continued by Tony
I felt shy and nervous. I put the glasses on him and he said “Gee sight once more”. Before I could begin to explain myself he said that before he used glasses at about the age of ten he used to be fascinated by other peoples glasses. In fact there was a boy in his class who had moderate plus lenses and he was amazed at how big things looked through them. Jimmy said that he loved to try them on but felt embarrassed to ask his friend so he would do it whenever his friend took off his glasses which wasn’t often. Jimmy then said that as his glasses were so strong he thought it strange that I did not ask to try them on earlier. At this point I was lying on the bed astride of him but partly leaning over him. He had put me at my ease somewhat but I thought that I had had a lucky escape. I was so relieved that I said “goodnight Jim” and ran my both hands down the side of his face. At that moment for some reason I took off his glasses and put them on the nightstand. “Goodnight my old Buddy” he said in a very comforting way. I got back into bed and felt very pleased at the outcome of the episode.
The next morning we were both packing to go home for Christmas vacation. I was glad nothing was said about the glasses. I thought this would be a good time to forget about it.
January came and we both came back to college. I got there a few hours before Jimmy. I noticed a large holdall on an open shelf in our room. I was later to discover that a young boy by the name of Paul who I remembered being around from last term and had been a hairdresser had been staying at the college complex during the vacation. He was a trendy kid but had lost his regular job. He had very bad eyesight and was cutting the students’ hair for tips. During the holidays he had gone into hospital with eye trouble and the janitor had taken pity on him. The janitor came to our room before Jimmy came back and asked if I would keep his bag in our room. I said “sure”, and the bag stayed with us.
Jimmy turned up and we spent ages talking about the vacation. We went for a drink came back and went to bed.
The next day Jimmy got up first and went to shower taking his glasses with him into the bathroom. He came out dressed in his usual hand towel. It didn’t really cover all of his middle but he used the bath sheet to dry himself, and he left the other big towel for me to use. When he was drying himself he took his glasses in his right hand and gave them to me and said “Here wipe these for me.” I was delighted and cleaned the glasses and tried them on at the same time whilst trying not to show how much I enjoyed the experience. I was glad that Jimmy could not see the great big bulge in my pants. From then on we had a kind of unspoken code. When he changed or showered he would hand me his glasses and I would clean them and give them back to him. Sometimes I would take his hand and place them there or sometimes if he was sat by the desk I would stand next to him and say “Here you are” and put them on him. He always looked very thankful and it seemed to give us both pleasure.
I have asthma and I carry an inhaler. If we go out together I say to Jimmy “Here—keep this for me” and he takes my spare inhaler. If mine runs out or I forget it I have been very glad to use Jimmy’s spare one. We kinda rely on each other I guess.
During the next few weeks we became quite close. We often went to the college refectory for coffee. I use glasses that are about -1 so I don’t need them indoors unless to look at text or TV. etc. I tend to take them off when drinking coffee or talking. Jimmy seemed to copy me and do the same but often the waitress would move his glasses when she cleaned the table in between drinks. I then used to stand up before Jimmy and either put them on his face or place them in his hand. He seemed to like this but we didn’t mention what we were doing, it seemed to come naturally.
Jimmy continued to play sport as he had done so before. However if I was passing the sports block I would notice that he didn’t jump about so much as before. He seemed to be scared of losing his glasses. He bought at least one sport strap to keep them on but poor Jimmy was so careless that he kept losing them. I also noticed that where the lenses stuck out of the frames there were a few chips out of them.
Then one day I passed the badminton court and noticed that Jimmy jumped up to hit the shuttlecock. His head went forward and his glasses came off and slid along the floor and went under some stacked benches on the side. He was so blind that he couldn’t even try to squint to find them. He shouted out for people to help him. One or two people laughed but they went to search for his glasses. They had to pull all the benches out to find them and it seemed to take ages. Jimmy just stood there helpless and he went bright red with embarrassment. His glasses had taken another knock but he had them back on his face and carried on.
That night we were both reading in our beds and chatting to each other. I started asking him how his sporting activities were going and whether he was playing for the college in the league. He said that regulations prevent people playing in the league with glasses on but that he did play for fun in the college. Then he told me about the incident when his glasses came off. He said he felt embarrassed about it. This only added to the fact that he had been teased about his glasses when he first showed up for sport with them on. He said “Man I was so helpless when my glasses came off” and he gulped and broke down in tears. I jumped out of bed and put my arms around him. He still had his glasses on at this point and I could feel things starting to happen in my boxers so I removed his glasses on the pretence of wiping his eyes. I said don’t worry Buddy we will sort you out with LASIK or contact lenses. He put his arms around me and squeezed me tight. I hugged him close for a moment and he regained his composure. (I knew he was too bad for LASIK and that his eyes were too messed up after the last CL’s to use them for many months). He seemed to be comforted by my words.
The next morning things were fine and we went through our ritual of me cleaning the glasses when he dried himself with the briefest of towels struggling to cover his middle, which it didn’t always do.
Two days later Jimmy was drying himself after coming out of the shower and kept rubbing his ears. “What is wrong with your ears?” I asked. “Oh these glasses are so heavy on me they have caused the top of my ears to become sore” he said. “Let’s take a look” I said. Sure enough the tops of his ears were red raw. His glasses were so heavy that he had to have them adjusted tightly to stop them from falling down his turned up nose. “I’ll rub some cream into them I said and I got some plain cold cream. I soothed the cream in and rubbed his ears. “Wow that is so soothing” he said and most days after his shower I would do the same.
The next week I came back to the room and Jimmy was having a shower after having a long lie-in. He came out of the shower and went through the usual routine. He put his glasses on and remarked how I looked so much better after having had a haircut. “Thank you” I said. “Jimmy—It’s about time you had a haircut” I said. “I don’t think you must have had one since before the vacation.” “I know” he said “but when you go to have your hair cut they ask you if it is OK and I can’t see a darn thing. I can’t even find my glasses to see in the mirror.” I hit upon an idea. Whilst I did not think I could do a full haircut I could thin it out a bit and cut the back short. Jimmy agreed. We needed a scissors. Darn we only had a blunt old scissors. Then I remembered Paul’s bag that we were taking care of. We discussed looking in it to find one. We both didn’t like the idea of fishing into someone else’s bag but we agreed that we would have a quick look and if the scissors was plain to see we would use it but that we wouldn’t look into all of Paul’s personal things. I opened the bag and there in a clear plastic bag at the top was the scissors. Wow, now I could do my cutting.
Jimmy sat by the desk in his small towel that seemed to cover him less and less. I took off his glasses and started to cut the back of his hair. I cut it quite a bit and it made Jimmy look so cute, although he couldn’t see it. My confidence improved and I cut some of the top also. I got carried away. “Wait there” I said. I went back into Paul’s bag and sure enough came back with one of those electric shavers. I sculpted the sides and the back of Jimmy’s hair into a work of art. I couldn’t believe how good it looked.
I then put Jimmy’s glasses back on and my heart almost stopped. He looked so young and cute. For the first time you could the sides of his glasses wrap themselves around his cute ears and it also meant that I could also see the red marks on his ears.
“How’s that Jim?” I said. He took one look in the mirror and said “Wow so darn cool man. At this point my hands were resting on his neck. He grabbed my hands with his and pulled my face right close up to the side of his head.
Jimmy squeezed my hands and said “You’re such a good friend I don’t know what I’d do without you”. “Same here” I said “you’re always there with my spare inhaler when I’m in trouble.” “We’re like an old married couple” Jimmy said and we both laughed.
During the next week or so things carried on as normal but I noticed that Jimmy always asked me for my glasses if I was cleaning his. I thought that this was strange as my Rx was so week that it would not make much difference to him. One day Jimmy said “pass me your glasses.” I said I don’t suppose they make much difference to you Jim.” “Well anything helps,” he said and I noticed that my spare pair of glasses were now on Jimmy’s nightstand for a while but I think he moved them because he was getting them mixed up with his when he got up in the night.
I was doing a lot of work from my room at this time as my lessons were few and far between during this month. One day when Jimmy was out there was a knock on the door. I answered the door and WOW—there was a boy about 21 years: blue eyes, dark hair, slightly built and a bit on the short side, with myodisk glasses which must have been at least minus 20D!
My heart raced. “Sorry to bother you.” He said. The Janitor told me you have kindly been keeping my things for me. “You must be Paul,” I said with excitement. “Come on in.”
We talked for nearly an hour and he told me that he was out of hospital and that he had an eye operation. I think that it may have been a detached retina but I can’t remember. He told me that he had hardly any family and he used to work cutting hair but that before his eye operation he lost his job as he kept cutting into peoples ears or head because of his eyesight but that whilst he had strong glasses his sight was pretty ok now when he had them on. He needed to look for a job but needed to get his confidence back first. “Where will you live now?” I said. He put his head down and said “I really don’t know man.” I knew that other people in the room were strictly forbidden and I didn’t know what Jim would say but I blurted out “Maybe you can sleep in here for a while.” “Oh that would be great,” he said.
With that Jimmy came in and I told him what had gone on. He was transfixed with Paul and kept looking at his glasses. “You must stay with us.” Jimmy said.
That was sorted. We knew that the Janitor felt sorry for Paul and we told him it was our secret that Paul would sleep in our room on the floor on a mattress for the time being. We got a mattress and he stayed in our room.
That night we all talked for hours. Paul’s parents had both died in a car crash when he was about 3 and he was taken into a home. He had a brother who was younger but he had been adopted by some folks. Paul had tried to contact him but all the records had been burned in a fire in the adoption agency. We told Paul not to worry and we would help him find his brother one day.
Paul slept on the mattress in between our beds on the floor. He was very neat and always cleared his makeshift bed away first thing every morning. Jimmy was out most of the day and Paul would go out and cut the students’ hair. He was very popular with the students although there were always a few good humoured jokes about letting him cut your hair with glasses like his. Paul didn’t seem to mind this as it was not said in a hurtful way.
As time went on the three of us talked. Paul told us that he remembered that his eyes were OK until he was three but that they got worse and worse from there on. Kids in the children’s home would tease him about his eyes and run away with his glasses. Jimmy related to this and was almost in tears at one point. Jimmy said he thought his eyes were very bad but that he now knew there were people with much worse eyesight than his. Not that he wanted to make Paul feel worse.
We all got on very well despite the saying of three being a crowd.
I had knocked one half of the curtain pole down in our room which left a lot of the outside street lights to shine into our room at night. This let a lot of light into the room at night. I did not mind this as I could go to the bathroom without putting the light on and disturbing people during the night.
One night I could not sleep and was lying in my bed when I noticed Jimmy sit up in bed. He reached for his glasses and put them on. Then as quiet as a mouse he got onto the floor where Paul was sleeping. Paul always slept on his front with his glasses next to his right hand in his shoe. His hand was always by his shoe. I think it was a security thing with him.
Jimmy got hold of Paul’s glasses and took them into the bathroom. He was gone about five minutes and must have knocked something over. This woke Paul up. Jimmy ran back into the room with his glasses on with Paul’s glasses in his hand.
Jim rushed to put Paul’s glasses back into Paul’s shoe but it was too late. Paul’s hand was already in his shoe fumbling to find his glasses. When Jimmy put his hand into the shoe he touched against Paul’s hand!!!!
I could feel the panic envelop Jimmy. “Hey—give me my glasses” said Paul in a stern sort of way. “Uh, oh, um, sorry,” said Jimmy. “Oh, I didn’t mean to shout” said Paul” in a very understanding way. “It’s just that I am so blind without my glasses that I get a bit panicky if they get moved. “No it’s my fault” said Jimmy.” I shouldn’t have taken them to try on.” “Oh, everybody wants to try them on to see what it’s like to see through them. They seem to fascinate people.” “I don’t mind at all as long as they aren’t taken too far from me as I tend to panic.”
