Jellybean Highfive fell for it again. It was a trick, he realized now, long after anything could be done about it. The clown walked away and Jellybean just stood there, stationary, like a piece of paper lying on a hotel desk.
He somehow found the intestinal fortitude to raise his head up proudly, like a fort made out of intestines, and walk down the boardwalk. Other than his despair, he was optimistic. He had a go-kart race scheduled with his team in five minutes, or an hour; he could not remember. That clown! Clowns in general, sure. But that clown!
He knew he would have to give himself up to the humiliation. Balloons could be tricky and that guy had been a professional. Inside the castle of his heart, up went the white flag of surrender.
He walked swiftly. Away, down the boardwalk he went, imagining his defeat turning to triumph in the Go Kart Cup, or whatever it was called. He was thinking with what he guessed was the front part of his brain when he was jostled. The jostling was harsh, pronounced. Stuttering, he said, “H-h-h-h-hey! What’s wrong with you?” Jellybean stared at the man, who was on a unicycle and had, instead of the customary eye patch, two customary eye-patches.
“I’m very sorry, ma’m,” the eye-patch wearer said, dismounting and extending his hand the opposite direction of where Jellybean lay on the ground.
“I’m a sir, idiot,” Jellybean said politely to the man’s back, “and I’m over here,” he continued, pointing to the area where he himself was.
“My sincere regrets,” the man said. “May I offer you my apologies?”
“I guess so.”
Then there were a few seconds where no one said anything at all. An unsettled feeling settled on the two of them like a blanket settles on a sleeping person in some kind of magic place.
Finally, Jellybean asked the question that had been on his mind since the blind unicyclist had collided with him. “Are you blind?”
“20/20 did a special on me, you may have seen it. I didn’t see it, myself.” He paused here for some reason and Jellybean looked at him with the universal expression of ‘get on with it.’ The man did. “Yes. Yes, I am blind. I’m the world’s first blind unicyclist.”
“Are you sure you’re the only one?” Jellybean asked.
“I’ve never seen any others,” the man said, grinning.
“A unicyclist,” Jellybean mused, bored with the blindness angle. He was thinking of racing. “How fast do those things go, anyway?”
“Well, speed isn’t really our primary…”
“I can drive real fast in my go kart,” Jellybean put in, pantomiming a steering motion.
“That’s great,” the man said, a little testily. “Go-karts can be fun, I guess. So, where do you race?” After a pause where the blind unicyclist assumed Jellybean might answer his question, he went on. “May I ask, what kind of work do you do?”
But Jellybean had already left the area. Continuing toward the go-kart track, he thought of what he would name his team. He usually chose the white go-kart because it was really fast. So, maybe The White Knights? The Mean Race Team? Those sounded cool.
He was forming a lot of possibilities with color and ferocity being major influences. Then he remembered the blind unicyclist. Why did they call them unicyclists? He always got confused on things like that. Unicyclists, bicyclist? He guessed that everything that had to do with wheels had an “ist” ending. He arrived at the track just in time to hand the bored, ponytailed teen his ticket.
“Don’t you want to know my team name?” Jellybean asked.
“Yeah, man,” the teen said with a loud exhalation of sloven indignation, “I’m dying to know your team name. Cause all these kids have teams with names.”
“The White Racists,” Jellybean said happily, looking over a ten-year old’s head to locate the kart he was looking for. He grinned at the teen and nodded, motioning to the others around. “They’ll all be waving the white flag after this.”
Sunglasses Image by Stefano Mazzoni