanned it and divided it in half, pulling out my swiss army knife and snipping it cleanly across the middle. I handed him the top half. "Meet ya back here in fifteen minutes?"
"Sure," he replied and we left in opposite directions.
I made a beeline for the card catalog. It was hard getting used to an actual card catalog again, after using SWAN and ILLINET, computerized cataloging systems, for so many years. But it was like riding a bike -- I hadnít forgotten.
I looked up the first three books, noting down the call numbers. I had been quite relieved to discover that the Malibu Beach Public Library used the Dewey Decimal system -- I had never quite gotten used to the Library of Congress system, which was more complicated. My many years spent in the library by my house came into play as I managed to find the call number for the books Iíd looked up within a matter of minutes. Finding the books on the list, I then scanned the shelves where I had found them and chose another ten books.
Since I still had ten minutes before I had to meet up with Peter, I left my pile at the circulation desk and returned to the card catalog. This time I went searching for subject cards on blindness. Scanning the various headings I found several topics I wanted to explore and I scribbled down call numbers. Heading for the shelves, I managed to find another half-dozen books that I thought might help with the task at hand, including a nice, large book on learning Braille, complete with a Braille alphabet and practice pieces in Braille.
When I met up with Peter, he was holding a tiny pile of twenty books, including what looked like childrenís books. His jaw dropped when he saw the pile of thirty books in my arms.
"Geez, Len, did ya get every book on the subject?" he teased, grabbing a few from the top of my pile.
"Not quite. Believe me, this is more like normal for me. That last time we were here -- I checked out way less than Iíd normally get since I was taking them out on your card," I answered as we headed toward the circulation desk to check out.
"And this is normal?" he asked warily.
"Yup," I replied. He rolled his eyes and handed his card over to the circulation clerk.
When we got back to the Pad, everyone was awake. Micky related to me, via the link, how Mike had woken up in a panic. Luckily, Isa was in the room and she had calmed him down.
"Got enough books there?" Isa said in a tone very reminiscent of Mike as we carried our piles inside.
"Nope but itíll do for now," I said, trying very hard to keep a straight face.
"You expect to read all of those before theyíre due back?" she asked.
"Yup. Between Peter and me, I think we can get through all of these easily." I laid the pile down on the coffee table in the living room. Isa rolled her eyes and sat back down at the kitchen table next to Mike.
"What kind of books did you get?" Mike asked. He was sitting at the table, eating cornflakes, and spilling quite a bit on himself. Isa was helping him.
"Books on blindness. How to adapt, helping family members who are blind, learning Braille, that kind of stuff."
"Len and I are going to help you become independent Mike! Weíre going to read these, and learn, and teach you!" Peter said, beaming.
"Oh really?" Mikeís voice was dripping with sarcasm.
"Yes really. And before you even think about it, no, weíre not going to let you wallow in pity or guilt or anything else. Youíre gonna learn how to live until your sight returns. Weíre gonna help you. Whether you like it or not," I declared.
Last updated 13 NOV 98
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