The ice was broken! I had pretended to be asleep but now I felt it was OK to join in. “Hey we could rent out your glasses you guys. Between the two of you we could earn a fortune.” We all laughed and settled back to sleep.
There were now three of us sharing a medium size room. Things were OK except that the bathroom was being used a lot for showers etc. and it got quite steamy in there. The extractor fan was never very good anyway. Most of the time we would leave the bathroom door open when we showered to try to cut down on the steam but it was still very steamy in there. Paul always left the door open. I guess it must have been difficult for him because he has to leave his glasses on even in the shower. If the glasses steam up it must be very difficult to see. Also the mirrors tend to mist up. If the bathroom door was left open I always told the other guys to leave the room window open (which was near my bed) so that the mist would go away. They always seem to forget to do this and I often had to remind them.
Once or twice I could hear Paul shout “Oh shit” and I rushed into the bathroom to see that he had put his glasses down and could not find them. On both occasions he was nude. He didn’t seem to be bothered by this, maybe because I rescued his glasses.
Paul never left his glasses out of arm’s reach because of his terrible sight. He did however see me cleaning Jimmy’s glasses once or twice and sometimes asked me to do it for him. Whenever he did this he would lay on the bed as he could not function without them. I cleaned them and tried them on. With Jimmy’s glasses I could see my fingers up close and if I looked hard I could just about read the larger print on a newspaper. After I cleaned Paul’s glasses I tried this but I was amazed that I could not see anything to mention. It was more or less just like seeing shadows.
One Monday morning the alarm went and all three of us were about to get up. Paul got up first and said that he would have a shower first so that he would be out of everybody’s way. “OK” I said and so did Jimmy. Paul cleared away his makeshift bed and went into the bathroom.
I could hear that Paul was having a shower and then he came out and walked over to the desk which was opposite my bed and which doubled up as a kind of dressing table where you could dry your hair and the like… There was a mirror there also. He never used a hairdryer (probably because he could not see what he was doing). Instead he would carefully place his glasses on the windowsill at the side of the desk and then rub his hair with the towel. He had taken his glasses off as usual and started to dry his hair. “Do me a favour Paul.” I said. “Open the window to let the steam out.” “Sure,” he said. He felt his way to the large window catch with his hand and opened the window. He then went to feel for the stay at the bottom to stop the window from blowing closed when CRASH. He let out a yelp . He had knocked his glasses out of the window. “Oh shit! Oh my God! My glasses! My glasses have gone!” he said. I felt bad for asking him to open the window. With that he felt his way to my bed and I held him tight. “Don’t worry,” I said. “We will sort you out.” With that Jimmy jumped off his bed and on to mine. He also held Paul tightly and said that we would sort it out.
I ran downstairs and out the front but I knew that there was hard paving there and that we were on the third floor. Sure enough not only had the lenses smashed to bits but also the frames. I did not even bother to pick them I up; I just kicked them to one side. I rushed back upstairs and into the room.
We all decided to go to the eyeglasses shop that Jimmy and I had been to when he was in trouble before. Jimmy insisted that Paul could wear his glasses so that at least he would have some sight and would be able to see something very close up. Paul asked him if he was sure and he said yes, because otherwise Paul would have to get there as doubly blind as Jimmy. Paul put Jimmy’s glasses on and felt better that at least he could see to the end of his nose.
We set off down the stairs. I was in the middle with Jimmy on my left and Paul on my right. It was like ground hog day except that were now three of us and I was the only one who could see. I did consider offering my glasses (which were now -1.5) to Jimmy but I figured that they would not make much difference and at least I should be able to see clearly to see we were on the right bus and everything. The boys both held me tight around my middle and I put my arms around their shoulders.
We came to the main road and they held me extra tight to cross. Again I was glad that they could not see the eruption that was occurring in my pants just now. We all got on the bus and sat in a large seat that took three people. This time Paul fished out a note for our tickets. With the aid of Jimmy’s thick glasses Paul could just about make the note out at short range. It amused me that at this stage because Paul was wearing Jim’s glasses and had vision twice as bad as Jimmy they could both see exactly the same. They both commented about this on the bus and discussed how much they could see.
We got off the bus and went into the same vision shop. All the staff remembered us and when they saw Jimmy bareyed and squinting they thought that he was in trouble once again. I explained the position and even the staff were amazed at the situation.
Paul was guided into the eye doctor’s office, still wearing Jimmy’s glasses. He came out with Jimmy’s glasses back on and said that he was now -24 and of course had to keep the myodisks. The eye doctor did not think he could do anything for at least a week as they did not keep lenses this thick. Oh dear! None of us had thought of this! The eye doc said he would phone around to se if anybody could help. Meanwhile Paul was to pick out a pair of frames. The doc asked me to help Paul as I was now becoming the expert here.
Paul offered Jimmy his glasses back but Jimmy insisted that Paul keep them on as he needed them the most. We started to look and then I hit upon an idea to get exactly the same frames as Jimmy. I thought this would be kind of interesting. Of course Paul agreed and Jimmy couldn’t see what was going on. I picked up the same Brooks Bros. frames and tried them on Paul. “Whatever” he said as he couldn’t see a thing without lenses. I felt kinda crafty in getting the same frames for both when neither of them could see what I was doing.
The eye doc came back and said there was luck. He could get minus 24 myodisk blanks from a store the other side of town. It was a good job that Paul did not have astigmatism like Jimmy or they would have been no good. However it would take about 3 hours to do as the lenses had to be driven over from the other side of town. Paul was just glad that something could be done.
We went to the diner to pass the first hour. I read the paper and the others struggled to read the pictures. After we were full of coffee we went to the park. I was in the middle and the other two were holding on to me as usual. At this point I gave my glasses to Jimmy who was glad of any help he could get. The grass was dry and flat and I told them not to worry about any steps as I would let them know if I saw any.
We walked and talked for nearly two hours and Paul wondered what became of his brother. He guessed that his brother did not need glasses and would laugh if he could see Paul now. We again said that one day we would try to find Paul’s brother and that despite the records getting burned in a fire we may still be able to get somewhere for Paul especially with the advent of the internet these days.
It then dawned on me. “Shouldn’t you get a spare pair for both of you?” “Well I’m lucky to get the lenses for my new glasses,” said Paul. “My glasses are only for the time being until I go back to contacts” said Jimmy who I figured was in denial and did not want to accept that he would not be able to wear contacts for a long long time—if at all.
We went back to the shop and the glasses were complete. Jimmy put his glasses back on and said that they made such a difference to him they were worth a thousand times their weight in gold to him. Paul put his glasses on—Wow, were they strong! We were used to seeing him in myodisks before but because he had had Jimmy’s glasses on all morning I had gotten used to them being less strong. Paul said it was such a relief to be able to see again. He knew what it must be like to be blind. He looked in the mirror and said despondently, “Look at me—a freak!” “No, you are not,” I said. “There are other people like you and with your glasses on you can see quite well.” “Yes, at least I can see,” he said.
We all got back on the bus and went home to the room. They had not even noticed that they had the same frames. (My, could I have some fun because of this?)
We got home and tried each other’s glasses on . In the end I was the one to point out that their glasses had the same frames. There was such a difference in the lenses that it was not so apparent.
Paul started to get a bad back. It may have been because he was bending over all day cutting hair. I offered him my bed for a few nights and I would sleep on the floor. He did not want to put me out but was glad of it because his back was playing him up. Some nights Jimmy would swap with him also.
One night I was sleeping on the floor between the two beds. I could reach both nightstands from where I was. Because Paul was now sleeping in the bed he kept his glasses on the nightstand. I reached out for Jimmy’s glasses. They were thick and heavy. I took them in my hand and felt the thick lenses. They were flat at the front and very curved at the back. I looked through them and everything was small and blurry. Then I reached for Paul’s glasses. They sunk right in at the middle but strangely were not so heavy as Jimmy’s, maybe because they were myodisks. I tried them on. I could only see shadows and colors. I lay there and imagined what it would be like to wake up as Paul in a total blur. I imagined him feeling for his glasses.
I put Paul’s glasses by Jimmy’s bed and the other way about. I wanted to see what the response was. I had set the alarm for an early hour in the morning. When the alarm went I said “Wakey, wakey!” and pointed out that there was a large strange (imaginary) bird on the window. There wasn’t, of course.
They both sat up and put their glasses on. “Shit—something’s wrong with my glasses,” said Paul. “I can’t see a thing.” “Neither can I,” said Jimmy. Jimmy then said “OK Tony, wise guy—you swapped the glasses.” We all laughed. It gave me a buzz to see them feel their way over to each other and swap their glasses over.
A few weeks later I thought that my glasses might not be strong enough for me. They were -1.5 and they had only recently gone up from -1. I was in very low figures but it seemed strange that I might need an increase in strength. I told the boys and they said not to worry and imagine what it was like to be like them. They did however offer to come along to the eyeglasses shop with me. I said there was no need as it was only routine.
I went back to our usual shop where they now knew me and had a test. I was bumped up to -2.5 D. I had only gotten glasses a year and a half ago and now I was bumped up twice in one year. I was told I was now on the border of needing glasses full time. I did not mention to the eye doctor that I had been bumped up twice in the same year as I thought that it may have something to do with my trying on the boys’ glasses. I got my new glasses and wore them back home. I noticed that they made quite a difference. I didn’t want to feel that I would be bumped up any more because I liked the idea of wearing them when I wanted to but being able to go bare eyed when I wanted to. I figured that I was ok to go bare eyed in a small room but not in a large area or outside. As long as I could go bare eyed in our room I didn’t care.
I told the boys and they joked that it must be catching but that compared to them my vision was fine.
I had gone out to cross the college lawn one fine morning; my chest was giving me some trouble and I had left my inhaler in the room. As I got on to the college lawn a cloud of dust hit me from the new building site. I fell to the floor and collapsed...
I woke up and could see two highly bespectacled myopic people standing over me. Yes it was my old buddies Jimmy and Paul. “Don’t worry,” they said; “we have your medicine and inhaler;” and they proceeded to administer both to me. I started to feel better after a while and they helped me to my feet. I thought it was quite ironic that they were the ones that recovered my glasses after they had fallen off me. They dusted me down and saw that I was OK They said that they were glad to be the ones helping me for a change and they were glad to be able to pay back my kindness in helping them in the past. I felt incredibly moved by this and gulped back a tear or two. I could see that they could sense this and we then entered into one of our now famous group hugs.
They marched me back to our room and within half an hour I felt OK. We abandoned our plans to clean the room and decided to go into town for the day. Well, it was Saturday. We looked all around the shops and took time out for coffee and cakes. We even went into a new eyeglass shop that had just opened in town. I tried on all the latest fashion frames and they told me how I looked in them. I wasn’t planning on getting new glasses. This was just for fun. I only managed to get them to try one pair each on. I guess that they could not see what they looked like with plain blank lenses and even if they could the frames would look totally different with thick lenses in them anyway. I did notice however that when Jimmy tried some frames on with plain glass Paul did say, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could have lenses like that in our glasses?” Paul did not dwell on this and we moved on into other shops.
We got on the bus and came home. After resting for a while and washing and changing we decided to go for a pizza in the evening to finish things off. We had a nice meal and then met up with some college friends in the college bar to finish off. Then we went back to the room and got into bed.
By this time Paul’s back was better and he was back sleeping on the floor. I knew that Paul could not stay with us forever like this but I figured that I would miss him greatly when he eventually did leave. I knew that the same applied to Jimmy.
What had started out as a bad day had turned into a great one and I was so glad to have my two faithful friends around me.
The following Monday after evening meal Paul said he had been dreaming of his brother and whether he would ever see him again. That did it, the three of us went down to the college computer room and went on the internet, to try and find Paul’s brother. We could not go through any official agencies as the original records had been destroyed. We did however leave messages on dozens of sites leaving Paul’s life history and asking his brother to contact him if he had gotten knowledge of this site. It was a long shot but at least we had tried.
