Jan/Feb 2006  •   Fiction

The Price of Fish

by Robert Lopez

Blind Betty says on the kitchen floor it doesn't matter what you had for breakfast. Pity Jimmy is rocking in his chair like he agrees with her but I don't think he does. Why I think Pity Jimmy doesn't agree with her is because Pity Jimmy doesn't like Blind Betty one bit. Nobody here likes Blind Betty but it's Pity Jimmy who don't like her the best. He doesn't even listen to her when she talks which is most of the time. People around here say Pity Jimmy was born the way he was and now I say it too. All Pity Jimmy does is rock back and forth like he is in a rocking chair and snaps his fingers without making any snapping sounds. He also jerks his head around like there's a gnat flying in his face. This is why people say what they say about Pity Jimmy. Blind Betty is one of the blindsters who says that about Pity Jimmy and she's also one of them who wasn't born blind neither. Not all these blindsters were born blind. Some like Blind Betty can remember what certain things look like. She says she can remember what an apple looks like and what a dandelion looks like. One thing she can't remember is what her baby brother looked like. Blind Betty had a baby brother who was a retard and who died back when Blind Betty wasn't blind. I hear about her retard brother almost every day which is part of what they promise to pay me for. It's my job to walk these blindsters around obstacles and land mines and listen to their stories about retard brothers sometimes. The good thing about Pity Jimmy is all he says about people is how and when they were born. Me I was born in the middle of monkey in the middle and Blind Betty was born an agent orange of evil. Pity Jimmy never says what any of that means and no one tries asking him. I asked him once and all he did was snap his fingers and jerk his head at me. Out of all these blindsters Pity Jimmy is probably the blindest one of all. This is why they tell me to keep an eye out special for Pity Jimmy. The land mines can be anywhere so you have to watch out when you walk. Blind Betty stepped on a roller skate one time and cracked her head open on the shiny new floor. They did up the floors so you could see yourself in them. I never see myself in the floor but they said I could if I looked. They say the floors shine like pool water like a mirror ball and that you can skate on them floors if you're not careful. They put us all on a bus so they could do this to the floors. Blind Betty said they bussed us away so our lungs wouldn't bleed out our earballs. Blind Betty knows about these things because she's fingered all the Braille books on anatomy. Thing about Blind Betty cracking her head open is she wasn't supposed to be walking around without me to walk her. They all of them gave me what for when Blind Betty cracked her head open. This is not what we pay you for they said. I think I shook my head yes but I don't remember ever getting paid by them even once. I think what it is I do here I do for free. I said this to Blind Betty and she told me what does that have to do with the price of fish. Blind Betty doesn't like it when you interrupt her which is probably why nobody here likes her much. This is also why she said on the bathroom floor it doesn't matter what you had for breakfast. She was telling us how after she'd cracked her head open she'd get dizzy in the bathroom and fall down. She said she was on the floor sometimes two hours before someone thought to come check on her. One time it was me they sent to check on her and I found her there on the bathroom floor like she was taking a nap. I splashed water on her face and slapped her cheek like I seen done in the movies. Then I walked her to bed and went to find Pity Jimmy who was probably doing something wrong somewhere and getting me in trouble for it. What I said to Blind Betty was that at least she got flapjacks for breakfast after she cracked her head open. I said at least that's something. Pity Jimmy was next to me when I said this and was rocking in his chair back and forth and snapping his fingers when Blind Betty said what she said back. I want to think Pity Jimmy agreed with me instead of Blind Betty because I'm the one who walks him around and keeps him from cracking his head open but you can't tell with him sometimes because he's blind.