Two Blind Men and a Fool
by Sherman Smith
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Earl Crier wakes screaming from nightmares in which his ship sinks in the Arctic in World War II. He has survived but is now blind. He takes refuge in music and in the kindness of Stella. Meanwhile, other veterans return, and their most serious wounds are not always visible.
Chapter 16: Lift Every Voice
“Get back to your rooms,” Mann demanded as he stepped off the elevator. “The day room is closed until further notice. If you give me any trouble, I’ll have it converted to a staff lounge.” He grabbed hold of the chain giving it a solid tug to emphasis his point.
The cowed patients remained expectantly silent. Mann’s wrist had caught in the chain, pulling him off his feet. The heavy doors fell back with a thunderous crash.
Ivory was sitting in the middle of the room. As the doors collapsed, he began to strum his guitar and sing an old protest song by James Wilden Johnson:
Lift every voice and sing
till earth and heaven ring,
ring with the harmonies of liberty.
Let our rejoicing rise...
Mann, pride and flesh bruised, sat up, holding his wrist and raged, “Elroy!”
The song was contagious. Patients gathered in the hall joined those inside:
We have come over a way that with tears have been watered;
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last,
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
The sarge rose menacingly above Mann as Ivory struggled from his wheelchair to stand on his one good leg. “I’m no wait-and-see patient, you sorry bastard. Ship me back to Oak Knoll where I can get this leg fixed and get on with life.”
For a moment it seemed to Ivory that the sarge’s apparition had just given him a conspiratorial wink as Mann stumbled and fell once more.
Copyright © 2013 by Sherman Smith