Things went on as normal. The weather improved with the season and as my breathing seemed to be under control we used to go for rides together on the college bikes in the late afternoon.
One Friday evening the three of us were in our room winding down for the weekend and thinking about going out later on. Jimmy was by the desk writing something in his diary; Paul was lying on top of my bed reading the paper; and I was sat on Jimmy’s bed setting my watch.
There was a knock at the door!
I opened the door and took one look at the guy there and could see immediately without my glasses who he was. He looked like Paul but was a bit taller and carrying a bit more weight. He had dark hair and had blue eyes behind glasses that appeared to be in the minus 18/19 range. “Excuse me,” he said. “I’m looking for a guy by the name of Paul. I am his brother.” I could feel the emotion erupting from Paul behind me like a nuclear bomb. Jimmy was also transfixed by the atmosphere. I gulped and told him to come right in. He and Paul put their arms around each other and wept. Jimmy and I were overcome too and held each other and started to cry. The two brothers talked too quickly and all at once. I told them to slow down and take it steadily. Jimmy and I said we would go down to the students’ bar and they could catch us up later on. They said that there was no need but Jimmy and I insisted because they had so much to catch up with. They were grateful in the end.
Jimmy and I went down to the bar and had a few drinks. We started to talk about our families and childhoods and we were glad that we had such good families. We were the lucky ones.
About two hours later the two brothers came down. They were beaming. Paul formally introduced Ross to us. He said that he felt bad that he had forgotten his brother’s name. “Well don’t worry, brother, you will never forget me now. I will always be here for you.”
We talked and drank for a long time. We were to learn that Ross had been adopted by a very nice farmer and his wife who had a mixed farm in Texas and that he had never been short of the old greenbacks. Also Ross had been trying to contact Paul for a long time but because of the destruction of the original records he had drawn a blank. It was only when he tried the internet sites that he found the details. I said it must have been fate because Paul’s details had only been on the internet for a week or so.
We had talked for so long that it was only then that Paul said “I guess you have been unlucky enough to have my genes when it comes to eyesight” I thought that Ross would have felt uncomfortable about someone pointing out his strong glasses but he just said, “Yeah minus 18.5 and increasing. I may be in myodisks in less than two years—like you, brother.”
I asked what Ross did he do and he said he too was a student. “What are you studying to be?” I asked. I nearly spat my beer out when he said that he was training to be an eye doctor. The rest of us burst out laughing. “What’s so funny?” he asked. We all said that we were a bunch of myopes and we had our very own eye doctor in training. We told him of our emergency trips to the eyeglasses shop. He got the joke and thought that the situation was funny.
I said that it funny him wanting to be an eye doctor when he had such bad eyesight. “No, not when you think about it,” he said. “I have spent most of my life in glasses and have become used to seeing all the stuff in the eye doctor’s office”. I figured this was right. His biggest worry was that his eyesight didn’t deteriorate too much further as he might be prevented from doing his job. I told him not to worry. There were new things out all the time. Jimmy said that he wanted to go back to contacts and Ross said “Wait and see,” in a knowing sort of way.
Paul said he was king of the myopes and that I was the baby. Right now I was glad that I was.
Ross said that in the summer we could all meet up on his dad’s farm and get together for the vacation. We all agreed that would be nice.
Ross’s college was at least three hundred miles away and he was going to book into an hotel in town. It was a bit late now so we told him we could all squash into our room for just one night. We got back to the room after having our fill of drink.
Because Ross was a new friend to us we let him sleep in my bed. Paul slept on the floor and Jimmy told me to squash into his bed for the night. Lights off, glasses off, and we all got under the sheets...
I woke up next to Jimmy and it was a nice feeling to be close to someone’s warm skin. Everybody seemed to wake up at the same time. Jimmy went over to the window and opened it because it was a bit stuffy with four people having slept in one room.
“I’m off to have a shower,” he said. and proceeded to take a shower with the door open to let the steam out. The steam kind of cleansed the stale air as it made its way out of the window of the main room. After he finished he came back out with his small towel barely around him and handed me his glasses. I got hold of the bed sheet and cleaned them as usual. By now the others were awake and the make shift bed had been put away. “My, that’s helpful when you’ve got a high Rx” said Ross, referring to me cleaning Jimmy’s glasses. I felt some movement under the blanket when he said this. “We always do it,” I said. Paul joined in: “Yes, if I clean my glasses I can’t see well enough to see if they are really clean” he said.” I know the feeling” said Ross.
Paul showered next and later handed me his glasses to clean. He sat at the end of the bed then because he could not see to do anything else. I took a shower next and dried myself off and sat with my towel around me. Ross asked if he could take a shower. We agreed and arranged some towels. When Ross came out to change in the room, he asked me to clean his glasses. I duly obliged. “I’m like a bat without them” he said. “I know,” I said. “We know all about it in this room.” Ross could not have seen me with his sight. I finished cleaning his glasses. They were heavy and warm in my hand. The frames were thick mottled brown plastic which I figured were to try and hide the very thick lenses. The edges were much thicker than Paul’s glasses because they were not myos. The fronts were flat but the edges seem to curve out for ever. I tried them on. They sure were strong. I could see more than I could with Paul’s glasses (which was virtually nothing), but less than with Jimmy’s glasses. I held my hand up to my face and could just make out my fingernails and the gold ring on my finger which was glistening in the blurrings. “I’ve done cleaning them,” I said to Ross. “Oh thanks. Do me a favour and put them on me as I will probably knock them on to the floor when I try to find them,” he said. I duly obliged and it gave me quite a thrill in doing so. I’m weird like that.
Ross dressed and said his goodbyes. Paul and Ross had arranged to meet up at least once every two weeks to catch up with old times and Ross reminded us of his offer to go and stay on his folks’ farm during the summer vacation. We agreed heartily and Ross continued on his way.
The remaining three of us went out to get breakfast. Paul said how good he felt about finding his brother. He told us that Ross was very impressed by the way Jimmy and I had looked after him and that he would never forget it. He added that in due course he would reward our kindness. Jimmy and I said that there was no need to worry about that and that we hoped that if we were down on our luck somebody would help us out.
“Anyway I may not be with you folks much longer,” he said. I asked him what he meant. He explained that things were on the up for him. He felt that meeting Ross was a turning point in his life. He had now gotten his confidence back enough to go and search for a job with a view to getting his own room. We said that we were very pleased for him but that we would miss him. He said not to worry as he was not planning on going too far away and that he would be in regular contact with us because he did not want to lose friendship. “Finding Ross makes you realise how important relationships are,” he said, and we heartily agreed.
On Monday he looked around town for various jobs and couldn’t find much worth bothering with. Then when he had almost given up he was walking past an old-fashioned male hairdressing shop when he saw a notice in the window advertising for someone to work in and run the shop. He went inside and had a good chat with the proprietor—a guy named Chuck—who was thinking of retiring. He explained that his son was a hairdresser and was working on the cruise ships. Chuck wanted his son Robert to come back and take over the shop but Robert had other ideas and wanted to see the world first. Chuck figured that this would be a way of keeping the business going for when Robert returned one day. It seemed that Chuck took quite a liking to Paul. Chuck told Paul that he reminded him of his son. “Must be the strong glasses you have sonny,” he said. My oh my—another strong myope. When Paul related the story to me I joked that there was something in the water of this town. “Heaven help him if his Rx is as bad as mine,” he said, with a degree of sadness in his voice.
The following day Paul went back to sort out the details and he was given the job. It was a good deal too. A reasonable salary together with a small apartment over the shop. Paul would get every Sunday and Thursday off and the flat was rent free! Chuck wanted to keep his hand in and would work on Thursdays for Paul.
Paul came back that evening enthusing about the job. We were very pleased for him and went out for a drink to celebrate. I asked where the shop was and he told me that it was one block down from the eyeglass shop. I told him that he would not have very far to go if he got into trouble with his glasses. He said that with his eyesight the eye glass shop may as well be a thousand miles away.
The time came for Paul to move in. Jimmy and I had been over to paint it out. The apartment consisted of a small bathroom, small kitchen and a large room which was both the lounge and bedroom. There was a large king size bed left there. Paul got a new mattress and cleaned the bed up.
Two weeks later Jimmy was out of town and I was just going to bed when Paul rang and asked me to come over right away. He had lost his glasses down the back of the nightstand. He had taken all his clothes off and knocked them with his hand when getting into bed. He was helpless. I got a kind of kick out of this.
I jumped on the last bus and got to Paul’s place. He opened the door with nothing on. I don’t suppose he could see to get dressed. I got by the nightstand and fished the glasses out from underneath. They had gotten stuck on some old nails under the nightstand. Paul sure was relieved. He asked me how i would get back. I said I would have to walk. He had now gotten into bed. “Stay here for the night and get the bus in the morning,” he said. I explained that I did not have my inhaler and he said that he still carried a spare one for me. Problem solved. I got undressed and jumped into bed with Paul.
The next morning Paul and I seemed to wake up together. It seemed that our arms were entwined and we both pulled away together! I seemed to go bright red and I could see that Paul had colored up. I was darned glad that he could not see my face now. Had something happened? I certainly could not remember anything. The only thing on my mind was that I was really tired last night and went out like a light and that Paul had been stressed out by losing his glasses.
I got out of bed and put my boxers on closely followed by my shirt and pants. I was nearest to the nightstand and would usually hand Paul his glasses by now. I did not want to do this right now and Paul did not ask me for them.
I told Paul that I had to get the bus. He asked me if I would like to stay for breakfast but I explained that I wanted to get back to my place to get showered and the like ready for lessons. I said goodbye to Paul and then said “Here you are—your glasses” and placed them into Paul’s warm hand. He thanked me for his glasses and thanked me once again for helping him last night.
I got the bus back and wondered what had happened. I did not know and I also got the impression that neither did Paul.
Once back at the room I showered and went to my lessons. When I got back to the room late afternoon Jimmy was back and said that he had had a nice long weekend supporting his friends’ football team in another town but that he had nearly lost his glasses down the back of the bus seat. I told him that Paul had had a similar experience and that I had gone over to rescue him. “You always come up trumps when we have one of our emergencies,” he said.
Paul still used to come over and sleep in our room on Wednesday and Saturday nights as he was not working the following days. He said that if we were out together in town on Saturdays we might as well stay with him because he had a large king size bed. We both thought that this might come in very handy.
I had been to see the doctor with regard to my chest. He said I was making good progress and that I should go swimming to build up my lung capacity. I asked the boys to come with me. They both said that they would like to but what about their glasses or lack of them. I told them not to worry as I would see that they were all right. They always trusted me and agreed to come with me. We agreed to go on a Wednesday evening as Paul came to sleep over then in any case.
We got to the changing room and found a large bench on which to change. We all got changed into our swimming shorts and we were just about to go out to the pool when I noticed they both had their glasses on. “How will I manage without these?” said Jimmy pointing to his glasses. “I’ll never find my way out to the pool” said Paul. “Don’t worry,” I said. “I will help you.” I took both boys’ glasses in my hands and put them on top of my locker so that I could easily find them again.
I went in between them and guided them out to the pool. I sure could feel a large bulge in my shorts right now and I was glad that there was nobody about at this end of the pool complex at the time. Anyway I was going in to the water next.
I jumped in and told the others that it was safe to do so. I swam up and down a bit and noticed that they clung to the side of the pool. I seemed to get a kick out of seeing them there so helpless when they were so much stronger than me. I told them that there were hardly any people about and they started to swim along the side. At the end of the session I guided them to the steps and then guided them to the showers. They took off their shorts and started to shower. I noticed that they were not small in some departments and I handed them the soap when they showered. They were of course quite blind as to what I could see.
