Someone was knocking at the door. The knock itself suggested urgency, but carried with it the melodic cadence of a salesman’s hand, and the scratching sound that followed each knock suggested a shiny new wrist watch this person had acquired at some point in his or her career. In this way, the blind man was able to ascertain a few preconceptions about his visitor during his walk to the door. This was an important component to his survival in the city. Pei-Win had been tricked in this way before. When Pei-Win’s son purchased the house for his father, immediately there was trouble. In the first week Pei-Win had his television stolen by a mock repairman. Another time someone sneaked into the house while Pei-Win was talking to one visitor and a week later he found his entire record collection had disappeared.
Since he was not born a blind man, Pei-Win was not used to depending on his other senses. He didn’t harbor any anger or resentment toward the drunkard who ran into his car that Christmas Eve, and didn’t really mind being blind all that much, especially since it warranted more time with his son and more conversations over the phone with different family members.
Pei-Win was enjoying the quiet of blind life when this particular knock came. Tiny sweats found their way up through his skin while every neuron he possessed worked to pick up on any signs of treachery or bad intentions. At first the knock was slow and measured but gradually became more and more insistent until exploding into a frenzy of knocks and screams. The voice belonged to a young boy around the age of 11 and Pei-Win could hear other voices, further away, closing in on the other. Pei-Win opened the door and asked what was going on.
“Let me in they want to hurt me!” The voice itself was full of slurs and intensity, so out of intuition Pei-Win let the boy in by stepping aside, and after feeling the breeze float past, Pei-Win gave a severe look out of the door frame to hopefully ward away any trouble.
“What was that?” Pei-Win asked.
“They are mean kids from school. They chase me all the way home every day.”
“What for? Did you steal something?”
“No! I would never steal nothin! I don’t steal stuff, ever, I just wanted to go to school like normal and they always pick on me and call me Robot Ears.”
“Why do they call you robot ears?”
“Because,” Pei-Win could hear the boy fiddle with something. A moment later the boy put something in his hand. Pei-Win felt a curved piece of plastic with several facets attached to it.
“I wear hearing aids. I was in the car with my dad when he got in a car accident. I hit my head pretty hard. We were on our way to grandma’s house for Christmas.”
Pei-Win’s heart sank. He felt an inclination to ask which road led to grandma’s house but it occurred to him that the answer would lead to further complication and the possibility of being ‘discovered’ by the boy who would no doubt look at Pei-Win as a villain. The old man made his way to the cupboard and managed to find the only article of food that the boy would potentially appreciate. It was a pack of sugar cookies Pei-Win had kept to manage his diabetes. He put the cookies on the table and Pei-Win could hear the crumpling of plastic that meant the boy accepted his offer.
“You should call your father and have him come get you.” Pei-Win insisted.
The boy must have nodded because Pei-Win didn’t hear any response. He gave the phone to the child and waited for the strange, inevitable meeting that would follow. For a moment Pei-Win considered the string of circumstances that brought the boy to his door, but then again stranger things have happened, and it felt good to be connected to the world again. Pei-Win prepared some tea and took a seat at the dining room table. He could hear the crunching of gravel beneath tires nearing his driveway. A moment later, someone was knocking at the door.