Lately I’ve been thinking about installing a second pair of eyes so I can catch up on all the reading I need and want to do. At the end of the day, my regular eyes are too tired. Glasses aren’t enough. I need to find a doctor who will drill two new sockets in my forehead, implant a couple of competently functioning orbs, and hook them up to my brain. They don’t even need to match.
It will take time, of course, to learn how to keep one pair of eyes closed while the others are in use. This assumes the doctor is also able to install lids on the new eyes. Otherwise I might have to wear sunglasses on my forehead, or a sweatband, both of which could move around or slide off while I’m asleep. But these are mere details. What’s important is being able to read more.
On my work table alone, I have books piled so high that they wobble when I type and cast distracting shadows on my computer screen. In one stack, there are thousands and thousands of pages to read — pages of short-stories, plays, poems, novels, essays, and letters, representing eight centuries and several dozen authors. But it doesn’t end there. I have similar stacks all over the room. Some are interspersed with old magazines and newspapers. Others serve as hat racks or pedestals to display various small items I’ve collected over the years. My book shelf is also jammed to the hilt, and on top of it there are more stacks. I now keep a crowbar handy.
And still I add to it. Because the truth is, on any given day, I might stop somewhere and buy another batch of used books. Sometimes I don’t even mean to. It just happens. I start paging through this or that volume, examining its print and inhaling its aroma, and pow — it’s impossible to pry my fingers from the binding. Recently, the owner of a small book shop found me on my knees in one of his aisles, wild-eyed and clutching several titles against my chest. He called 911.
My wife, meanwhile, says I look like an owl. She used to say I looked like a bullfrog. While I admire both animals, I also see her point. Eyes can take only so much use. Yet when I mentioned my idea of having a second pair of eyes installed, she groaned, then left the room. “That’s easy for you,” I yelled after her. “You’re a much faster reader than I am.”
Actually, it’s all my mother’s fault. She’s the one who got me hooked on reading in the first place. She’s the one who took me with her to the library week in and week out when I was a kid. She’s the one who let me roam in that holy silence. She’s the one who showed me where the mysteries were, and the animal stories, sports stories, and wilderness stories, and even the stories about the people who wrote stories.
Bless her. She must have known something. And of course she reads as much as I do, if not more. What she doesn’t do, however, is also stare at a computer screen several hours a day.
Anyway, that’s why I need more eyes. Who knows? Maybe four won’t be enough. Maybe I’ll need ten or twelve. Or an odd number. Yes, come to think of it, in my case an odd number would make sense. Wouldn’t it?
Also by William Michaelian
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
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