Anyway her husband did not owe anybody a cent and he owned his
own business, her husband, the business did not own him, and her husband clearly was not a
feckless blind man with nothing to his name but a stiff back and two starving blunt-eyed
children and a stupid cowardly frail half-dead crybaby for a wife. Dios mio, the
way that woman had screamed both times she was in labor. She was famous in the whole
neighborhood for screaming: she only screamed for fear. She could not give light without
giving fear. She could not go to work because of her fear and her frailty. And to be
married to such a man. A fearless lightless poor wonder of a man. A woman like that to be
the woman of . . . a man who . . .
Turn it. Turn it back. Turn it . . .
The Senora de Quico slipped her wrist under her armpit and made
the twisting movement that was like a tic.
A man who could sit there smugly over coffee and stale bread and
let his children starve; a man who owed money all over the town. Who owed her, her and her
husband, owed the de Quicos alone three and one-half months' worth of half-rotten scraps.
And sat there. That kind of man.
She said, "I am waiting. I am still on my feet here. In case
you thought I had gone."
The blind man shook his head. He did not smile. He rarely smiled.
He said, "No, Senora. I knew that you had not gone."
"How long," the Senora de Quico said, "are you
going to have me wait here? Is it possible to know?"
"There is no purpose in your waiting here today,
Senora," the blind man said. "If I had the money I would give it to you; I would
not make you wait. I am going to try to earn some of it tomorrow. That is all I can do,
Senora, and I will do that."
The Senora de Quico sighed and raised her eyes to the ceiling.
She never had got over the uneasy feeling that the blind man could see her. "Bueno,"
she said, "and what do I do meanwhile? I go to the cine? I count my
"Whatever gives you pleasure, Senora, you should do,"
the blind man said. "There is nothing else you can do." He meant only to say
that she should not stand there thinking that he had the money; she should do something
else and come back when he did have it. That was all he meant, he did not intend to be
But he was insulting, the Senora de Quico thought. He was the
worst kind of insulting. The kind that is not on purpose. The man was in an indisputably
inferior position--the position of owing money--only he did not accept it as inferior. The
man treated her as an equal and that meant to her that he must secretly be feeling
superior; it had to be one or the other. She did not know how to treat people as equals.
She was too arrogant. She thought again: the arrogance.
She looked at his wife, who had stopped crying now, and said,
"La Senora . . ." repeating the words and addressing her in the third
person, "The Lady is too delicate for work these days? Or is it that the Lady has too
many appointments to look for work? Tell me .... "
The blind man said before his wife could answer, "My woman
has not found work.
She looks every day."
"Have you seen her look every day?"
"I see nothing," the blind man said. "I do not
need to see. It is unjust of you to speak as if we were unwilling to pay. You know that we
"So many words," the Senora de Quico said, hearing her
own voice and not liking it. "So many many words. If you could only eat the words. If
you could put the words in the bank and buy your Senora wife jewels with them. If you
could pay me with the words then we would all be happy. You, me, the wife and the words;
we could be happy together. We could go on a little trip perhaps if the words were only
worth something." "They are worth something," the blind man said.
"Tell me about it," the Senora said. She tensed her
wrist; but nothing happened now. She could not help feeling a sort of admiration today for
this man. The magnet would not turn in her hand. Her sense of melodrama overcame her and
her mind and her heart felt as though they would open up to him, invisibly to everyone
else but visibly to him, she was sure. She was slipping self-predictably into a vortex of
opposites. Something opened in her. There was a kind of chasm, a whole craving for him in
his arrogant world of darkness; and her body in this new world of opposites that were not
opposites that was not her body called out to him voicelessly against her will which was
not her will and made her cringe.
She tried again to sound sarcastic. "Tell me about it, blind
man. That is why I came here, for a lesson. I need some instructions from a blind man in
the value of words," she said, but the tone of sarcasm was not real. What she said
come out more as if she meant it. See could not stop herself. She saw it. The core of her
meaning, the quick of it, the meaning of her core was going to take over her body and turn
it inside out--with her eyes turned in toward nothingness and all the rest of her thrown
open, shining and exposed.