We all showered and then I did the usual thing of guiding them back to the changing area. When we were on our way back there was a man about forty years old and he asked me if he could help with them. I told him that it was OK. The boys laughed nervously but I could tell that their pride must have been dented somewhat at this comment. They dried their hair and I handed them their glasses and we all got dressed. We went for a beer or two or even three before going back to the room. They both said that they enjoyed it but that they did not think that they would have had the confidence to go swimming before. In fact Jimmy said he remembered that he was a good swimmer when he was younger and his sight had been quite good.
We got back to the room and all agreed that we would do it again.
“If only we could see more in the pool,” said Paul. “Yes,” agreed Jimmy.
Nobody knew at this stage that there might be plans afoot to remedy this situation.
The next morning the alarm went and Jimmy went to take his usual shower. It still gave me a thrill to see him come out of the shower in his small towel. He gave me his glasses as usual and I cleaned them. I then tried them on and wondered if I could see more than usual. Was I imagining this or did my eyes need stronger lenses?
Jimmy got dressed and left for an early lesson. Next I took a shower and when I came out Paul was cleaning my glasses. That was a nice change. Was that a sign of things to come? Paul then took a shower and came out. He dried his hair as usual and came over and gave me his glasses to clean. I tried them on. I did not notice being able to see more plainly through Paul’s glasses but then again they were too strong to see through anyway.
I left for my lessons and Paul was going to let himself out. It was his day off and he was going into town to do some shopping.
After my lessons I went over to the haircut shop and spoke with Chuck. He was standing in for Paul as it was Paul’s day off. Paul had told him all about Jimmy and myself and Chuck was pleased to meet me. The shop was not busy on a Thursday and we had time to chat over coffee.
Chuck asked me how the swimming went. I told him that it was good and that we were all going again. “How did those guys manage with their eyesight?” he said. I explained that they were almost blind once their glasses were off. Chuck then hit upon an idea. It seemed that when Robert was a boy he liked to swim but he could not see very good.
Now Chuck explained that years ago haircut shops also doubled up as eye testing shops. The laws then changed and that put an end to it. Chuck still had three eye trial sets. When Robert was small he had taken some lenses from the stock that were in a box with the trial sets and fastened some lenses into swimming goggles for Robert. He said he would do the same for the boys.
I went to the department store next door and bought some swimming goggles. They were child’s goggles as I figured that small lenses would fit better. I came back to the shop and Chuck mentioned that they did not look that strong. He set to work and stuck the lenses into the goggles. I knew the Rx’s of the boys but wondered if they needed to be raised. I told him to bump up the Rx by 1D. Chuck did so. He handed them to me and I thought it would be a nice surprise for the boys.
The next week we went swimming as usual. I took the glasses of the boys and told them to try on the swimming goggles that I placed into their hands. They both wondered what the point was but when they tried them on they were amazed how well they could see. They both said that they thought they could see better than with their regular glasses. They asked what happened. I explained what Chuck had done and they were very pleased.
We got into the water and they did not have to be led there. Once in the water the goggles were not so good. It seemed that the lenses were so strong and curved that water was getting in between the lenses and the original glass lenses. With Robert’s glasses they were probably not so strong and this problem would not occur. They were not much use to the boys; we seemed to be taking them off and on.
When we got to the showers it seemed that I got cheap goggles. The elastic broke on Paul’s goggles and the lens fell out and smashed on the floor. The goggles were too small for Jimmy’s face and they started to break. I took them off the boys in the shower and they remained “blind”. From that time on they remained in the bottom of my swimming bag.
The boys said that it was a nice try and we would not mention to Chuck the failure of them so as to not hurt his feelings.
We got home and I mentioned that I had bumped up their Rx in the swimming goggles!
Back at the room I again mentioned that their Rx had been bumped up in the goggles. Jimmy said that in the pool area with the plain lenses of the regular goggles to look through they might have given a false perspective. Paul said that he had read on the internet that if you kept bumping up your Rx too often it would make you more myopic. I could understand these guys not wanting to get thicker lenses. Paul and then Jimmy mentioned that I sometimes seemed to be squinting even with my glasses on. I told them not to worry but did not feel comfortable with the tables turned on me.
The next Sunday we were all at Paul’s place when Ross telephoned. He wondered if we would like to all go over to his place for a long weekend. We said that we would like to do that and arranged to go on Friday morning early. I asked if there was space for us all to sleep. Paul said that we had squeezed four people into our room before so we would surely manage.
On Thursday evening Jimmy and I went over to sleep at Paul’s place so that we could get the early morning bus from town. We took a few bottles of beer with us to drink before bedtime. I got in bed first and slept nearest the wall. Jimmy went in the middle and Paul slept on the outside nearest the nightstand. Jimmy handed his glasses to Paul who put them on the nightstand. Paul then took his glasses off and put them on the nightstand too. They glistened away in the light. I woke up in the night. I needed the bathroom after all the drink. I tried to climb over them so as not wake them. In doing so I woke Jimmy who also needed the bathroom. I led him to the bathroom so we would not wake Paul.
In the morning the alarm went off and Paul dashed into the shower. He came out and handed his glasses to Jim to clean as he was the nearest. I could see Jimmy feeling the thickness of the lenses. I wondered what he was thinking. I went to shower next and Paul was cleaning my glasses when I came out. I had left them on the main table last night. Next it was Jimmy’s turn to shower. He came out and I cleaned his glasses. He said his ears were sore and asked me to rub cream into them. They did not seem too bad but I rubbed the cream in. This always relaxed me. I asked Paul how his ears were and he said they were fine. I told Jimmy that my ears were not hurting me but he said he would do it anyway as a precaution. It felt very relaxing when he did it. I nearly fell back to sleep. Jimmy packed the cream and in five minutes we were at the bus stop.
We got on the bus which was very full. The bus drove to the next town; everybody got off. I asked the driver if there was something wrong and we should have changed buses. He said no. Hardly anyone used the long distance route for the middle part of the way. We settled down and began to sleep. I put my glasses on top of my bag. The others were sleeping by this time. Paul had his glasses resting on top of his head and Jimmy’s were next to his hand on the seat.
We must have been sleeping for about five minutes when there was an almighty bang. There was a blow out. The driver struggled with the bus and we went down the drop at the side of the road. The bus landed upside down but we and the driver were lucky that despite being thrown half way around the bus we had a few cuts and bruises. An ambulance came and got us out.
The boys told the ambulance man that we had lost our glasses. He said not to worry about this now. It was too dangerous to go back in the bus and that the glasses would be broken anyway.
We went off to hospital and were treated for our cuts. The hospital staff thought there was something badly wrong with our eyes until I explained about the myopia. After being treated the nurse gave us instructions to get to the nearest eyeglass shop. We waited for the bus. Jimmy seemed very down about not having his glasses once more even though it was Paul whose eyes were the worst. Paul told Jim that we would soon be sorted out. It was fortunate that I had taken out good travel insurance that would pay for us all to have new glasses.
The bus came and we got on. The driver asked what happened and I explained. He told us that we were in the best town because there was a big eye hospital nearby.
The driver was good enough to stop right by the eyeglass shop. We went in and explained the position to the eye doctor. He called Jimmy in first. In fact we all went in to the eye test room as I was guiding the others.
Jimmy told him that he was fed up of thick glasses and wanted to go back to contacts. The eye doc said he would test his eyes first. Bad news for poor Jimmy. He had been bumped up to -12 and -14D. I did not want to add insult to injury by saying “I told you so”. Jimmy seemed depressed. When the eye doc. looked at his eyes he said that Jimmy could not have lenses for a long time because his old lenses had messed up his eyes. “Well I need to get fixed up with LASIK” said Jimmy. The eye doc. laughed out loud. “Oh I’m sorry” said the eye doc. “but with a script like yours it would never work”. Jimmy was dismayed. Paul said not to worry and that I would look for nice frames for him.
Jimmy and I went out into the shop and I picked a frameless pair which I liked. I put them on Jimmy. They looked great just looking at lenses without frames. Jim kept them in his hand and we went back to see Paul. Paul did not have a bump up in his Rx.
They would wait for me to have a test before I looked for frames for Paul. I was bumped up by 1D to -3.5. I guess the others were right. I just had to accept it and wondered if I would be like the others one day.
Back in the shop I selected the same frameless glasses for both myself and Paul. They were not cheap but the insurance would pay. They were quite light and the temples were made of titanium.
The eye doc. said they would be ready in about a week and he would send them on to us. Paul said that the others could not manage for a week. I was the only one with a spare pair anyway. He said not to worry. He sent over to the eye hospital for some “teaching examples” of glasses for high myopia to go on with. Wow they were so strong. No high index glasses and the myodisks for Paul were like telescopes.
At least he had sight and we promised to send them back to the eye hospital as soon as the new ones came.
On the way back the boys mentioned how awful these glasses were but Paul said at least they had the gift of sight which blind people did not have. Jimmy then said that was true and he should not have got so hot and bothered. I was offered some glasses to go but because my eyes were not so bad I declined. I had my spare glasses to go home to anyhow.
We telephoned Ross to say what had happened and that we were OK but going home. He was just glad that we were OK. We would have to see Ross another time.
On the journey home it was I who could not see and the boys put their arms around me close and guided me. I figured they must have thought that my sight was worse than it was. Strangely enough I did not seem to mind.
We got to the main bus station to get back home. Funny how I had to rely on the others to read the signs. We got on the bus and got a seat together. I know that we were in a freak accident but I still felt a bit wary of the journey. I think we all did. We settled down but seemed unable to go back to sleep even though the whole incident had stressed us out. We talked about it and considered that we were lucky not to have been killed.
We all complained of cuts and bruises, but the other two seemed to have more noticeable cuts than I did. My head went into a padded panel on the side of the bus and saved me from having cuts on my face. The panel was full of dust which had gone into my eyes. The hospital had given me drops to put in my eyes but I was warned that my sight would become blurred for an hour or so after use. I figured that without my glasses that would make my vision very bad and so I did not put them in straight away. My back hurt a lot and I was told that I may come out in bruises.
Jimmy and Paul had a few small cuts and grazes. They said that it was their backs that were hurting the most just like me.
After a while my eyes hurt and I asked Jimmy to put the eye drops in for me. He did so and the pain started to go. My eyes got very blurry and I imagined I was seeing the same as Jimmy when he was bare eyed. I mentioned this to Jimmy and he took my hand and placed his glasses into it for me to try on. I held them but could not see them from arm’s length. It was like I was seeing the world through Jimmy’s eyes and I sensed that he knew this. It was kind of scary and yet exciting at the same time. I felt the huge thickness of the lenses and put them on my face. I could still not see. The Rx was much too strong for me and the blurriness was a temporary thing caused by the drops. I imagined that Paul would have a similar experience still not being able to see properly with Jimmy’s glasses on. I felt for Jimmy’s hand and placed the glasses back in to it. “No good eh?” said Jimmy. “No, but this only lasts for a while,” I said.
The three of us continued on our journey, thinking of our doomed trip. We soon got back to Paul’s place and decided to sleep there for the night. The blurriness had gone from my eyes and I could manage without my spare glasses until tomorrow.
We were aching all over so we decided that we should have a bath. I went in first and left the water in for Jimmy. The sheet was pulled back on the bed and when I came out I fell naked onto the middle of the bed on my front. Paul went in the bath next and Jimmy came out and jumped on to bed nearest the wall exhausted with his front facing downwards. He was so tired he hadn’t bothered to dry his hair properly. His glasses were still on so I took them off and placed them on the nightstand. “Those darned things are so heavy” he said. “Yes, I know,” I said, “but soon you will have light frameless ones.”
Paul came out and jumped naked on the bed and lay on his front. I asked Paul how my back was as he still had his glasses on. He told me it was very bruised. I said it was hurting a lot. With that he got some cream that the hospital had given us and started massaging it into my back. He started at the top and rubbed it well in. It sure was a nice feeling. He rubbed it in well and went right down my back, over my butt and down the top of my legs. It was a nice feeling. He stopped for a moment and fell asleep as he was so tired. I asked Jimmy to carry on with this treatment and he did the same thing. “My turn next,” said Jimmy and I repeated the procedure for him. I felt nice and relaxed in doing this and he seemed comforted. I said that I had better do Paul and Jimmy agreed. Jimmy then fell asleep. I took the cream and rubbed it all over Paul’s back and upper legs. I’m not sure if he was asleep at this time but he didn’t say anything. After I finished I wiped my hands on my face and pulled the sheets over us all. I reached over to put the light out and noticed that Paul’s glasses were still on him so I put them on the nightstand.
