There are gunshots from the woods surrounding my house, my childhood house. We live enclosed by red boled pines, birches, spruce in dizzying groves. I am five years old and already engaged in a task beyond my choosing: I'm sitting perfectly alone amidst the trees.
Across the meadow a 38 caliber pistol is being employed by my parent's neighbor--a lawyer by trade, a man with a white Thunderbird convertible, whose own home is hidden by a stockade fence. He has gone to the open field with a gun in his hand and a flock of children at his heels, for it is his intention to give a fair impression of heroism by shooting snakes in the perfect July weather. He has walked with purpose through the blazing flowers of a New Hampshire summer to look for copperheads.
I'd asked that morning if I could come. The neighborhood's children had been gathered in such a way, spinning their cocoon of shared secrets. What was going to happen?
"My Dad's going to shoot snakes," said Galen, "and you can't come!"
Galen is perhaps a year older than I am. He's a rangy kid, always running, the kind of boy whose brain would give off sparks if the world was dark enough.
"You can't come because you're blind!"
"Yeah," says another, "you might get hurt!"
A pine cone hits me in the chest.
"Look! He didn't even see that coming!"
"A snake might bite him!"
Then they were gone.
I stood and fixed the world's oldest look on space before turning to find my way among the trees, navigating through color and odor. Across the field the gunshots are compressed: open space gives them a dull quality.
Earlier that day I'd stood at the walls of Galen's fortress, the great stockaded fence his father had erected for god knows what reason since the house was additionally screened by trees.
"You can't come in here, you wear glasses!" There was a noise of crackling wood and then a rain of sticks and acorns.
"My mother sent me, she needs sugar!" (My mother never needed sugar in her life. I've been sent to the neighboring duchy with the hope that I'll be admitted.)
I have walked dryly forward to the gate of a bully, a blind kid with a cup in his hand. I'm burning like a magnifying lens, hunched in self-defense.Now there is a hail of pebbles. Other voices joining in.
"It's Mr. Magoo!"
I am unsteady now from the adrenaline in my legs.
"Magoo" is a prime-time television show about a man whose blindness is a running joke. He tries to see though of course he doesn't see at all.
(Prose from first draft of my memoir "Planet of the Blind")