An unrevised, unedited, first draft of a story that shouldn’t be told


Even though the lamp was turned on the room, was dim. The storyteller, looked at us through his wrinkled face. His eyes met mine, then my sister’s then mine, then hers again.


“What would you like to hear next?” he breathed.

“Whatever you would like to say,” I hear my sister reply.

“I do have something to say,” he begins, “But I am not sure that it is what you want to hear.” His voice has an odd nature to it, one moment it makes you feel comfortable, the next, naked.


“The rich old man who once lived, and still lives, had a house near the ocean. On lonely Saturdays he’d walk, with a limp, on the beach and feel the warmth of the sun. His father was rich as well. And you could tell, and we all could tell, that the rich man has never known hard work. I feel like I’m being too vague here; I mean to say the rich man was born rich, and if the laws of nature were to be followed he will die rich as well.”


“In any case, the rich man would feel the warmth of the sun, but he couldn’t, alas, quite see the sun. What I mean here is that the rich man was also blind, and it is perhaps a good thing that he is rich because had he been born to a different father he would, excuse my brashness, have been left on the side of the street to die.”


The light flickers and I feel that the night has overcome this room too gradually for us to notice. Had the room not been dim I would not have been able to discern the difference in the color of the sky.


“The rich man had many servants, in fact he had more servants than he needs. He had more servants than he knew of, and more servants than his father has hired.” I could feel a certain tone in his voice. Is it melancholy?


“He had many servants, and they would see to his every need. On lonely Saturdays they would hold his hand and walk him to the beach. On one lonely Saturday the ocean was too agitated for the old man to walk by it and so the servants opened bags of imported sand and emptied them in the old man’s backyard, and in the light of that August sun the old man walked, thinking he was by the ocean.”


“Did he not hear the sound of the ocean missing?” I ask, very annoyed.


“His servants would tell him that the ocean was calm on that particular day.” I wonder if the storyteller could perceive the irony. I don’t think he could.


“When the servants noticed it is easier to walk the man in his backyard, they made a habit of it, and soon the old man would never leave his house. And even though he was being tricked and deceived the old man was content. But one day the servants noticed the old man had more money than he could ever spend, and with no children all those riches would go to waste. So the servants bought things for themselves. They bought golden bracelets and leather jackets, but nothing of material could satisfy their greed. The servants needed to feel alive, they needed to feel powerful.”


“And so the servants bought some guns and they went into the nearby woods and started hunting boar. And when the boar proved to be too easy the servants would go to a nearby town and steal a kid and they would release the kid into the nearby woods and they would chase him and hunt him down and kill him. And sometimes they’d bring back the bodies of boar and child and they would cut them into pieces and they would lose track of which piece belonged to which beast and they would start a fire on the sands in the backyard and they would have a roast and the blind man would have a feast and he would think he’s eating boar but every now and then a piece of meat has a funny taste.”


“My God!” my sister is visibly annoyed. She has to leave the room for a while. I use that time to make myself a sandwich as the storyteller rocks back and forth in his chair.


“And on many days the servants would buy whores for the old man, but once or twice they brought an unwilling maiden. After all, the man could not see the lashes on her back or the tears in her eyes. After that, they’d take the maiden and have their way with her in a room on the other side of the house where the sound barely escapes.”


“The servants would steal children, they would kill men, they would rape women, and the old man would not know. He was content to be living as rich as a man of his age could possibly be. And so was life and life was so, until on some moonless night a garbed traveller arrived at the old man’s residence. He had a certain quality about him, as if he was there but not really there. His voice was raspy but confident, his skin was dark.”


The storyteller became silent. He was a bit too old to be telling stories.


“The traveller entered the house and asked to stay the night. The old man being a good host, and also being lonely (and are the two things really different?), welcomed him. They sat at night by the fireplace, one eying the fire, and the other soaking in its heat. They sat and were silent until the old man thought that the traveller has left the room and it was then that the traveller broke the silence. ‘You look at me, but you don’t really look at me old man.’ The man replied, ‘Alas I cannot see. Could you not tell that I am blind? I was born in darkness, and if a man has ever had an ailment that is mine.’”


“Here the traveller became silent again, and for the longest time it seemed as if he had succumbed to sleep. Then he spoke again, ‘your ailment is not your blindness old man. Open your eyes and tell me what you see.’”


“ ‘I see nothing’, ‘Look harder’. The old man was visibly startled like a man realizing his whole word was a lie. ‘Is that how fire looks like?’ he muttered, looking at the fireplace; there was a tear in his eye. ‘My whole life, I couldn’t see the things I’ve looked at, but with one word you have made me look and behold. And now I remember seeing things I dare not recount, all that time I’ve seen but haven’t really seen! All that madness, all that evil, how was I so blind? Tell me stranger, please tell me.’ But the traveller had left.”


There was a tear in the storyteller’s eyes.


“Sounds like bullshit,” I mean to say, but now that the storyteller was deep into his story, there was no point in interrupting him.


“And so the old man called upon his servants, and with his loudest voice he yelled, ‘Murderers, fools! How could you do such evils!’ And one of the servants speaks meekly, ‘ What evils do you speak of?’ The old man replies, ‘ the atrocities I’ve seen with my own eyes!’ That same servant answers, ‘but… you are blind!’ ‘And now I can see, and I can see that you are evil and I will no longer stand for that.’ Another servant steps forward and speaks more forcefully, ‘ I beg to differ sir: you truly are blind.’”


“With that he signaled for two other servants to grab hold of the old man, he pulled out a knife from his pant’s pocket, and he drew it close to his face. ‘If we say you are blind, then you are truly blind.” With one hand he held the eyelid open, with the other he dug the knife slowly, systematically into the eye socket. He turned the knife and loosened the spot then he pulled plucking the eye out with its veins and blood. The old man screamed, as the servant started with the second eye.”


“Now the old man is blind again. And so he lives like he always has,” the storyteller continues. I, now weary of such insanity ask, “And what of the servants? Why does the man keep servants who are evil, who made him blind?”


“He does not remember what has transpired on that day. For him the traveller and his words are just a distant dream. He never had eyes. He feels a slow nagging pain now and then, where his eyes are supposed to be. The servants even administer some medicines and ointments in hope of stopping the pain. The medicine never works, but the old man thinks it does and so the pain disappears. And who’s to say that the medicine never works then?”


I walk home with my sister. She is obviously bothered. “What’s wrong?” I ask, truly concerned. The street is dark, but the street lamps light our way. We cross a path that is not illuminated by the street lamps. We keep on walking on the main street.


“That story, do you think it’s real?” she asks.


I laugh. “Of course not my dear sister, it is just a story. How can someone who’s blind suddenly gain sight? How can someone forget such atrocities committed against him and against others? Of course not, my dear sister, it is just a story.”


Even though the street lamps were turned on, the street was dim.


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