The blind man lived in a single room above a bodega, on a street not so far from Maico’s house. It was up a slight hill, as was everything in the neighborhood. There was nothing on the walls of the blind man’s room, nor was there anywhere to sit, and so Maico stood. He was ten years old. There was a single bed, a nightstand with a radio wrapped in duct tape, a washbasin. The blind man had graying hair and was much older than Maico’s father. The boy looked at his feet, and kicked together a small mound of dust on the cement floor while his father and the blind man spoke. The boy didn’t listen, but then no one expected him to. He was not surprised when a tiny black spider emerged from the insignificant pile he had made. It skittered across the floor and disappeared beneath the bed. Maico raised his eyes. A cobweb glittered in an upper corner. It was the room’s only decoration.
His father reached out and shook the blind man’s hand. “So it’s agreed,” Maico’s father said, and the blind man nodded, and this was all.* * *
A week later, Maico and the blind man were in the city, at the noisy intersection of República and Grau. They had risen early on a winter morning of low, leaden skies, and made their way to the center, to this place of snarling, bleating traffic, in the shadow of a great hotel. The blind man carried a red-tipped cane, and he knew the route well, but once they arrived he folded the cane and left it in the grassy median. His steps became tentative, and Maico u...