Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pieces of a Man

It's s a sublime moment of irony, that moment when we stand by helping someone who is incapable of doing the task at hand (or seemingly anyway), yet insists they are going to try anyway. It might be our child, just learning to ride a bike, "let go, Mom, let go!" and we reluctantly let go and watch as the bike tilts and wobbles, rolls a few yards then falls to the ground, the child's knee scraped and bruised. An angry tear or two is wiped away but the child climbs back up onto the bike and heads off again, shaking off the aching knee and advice with a shrug of the shoulder. In a child's case, riding a bike is a rite of passage and while painful to watch, it is part of the parent's responsibilities to let the child go off on their own, learning to ride the bike, however painful it might be to watch the lesson of learning unfold.

But when you are showing a deaf person the way to the books on CD or a blind person how to use the computer, the line becomes a trifle blurred which is the spot Seamus* is in when he is loading the clay bird for his blind boss, King Cole**, as he sits on the beach shooting at his target. As he aims wildly into the air, missing at each launch, he explains to his young protege that he was given the gun because he had spent his youth with the now deceased Bertram Stoddard on this very beach, loading the trap, making .10 for an hour's worth of launching but given a "lifetime between the powder." And when his eyes were going, Bertram had asked the doctors to save them, so that the boy could grow up to be a newspaperman.

Seamus nods. Whatever. It still seems ridiculous to him to be shooting clay birds out into the sky so that a blind man can shoot at them, missing them over and over again.
But the command comes again. "Fire" Seamus slingshots the disks into the cerulean blue skies over Key West. The bullet finds it's mark and Cole launches himself out of his chair with his indigenous laughter, waves his arms and firearm at the heaven in celebration,

"Did you see that Bertram? They mighta kept the eyes but we got that clay bird! Oh Bertram, we did it!"  

There is a beauty in this moment that causes a tear to well each time as I watch Pieces of a Man (episode 5 of 'Key West'.) He has overcome adversity to become the person he was meant to be. He did not need to shoot the clay bird to overcome his blindness. He already was a newspaperman! But the last symbol of his being all that he wanted to be and that Bertram Stoddard had wanted for him was symbolized by the gun and shooting the clay bird- he could see everything he needed to see without his eyes.

*Fisher Stevens
**Ivory Ocean


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