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Two Blind Men and a Fool

by Sherman Smith

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Two Blind Men and a Fool: synopsis

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 52: Bubble Naked

Earl waited behind the curtain to be introduced. Not that he needed an introduction, most of the gals who frequented the bar at this early hour were regulars. He fidgeted with his wig, which didn’t quite seem to want to fall into place. He had been working on a new novelty tune and ran the lyrics through his head.

One night farmer Brown,
Was takin’ the air,
Locked up the barnyard
With the greatest of care
Down in the henhouse...

Maybe he should throw this one away to caution. It was cute but stupid; maybe he could jazz it up a bit.

There ain’t nobody here but us chickens
There ain’t nobody here at all
So calm yourself,
And stop your fuss
There ain’t nobody here but us,
We chickens tryin’ to sleep...

“Earl, you’ve got a phone call,” the bar’s owner whispered in his ear. At the same time the curtain began to part.

#8220;Ladies, and those of you who wish you were men, here’s our favorite man, Earl Crier. Trust me girls, there are not enough Earls to go around.” He clutched his boss’s hand who then motioned for the curtain to be closed.

“Earl, you OK?”

“No. No one I know has a phone, so who the hell is calling me, and why? The show will have to wait. Take me to the phone, and don’t stop to flirt with anyone along the way,” Earl demanded.

Earl put the phone to his ear. Who the hell even knows I’m here? “This is Earl.” He recognized Brooks’ voice right away.

“Earl, it’s Brooks, guess who’s in town?” He did not give Earl a chance to guess. “Stella. It seems she’s got fliers all over town that say that she’s looking to hire a blind bartender.” He chuckled as if they were actually old friends. “And that ain’t me, brother.”

“Brooks, how the hell did you find me? Where are you? Never mind, where’s Stella?”

* * *

Earl caught a cab, paying extra to break all the speed limits in getting him to the address Brooks had given him. He had never felt so nervous and hadn’t bothered to change out of costume.

“Is this the place?” the cabbie asked.

“How the hell should I know?” Earl answered a little tersely. “What’s the sign say?”

“The only sign I can see is a closed sign in the window. You sure this is the place?”

Earl fell back into the seat like a deflated balloon. He must have gotten the wrong address and he had not asked for Brooks’ number back. He slammed the end of his cane against the far window in the cab. “Damn, not again!”

“Hey, watch it, Mac, my boss will bust my balls if you break that window. OK, so you got the wrong address, you got another, or shall I take you back?” The cabbie snickered a little as he eyed Earl’s costume and wig through the rearview mirror.

“No,” Earl answered without an apology. “Just help me to the front door of the place, and we’ll see if anyone’s home.”

Stella lay submerged in the bath in her upstairs apartment above the bar. The water just right, the steam warm, the bubbles soft. She wondered for the millionth time if she had been a damn fool for buying the bar. Odds were that she would never find Earl, and without him it made no sense.

She had fixed it up, adding a woman’s touch. The bar was stocked, the tables ready, each complete with a bowl of peanuts in the shell. A brand new baby grand piano sat ready in the center of the room. But the place was as empty as the day she had bought it. She reached for the glass of Scotch she had sitting by the side of the tub. She took a sip and closed her eyes.

I love you for sentimental reasons.
I hope you do believe me,
I’ll give you my heart.

She often remembered his voice. The way he sang. Sometimes it seemed so real.

I love you, and you alone were meant for me.
Please give your loving heart to me
And say we’ll never part.

Real? Her eyes opened wide as she sat bolt upright, her glass splashing into the tub. Real! It’s Earl. How...? She splashed out of the tub with little concern for the floor around her. She grabbed a too-small towel. Wrapped in a blanket of bubbles and not much else, she rushed to the top of the landing. “Earl?”

I think of you every morning,
Dream of you every night.

Stella took the steps, hesitantly, one at a time, afraid that she might wake up from a dream. At the bottom, the door open, she saw him as he sat at the piano in a sequined tux and a strange Victorian snow white wig. She brought her hand to her mouth to cover what started out to be a giggle but came out a whoop instead.

Darling, I’m never lonely,
I love you for sentimental reasons.

She did not see the cabbie standing just inside the door as she approached the piano, barefoot and bubble naked.

“Oh, me gosh.” Surprised and embarrassed, the cabbie turned to leave, but not before taking one last peek.

I hope you do believe me,
I’ve given you my heart.

Stella stepped behind Earl and wrapped her arms around him. He felt her nakedness and the wet of bubbles and leaned back to meet her kiss. “Now that is one fine way to dress for dinner.” he said as their lips met.

Proceed to Chapter 53...

Copyright © 2013 by Sherman Smith

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