The Blindman's Hat

by Bernard Cohen

Two Extracts

blindman's cover
From Chapter 4

Muffy: Running, running. What a wonderful world this is, with all its stairways and underpasses. So many people running and so many others walking quite quickly. There are friendly people to run with and unfriendly people to run from. There are indifferent people to run around or past. Also, there are wheeled vehicles of unpredictable speed. There are innumerable large, static objects whose presence creates corners around which to run. There are slight downhill gradients where your hind legs catch your forelegs and there are slight uphill gradients where they do not. Sometimes you go so fast your ears turn inside out and sometimes you slow down and shake your head and they pop back the right way.

New York could be taken apart and put back together so easily. The buildings and the sounds. Everywhere in the city sounds come: oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh from one apartment, hah! hah! hah! hah! hah! from another, ooooOOOOoooo ... ooooOOOOoooo ... ooooOOOOoooo from over on Lafayette, hheeehheeehheeeh-heeeshhh up there, all adding to the vowelly-aspirative atmosphere of the great metropolis, the overall hoiaeuuioaeoiueaiouohieoiuaeheueoiuoiheuioueohieoiuaeoiehaueu that is this incredible city, the accumulation of people breathing in a happy, excited manner as they run with or chase after the dogs.

Steve and Eisie chase after us and we are chased by them. We flag a taxi.

'Y'unnerstan I haveta surcharge ya thirty per cent for thuh dawg,' the driver greets us. 'I'd prefer not ta, but I haveta.'

We nod rapidly. He has initiative and business nous. He unnerstans about supply and demand. This is good. He probly oughta starta newspaper.

'Go, go,' I urge him.

'Lose the creeps following,' says Dida.

'I'll do my best, lady.'

He fails, perhaps because his initiative is limited to ripping off tourists or perhaps because taxi drivers operate best with a destination in mind. If the latter is the reason, our pursuers give their driver a far easier task: 'follow that car'. Dida's Plan B is to direct randomly — left, left, left, right, straight, right, left. Eisie and Steve sit in the back seat of their cab with their wallets at the ready, feeling pretty smug as the two cars creep through the heavy Manhattan traffic. I realise it's the first time I've seen a car chase from the perspective of the chasees. We cannot escape because our role is not properly culturally delineated.