The Indian

Stairs. I have a problem with them, and according to the internet, I’m not the only epileptic with stairs’ issues. I periodically blink out like a faulty battery and tumble down them. And yes, it hurts. I fell down the stairs in front of my home a month ago. I didn’t fall asleep. My attention didn’t wane. I seizured out. Blinked ta ta good-bye for a split second, but you need that minuscule amount of time to put one foot in front of the other. I sailed off into space, a weightless astronaut, until gravity kicked in. I busted my ass, my elbow, my hand, and my pride.

Escaltors. Yeah. Apparently I’m moving on up. Literally. And at the MacArthur BART station. I didn’t go down once yesterday, but three times in a row on the up escalator. My hand and knee looks like a velociraptor snack. The seizures’ aftermath causes my vision to birth black helixes and brilliant white lighted flashing scotomas. My brain likes to finger feel the fuzz in the cerebral cavity, the plus or minus of extra electricity. Everything in my brain wants to load itself into an espresso machine, squirt out the snoot, making a strange squealing noise into a paper cup, drink itself up, shit itself into a toilet, taking the load out to sea and leave me standing on the curb with nothing. Nothing. So, I took the shell of what was myself to the bus stop, and waited for the damnable 57.

This is where it all gets funky, okay funkier because I am only a shell. My brain drifted off to sea and took some of my vision with it. I feel someone walk up behind me. A small Indian man with sunglasses. You know the kind. Don’t tell me you don’t because I know you do. They are the sunglasses that are big enough to cover a cow’s head. That voice in my head says, “macular degeneration.”

The Indian man says in a thick accent, “You can help me? Mine is macular degeneration. This is the 57 stop?”

“Yeah.” My mouth runs without my brain as it often does. My brain hails a passing cruise ship, boards it, and is standing at the poolside bar, drinking a strawberry daiquiri.

The small Indian man shows me a paper with grossly large print. He is going to the Lion’s Center for the Blind on Opal Street. He says, “God has sent you to me today to help.” I look at him but I can’t see his eyes. His glasses are too dark and cover most of his face. He smiles but my vision is fucked. One second he looks sincere and the next, sinister.

I want to tell him “I gave at the office” or wax philosophical Nietzsche and say, “God is dead.” I need my brain to think of all my Indian friends, their parents and grandparents, extended families and green cards. I call on my brain to think of cholla bhatura and rhiata. I try to think of the names of other Indian food but the names won’t come to me. The names are bobbing around in the middle of the sea inside the drunken stupor of a daiquiri. I ask the little man, “Where are your people?”

He replies, “I live alone. I come from Fremont.”

I think he’s lying. “Look, when the 57 pulls up, ask our driver where Opal Street is because I can’t think where it is.” He moves in closer to me, like a dog, my dog. Bus after bus roars by us. Each time he asks me if it is “our” bus.

He says, “I travel this way,” and he points at a bus, then the BART rails overhead. “Not this,” and he points at a decked out yellow Hummer thundering by like an African elephant.

“I can’t travel that way either.” I say.

He looks puzzled.

I try again, rejecting whatever sympathy card he just played on me. I play mine on him. “Yeah, I had a botched brain tumor removal. I can’t drive.”

The 57’s arrival curtails our conversation. He waves me in front of him, but I wave him back. He boards and doesn’t say a damn word to the driver.

“Hey,” I yell as I sit down, “you didn’t ask the driver where Opal Street is.” The Indian man fishes in a blue cloth bag. He ignores me until I yell at him a second time. He withdraws a blue box from his cloth bag and says, “You will ask the driver to stop at Opal?”

The bus driver talks to me slowly like I’m a tard, “Two, more, blocks. I will stop the bus for you.”

