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Truth be told, Joshua Grossman was the most amazing human being The Soloist had ever met. Truth be told, every time The Soloist saw him perform, he was overcome with awe and admiration for the unbelievable talent Joshua Grossman’s performances encompassed. And truth be told, The Soloist was lying shamelessly and living sightlessly.
The Soloist hated Joshua Grossman, a disgusting excuse for a human being if ever there was one. And he had never actually seen him perform, although he always played the fiddle for the opening notes of Joshua’s signature performance. But the story behind his blindness was one for another moment. The Soloist, after all, didn’t matter by any stretch of the imagination. It was, once again, time for Joshua Grossman to take the stage.
“You Raise Me Up” had to be the most damn depressing thing in the soloist’s life. From the moment the song defected from a melancholy interlude to a lilting crescendo of harmony and power, the soloist always grew fraught with an overwhelming desire to weep shamelessly. The song was meant to be about inspiration, exultation, and exoneration from the terrifying throes of despair. It was a song of beauty, tranquility, and the incalculable power of life’s serenities.
But whenever Joshua Grossman sung it, however beautifully, it became a disgusting mockery: a lyrical contradiction of his life’s strife and his endless tribulations. When the song came to a merciful end, the last lingering notes resonated vibrantly before dissipating in the stagnant air, giving way to a cacophony of cheering and falsely modest bows from a smug Joshua Grossman.
Contrary to the lyrical implications of the song he always so reluctantly helped perform, The Soloist always felt as if performing with Joshua brought him down, to less than he ever thought he would be.
In the optimism (foolishness) and hope (idiocy) of his younger years, The Soloist had been a boy of imagination and aspiration. Experience had tempered the former, and reality had suffocated the latter. He once entertained dreams of performing in concert halls, but always as the star, never as the man who played second fiddle to the most egotistical of jerks. He had visualized himself singing before a crowd of thousands, a rapt silence broken only by the dulcet sounds of his velvet voice, followed with the euphony of cheering meant exclusively for him. Only it wasn’t meant to be that way.
For one thing, The Soloist was incapable of visualizing anything. From the moment of his conception, The Soloist had suffered from glaucoma, a disease which would rob him of his sight and strip him of his visions. The world, as he remembered it, had always been one of darkness, and The Soloist knew it was nigh impossible to brighten a horizon that had never seen light.
For another, The Soloist was not a singer. He was a first-rate fiddler playing for a second-rate human being, who never passed up an opportunity to shun him and taunt him with cruelty and descriptions of sights The Soloist would never see.
Joshua would always ask The Soloist the same inane questions, the same relentless inquiries that silently broke The Soloist’s heart. “What’s your favorite color? What movies have you seen? Which way do I turn to get out of the intersection?” And every time, Grossman would laugh that disgusting laugh, as if his stream of blind questioning was the most brilliant thing ever conceived by man.
The worst part was that The Soloist had put up with it for the entirety of his life. As a lonely child, his parents had introduced him to Joshua, the boy next door who most unfortunately never moved away. Joshua had always done all the talking, and The Soloist’s parents had always naturally assumed that he adored Joshua.
From his parents’ perspective, Joshua was a charismatic and lively boy, a surrogate son who was infinitely preferable to the literal counterpart. From The Soloist’s perspective, Joshua was an irritating nuisance: an egotistical p**** who never shut up, because everybody wanted to hear his voice. When he presented this viewpoint to Joshua, Joshua had simply replied cuttingly: “What do you know about perspective? It’s not like you can see anyway.”
So it could hardly have come as a surprise that The Soloist loathed Joshua with every fiber of his being. It was always easy to forget The Soloist when Joshua was around. That was, essentially, the crux of all of their performances. Never mind that The Soloist practiced for hours a day to hone his talent while Joshua had simply been blessed by Christ. Everyone only remembered that it was Joshua Grossman and his voice, not Joshua Grossman and his much-neglected soloist.
When interviewed, Joshua always dished out the usual mountains of bulls***. The Soloist would always listen, his blood simmering but never managing to come to a boil. Joshua Grossman might have done all the talking, but that didn’t mean The Soloist was at a loss for choice words he yearned to say.
But as much as The Soloist hated to admit it, he needed Joshua. As a blind man, he had never seen the face of his lifelong tormentor. But throngs of adoring female fans were enough to tell The Soloist Joshua was handsome, a beloved performer who made enough money to fill The Soloist’s stomach and sustain The Soloist’s existence.
It did not do, The Soloist deduced, to bite the hand that feeds you, even if that hand happened to be attached to the worst human being since Adolf Hitler. So The Soloist kept his head down, silently dreaming of the day Joshua Grossman would receive his long-anticipated just desserts.
The Soloist should have paid more heed to his wishes. While making his way through a downtown intersection, Joshua Grossman had been singing painfully to the lyrics of KT Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See”. In the middle of the second verse, The Soloist had heard the car come to a crunching halt and a sudden pressing, suffocating sensation against his upper body. He heard the breaking of glass and the moans of excruciating pain and knew then that for once, fortune had smiled on The Soloist. His air bag had deployed and Joshua’s had not.
Joshua moaned piteously, and for a moment, The Soloist felt a fleeting stab of pity. It was completely against his nature, but he knew he should ask for help. Making his way out of the passenger seat, The Soloist groped his way onto the street, uncertain of what he was doing or where he was going.
And then The Soloist heard the sound of rushing death, in the form of a Hostess truck which would run him over and utterly total Joshua’s Ferrari. As The Soloist felt the truck slam into him and set his physical existence on a collision course toward the afterlife, his last thoughts were of a mocking Joshua Grossman, speaking words of wisdom: “At the very least, what you can’t see can’t hurt you.”