The Blind Policeman
by Tess Walsh
Brendan McKenzie was standing over the stove and crying. He was a big man, with the slack face of somebody who used to be handsome but then ate too many cheeseburgers, and crying looked too small on him. Seeing the blind policeman cry was like missing a step on the stairs; it caused a queasy jolt and an appreciation for gravity.
In the pot in front of Brendan McKenzie there was four and a half cups tap water and a single naked potato submerged like some sort of obese diver or perhaps a hairless manatee. The potato was starting to ease out of its ugly shape, growing fuzzy in the cold water and making it the cloudy color of a baby’s spit-up.
Brendan McKenzie could not see this because he was blind. He had been blind for three months and seventeen days and he could feel the potato coming apart as he fished it out of the stale pot with his right hand, felt it mushy like sandy applesauce as he took the potato and hurled it, clumsily, against the opposite wall.
It made a pitiful sound, some sort of squelch that Brendan imagined baby dolphins made when they were stabbed by Japanese spears and hauled back to Tokyo to be diced into soup. Brendan knew about Japanese dolphin soup because he spent a lot of time listening to Animal Planet television shows. He could not watch them anymore but over these past three months he’d learned about the mating rituals of the King Crab and the average life span of a three-toed sloth and about the depressed orcas at SeaWorld who ate their trainers and were then corralled up onstage for tail flips and fish cookies.
He had watched these shows as a child in Batman pajamas at the foot of his parent’s bed, awestruck and a little disgusted. Now he just felt sympathy.
The potato that the blind policeman could not see began to slide down the wall, leaving a thick, shiny stripe on the beige paint like an overgrown slug. Brendan’s fingers crept around the counter, scaling the toaster and lingering on the butcher knives before he found his badge and picked it up, weighing it in his hand. It had three points at the top, like a crown, and before he’d become blind he’d worn it with a grim pride, proud to serve as his father had.
But now his father was sleeping in the cemetery, his face eternally disappointed, and Brendan was blind and no longer a policeman and could not even keep his kitchen well-stocked in potatoes. All he had wanted was to make mashed potatoes the way his mother used to before arthritis locked up her fingers, make it with bacon chips and dashes of whiskey and sit and eat and listen to an Animal Planet special on the social patterns of rhinoceros herds—but he couldn’t, because he only had one single fucking potato and even if he was blind, that wasn’t enough.
Brendan McKenzie put the crowned badge in his breast pocket and went to find his gun.
***Tess Walsh is a student at Lesley University in Massachusetts. Currently, she works at an independent bookstore and spends too much time researching Louisa May Alcott and drinking iced coffee. ***