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Beats & Sound
Black violet all around me
Watching you slowly as you breathe
Can’t explain what’s happening
It’s hard sometimes
But I wanna see
-Fire Burning Eyes, “Gloria”
“Oh, I love this store,” I tell Annette as we stand in front of Beats & Sound. Having a good selection of the music I like, it’s small, cozy, and only a few worthy citizens of Rushburg and I know about it.
“Eh, it’s alright.”
Annette is not a worthy citizen. She’s only come to flirt with the cashier she’s been ogling for a while.
I, on the other hand, am on a mission to buy the new CD of Fire Burning Eyes (FBE, as I like to call them). I couldn’t quite get it last Saturday when it went on sale. I had yoga, which apparently is “more important than some stupid band.” According to Mother.
Entering Beats & Sound, Annette and I are welcomed by bright lights bouncing of the black painted walls, gold framed cartoons of Marvin heroes and Looney Toon characters, and Anberlin being played very loudly from speakers in the back.
“See ya!” Annette exclaims before hunting down her prey.
I stride towards the familiar row of alternative metal, ready to grab the CD and go. Instead, I find some guy standing in front of its shelf.
“Thanks, man,” the guy says to the assistant leaving.
Knowing no other way to get through this dude, I shyly ask, “Um, excuse me, can I see something on that shelf?”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” He moves back enough for me to see that there is no new CD.
I’m baffled. Completely and utterly baffled. “How is that even possible?” I ask myself. “I have been waiting for months?months!?for their new CD to come out and when I get here, nothing! This is ridiculous! Oh! Maybe they haven’t arrived yet. Yeah, yeah. That’s probably what happened. Yeah.”
“Um, are you okay?”
Oh. I forgot I had company. I timidly turn, bracing myself for the worst but shockingly find amusement in the stranger’s soft brown eyes. He appears to be staring at me but from afar. Creepy, but still. The gaze is mesmerizing.
“Oh, um, yeah,” I finally manage after a short awkward pause. Explain yourself, I say, thankfully in my head. “It’s just that the new Fire Burning Eyes CD I thought was going to be here isn’t, so now I don‘t know what to do.”
A slow smug smile spreads across his face. “Would this be the CD you’re looking for?”
I nearly faint when I see what he holds up: The FBE CD! OMG, I’m going to die. I’m going to-
Wait. “But how did you get it?”
He grins mischievously. “Oh, well, I know a guy.”
Now I had to smirk at that. “Oh, really?”
“Really.” He chuckles. “No, you know that guy that just left?” He points behind him. “Well, he’s my bro. And you know these small music stores: really great, but their displays aren’t always up to date with the newest stuff.”
“But they have it in storage, and so he got one for you,” I figure out the rest.
“Yeah.” He pauses, scrunching up his face in an adorable guilty way. “Bad, right?”
“No, no. In fact, it’s pretty clever.” I pause. “Maybe clever enough to get another one for a stranger?”
“Well, you wouldn’t be a stranger if I knew your name.”
Hold up. Is he flirting with me? Flustered, I look away and self-consciously tuck a strand of choppy black hair behind my reddened ear. “I’m Lamina,” I barely let out. “Mina for short.”
I abruptly glance up, again showered with that glazed look of his. A muffled snort escapes my mouth. “What?”
He laughs at his own joke, which only makes his eyes sparkle even more. “No, no, no. My name’s really Joseph, Joey for short.”
“Well, JOEY, you have quite a taste. I didn’t think anyone else knew about Fire Burning Eyes.”
“What?” He seems surprised. “FBE is the way to go.”
“You call them FBE?” Now, I’m surprised. “I thought I was the only one who did.”
“How else would you call them? Fire Burning Eyes is a mouthful no matter how cool the name is.”
“Yeah….” Another awkward silence ensues. “So, what’s your favorite song of FBE?” I ask at last.
“Well.” Joey puts a finger on his mouth and exaggerates a thinking pose. “There are just so many, but I’d have to say ‘Gloria’.”
“No way! Mine, too!” I’m practically jumping with excitement. Finally. Someone who gets me. Or at least my music choices.
“What’re your favorite lines?” he asks. “And can you sing it in the shackling voice of Gangi?”
I nervously laugh. He’s not expecting an impromptu performance, is he? I cautiously glance around to see if anyone’s near by. No one is.
Oh, well. Here goes nothing.
“Black violet all around me,” I shakily begin, my voice so low, I can barely hear myself.
“I can’t hear you!” I guess Joey can’t hear me either. Fortunately, he joins in with unexpectedly good vocals.