As I sit back down, the Indian man looks at a tiny hearing aid with a shiny dot in the box, but I don’t know if it’s part of the hearing aid or part of my seizure hallucination. The Indian man is looking for something too. He sees it on the floor of the bus. He puts his finger on it, and when that spot of trash doesn’t budge, he puts his finger on another spot on the floor. I watch the shiny dot in the hearing aid box slip to one side while the Indian man messes with garbage on the bus floor.

“Opal,” the driver yells. The driver screams at people boarding the bus. “Stop. I’m off boarding disabled. This is YOUR stop.” She means me. She remembers my disabled bus pass. Joy. Nothing like telling the whole bus. Thankfully my brain with the embarrassment module is face down in a splat of strawberry vomit somewhere on a cruise ship, but not here.

I turn to the Indian man, “You have to go. NOW.” I grab the Indian man’s arm, and when I do, I see glitter from the hearing aid box spring high into the air like an Olympic gymnast and float to the nether reaches of bus-dom.

The back of the bus yells ghetto, “Get off already.” I take the man to the front of the bus and push him out the door. The driver yells, “Two blocks backwards,” but the Indian doesn’t acknowledge from the sidewalk. Instead, he clutches his blue cloth bag to his chest with his big sunglasses looking to the right and left, and back again.

“Fuck,” I say and push past the people boarding, stepping off the bus onto the sidewalk with the Indian. Bike messengers and crack addicts mutually inhabit this part of 40th Street. We walk two blocks backward and Opal Street doesn’t exist. We are lost. Go ahead. Say it. You’re thinking it anyway. Laugh. Laugh out loud. Make fun of the disabled. Lord knows, I do it. It’s the blind leading the blind.

The little old Indian man loses it, freaking out on me in the middle of a side street as we cross it. He hollers some crazy ass shit in his mother tongue, screaming loud and long, attracting a crack addict. The crack addict is big and black with spider veins and blood shot eyes. I finger my switchblade, rolling it over in my jacket pocket. I tell the addict we are cool, and I know my way, but the Indian man screams bull. The addict says to take the side street two blocks in. Two blocks walk in here. He would go in here. Right here where he is staggering.

“Yes, yes,” the Indian man agrees.

The crack addict takes off his coat and waves it like a flag on the fourth of July while the Indian gestures, dance like. The Indian fans my face with a piece of paper. I see big phone numbers, the size of New York City. I grab the Indian’s arm like you grab your three year old after he has thrown spaghettiO’s all over the kitchen wall. I snatch the Indian’s paper and dial the number of the Lions Blind Center. The woman on the other end of the line says she doesn’t know where we are. I scream at her to find out. She locates us, giving us directions that dissolve the crack addict.

I tell the Indian man this. “Get out of the street. Calm down. Don’t say anything else to anyone, including me. The bus driver put us off at the wrong stop. We are four blocks from where we need to be.” And then I lie. I make shit up, stuff I have no idea whether it’s true or not. “Lion’s Center is happy we called. They will be happy to see you when you get there. They are holding your appointment for you. Everything is fine.” We walk arm in arm down the street like an old married couple. We see Opal Street and the big lions guarding the building. I deliver the little Indian man to the blind center.

The receptionist says to him, “We are so happy to see you. What time is your appointment?”

He turns and hugs me. “God,” is all he says.

I want to tell him to tell him to fuck off, but I go in the ladies room instead and pee. When I come out of the restroom, he is digging away in that blue cloth bag of his. I leave him like that.


3 Responses to “The Indian”

  1. You know you’re gonna go to Heaven and God-da isn’t going to ask you to climb the golden stairs, she’s just gonna wisk you up because you’re getting the Golden Pass for taking care of Indian man with his blue cloth bag. You is special!

  2. Oh, I like this. For a moment I thougjht I was next to you and the Indian Man. Good stuff, CD.

  3. Thanks AZ, but I wouldn’t be so sure about that. I think I tore up his hearing aid. I was thinking he probably heard some curse words but then probably not because he didn’t have his hearing aid in.

    Thanks Steve.

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