I must have fallen asleep soon after. Paul woke me up by reliving the crash in the night and gripped me tightly.
I comforted Jimmy and we fell back to sleep. We must have slept for some time when the phone on the nightstand rang. Paul was the nearest but he got the phone wire tangled up in the glasses on the nightstand. I slid over his chest and picked the phone up. It was Ross. He asked how we all were and I explained that it was mainly bruising and minor cuts and that we were quite good. I slid back into my position in the middle of the bed and handed the phone to Paul who talked with Ross. After Paul had finished speaking to Ross I gave the phone to Jimmy who talked for a short while. Jimmy explained that we all lost our glasses and that we had been given some glasses to get by with. Ross said that he was glad that that had not had happened to him. Jimmy passed me the phone and I put it down.
We were all lying on our fronts now and talking about the incident. We drifted in and out of sleep for another hour or so and Paul said it was about time we all got up. Paul got out of bed and struggled to find his boxers. I watched him without his glasses and he could not find a thing. “Come here,” I said and he fumbled towards me. I took his glasses from the nightstand and put them on his face. He soon found his boxers and put them on. I got up and put my boxers on. Jimmy got up next. When Jimmy got up he reached for his boxers before putting his glasses on and couldn’t find them. I put the glasses in his hand and he was able to find them.
We all said how much we ached. Jimmy found the cream and rubbed it into my back and then he did the same for Paul. I smoothed the cream into Jimmy’s back. He felt nice and warm.
We got dressed and decided we would go to the diner for breakfast. The others ordered and I asked them to read the board for me. “We forgot you still have not got your spare glasses,” said Paul. “Yes, we must go and get them right away,” said Jimmy. I said it was OK and that we could get them after our very late breakfast. We ate up and rode on the bus over to the college.
Once there we went to the bar area and Jimmy said he would go fetch my spare glasses. I told him that as far as I could remember they were on the bathroom shelf. I remembered that they were a bit battered and that there was a screw loose in them but at least I would be able to see through them.
Jimmy seemed to be gone a long time and then Paul said he could see him coming back. Paul said he looked very red. “I don’t know how to tell you this,” he said; “but when I lifted them off the bathroom shelf the left lens fell out and smashed on the floor.” Jimmy felt bad but I said that I could manage. I wondered if Jimmy had been trying them on when they smashed. I was just glad that it was not me that had smashed Jimmy or Paul’s glasses.
Jimmy kept saying that he felt really bad. I told him not to worry. He then remembered me saying about Wayne who was in my lecture group who I had given him my spare glasses when he had lost his once. I said it didn’t matter but Jimmy insisted that he went to try and borrow them from Wayne. I remembered that they were the same prescription as mine.
Jimmy soon returned with Wayne’s spare glasses. I tried them on. They were the same prescription as mine before I had been prescribed the upgrade—minus 2.5. Whilst I had been bumped up -1D I had not gotten my new glasses yet and was still used to the old ones. I could see quite well.
Jimmy said that Wayne was glad to return the favour to me. Interestingly Jimmy reported that Wayne felt that he was due for an increase in his Rx also.
I took the glasses off and looked at them. They were kind of retro geek in style was a darkish tint. I loved them. They made me look like Roy Orbison.
We went out for a meal as it was Wednesday night. It was Paul’s treat as he was now earning reasonably good money.
Later we went back to the Students’ bar. We met up with some friends and had a drink or so. Almost everybody noticed our new glasses and wanted to try them on. Most people could see reasonably well with my glasses but struggled to see with Jimmy’s glasses. They could not believe the strength of Paul’s glasses. One or two people said it was strange for us all to be myopic. It was like we were brothers. We were very close I suppose. Much closer than real brothers would have been!
We were heading towards spring and getting stuck into our work.
One Thursday morning there was a knock at our door. We were all in the room. It was the janitor. There was no problem as he knew that Paul would sleep over for one or two nights. Paul used to cut his hair for free. Anyhow he had come to introduce us to Bill.
Jake the janitor explained that Bill had just moved in to a room four doors down to us and was new around here. Bill was on the tall side with very dark hair, of medium to large build and carrying a little bit of weight. Bill was blind.
We all got up to shake his hand and introduced ourselves to him. He seemed a very nice chap. Jake had to go to do some chores and left us talking with Bill. We told him to sit down and we chatted for quite some time.
It seemed that Bill was sighted up until about three and a half years ago. He had an accident when he fell off a ladder at his parents’ house when cleaning the gutter out. He did not break any bones but he knocked himself out. He was taken to hospital and when he came around he was horrified to find that he had lost his eyesight! The doctors thought that it was a temporary thing but he was still without sight.
About three weeks afterwards his sight came back for a few minutes. Everybody was excited by this and he was sent to doctors worldwide to see what could be done but to no avail. It seemed that there must be some sort of blood clot which is blocking the optic nerve. His situation has remained largely the same but twice in the last month he thought that he had had a few brief moments of vision. One was when he looked out of the window and for a brief moment and could see a tree. There was in fact a large tree there. The other was when he was having a wash in the bathroom before bedtime and he thought his vision had come back for quite a few seconds. The problem was that because he is blind he never bothered to put the lights on and he thinks that by the time he put the light on his vision had gone. Sometimes if he is feeling down he wonders if the “sight” was his imagination.
He recounted his experiences since his accident. The doctors said that nobody could say whether or when his eyesight would come back. He may be blind for the rest of his life or maybe another bump or trauma may bring his vision back at any moment. He lived in hope but was a realist and did not want to build his hopes up too much.
We all wished him well and agreed that there was always hope. He had a great laugh and sense of humour and I knew then that we would all get along fine.
Jimmy and Paul explained about their eyesight and Paul said he realised how precious his sight was despite his very thick glasses. Bill asked to “see” Paul’s glasses which seemed very strange. He felt them and commented about how thick they were. Then to my astonishment he tried them on. “Wow, you have terrible eyesight” he said. At first we did not know whether to laugh or not but it became apparent that this was part of his fabulous sense of humour and magnetically pleasing personality. After a slight pause we all laughed. It was a precious moment. We were not laughing at him but with him at the daft and ridiculous scenario.
We talked more and took him out for a coffee. He was new to the place and we guided him to the cafe. He generally used a cane and when he was more used to the layout he got around quite well by himself.
I had always admired people who got on in life despite having a handicap and Bill was no exception. It reinforced in me that Bill was not “the blind boy” but a guy named Bill who was a student who just happened to be without sight.
We talked and found out that Bill’s father was a very good lawyer. We told him about our experience on the bus and he said we could instruct his father to sort out damages. We agreed that we would do this at some future date. We were also to learn from Bill that he had gone to a college to graduate in Law but that he didn’t have time to get used to his computer and braille gadgets before the course fully got underway. His father had placed him in our small private college to do general studies and that when he got up to speed he would go back in the fall to graduate in Law.
We told him we would help him the best he could. Paul told him how Jimmy and I had helped him when he had sight problems. Paul was virtually crying when he told Bill about this and we all felt a bit emotional. However Bill’s sense of humour got us back to earth when he said it was like the blind leading the blind.
We took Bill back to his room and went our separate ways that day.
That night I kept awake for a long time thinking about the day. I started to think how strange it was that three myopes had been introduced to Bill but then I realised that Jake the Janitor had seen how we took to Paul back last Christmas time.
Bill’s room was the same shape as ours but had a double bed instead of two singles. Bill needed the extra room to set his things up. He had a large computer that read text and converted written words into spoken.
I noticed that all his things including his clothes were neatly laid out. He told me that the golden rule was not to move anything as he memorized where everything was. This rubbed off on Jimmy and myself. It shamed us into realising what a mess our room had become.
Jimmy and I would often pop in to see if Bill needed anything. Paul would spend time in with Billy when he came around. One Saturday after work Paul came around as usual and had been in Bill’s room for quite some time. I asked him if they had done anything interesting. Paul told me that Bill had ben teaching him braille on the computer. I thought no more of this.
The following Wednesday evening Paul had been in Bill’s room doing the same thing. Jimmy was out of town that night supporting the football team and would not be back until sometime the next day. Paul got to sleep in Jimmy’s bed.
When we lay in our beds that night we began to talk. I asked Paul was he worried that he may one day lose his sight and was therefore practising on Bill’s computer? Paul hesitated at first but then said that there was always a risk of a highly myopic person going blind. Of course the chances of that happening were thankfully not that great. I thought about this and then said that I didn’t like the thought of Paul worrying about remote possibilities. Paul could detect the despondency in my voice. “Hey don’t worry”, he said; “it’s a kind of precaution but really I thought that I may be able to help out and teach people who are visually challenged how to use the equipment,” he added. “Good on you,” I said.
Paul kept on with his work with Bill and Jimmy and I were very proud of him. It seems that Paul had a general education and then took hairdressing qualifications. He had not had the opportunity of taking academic subjects. This was a way of developing his potential.
Paul took this role very seriously. When he slept over he tried going without his glasses when he showered and dressed. He said he would not do it at his own place in case he lost his glasses.
There was one night when I stayed over at Paul’s when Jimmy wanted peace and quiet to study. When we woke up in the morning Paul said he was going to take a shower and was going to try it without his glasses on. He wanted an insight, he said. “OK Leave the shower run for me and I will get ready and take a shower with your glasses on to see how I manage,” I said.
Paul went in to shower and left the door open. I don’t think it was as easy as he thought and I could hear a lot of bumping going on. I took off my clothes and put Paul’s glasses on. I walked towards the bathroom trying to use my memory as I could hardly see anything at all. As I went through the doorway and into the bathroom I could feel exciting forces getting to work in my groin. I figured that Paul would be none the wiser and that made it all the more exciting knowing that Paul could not see. I stepped forward and BANG! I bumped straight into Paul’s front. We hit each other front on. I peeped over the top of the glasses and noticed that Paul seemed to be in an excitable state. Was Paul always like this when he took a shower? I have heard that a lot of men get like this when they get undressed. We both apologised and I said that I couldn’t see a thing with the glasses on. Paul said it was mutual. I took the glasses off whilst in the shower because it was easier to wash.
I came out of the bathroom and dried off with the glasses on. In the end I gave up and dressed without them. I put them back on Paul who functioned much better with them on.
Paul kept up with his lessons on Bill’s computer and Bill said that Paul would practise on the computer without his glasses on to make sure he could do it right. Paul was quite good and sometimes typed print in for Bill to save time. Paul got in touch with the local Vision Institute and agreed to help out visually impaired students. He had to go on a short course first of all.
He had done two or three lessons on basic computer usage with his students and was enjoying it.
Meanwhile Jimmy and I were working hard with our studies.
We were approaching the spring vacation and Bill asked if we had taken any further action to obtain damages with regard to the bus crash. We confirmed that we hadn’t done so. Bill said he would ask his father to sort it out. Jimmy would type out some details (which were duly composed in both braille and regular text) and send it on to his dad. He said we could spend some time at Bill’s family home during the vacation and speak to his dad in more detail. After Bill typed it it he laughed and said “You guys are sure like the three blind mice”.
Bill was always there to help despite his disability. One day both Jimmy and I had gone to lessons and Paul was still in bed in our room as it was a Thursday morning. Bill rang Paul to ask him if he was going down to breakfast. There was no answer. Bill let himself into our room. Apparently Paul was desperately searching for both his phone and glasses which must have got knocked over. Bill told Paul to stay still. He riffled with his hands and soon found them both. He even placed Paul’s glasses on his face. Paul was grateful and joked that he would be the butt of all jokes if it got out that a blind guy had had to find his glasses.
