Excerpt from Smudge

Scene Fifteen: Denise’s Cane Lesson

Freddie is standing with her cane instructor.

Denise: Using a cane requires a whole new focus for movement than you used as a sighted person. The focus is lower, you gather information with your kinaesthetic sense, your ears, and your residual vision. To start, can I see your current technique with the cane?

Freddie tries to walk with the cane.

Okay, so you’ve got no technique. Don’t even bother with the

ID cane. I’m thinking a 48 inch Louis Hebert, with a roller tip and a golf club grip.

Freddie: I’m thinking the same thing Denise.

Denise: Good. Ok. Starting with your grip.  Hold the cane in front of you and shake hands with it. Shake hands with your cane.

Scene Sixteen: Outdoors Again

Freddie walks down the street with her sunglasses on, tapping her cane rhythmically from side to side.

Freddie: Legally blind, criminally sighted.  Blind, blind drunk, blind faith, blind as a bat, blindfold, Venetian blinds, Helen Keller, Stevie Wonder, John Milton, Oedipus, Three Mice, professional German Shepherds, piano tuners, piano tuners, piano tuners.

Freddie bumps into someone on the street.

Goth Girl: Watch it crap face.

Freddie: Sorry, I –

Goth Girl: I didn’t know!

Freddie: What?

Goth Girl: You don’t see?

Freddie: A bit.

Goth Girl: Are you blind?

Freddie: Partially. Mostly.

Goth Girl: (To her Friend)  Is she blind?

Friend of Goth Girl: She just told you. She should know.

Goth Girl: I didn’t know! Here, have some cigarettes.

Freddie: No, thank you.

Goth Girl: Here’s three. I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I’m not a bad person.

Freddie: I’m sure you’re not.

Goth Girl: I’m sorry. You’re nice.

A man comes up to Freddie.

Man: Giss yer blind, eh.

Freddie: Partially.

Man: I’d help the blind. Honestly I would. Honestly.

Freddie: I’m sure you would.

Man: Sorry. (The man describes the building across the street)
Eeet’s a brownish beeeelding witz layters on eet. (as they cross the street)  Green now.

They walk.

Streetcar tracks – streetcar tracks. (describing the building as they approach) Eet has white layters…gold treem and eeet say: Star Boooo – Star Buck. For coffee –

Freddie turns to elude the man.

Man: – tea and things like donut –

At the corner, a woman approaches Freddie at the crossing.

Heroine Woman: Oh, I’ll tell you when you can cross.

Freddie: That’s okay, I can handle traffic.

Heroine Woman: It’s still red, still red, still reeeeeeeeeeeeed- GREEN! Here, I’ll take you.

Freddie: No, it’s okay, I’m fine.

Heroine Woman: I can’t see very well, either. There’s a haematoma in my left eye. My boyfriend Jerry hit me upside the head. Okay about five feet from the curb, ready, two three one, STEP!

Freddie: Okay, I’m stopping for the streetcar now so I’ll just say ‘bye.

Heroine Woman: How did you know it was a streetcar stop?

Freddie: I can see sort of.

Heroine Woman: Can you see colour? My boyfriend says he’s colour blind, says he can’t do the laundry cause he’ll mix it up.

Freddie: I think he’s lying.

Heroine Woman: Can you tell what I look like?

Freddie: Nooo, because I can just sense auras.

Heroine Woman: What’s mine?

Freddie: Bubblegum. Take car of that eye.

An Old Man approaches.

Oldie: (Loud) God bless you.

Freddie: Thank you. God bless you.

Oldie: I delivered boxes to the CNIB for 49 years.

Freddie: Goodness.

Oldie: Wife worked there. Taught making fridge magnets.

Freddie: Well, goodness me.

Oldie: Couldn’t think of anything worse than what you’ve got.

Freddie: Well, maybe you’re not thinking hard enough.

Oldie: Eh?

Freddie: There’s death.

Oldie: Eh? God bless you.

Freddie: And bless God you and thank God this is my stop.

Scene Seventeen: Dining with My Girl

Freddie and Katherine are at a restaurant.

The entity appears behind the scrim, Freddie’s private shadow.