“Watching you slowly as you breath
Can’t explain what’s happening
It’s hard sometimes…”
I can’t believe I’m singing in the middle of a public area albeit a music store. But hey, I’m having fun, and I can tell Joey is, too as he bops his head up and down, letting his dark blond hair fall in front of his glistening eyes.
“…But I wanna see!” we bellow out the last line of the chorus.
“Okay, I’m never doing that again,” I laugh out after catching my breath.
“Well, why not?” Joey asks sincerely. “You were having a ball. I can feel it, the energy that’s still bouncing off of you. You know, that’s what FBE meant in the song.”
“What?” I curiously ask.
“Well, tell me what you think.”
“Oh, I never really think much of the lyrics—I’m more about the instrumental ingenuity— but if I had to guess, I’d say there’s someone he loves, and he wants to see her? I don’t know.”
“I always thought they were saying that there is so much in the world that we want to see, but we can’t because of the many obstacles in our way, but we have to fight through all that. And when we do....” He breaks into a dramatic pause.
Ugh. The suspense is killing me. I prod, “What? What happens?”
So much animation is in his eyes that it’s kind of hard to focus on them.
“We find beauty,” he finishes off.
I’m in awe right now, mouth agape and everything. “Wow, that is…” Find the word, find the word. “…amazing,” I meagerly come up with.
Joey sheepishly shrugs. “Well, you know.”
A sudden thought comes to mind. “Hey, are you going to the FBE concert tonight ’cause I’m going.”
“Aw, man,” he regretfully says. “I wish I could see them, but I can’t.” He must’ve noticed the frown forming on my face because he quickly adds with a smile, “But hey, maybe we could meet up again, and you could tell me how it went.”
Meet up again? With you? Shoot, count me in! I flash him a huge grin, not caring if it is too much. “Yeah, sure. Same time tomorrow?”
“You know what,” Joey says unexpectedly as if realizing something. “I already have this CD on iTunes. I just wanted a hardcopy, but I think I can wait until it comes out in display. So…here.” He hands me his CD. “You can have it. You still have to pay for it, though.”
“Are you sure?” When his hand doesn’t retreat, I gladly take the CD. “Wow, thanks.”
“No prob. Okay, So, I’ll see you tomorrow?” I eagerly nod. “Okay. Well, until then, au revoir, Mina.”
Joey then turns around and takes something out from his coat pocket. He unfolds what resembles a walking stick. It’s one fourth black, two-fourths silver, and one-fourth red. And with steady steps, he uses it to search his way out of Beats & Sound.
It takes about a minute for me to process what I’ve just witnessed. He’s BLIND? I ask myself, aghast. How is that even possible? He was looking at me the whole time. And, and, and—oh, this isn’t making any sense. How could it?
And then it clicks. Like that.
The nonchalant far-off gaze. Alluding “Gloria” to his sight. Feeling instead of seeing. He even said he couldn’t see the freaking concert! This is so bad. All this time he was blind and I couldn’t spot it.
I don’t know when or how, but Annette is now by my side. “Hey, who was that?” She asks with interest.
After a few rapid blinks, I stammer, “Um, J-Joseph. No, no, no, no. Joey.”
She smiles knowingly. “He’s got you a corps perdu, huh?”
I ignore that comment. “Notice anything peculiar when he left?” I ask. “Anything he was using as help?”
“No,” Annette answers warily. “Is something wrong?”
“No, it’s just that…forget it.” There’s no point trying to explain something that I don’t quite believe myself.
“No, what did you see?” she persists.
“It’s too late. The moment’s gone. Ugh.” I inhale deeply. Time to change the subject. “So, did you strike gold?”
Annette sinks into the bait. “Nah.” She rolls her eyes. “Apparently he’s got a girl. Go figure. Guys who are taken should really have TAKEN plastered on their foreheads. It would make my life a whole lot easier, don’t you think?”
“Yeah, go figure.” Clearly, I’m still distracted from Joey’s departure. How was he able to tell when I was smiling or not? His other senses are probably heightened. That’s what I hear happens to…blind people.
“Hey. Maybe I should snag that dude you were with.” Now that catches my attention.
I unwittingly state the obvious. “He won’t see you.”
Taking offense, she scoffs, “Oh, but he sees you?”
I look Annette up and down. Straight glossy hair. Hour-glass fig. Smooth skin. Could catch any guy’s interest. But here‘s the thing. She has no musical appreciation and wouldn’t understand Joey the way I did in that short moment we conversed. With that, I know my response.
“Yes.” I peer over to the store’s exit. “Yes, he does.”