Another day I was in Bill’s room and had an attack of not being able to breathe properly. Bill was able to get to my room and fetch my inhaler.
Bill and I went down for coffee one morning when Jimmy was still in bed. I asked him what his sight was like. He said that up until just under a year before he lost his sight he had been prescribed glasses which were about -.75. Everybody who tried them on seemed to say that they did not make much difference. He just used them for driving and that sort of thing. He said it was strange how if he saw people with strong glasses he always thought to himself that they would be “blind” without them, but now he would be glad to be in their shoes.
It was a strange thing but he always kept his glasses in his workbag. In reality they would not make much difference if his sight did come back. It was a symbol of hope and reassurance I suppose.
Bill and I went on to discuss whether or not he would be more myopic if his sight ever came back. Bill said despondently that the conversation may prove to be hypothetical anyway and we left it there.
Jimmy and I both had a lot of work to finish off as we had sometimes let things slip. I had got into the habit of going over to Paul’s place in the day to do my work. If Jimmy and I were in the same room we would end up with the radio on and would talk and distract each other.
On one Tuesday I had gone over to Paul’s and had spent the morning working. After lunch I carried on with my work. The rain started running down the window-pane and it looked very bleak outside. I started to feel very tired. I undressed and jumped into the bed. I must have fallen asleep.
The next thing I remember is Paul coming in at about 5.45 p.m. “Hey, sleepy head, what happened to the work?” he said. I explained that I had felt very tired and could not resist falling into bed. Paul said he was very tired and felt the same.
The next thing Paul took all his clothes off and said “Shift over”. He said he had felt like sleeping in the shop downstairs all afternoon and was glad to be able to take a rest. It was so comforting lying there with the rain beating down on the window.
Paul stretched out his arms and legs and yawned. I said that I should be thinking of getting up as I should get back. Paul said not to rush and it was nice to have company after finishing work. We talked about things in general and remembered that we were all going swimming the next evening. Bill had said that he might come. “I don’t know how he will manage,” I said to Paul. “Well, Jimmy and I are not much better than him,” he said. I agreed with Paul but privately thought that Bill was in a different position. “Well, there’s hardly anybody there on Wednesday evenings,” said Paul; “which is just as well when Jimmy and I swim around,” he added.
We talked some more and I asked Paul if he felt better after his rest. He said that his tiredness was better but that he worried about other things. “What other things?” I asked. He paused for a moment and said, with a lot of consternation in his voice, “I haven’t told anybody else but I think I have a lump down below.” I said that I had thought I had something similar quite recently but it turned out to be a hair follicle which had gotten infected. Indeed it had not quite gone altogether and I had to squeeze it every day which without going into the mechanics of it was difficult with one pair of hands. I did not feel comfortable asking the next question but felt that I was duty bound to so. “Do you want me to look at it?” I said. “If you don’t mind,” he said, and added that my eyesight was so much better than his.
He pulled the bedclothes right back and remained on his front. He pushed his other part to one side and removed his hand back up to his chest. I reached for the bedside lamp and angled towards his groin. I could see a small lump which was white in appearance which looked as if it was full of dead white cells. I explained to Paul that it looked like an infected hair follicle; the same as I had got. I told Paul to go and have a bath to loosen the skin. Paul did so. In fact when he came back out onto the bed he mentioned that he had left his glasses in the bathroom. “Better for you not to look right now anyway” I said. “Lie down flat.”
Paul followed my command. Whilst Paul was in the bathroom I had fetched a sterile needle. Paul looked towards my hands but could not see what I was about to do. I stuck the end of the needle in just enough to break the skin. “Ouch!” said Paul. “Don’t worry,” I said, “nearly there;” and I grabbed hold of the skin around the infection and it all burst out. Despite the initial discomfort of the squeeze the release of pressure took all the discomfort away for Paul. I wiped the mess up and put antiseptic cream on. “Gee, thanks,” said Paul. “It’s been so painful, and I was really worried it was something else.”
I told him it was gone now but that if he ever found anything more sinister he should go straight to the doctor’s office.
Paul agreed with me and said he would do so if anything else appeared.
I started to get ready to go and reminded Paul the we were all going swimming next evening after he came over. “Sure thing—I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
We said goodbye and as I went through the doorway I said, “I guess I’ll never be embarrassed to ask you to see to anything for me.” “No—You’re right there,” he retorted.
The following morning the alarm went off and Jimmy went into the shower. I tried to get myself into the frame of mind of getting up from bed. Jimmy came out of the bathroom with his flimsy hand towel around his middle and passed his glasses to me to clean them. I looked at the edges and noted the thick edges which were one and a half times as thick as my index fingernail. The edges were wonderfully polished and I could see the reflection of my face in them. I felt the thickness with my hands. I never ceased to be amazed by their thickness and power rings. I tried them on as usual and noticed that they were losing their rigidity and were a bit “bendy” in the middle.
I took them off and noticed that the piece of thin titanium wire that joined the two lenses together over the nose bridge seemed to be suffering metal fatigue. The eye doctor had warned that this could be a problem with rimless glasses of this thickness as the portion of frame that held the glasses together had to carry the hugely thick lenses without the support of surrounding frames. I remember when the eye doctor mentioned this that I told him to go ahead anyhow as the insurance was paying. Both Jimmy and Paul were in no position to challenge me as they were unable to see what was going on and left everything to me.
What a dilemma. Should I warn Jimmy that his glasses might break on him and have to admit that I gave the wrong advice or should I say nothing and let him think that if they broke one day it would be an accident. I knew that the piece of metal was so light and delicate that if it broke there was no way that it could be fixed. I took the cowardly course and said nothing. I would have to be careful cleaning them etc. from now on in case they broke in my hands. I carefully placed them back on Jimmy’s face as he sat by the mirror. “Thanks” he said.
I suddenly thought of Paul. He would be in a worse state if his got broken and he might be on his own.
We both went off to lessons and came back later ready to go swimming. I went into Bill’s room to see if he wanted to come. He said “Yes, I’m sure you will look after me and point me in the right direction”. “I’m used to it by now,” I said. I then went back into our room to await the arrival of Paul.
Paul came over and we went to fetch Bill. It was only a short walk to the pool so we decided to walk. I took Bill by the arm to save him from using his cane.
When we got to the pool we found a large bench upon which to change. I put Bill’s things out ready for him. He took all his clothes off. I joked about running away with his shorts. I placed them into his hands and he put them on. Jimmy and Paul had put their shorts on by now and had both handed me their glasses.
I tried Paul’s glasses on knowing that nobody could see me. They were quite sloppy and had lost their rigidity. I examined them and could see that they were going the same way as Jimmy’s. I took them back off and carefully placed them with Jimmy’s glasses on top of my locker. Next I took off my glasses. I could not see clearly but in the kingdom of the blind the one eyed man is king.
Paul said “Jimmy and I are in the same boat as you now Bill.” Bill laughed and said that I had better not think of running away as I would have three people to answer to once the others were bespectacled once more.
The next thing to happen was like something out of a dream. Paul stood to my left and held me tight. Jimmy did the same from the other side and Bill stood behind and placed his hands on my lower neck and shoulders I walked towards the pool never having even dreamt what was about to occur.
We walked towards the pool area and the others grabbed me tightly. I felt very secure and in control. I told Bill to watch the step when exiting the changing room. I guess this was for everybody’s benefit really although I did not sound so patronising if I addressed my remarks towards Bill. We got to the pool edge. I told Paul and Jimmy that we were by the edge and they got into the pool. They seemed to cope better when Bill was there, thinking that they should be grateful for the bare eyed limited sight that they had. I told them that there was nobody about. Whilst in the water they grabbed the poolside edge.
Next I took Bill’s hand and we got in slowly together. He would like to have jumped in but he had been warned not to as people had been injured in the past by doing this. I explained the outline of the pool to Bill and the relevant depths.
Jimmy and Paul swam slowly up and down the pool and seemed to enjoy things. Bill splashed about by the side of the pool for a while. I wanted to concentrate on seeing that Bill was OK but he told me not to worry.
After a while Bill said that being in the pool gave him a great sense of freedom. He did not have to worry about falling down steps and suchlike as he did whilst on land. I watched him grow in confidence and he started to swim along the edge. I kept watching him to the detriment of the others.
Suddenly I could hear an argument ensue. Paul had swum into the path of a guy who was not best pleased. Paul was taken aback and was not able to see the guy to answer back. I swam up to Paul and explained his vision problems. I apologized on his behalf. The other guy did not realize the position. He went bright red and apologized profusely. He even put his arm around Paul and said sorry. I found that quite an endearing quality in him. Paul said it was quite all right and that he accepted the guy’s apology and bore him no malice. The guy then swam away.
During our now convivial conversation Jimmy swam up to us and almost literally bumped into me. With that I could hear a dull thud and heard a shout. OH MY GOD!!! Bill had swum headfirst into the end wall of the pool. I was supposed to be keeping an eye on him. He briefly went under the water and came back up.
I swam towards him as fast as I could and the other two did their best to follow me. They did well considering that they could not see properly. I swam up to him and he kept shouting “OH MY GOD” over and over and over. I felt sick with worry. Why did I leave him alone? What injuries did he have?
Bill seemed dazed and looked around. By now the water was shallow enough to stand up in. “Can you hear me Bill? Can you hear me”? I said with panic in my voice. I figured he was dazed. “Yes I can,” he said and added instantaneously “AND I CAN SEE YOU!”
Must be concussion bringing back vision memories I said to myself out loud. The other two boys were gathered around right now. Jimmy and Paul agreed. “No, I CAN definitely see you” he said. I got him to sit at the pool edge. He kept shouting “I CAN SEE” with adulation but he could tell, from my voice at least, that I was not convinced. “You have bright blue eyes” he said “and are wearing green speedos. You have a ring on with your name on it and you have a small old scar on the bottom of your left leg.” We all gasped. How long will this last? I thought without wanting to spoil Bill’s moment. Bill started to cry followed very closely by us all. We all hugged Bill closely and he kissed us all in his excitement.
“Stay quite still for a few moments,” I said. I figured we were all wondering if this was a temporary thing. We all said nothing for what seemed like an age but was probably only a moment or so.
“I’m so sorry,” I said referring to Bill bumping into the wall. “Sorry—Jesus Christ man, you’ve just restored my sight!” he said, and I kissed him on the lips. He grabbed me and kept thanking me all over again.
I said we should all get of the pool when the going was good. The others agreed. Bill jumped out of the pool like a wild animal. “Wait for me!” said Paul, and Jimmy joined in his plea. Once out of the water he walked double quick to the shower area. Bill was like a mad thing and behaved as though he was drunk or something. Could you blame him. Bill and I almost left the others stranded and then remembered their predicament. I took hold of Jimmy’s arm and Bill took hold of Paul’s arm. “Shit, this is surreal,” said Paul, “being led by you.” “I know, I can’t believe it myself,” said Bill. We all showered and Bill and I helped Jimmy and Paul find their soap and things.
We then rushed to change and Bill was changed in double time. I was next to finish. I started to clean Jimmy’s glasses and it was sooooo strange to see Bill cleaning Paul’s glasses. Bill tried them on and remarked how strong they were. Paul laughed and Bill placed them on Paul. I did the same with Jimmy’s glasses.
We were now changed and ready to go out into the big wide world. What an experience for Bill. Please God, let it last for him, I said to myself.
Before we got outside we passed under some very bright lights in the concourse. Bill kept looking at our faces. I asked what was wrong. “Nothing” he said “It’s just that I have never seen you guys before”.
When we got towards our block Bill ran up the stairs as fast as I have ever seen anybody do it. He wanted to get to a phone to ring his folks. I was still worried that this may not last so to avoid any potential disappointment I suggested that he go home tomorrow and surprise his family. He thought that this would be a great idea. We got in the room and he asked me to look in the phone book for a cab company to take him. If he asked his father’s driver to come over they might think something was wrong. Bill then burst out laughing with joy. He realised that he could do it himself.