Freddie: So I’m walking here and some guy walks by and I ask him if there’s a variety store nearby. I don’t have my cane with me but of course there’s a store right behind me. So the guy probably thought I was a lunkhead. So I wander my way into the store and there’s all these tough gas station men in there and they’re wanting to help me. I kept saying no, then blankly staring in hopes of any toiletry section or Kleenex. Eventually I knew I had to ask the guy behind the counter. “Excuse me, do you have Tampax?” Dead silence. “Tampax, do you carry Tampax?”  “What’s Tampax?” “Tampax, Tampax tampons, in a small box?”  “Oh no, we don’t carry that sort of thing, but, um, we do have Certs!” (She starts laughing).

Katherine: They’ve finally got spicy Thai bundles on the menu.

Freddie: What am I gonna do with a packet of Certs? I’m not sure they’ll work very well.

Katherine: Do you want a salad?  I think I’m going to have a salad tonight.

Freddie: Ah, yeah, I’ll have the unscented breath mints with the
flushable applicator, please?

Katherine: The goat cheese salad is $6.50 and the pear salad is $6.25.

Freddie: Ha ha ha. (Pause) Well, I thought it was funny.

Katherine: Oh rats, the Thai Bundles are made with peanut oil. I can’t have that. Oh and they’ve taken my favourite bean dip off the menu.

Freddie: Well, that’s just terrible. Does it devastate you?

Katherine: No, I’ll find an alternative. It wouldn’t be very smart if I didn’t. It would be senseless not to eat just because what I wanted was no longer available.

Freddie: I think I’ll have the Thai Bundles.

Katherine: That’s nice of you to order something that would put me into surgery.

Freddie: Since when did you have your sense of humour surgically removed?
Katherine: I did not have my sense of humour surgically removed.

Freddie: Well, you’re a real Thai bundle of laughs tonight.

Katherine: You know, strangely enough, hearing stories about you wandering around without your cane somehow doesn’t strike my funny bone.

Freddie: Well, that wasn’t the point of my story.

Katherine: Well, that’s what I got out of it.

Freddie: It’s a funny story about buying Tampax!

Katherine: Yeah, it’s especially funny that you didn’t have your cane. Ha! Maybe next time you go out for toilet paper, you’ll get hit by a bus. That’ll be hilarious!

Freddie: Well, you know what? I guess I’m just a big suck. Why would I want to leave my cane behind? I should love using it, it’s just a big white stick. I’m sure everyone has one! Sure! Hey, why don’t you go out with a big cashew on your head and a sign that says “I’m allergic to peanut oil”?!

Katherine: That is so ridiculous. (They begin to laugh together)

Freddie: I just have this clear image of you with a big nut coming out of your head.

Katherine: Yeah, I could hang around with coconut and I’d be trail mix.

Freddie: Ha!

Katherine: Wipe your right arm, you’ve just got a bit of butter smeared on it.

Scene Eighteen: Encore Diner.

In the restaurant.

Katherine and Freddie are at a table.

The Entity is still with them.

 Katherine: Feel like salad or entrée?

Freddie: I’m kind of hungry. Do they have that noodle thing?

Katherine: Think so.

Freddie: I’ll have that. How was your day?

Katherine: Hard. I’m tired.

Freddie: Wait. What’s the soup?

Katherine: Black bean.

Freddie: I’ll have that.

Katherine: Did you go to the library today and get signed up?

Freddie: No. I went, but I can’t just sign up. I have to get a medical form filled out.

Katherine: Oh, did you bring it with you?

Freddie: No. Look, it doesn’t matter. I need a doctor to sign it anyway, so it’s going to take a while.

Katherine: Well, I can help you if you want.

Freddie: No, there’s really nothing you can do. I just have to put the date on it or something.

Katherine: Oh.

Pause.

Freddie: I wiped out on the steps when I was leaving. Can you see a bruise here?

Katherine: Yeah.

Freddie: Is it bad?

Katherine: Yeah.

Freddie: You didn’t say anything.

Katherine: No.

Freddie: Okay.

Katherine: What am I going to say?

Freddie: Oh, I don’t know.  How about; “Why don’t you use your cane?” “Why don’t you be more careful?”  “Why don’t you get a guide dog?”  “Why don’t you get a little volunteer from the CNIB?” Why don’t YOU finish your thesis?

Katherine: Do you want wine?

Freddie: Yeah.

Katherine: Red?

Freddie: Sure.

Katherine: A half litre, then, cause I’ll have some too.

Katherine turns to find a waiter.