A kid walked by and knocked over the walking stick of the man sitting next to me. I picked up the stick, returned it to his place, and the man thanked me. “I’m not totally blind,” he said, almost cheerfully, like it’s information he’s just happy to be able to convey. “Only legally blind.”
Okay, I said. When I sat down I had seen him hunched over, staring deep into an iPhone, the rectangle nearly touching his face.
He started working at a quart of ice cream he’d produced from a plastic bag. He fumbled with it a little but got on top of it, opened it up, and soon was digging at it with his spoon.
His right eye was closed, and around the eye, on his right temple and cheek, was discolored skin, looking like some liquid burned him, forming a puddle that wouldn’t wash off. But I don’t know about this sort of thing. I wondered if he’s a veteran — he might be 30 — and about IEDs. For some reason I thought of “splash damage,” a video game term.
After a few minutes he turned to me and asked, “If my grandmother has dementia, and my uncle has power of attorney” — a train started coming into the station, and suddenly he began to talk much louder — “and if he signs the deed over to someone else, is that legally binding?”
I told him yes, I think so. He nodded like he already knew that, and we stepped, almost in unison, onto the train.