Seeing the End

In Journaling by Allison Byxbe

This is part two of What She Saw

Wait a minute,” the woman with the cigarette said as she stamped out the butt under her foot. All eyes swung around to her. “You can’t just lock a person up for standing here. He hadn’t done anything wrong.”

“Nothing wrong?” the cleric shot back. “Why do you think he’s reduced to begging on the street corner? No one to blame but himself. Or maybe ill fortune of having you as his mom.”

Second police officer butted in – “C’mon, Cheryl. You’re his mom – you tell us what happened if he’s not just robbing us blind.”

Cheryl pulled another cigarette out of her back pocket, rolling it between her fingers. “Does it look like he’s still breastfeeding at my boob? Why don’t you ask him what happened. He’s old enough to answer for himself.”

Anne with her arthritic fingers inched closer to the modern day miracle of a man, straining to hear his voice scratch out, dusty as the lawn mower that sat buried in the back of her shed waiting for someone to come cut the grass to a respectable height again. “Think what you want,” Carl spoke quietly, his eyes locked on Jessie, the man standing next to him. “All I know is I can see. Plain and simple.”

Jessie didn’t break gaze with Carl, just steadily studied him without a word. Anne studied Jessie, wondering who he was and what exactly he had to do with this whole strange situation. Not that it really mattered to her. She was just happy that Carl could see. Maybe now he’d have half a chance to do better for himself.

The officers and the cleric looked on with thinly veiled contempt, clearly convinced that Carl just wasn’t willing to own that he’d been caught. That the sunglasses and blindness had just been a rouse for sympathy money.  That he’d been defrauding gullible, naïve people like Anne who just felt bad for him.

Everyone was sort of at a stale mate and Cheryl had smoked her last cigarette, so she walked over to her beat up Buick, swung the door open, slung herself haphazardly into the driver’s seat and turned over the cranky old car. She didn’t say bye or see or you later or even really look at Carl at all. She just pulled out onto the road and honked her horn a couple times as she drove off.

Anne was dismayed. How could a mom just up and leave her son hung out to dry like that? Who are these people and what is their problem, Anne wondered to herself. That’s when she decided she was going to invite Carl and Jessie to go eat lunch with her. Time to politely excuse themselves from this situation.

“Gentleman,” Anne said rather authoritatively, with her crooked fingers stretched out towards the officers, “If you’ll kindly take these cuffs off my friend, here, we’ll be out of your hair in no time.” At first the officers just kind of stared at her, but realizing she wasn’t kidding, the pudgier one moved awkwardly towards Carl, unlocked the cuffs, and then stepped back to let him pass.

Jessie stared intently at the officers and the cleric, watching them shift uncomfortably on their feet. No one was quite sure what to do until Carl and Jessie started moving towards Anne’s car. Jessie looked long at the men remaining and then ducked his head into Anne’s car.

As Anne passed the officers, she noticed a slight gray haze forming over one officer’s eyes. And then she noticed the same with the other two officers eyes. Startled but thinking she was just seeing things, she kept moving towards her own car, walking backwards. As she passed the cleric, she noticed that his eyes were now greyed out, too. And each of the men standing around began shouting, touching their eyes wildly, not understanding the blindness that was covering their eyes.