Sometimes street corners are full of people who don't cross the streets at all and it's almost time for lunch so I find someone and make friends with a, “Hi!”
“Ah. Hello?” The woman says. Someone is snickering on another street corner but they're probably all kinds of jealous.
“My name is Jay. What's yours?” I ask with a huge grin.
“This isn't exactly a safe part of the city for a boy to be alone in, especially one who is blind?”
“Oh! I'm not trying to have an adventure, just to make new friends. Do you want to be friends? We could be princesses!”
“Princesses.” There is another pause. “This isn't some kind of hidden camera gag, is it?”
“Nope,” I say, since I don't show up on cameras at all.
“And you want to be friends.”
“Yup! Making friends is tons of fun! and I'm pretty good at it.”
The next pause is close to a Charlie-pause. “Maybe you might wan to find someone your own age?”
“I would but kids tend to be kind of meany at times and you smell really nice!"
The snickering turns into laughter at that; two other women and a man, probably realizing I'm Jaysome. “My name is Sara,” she says finally. “And you're a little too young to be friends with me, kid.”
“I am? But you sound nice and I bet your a princess too!”
“What makes you say that?” Sara asks, and there is a kind of power under the words but it's not enough to reach me at all.
“Because princesses are about towers and are traps?” I say, cuz it’s what the bindings feel like on the surface. “But everyone is a tower and we all trap ourselves a lot.”
Sara lets out a hiss, like a surprised dragon. “And how do you trap yourself, Jay?”
“I’m really good at hiding so I hide from myself and sometimes I’m way too good at that,” I say, which is all kinds of true. “But! I almost like making friends and that’s a good kind of trap since people who don’t want to be friends often need friends a lot and I think you’re probably really nice and have lots of friends.”
“Most people wouldn’t see it like – ah, think of it like that.” She pauses. “Jay, do you know what a prostitute is?”
“Uh huh! My phone is connected to the Internet, so I know lots of things.”
“Well, I am one. Most people would say what I do doesn’t involve making friends,” she says. “And it definitely doesn’t involve lunch with little kids.”
“But but but now I’m all kinds of confused because sharing love is friendship and some people aren’t good at that at all,” I say.
She laughs at that. “No, no they aren’t. Sometimes people need someone who won’t judge them more than they need anything else at all.”
“And I can do that back,” I say proudly, because I’m really good at not judging humans like they judge each other.
“So I see.” She ruffles my hair gently with a hand. “You’re an odd little kid, but I think it’s an odd more of the world needs. Tell you what: how about we find a hot dog stand on your way home, because this isn’t a safe part of the city and I don’t want you getting hurt.”
“But I don’t want friends being hurt either.”
“I can take care of myself,” she says, and there is that power again.
“But not letting yourself be hurt isn’t being not-hurt,” I say firmly. “You can’t be nice to other people and not want them to be nice back. It’s like being a soldier right? Because there’s bad stuff to being a sex worker, but there’s bad stuff to any job and sometimes people only think about the bad and get really confusled about stuff.”
“Uh huh.” She reaches out, and pokes my left shoulder. “If you want to turn around, you came from the south so we can head back that way?”
“But you’re working?” I ask, because I’m finally getting some of the other bindings and I’ve maybe screwed up her day.
“I was. I think I’m doing a different kind of work right now.”
“Like lunch?” I ask, because my stomach is kinda wanting lunch, and eating alone is really boring.
“Like wondering if rather happy kids who can’t see and wander blithely into the nastiest part of the city let themselves get hurt?” Sara asks.
And I’m across the road with her and stop at that in surprise. “Uhm! I kind of try not to because I’m scared my friends will leave me if I’m not Jaysome sometimes? Like I can be a little goofy, but I’ve been told sometimes I’m too goofy and I shouldn’t be doing that and it’s really tough to see where I end and I begin?”
“That almost made sense,” Sara says as we begin walking again.
And I grin at that because sometimes I’m am pretty Jay and the people who were snickering aren’t at all since they’re pretty confused now and I’ve made a new friend so the day was awesome without needing any adventures at all. Plus I manage to kind of adventure by eating two hot dogs at once and Sara is really impressed by that and is refusing to go away until we find Charlie because she’s worried about me and that’s a big friendship-thing too!
“Hi,” I call out to Charlie from across the street in a friendshipping hello.
“Please tell me we’re not stopping so you can make another friend?” Sara says, which is a really sad and human thing to say.
“That’s Charlie. We’re hugey friends,” I explain like a Jayboss.
“And you can tell it’s her from across the road?”
Charlie crosses the road. “Jay? You left your phone in the motel room and I was starting to get worried – ah. Hello?”
“Hello,” Sara says.
“I made a new friend,” I say, because sometimes Charlie can be slow about stuff.
“You made a new friend? Of course you did,” Charlie says. “You brought him here, then?”
“It wasn’t a safe part of town,” Sara says. “Especially not for a kid who can’t see.”
“I doubt it would be,” Charlie says, and there’s some not-nice bindings under those words. “But it was entirely safe for you, then?”
“I can take care of myself,” Sara says, and her voice is flat and very soft.
“So can Jay,” Charlie says without a pause.
“You think being a prostitute is the same as being blind?” Sara asks, and there’s questions people ask where no answers are good ones; I know because I get asked them a lot!
“Say rather that it’s a wilful kind of not-seeing,” Charlie says, and it’s almost like Honcho-words as if she was a magician with their kinds of knowing.
“I came with this kid to keep him safe,” Sara says, her calm a lie. “I didn’t come to have someone condescend to me.”
“I imagine you don’t have kids then,” Charlie says.
“And if I do?” Sara asks, and she’s not sounding very Jaysome at all.
“I know! If you do, I could meet them and we could play,” I say, trying to sound as much like a Jay as I can, because the bindings between them are getting all kinds of nasty. “And playing is fun, and people play in lots of ways and I might be running out of stuff to say because people do weird kind of plays with love-stuff that I kinda don’t get at all because there’s lot of really funny bindings!”
“Bindings?” Sara asks, distracted.
“He means vibrators,” Charlie says.
“You mean the dinosaurs in the Jurrassic Park movies?” I ask, because I’m wanting to listen to movies with dinosaurs that can roar like a Jaysaurus.
There is a pause at that, and then Charlie and Sara start laughing. I turn from one to the other, not sure why the bindings changed at all.
“I’m sorry,” Charlie says. “Jay is – innocent. I was scared you’d taken some of that away from him.”
“I am not,” I say, and I can do flat and indignant tones too. “Because you never believe me when I say I don’t do stuff!”
“That’s not quite what I meant,” Charlie says, and Sara is definitely laughing, but I don’t think it’s at me and it’s not mean. She pushes some money into my free hand. “Coffee shop is across the road. Use the crosswalk, please.”