First Published in Bent Pin Quarterly (2007)
A white cane preceded the well-dressed man down Martin Street, the click click unheard over the argument happening in front of Betsy’s Bistro & Bakery.
“You stupid bitch. You can’t do anything right,” the man yelled.
“Excuse me,” Blind Pete said as he approached the couple.
“What do you want, a handout?” the man asked.
“No, I simply want to get to the post office.”
The man ignored Blind Pete and refocused his anger on the cowering woman.
“I’m sorry,” the woman said to the ground. “I did exactly like you said.”
As the man opened his mouth, Blind Pete reached out and tapped the man’s ankle with the cane. The man smiled at the woman and laid a grizzled hand gently on her arm.
“Well, you tried your best. I guess I can’t fault you for that.”
The woman turned to Blind Pete.
“What the hell did you do, you old fool?” she said.
“He should treat you like a lady,” Blind Pete replied in a quiet voice.
“You should try minding your own business,” the woman said, her jowls shaking to the beat of her wagging finger.
“You’re just like the others.”
“What others?” the woman asked, turning her head from side to side. “I don’t see any *others* here.”
Blind Pete thought back to the woman he’d tapped so she would stop smoking, the mother screaming at her child, the two men fighting over someone named Grace. They’d rebuffed him, too.
“Never mind,” Blind Pete said.
“Never mind? You waltz up here, try to change my life and tell me to never mind? Did those others thank you for being helpful?” she said, hooking her fingers to emphasize the “helpful”. “How would you like it if someone helped you?”
Before Blind Pete could respond, the woman grabbed his cane.
“What’re you doing?” he yelled, crouching in fear.
“Fixing you,” the woman replied.
“Stop. I don’t want to be fixed. I’m happy the way I am.” Blind Pete stood straight and held out his hand. “I demand you give my cane back.”
The woman dropped the cane on the sidewalk and placed a hand on her man’s shoulder.
Blind Pete retrieved the cane and tapped the man’s leg.
“What are you smiling at?” the man yelled.
Ushered once again by the staccato click click of the cane, Blind Pete was careful to stay away from any passersby. He was done being a good samaritan, even though he didn’t understand why some people liked being so miserable.