He called his Mom to explain that he was coming home. He made up something about needing to come back for an old friend’s birthday.
We all wanted to go to the college bar to tell everybody but I figured that the media might get hold of the story and spoil the surprise. He agreed and we went into town where we did not know so many people. He acted normally whilst outside. We took a hell of a long time coming home because he wanted to look at everything he saw in great detail.
Whilst back at the room I was still worried that his sight might not keep up and I went to sleep in his room. There was only one bed but it was large. Once in bed he spoke constantly about how happy he was and cried with joy. I had never felt so happy for someone in my life. “I’m afraid to close my eyes in case this is all a dream,” he said. I told him it was OK. I figured that if his sight would go closing his eyes would not make much difference.
He kept putting the light off and on all night to check his sight and to look at the room and its contents. He told me that I could not begin to imagine how wonderful the gift of sight was. I mentioned that he still had his low powered glasses. “Oh yes, I nearly forgot” he said. I wondered to myself if his Rx had changed but I was not going to spoil the moment by mentioning it now. Despite being kept awake most of the night I told Bill to savour his sight. Eventually we settled down in the dark for some sleep.
What would tomorrow bring?
The next morning Bill woke up very early. I felt as if I had not long gotten off to sleep. Bill was full of the joys of spring. Thank goodness his sight was still there, I thought. I was now truly excited on Bill’s behalf. Whilst I was no expert it seemed to me that his sight had not only lasted at least 8 hours but that it was still evident after Bill had been to sleep.
Within five minutes both Jimmy and Paul came into the room. “OK?” they asked and Bill replied that he had never felt better. Bill studied both their faces for some time. He asked to try their glasses on. First he tried Jim’s on. “God, they are mighty strong,” he said. Next he tried Paul’s on. “I never realized your eyes were so bad,” said Bill. “Without glasses you were not much better than me,” he added. “My turn for a cure,” joked Paul. We laughed.
Bill got dressed. The cab came and took Bill on his way home. We waved him off. Meanwhile we went about our daily routine and let slip about Bill’s wonderful news. I hoped that the media did not get hold of this before Bill got home. It seems that on the cab journey Bill told the driver about his story and the driver was moved to tears.
Once home Bill knocked on his front door. He did not use his key. His mom opened the door. She put her arm around Bill and kissed him. She led him into the house and he sat on the sofa. She sat opposite him. “Nice carpet,” he said; “must be new.” She replied that it was and figured that his brother must have mentioned it. “Going a bit grey around the temples,” said Bill. “Thank you for your backhanded compliment,” she said. Had his brother told him this also, she thought to herself. For one slight moment a flicker of hope registered in her mind. My God, Billy can see, she thought but then dismissed the idea as wishful thinking, and her thoughts turned somewhat more realistic and subdued. “There was a time when you would have seen me age every day,” she said. “Lovely dress you have on mom,” said Bill. Now she really was excited. Nobody else was around and she dressed after the rest of the family had gone out. Could it be that Bill could see? Surely it would be too cruel for Bill to pretend that he could. She dared to risk the question. With a very nervous and shaky voice she retorted. “You can see Bill?”
“I certainly can,” said Bill, with an air of unimportance as if to magnify the air of disbelief that his mom was experiencing.
Mom was speechless with emotion. She jumped onto Bill’s lap and hugged and hugged and hugged him. Bill thought that she was going to break his ribs. She let out what can be best described as a scream of relief. She sobbed her heart out. Anyone would think that something terrible had happened.
When Bill lost his sight his mom had never really come to terms with it. She had never cried for him. Now with tears flowing down her face like a river, years of anguish were pouring out. She was shaking and in a terrible state. “Cool down mom,” said Bill. “I know,” she said. “I am so happy I can’t get a grip.”
They both had a stiff drink and when the happy news registered she got very happy. The shock was over. Bill explained how everything had happened and she said she wanted to meet us all.
Bill and his mom talked and then his brother Brad came home. Bill and his mom agreed to play along with the game. This time Brad hugged Bill and said hello. Brad sat down and Bill asked Brad how long he had been wearing plus lensed glasses. “Only for a month,” said Brad, thinking that mom must have mentioned them. Bill asked to try them on and Brad thought that was quite strange. Brad went along with it. “Your glasses are a bit strong” said Bill. Brad said nothing but thought to himself that this was a bit rich coming from a blind guy. “Just a minute; how do you know?” said Brad. “You can see!” said Brad who repeated this. Bill explained that he could indeed see and explained the story. Brad hugged Bill and Bill went on explain how wonderful it was to be able to see again.
Next Dad came home; he put his arm around Bill and said how nice it was to see him. The same routine developed. Bill told his dad that he didn’t like the colour of his tie. Dad stayed silent for a while, afraid to let himself believe that Bill could see in case he was so badly wrong. Figuring that his dad was on his scent Bill added that his dad did however have great cufflinks on. Bill put his dad out of his agonising and said “Yes, I can see!”
His dad held him and he also cried for a moment, but then composed himself and broke out the best drink in the house. His dad went out in the garden and shouted to all who could hear that Bill could see. He openly invited everybody who could hear him to come in for a drink.
“This is the happiest day of my life!” he proclaimed.
Bill went to bed that night still walking on air and delighted that he could see. Tomorrow he was going to be checked out by doctors but that was another day. He lay in bed with a low night light on. He wanted to keep checking that he could still see. He felt as if he was in heaven, or at least heaven on earth. He put a C.D. on his stereo. It was Rodriguez Guitar concerto. He had always loved this piece but now it was even more glorious and wonderful than ever. He lay there and soaked up the wonderful music. Bliss. He eventually dropped off to sleep.
His Mom and Dad were in their bedroom. They were so pleased for Bill. They were so very proud of Bill and how he had managed when he lost his sight. It was wonderful that he could now see again. He was a credit to them. Bill’s Mom did mention to his Dad that she was concerned that their younger son had such strong plus lenses, but then in the next breath she added that she was just so thankful that Bill could see again. She was not a religious person but she could not help but wonder if there had been divine intervention.
The next day the media had got to hear about the story. Generally, Bill’s Dad was a bit reluctant to have anything to do with the media but because this was such a happy story the family agreed to do interviews with the press, the radio and TV stations. The family talked about all aspects of Bill’s life and he mentioned that I had accidentally left him on his own when he bumped into the wall. He told the world that he was so glad that he could see again that he kissed me.
One guy from the press did not know that Bill’s blindness was due to a car crash and when he spoke to Bill’s brother he asked him if he too was losing his sight. Bill’s little brother went bright red and said that there was no connection. Secretly he must have felt conscious that his glasses must have gotten a lot stronger for someone to have even thought this.
Meanwhile the press were knocking on our door. They had heard the story and wanted us to give interviews. I said we should and any money we made from the exercise we could use to get spare glasses for both Paul and Jimmy as I knew how much they needed them and I also figured that their glasses may break due to metal fatigue one day sooner rather than later.
We gave an interview to the press and recounted the swimming pool experience. Paul had come over to see what was going on. The newspaper seemed to be more interested in the fact that we were a trio of high myopes (albeit I was a baby myope at minus 3.5D). They took lots of photographs of us and seemed to want to capture the light on our glasses. They also took side views of the boys’ glasses.
The next day when the paper was published there was a full page on us. The main story was about Bill regaining his sight. However there was another story lower down the page entitled “Three Blind Mice” mentioning the thickness of the glasses of the boys. They also said that I was totally reliant on glasses. I wondered to myself if this was correct and realised that for driving or anything like that they were probably right. It kind of brought that fact home to me. When the others saw it they were not best pleased. They both said that whilst they knew full well that they were helpless without their glasses on they felt that they didn’t want to be portrayed to the world as some sort of invalids. I could understand this.
The story money I kept in a separate purse and told the others that when we had thought about some new frames we would all go and order new glasses.
Meanwhile back at Bill’s home he set off to see the eye doctors. He remembered that he had eyeglasses in his bag. They were about minus 1. He tried them on and could see better with them. He took them to the doctor’s office. The eye doctor was already conversant with Bill’s story as he had heard it on the radio. He joked that he would have good publicity by Bill going to his office.
Bill had his eyes tested. The good news was that there was no reason to believe that the blindness would come back again although this could not be ruled out 100%. The test revealed that Bill’s myopia had increased to -2. Bill was told that this was still considered mild and new glasses were made up within the hour. When Bill tried them on he could not believe it was possible to see this clear. He had no memory of being able to see so clearly in the past. He looked at trees and was delighted that he could see every individual leaf! The eye doc. told him it was optional if he wanted to use them full time. Bill said that after being totally blind he did not care whether he needed them full time or not.
That evening Bill phoned and told us everything that had gone on. I filled him in on things our end and told him about the “Three Blind Mice” story. He laughed out loud. He said he did not mean to laugh at us but thought that it was funny that we had been the main interest in the article when it was us who had helped him get about. I saw the funny side of things and joined in the joke.
Bill said that he was going to stay with his folks for a week and catch up with old times. I explained that he might as well take the opportunity to do so. It was the spring vacation starting in two days’ time and I had agreed reluctantly to go mountain climbing with Jimmy and Paul for a night or two. It seems that Jimmy was quite experienced at it and Paul had gone once before. I did not like the idea but had agreed to go along with it. We arranged to see him after the vacation. I wished him well and the last thing he said was, “You and the others take great care on the mountain.” I said that we would certainly try.
It was early Saturday morning and we were about to go on a weekend trip mountain climbing! Paul had been given some time off and he slept over at our room the night before.
Jimmy had just come out of the shower in his customary tiny towel around his waist. He handed me his wonderfully thick glasses to clean for him whilst he sat by the desk and dried his hair. I cleaned them as usual and tried them on. I never ceased to be amazed at the strength of them and my vision through them.
Paul was by now in the bathroom taking a shower. I put them on Jimmy. He always sighed slightly when he had his glasses back on because of the sight that they afforded him. He took them back off and asked me to rub cream into his ears. He had gone from heavy glasses which left red marks on his ears to light wire glasses that cut into the side of his ears. I rubbed the cream in. I put the glasses back on my face briefly to check something out. Yes. the nose bridge part of the glasses was getting flimsy and I wondered how long the glasses would last. When I tried them on in front of Jim he joked that my eyes were not quite as bad as to need those strong glasses yet.
Meanwhile Paul shouted out SHIT a number of times from the bathroom. The door had been left open to let the steam out. I went in and Paul said he could not find his glasses. He had no clothes on and appeared to be excited about something. He was a bit red when I went into the room. I squeezed past him and he had bent over to “look” for the glasses on the floor. They were behind a pipe. I picked them up and cleaned them. “Thanks for saving my eyes,” as Paul used to call his glasses. “No problem,” I said and cleaned them. I tried them on and again never got tired of the amazing sight of looking through them. I noticed that the nose bridge of his glasses was all floppy and looked as if it was on its way out. I came back out of the bathroom and wondered why they had not noticed this. Was it because when their glasses were off everything was oblivious to them and they couldn’t see what was happening anyway?
We got dressed and packed our bags and spent the day on a long distance bus travelling up to the mountains. Whilst at the foot of the mountains we set up a temporary camp. The weather was mighty cold up here as it was only Easter time. We had quite a nice campside meal and I did now feel a bit more relaxed about climbing the mountain.
It was now dark and we set up camp and slept on the base of the mountain. I did not think it was going to be such an ordeal after all. We slept in a row in the small tent. I was on the edge of the row and was nearest the entrance. I had a folded up bag next to me. Paul was furthest over from me. I took my glasses off and put them on the bag next to me. Paul said that I had better put his glasses safe and handed them to Jimmy who handed them to me. Jimmy then did the same with his glasses and asked me to put them safe. “Don’t roll on to that lot in the night,” he said. “This is the wrong place to be left bare eyed,” he added. “You’re right there!” I replied.
