[Hear] I hear you. I’m listening.
- A Smorgasbord of the Senses: Charlie Holiday Gets Schooled in the Senses
- Taste. No, sight. No. Wait. Is there something you want to tell me?
- [Touch] This is going to hurt you more than it’s going to hurt me
- [Sight] How Blind is the Bat?
- [Smell] Is this what death smells like? Or is that shampoo?
- [Hear] I hear you. I’m listening.
What can you hear? What can you feel? What is real?
“Hold your hand on the side of the door,” Li requested from the passenger seat.
Charlie did as he was told as they drove together on the highway.
“I feel it.”
“Do you hear it, too?” Li asked.
“I can’t not hear it,” Charlie yelled in the car. The music was blasting and thumping. If only they had a low rider with glitter paint and he had a chain for a steering wheel then they’d be rocking it. Maybe they could take up any trunk space and install huge speakers.
Li held onto the passenger door with his hand although it was really his entire forearm that was taking up the sound from the speakers in the door.
Li had figure out how to adjust the bass in the car’s audio system.
“Look at the mirrors,” Li was full of requests.
“I see them.”
“Wait,” they both waited. “See?”
“I saw it,” Charlie attempted to match the enthusiasm of his son and in fact could do so when he remembered what it was like to experience something for the first time. With the jaded edge of age and experience, it was good to relive something anew through the fresh eyes of youth.
“See how it shakes?”
“I see it.”
Li nodded in approval and continued to hear the music, to feel the music, to be a part of the music.
“Whoa,” Charlie added to make sure his level of appreciation was, well, appreciated.
Li again looked out the front window with pleasure and accomplishment on the levels of discovering a cure for dyslexia.
Charlie zoned out and drove a while longer. He felt another beat to the music, but it seemed out of sync with the rhythm of what was coming out of the speakers.
It was more ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom. He kept his left arm pressed against the side of the door. It was clearly coming through his arm but he couldn’t hear the beat in the music. He looked over to Li.
Li was bopping and nodding to the rhythm of he music, but not the same feeling Charlie was experiencing through his arm.
“Did you change a setting again?” Charlie asked.
“See, it just went faster. Don’t you hear it? Ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom.”
“Do your need to replace the batteries in your hearing aids, dad?”
“I don’t have … “ Charlie started but realized Li was one step ahead of him as he again started out the front window but this with a sly smile of victory.
“OK, Mr. Stand Up Comedy, like a change to add a different beat or something?”
“No,” Li said and kept looking straight.
The beat slowed.
Charlie leaned forward as if that ever helped when concentrating on anything.
It was clear. It was a ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom. Clear and systematic. It was slowing down, but steady. It sounded a whole lot like a heartbeat.
But where could it be coming from? How could he hear it? Maybe the music was so loud he heard his own heartbeat because his eardrums were so overloaded with noise.
The speed increased as the next song came through the speakers and Li started drumming in the air.
It slowed as Li’s drumming slowed.
Charlie thought about how he could test it. What might slow or increase the heartbeat of his son? Physical activity would do it. But they were in the car. Maybe an uncomfortable topic. He knew just the trick.
“So what’s your new girlfriend’s name again?”
Li either didn’t hear the question or pretended not to hear it. The heartbeat rhythm sped up just a bit.
“Isn’t it Charlotte?”
Ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom. Faster.
“Where does she live?” Faster.
“Is she in your grade?” Faster.
“Do you really like her?” Much faster.
There was a clear correlation between Li’s heartbeat and the thudding, thumping beat that went through Charlie’s body. It was as if there were a microphone inside of Li’s ribcage or somewhere in his body.
“Yeah, Charlotte,” Li kept looking forward. “Yeah, I like her.”
The strength of the beat sound lessened. Charlie kept still and quiet. What replaced the beat was so soft Charlie again leaned forward but by now he was almost up against the steering wheel. Li looked over to him but didn’t say anything.
Charlie leaned back and relaxed. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly and quietly.
Then he heard it again. A faint something, but not a beat, not a rhythm.
He kept still and watched the road.
A faint voice. It sounded a bit like Li but maybe it was just because he was in the car with him and sitting next to him.
It was just a little word. A little sound of a little voice coming from far away as if down in a tunnel or a cave. A single syllable. Could it be near Li’s heart? Was it just another frequency of the heartbeat?
He stayed quiet. Li kept bobbing to the beat of the music. The music left Charlie’s system. The heartbeat sound stopped completely. It was absolute silence in the ears and body of Charlie and the tiny syllable came again.
It was faint, but distinct. It only came one more time. No distracting noise. Not even car noise or wind or muffled music. Silence.
Then the little word came. In a Li voice, but a tiny voice as if he didn’t want anyone to hear. As if whispered into Charlie’s ear, it came one last time.