Peter and I sat down on the black chaise right after breakfast, piling the books on the table next to it, and starting to sift through the pile. Peter took over all the books on adaptation and the familyís role. I took the task of learning Braille. Pulling out a beginnerís book, I closed my eyes and "read" the alphabet.
"Pete? Len?" came a voice. Neither one of us noticed. I had practically shut down my senses to concentrate on the Braille letters while Peter was just plain engrossed in his book.
"Pete? Len?" came another voice.
"Peter!!! Len!!!!" came a whiny voice.
LEN!!!!!! Micky screamed through the mental link. I jumped, dropping the book.
I looked up and saw Micky, Mike, and Davy at the bandstand. Mike was fiddling with the tuner on his 12-string. Micky was tuning his snare, trying to hold back a grin, and Davy was on his hands and knees looking for something -- probably a maraca or two, I thought.
"Peter?" I said gently, sticking my hand in the middle of the book he was reading. He looked up at me, questions written all over his face. "Rehearsal time."
"Okay. Let me finish this paragraph." He looked back down and I saw his lips move as he read a few sentences, then grabbed a ribbon from his lap and slid it into the book.
"Whereíd those come from?" I asked as we moved over to the bandstand.
"Last party we had -- before you got here, that is. I saved the ribbons from all the balloons since they were so pretty. They make good bookmarks too!" Peter said, beaming, dimples showing. He grabbed the banjo and handed the bass to me.
We were going to work on a new piece Peter had written, with Mike on 12-string on usual, Peter on banjo, me on bass, and Micky and Davy doing their usual percussion.
"Okay Mike, let me play your part for you so you can get an idea of what it sounds like," Peter said, taking charge for once.
Mike nodded and slid off the 12-string, handing it to Peter. Peter shoved the banjo in my hands before taking it. He slipped it over his head and carefully adjusted the strap. He slowly played through the song once, then twice, then a third time at tempo. Then he returned the strap to its previous length and gave it back to Mike.
"Try it once Mike," he said.
"Okay good buddy." Mike slowly played through the song . . . and messed up on the third chord change. Cursing, he slid his fingers up and down the neck of the guitar and counted the frets, then tried again . . . messing up on the fifth change this time. He spat out an invective and counted the frets again, then played through to the chorus before playing a chord that was completely wrong.
Cursing he pulled the guitar off his shoulder and tried to carefully prop it up against the amp, but it fell. He bent down, caressing the guitar as if it were his child, making sure there was no damage. Then he stalked off to the beach. Peter made a move to go after him, but I held him back.
"He needs some time alone, Peter. Let him walk a while. You know how Mike can be a perfectionist when it comes to music," I said gently. He nodded and put his banjo down, heading to the couch and returning to his book.
I sighed and returned to mine. I have no idea what Micky and Davy decided to do, as I was quickly engrossed in the Braille lessons but when Micky dragged me away for lunch, I saw egg yolks all over the living room and Davy with a washcloth trying to clean some up.
"What did you two do for the past few hours?" I asked as I sat down at the table.
"Um . . . target practice?" Micky said, while placing a plate of spaghetti in front of me.
"With what?" Peter asked.
"Egg yolks," Micky mumbled.
"I cainít leave you all alone for five minutes, can I?" Mikeís distinctive drawl answered from the door.
"Feeling better?" I asked gently as I jumped up and led him to the table.
"A little. But a walk isnít going to give me back my sight, nor my music." He sighed, then smelled the spaghetti. "Is that spaghetti I smell?"
"Sure is!" Micky said. He placed a fork in Mikeís hand. "Dig in!"
"I have an idea for helping with the music part," Peter said softly, "but first you need to learn Braille."
"Why?" Mike asked.
"Trust me. Besides, it will help you when it comes to getting dressed in the morning. We can label your hangers with Braille so you know whatís what."
"Well okay, shotgun. You gonna teach me after lunch?"
"No, I am. Peterís been reading books on how to adapt. Iíve been learning Braille. Itís not that hard, actually. If youíre ready we can start after lunch," I said.
"Sounds good," Mike muttered. The rest of lunch was eaten in silence.
"No, thatís a B," I corrected. "But you got everything else right."
"Yeah but I still made a mistake," Mike growled.
"Eh, so what? Nobodyís perfect. Youíll get it." I sighed and rubbed my temples where I felt a headache trying to take hold. It was nearly dinnertime and we still had a ways to go. But progress had been made -- Mike was slowly chipping through a childrenís book Iíd checked out in Braille and in regular edition.
"In a hundred years maybe," he snarled, his temper flaring.
I put an arm around his shoulder and kissed his forehead. "Youíll get it. I think itís time to show you what Peterís worked up upstairs."
"What has Peter done?" Mike asked, setting the book aside.
"Iíll show you." I took his hand and floated us upstairs, bypassing the stairs. I led him to his closet. "Weíre at your closet. Grab a hanger and try to figure out whatís different."
He leaned forward and snagged a shirt. He felt the shirt, frowning.
"No, the hanger. Somethingís different with the hanger," I prompted.
He slid his fingers over the hanger, then his jaw dropped when he found the Braille. He read off "Black B D." Turning to me, he asked, "Black B D? Whatís that supposed to mean?"
"Black button-down, as opposed to your black Nehru. Thereís only so much room there, ya know," I said. "You got the B right this time!"
"So I did," he mused, putting the hanger back.
"We labeled all your hangers so you can dress yourself," Peter said, grinning ear to ear.
"Now the only problem is someoneís gonna have to hang all my stuff and only you know Braille," he said, pointing at me.
"Peterís learning. Heíll have it down soon."
"Youíre still gonna have to help Ďtill he learns. Itís a good thing it wasnít you or Micky that was blinded. Youíd never be able to find the right clothes!" he drawled with a tiny smile, gesturing to take in the whole room, which was as usual a mass of strewn clothes and papers.
"Oh shaddup!" I said, but I was smiling. He had to be feeling better enough to tease Mick and me.
"DINNER!!!!" came Mickyís excited cry from downstairs.
"Man, can he get any louder?" Mike snorted.
"Yes," I said, deadpan. He turned to me with a surprised look on his face.
"Go ahead Len, Iíll bring him down," Peter said with a wink.
I nodded and floated downstairs. Looking around I saw that the egg yolks were all gone.
"Hey Len. We got burgers tonight -- hope you donít mind. Dave and I had to spend the whole afternoon cleaning up our target practice," Micky greeted me.
"Good thing Mike is blind or youíd be without a head right now," I said, sitting down.
"I know. I got you your usual, cheeseburger, ketchup only, large fries, vanilla shake. Come and find it!"
I blew him a raspberry and smacked him with a field as Davy chuckled and handed me a plate.
"Here ya go luv. Donít mind Ďim, I think the cleaning chemicals got to Ďim."
"What chemicals, thatís his normal personality," I retorted, digging in.
"Whatís this about it being a good thing Iím blind?" Mike asked from behind me.
"Um . . . uh . . . whatever could you mean Mike?" Micky said nervously.
"The evil duo managed to splatter egg yolk all over the living room this morning. Itís all cleaned up now, though," I said.
"It had better be," Mike growled. "No more of that, yíhear?"
"Yes Daddy," Davy and Micky said, heads bowed.
Last updated 13 NOV 98
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