We got off to sleep and woke surprisingly late the next morning. I think that the journey must have tired us. I handed both sets of glasses over to Paul and mentioned that I had not rolled on to them. “No, still safe and sound,” I replied.
We washed in the stream and got fully dressed. Next we packed all the gear into back packs and set off up the mountain. Paul explained that most of the trip would be on foot but there were a few parts when we would need to hitch up to ropes and haul ourselves up and over some overhangs.
The sun was out but it sure was very cold. We had dressed up in warm clothes for comfort and safety. We stopped for lunch and lit a small fire on the way up. Later we did our first “rope haul” as I called it when we had to climb the ropes. I was not very comfortable with this but I relied on Paul’s advice and instructions to guide me.
After a long day we had one more “rope haul” to do before setting up camp for the night. It would be dark within an hour or so and by now we were into freezing conditions. I had wished that we had set up camp by now but Paul said it would be best to get to the top of the next base first.
We got about half way up and I started to feel tired. Paul caught hold of me and gave me a helpful pull in the right direction. Paul said that his glasses were starting to fog up. I was not surprised as it was well below freezing and the glasses were so thick. Jimmy was in the same position. Also Paul’s glasses kept slipping down his face because of the weight of them and the effect of gravity. Paul pushed his glasses back up his face when there was a loud crack! Suddenly Paul let out a cry as his glasses fell off and went flying into the air and down the mountain. It seemed that the frost had made the already weak frames brittle and they had snapped and fallen off his face. “OH SHIT—WHAT AM I GOING TO DO NOW?” he said. I wondered the same. At least Jimmy still had his glasses on and knew a bit about mountain climbing. Paul was just stunned and clung to the rope. He said nothing. I told Jimmy to take care of his glasses. They were slipping down and I was worried that they might slip off his face.
With that Jimmy pushed his glasses up his face with probably more force than he realized. “JESUS CHRIST!” he said. I asked what was wrong. He explained that his glasses had broken in the middle also. He managed to catch one end of them. At least he had one lens to work with. He tried balancing them on his nose to see. However he needed his other hand for the rope. “ARGH!” he shouted out. The remaining lens had fallen off of his face and had also fallen down the mountain.
I sure was scared now. In fact I wet myself. I was afraid of heights and on a rope, up a mountain, with two guys who could not see. It was going dark and the temperature was below freezing.
If I had gotten them better glasses this would not have occurred. It was my fault!!
I felt numb with shock. At least I could see. I still had my glasses and could function without them in any event. The others were effectively “blind” and hanging on a rope up a mountain. They were the ones with the mountaineering knowledge.
Strangely enough I got a strange “exciting” feeling that comes upon you when you get an adrenaline rush. You feel extremely frightened and yet exhilarated at the same time. I had only ever had this feeling about once or twice in my life before.
Whilst I felt totally panic-stricken I decided that I should try and calm the situation. I asked Paul whether we should go up or down. He informed me that our best chance was to go up and on to the next stage. I shouted out to him where everything was in relation to him which seemed to calm him. I guess I had learned to “paint the scenery” when I used to explain things to Bill. I spoke to Jimmy and he seemed to calm down.
There then commenced an arduous procedure of inching our way up the ropes. By now the light was fading and even with the best eyesight in the world nobody would be able to see clearly before long.
We eventually reached the top of the ridge and I had to take the lead. I had to go out on a limb and throw a hook up and over the next ledge. I was terrified. I felt I was going to fall off the mountain when I did this and also I was not convinced that I had properly secured the rope using the grappling type hook. The others could not help me as they could not see.
After a gruelling effort we managed to all get to the next level and on to firm ground. I began to shake and started to cry. I did not usually show my emotions like this but I felt like I couldn’t help myself. Paul and Jimmy grabbed around me and shed quite a few tears. They thanked me for being so brave and taking the lead. I thought it must have been the others who were brave by going up the mountain effectively “blind”.
Paul started to swear and rant because he could not see. Jimmy joined in. Overcome by guilt I said that I should never have let them get those flimsy frames to house such thick glasses. They told me not to blame myself. “I’m just so annoyed at my useless f**king eyes. I am pathetic,” said Paul, who was not the type to swear. Jimmy also asked a rhetorical question as to why God had given him such pathetic eyesight. Jim was an agnostic but when faced with such adverse conditions he had reverted to the divine aspect of being agnostic.
We got the rucksacks off our backs and I erected the tents with as much help as the others could afford. Jim said that if he and Paul were permanently blind they would be able to do more by touch. They sure did feel for Bill when he had been without sight and greatly appreciated how well he had been able to manage.
I lit a small fire and we had some hot food and a warm drink. We sure felt better after this. Then, exhausted, we settled down for the night, each gripping on to each other for warmth and a sense of security.
Dawn broke and we awoke. Paul shouted, “Oh shit!” I asked him what was wrong. He said that in his dream he thought that his glasses were OK again but he had gone to feel for them and remembered that they were not there. He said that it was bad enough to be bare-eyed in civilisation but that being stuck up a mountain without sight was like a scene from a disaster movie.
I still had my minus 3.5 glasses and I had been prudent by getting my new script of minus 3.5 put back into my spare glasses which I had brought along. I wondered if I could do anything to make up some kind of glasses for Jimmy to see with. Jimmy was minus 12 and minus 14 while I figured that nothing could be done for poor Paul who was minus 24 both eyes.
I told Jimmy that I would try and make up some glasses that would work with one eye. Jim seemed intrigued. I set to work. I took the right lens out of my spare glasses and used tape to secure it over the left lens. That gave a total of minus seven. I placed this frame on Jimmy. He cold see much better already. Next I placed my new glasses on top. This gave Jimmy a total minus power (on paper) of minus 10.5 and he was only down 1.5D on his left eye script. Also because there was a slight distance between all of the lenses and his left eye the remaining minus 1.5 was made up.
Jimmy looked out through his left eye and could see very well indeed. He turned to me and kissed me and said “Thank you”. Poor Paul was left hopeless but at least with two out of three people with some sight we could start to plan getting back down the mountain. We washed and ate some food and got a hot drink. We gave the makeshift glasses to Paul to have some sight when he got dressed and ate. Jimmy kept the whole pair of glasses on the outer side of the arrangement and I put them on my face as and when I needed them.
I figured that the headline in the newspaper of “Three Blind Mice” had been quite inspired and not far from the truth after all.
Paul knew a way down the mountain that did not involve going on to the ropes and we started going down this way. Paul explained the path to Jimmy and we followed it. Jimmy went first followed by me and Paul held on to my shoulder to follow. We soon picked up speed and headed towards the bottom of the mountain.
As we neared the bottom Jimmy thought he could see someone in green. I put my regular glasses on. It looked like a ranger. We all shouted at him and he came our way. Within 30 minutes he was with us. We related the story to him and he was amazed. He knew the area well and led us down to his mountain cabin.
We got into the cabin and had some hot drinks and warmed up with some hot snacks. Brian the ranger said that he too had been beset with strong glasses all his life. He explained that they were mighty strong but he did not know the Rx. I asked to try them on and I estimated that they were in the region of minus 6. I told him that they were not strong when compared to the others. He was amazed when I told him that Paul’s Rx was almost five times that of his glasses.
Just then he smiled and asked for his glasses back. I gave them to him. He seemed to hit upon an idea. He said that he had been collecting glasses to send to poor countries and that they were in the cabin. He never did get around to handing them in to the collection station. He was even more animated when he remembered that his collection contained a few pairs of his now deceased grandfather’s glasses which he said were “real coke bottles and much worse than mine”.
Brian hunted out the box of glasses. I went through it and found two pairs of grandad’s glasses which were about minus 10 each. I put them on Paul. “Thank goodness I can see something,” he said. I then found an old pair of Brian’s glasses which added up to about minus twenty five which was only minus one over Paul’s usual script. Paul was delighted that he could see and thanked Brian. I could see that Brian was amazed at the script of Paul and had never seen anybody so nearsighted. “I guess I don’t think my glasses are so bad after seeing you guys’,” he said and quickly added “no offence”. “None taken,” said both Paul and Jimmy.
We spent some time with Brian and he sent us on our way. He asked us to keep in touch and let him know how we got on.
The boys hoped that nobody would notice us on our journey back on the bus. We now wanted to get back to college even though it was vacation time to sort out new glasses before going elsewhere. Thank goodness the press hadn’t got hold of the story or they would have a field day with *The Adventures Of The Three Blind Mice*.
We got on the bus for the journey back home. The others looked quite ridiculous with combinations of various glasses balanced on their noses. For most of the journey we slept and I noticed that the others took the glasses off for as long as they could manage. They must have felt quite embarrassed with their various glasses combinations.
We eventually got off the bus and went to Paul’s apartment as it was the nearest place. We decided to stay there the night. Both Paul and Jimmy wondered how they were going to manage without their glasses.
I said that I would telephone the eyeglass shop where we got the emergency glasses from the next morning. Paul said he would not be able to work until he had gotten new glasses and Jimmy said he would not go to lessons the next day.
That night we all took it in turns to bath. It was not practical for the boys to go in the bathroom trying to balance a number of pairs of glasses on their noses especially when the multiple pairs would steam up. I stripped off ready to shower and Jimmy and Paul asked how they would manage to see to bath. I said I would help them and decided that Paul should go first because he had the worst eyesight. He stripped off and I led him into the bathroom. I told him it would be more practical to take a bath instead of a shower. I ran the bath and helped Paul get into the bath. He asked where the soap was. I placed it in his hand but it slipped through his hand. “Wait there, I’ll sort you out,” I said and I placed the soap into my hand and rubbed it over Paul’s skin. “I didn’t realise how useless I was without glasses,” said Paul and he went on to explain that he even wore his regular glasses in the bath even if they did get a bit misted up. There was no chance of trying to see through multiple misted up glasses. I rubbed the soap virtually all over his body and ran a jug of water over his head and began to massage the shampoo into his scalp. Paul said this was very relaxing and I must say that it felt mighty relaxing to me too.
Paul wiped his “undercarriage” with his hands and said he was getting out of the bath. I took his arm and led him out. When placing his second foot on the tiled floor he slipped into my arms and grabbed hold of me very tightly I thought. He soon regained his footing and I placed the towel around him. He started to wipe himself and went into the main room.
Jimmy was in the main room and I explained how I had helped Paul to bath. “Your turn to help me now, my old buddy” said Jimmy. Even though Jimmy’s eyes were very bad I would have thought that he would have had enough sight to be able to bath himself. I didn’t argue and led him into the bathroom and repeated the same procedure. Jimmy said that he felt comforted to know that I was there to help him when he couldn’t see properly. I smiled and said that I was glad to be of some help.
I led Jimmy out into the main room and I then took a bath. When I came out of the bathroom I could see that the others had not dressed. They said they could not find their clothes. Before I dressed I said I would locate their clothing and help them dress but they said as it was bedtime it was not worth the effort of struggling to see to dress. They both jumped into the one large bed and left the bedclothes back. I felt quite privileged to think that I was the only one able to see us all relatively clearly while they were in a complete blur. They were not embarrassed about being naked as I suppose if you cannot see psychologically you tend to think that nobody can see you.
I went to the drinks cabinet and poured us all large brandies. I placed them into the boys’ hands and we drank them in bed.
I said that first thing the next morning I would take steps to arrange new glasses for them. Paul said I did not realize what it was like to be like him and Jimmy said it was bad enough for him so poor old Paul must be in a worse state.
We all fell asleep. In the night Paul woke up and needed the bathroom so I led him there. He waited when I had a pee and I led him back to bed. We bumped into Jimmy getting back into bed and I then led him to the toilet.
When I led Jimmy to the toilet I could tell by his appearance that he must have had some pretty exciting dreams!!