Home > The Song of David (The Law of Moses)(13)

The Song of David (The Law of Moses)(13)
Author: Amy Harmon

“I wasn’t going to ask him to get in the octagon,” I said wryly.

“Are you smiling again?” It was a strange sensation to think I could wear whatever expression I wished, and she would be totally unaware. I could make fun of her, roll my eyes, grimace, stick out my tongue. And she would never know.

“Yes. I guess I am.”

“I thought so.” Amelie smiled too, but her face was tilted away from me, her eyes fixed on nothing, almost excluding me. Her teeth were white and straight behind smiling pink lips, scrubbed free of the red lipstick she’d worn in the cage the night before. In fact, her face was completely devoid of make-up, and here under the bright lights of the chandelier, where I could really see her, she was young and lovely with her dark hair tucked behind her ears. The way she didn’t make eye contact felt strangely coy, as if she were playing hard to get, though I knew better. She wasn’t playing that game. She couldn’t.

I released her hand and stepped back, my hand reaching for the door. She tilted her head toward the sound of me moving away. I knew she was the one at a disadvantage technically, but damned if I didn’t feel like I was the butt of a private joke, the way her eyes never drank me in.

“Thank you for seeing me home, Mr. Taggert.”

“You’re welcome, Miss . . .”

“Anderson,” she supplied, although I already knew her last name.

“Goodnight, Amelie Anderson.”

I let myself out, pulling the door closed behind me.

(End of Cassette)


THE FIRST TAPE ended with the loud click of the play button releasing, and I exhaled deeply, as if I’d been released as well. I’d been holding my breath throughout, afraid to relax, worried I would miss the clues, that I wouldn’t pick up on what Tag wasn’t telling us. The problem was, he seemed to be baring his soul, leaving nothing out of their first encounters, even the details better left unsaid.

“I don’t watch movies. I listen to them. I’m partial to great dialogue and awesome soundtracks, and romance is a must,” Millie spoke up, as if she felt compelled to supply the behind-the-scenes details Tag hadn’t shared. “A while back, my cousin Robin and I had an eighties movies marathon, complete with Dirty Dancing and Flashdance, and I did my best to follow along while Robin filled in the blanks. I put Flashdance on again when Robin went home. I listened to it over and over, and I imagined how it would feel to dance in front of an audience, to dance in front of people who didn’t know I was blind. That’s where I got the idea. I did a little research, hired a handy man, and within two weeks a sturdy stripper pole was keeping the water heater and the furnace company in our basement. The handyman asked me out, too. I declined.”

“Smart girl,” I said. I was impressed. She was full of life, and I felt a brief flash of happiness for my friend before I remembered that he’d let go.

“I took dancing and gymnastics when I was younger, and I was competitive all the way up to the time my sight started to fail. But being blind didn’t take away my ability to tumble, or swing from a bar, or even balance on a beam. With the help of my mom and some patient coaches, I was able to continue with my gymnastics up until just a few years ago. I still work out at the training facility sometimes, but I’ve over-stayed my welcome. I’ve outgrown my pathetic appeal, and I feel like a burden more often than not, always having to have someone nearby, keeping an eye out for me.

“But in the basement with the pole, with the music pounding as loud as I want, I can put my dance and gymnastics training to good use. And no one has to help me. Nobody has to make sure I don’t fall or hurt myself. When I dance, I can pretend like I’m the real thing, I can pretend I look as good as dancing makes me feel. I even got brave enough to show Robin. She told me I looked amazing. She was so excited for me. So I started creating routines, you know, dreaming a little.

“I even choreographed a routine to “Perfectly Blind” by Day 26. It’s a sexy song and that’s funny, admit it. I figured if I could laugh at myself, then it wouldn’t bother me if other people laughed too. I wanted to dance. I dreamed about it. But I could just imagine the wave of new material available for stand-up comics. I would start a movement. Instead of blonde jokes, or Yo’ Mama jokes, it would be blind stripper jokes.”

“I can think of a few.” I was teasing her, and she giggled.

“Yeah, me too. I have a million of ‘em.”

I didn’t ask her to share, but I was curious. Her laughter faded quickly, and she smoothed her hair self-consciously.

“I make jokes, but I actually care about the way I look. I go to a lot of work to take care of my appearance. Robin’s a beautician and that helps. I’ve been told I’m pretty often enough, and there’s no reflection in the mirror to dispute it. So I choose to believe it. But dancing in front of people? That’s a whole different story.

“A few months ago, Robin told me they were hiring dancers at the club on the corner of Broadway and Rio Grande. She thought I should apply. I wanted to. I really, really wanted to. I could laugh at myself with Henry and Robin, and I could dance around a pole in my basement, but could I actually dance anywhere else? Could I actually get paid to dance?”

“Tag apparently thought so,” I interrupted.

Millie nodded but continued her narrative.

“Robin told me she would help me. And she would have. She would have had me looking like a million bucks. But in the end, I walked into the audition looking like a bag lady. A blind bag lady. Or at least what I imagined a bag lady looked like. I walked in off the street, prepared to be turned away, my clothes unflattering, my hair a mess. I did it on purpose. I wanted to give them every reason to turn me down. I wanted to provide them with an easy way out. But they didn’t turn me down.” Millie paused. “I guess now we know why.”

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