FINGERED: the amazing deafblog serial #9
by Joseph Santini
Amil sat at a cold metal table surrounded by FBI officers, a smoking Deaf woman, the Deaf boy from the church, Mark – and finally Natalie, the girl he’d watched, who was talking to the FBI officers and getting some nods.
“Wonderful. My son, taken by FBI!” Mary was politely asked not to smoke. She knew they were talking and had a pretty good guess as to what they were saying, but she knew her Deaf People’s Rights and took advantage of them.
Deaf People’s Rights was a concept created by her friend’s daughter, Jenny. The first right was this: Deaf people have the right to ignore hearing people who can see really obviously that you’re Deaf but still waste time trying to talk to you. The second right was: It must be okay if I’m doing it. With the Deaf People’s Rights squarely behind her, even a Man in Black was powerless to prevent the oncoming rush of Staten Island Deaf Mother. And boy, what a mother.
“Mom, please, one minute – “
“You do-do what? Steal truck? Steal money?” He put up his hand in her face as she continued, peeking over it occasionally to see if she’d finished with Drama Queenliness. Natalie, sitting to his right, asked “This normal?” with a grin of sympathy. He grinned back. This unfortunately made the situation worse, as his mother stomped and went “Smile, you smile? You take me serious, not! Terrible world, children respect mother nothing…”
It was about this time that an interpreter arrived. Mary immediately took advantage of Deaf Person Right Number 3, which was the right to immediately enlist any local signing person in the war against ungrateful children and embarrass them in front of the community.
Unfortunately, the terp sucked, but his Skilled Nodding Level 4 abilities allowed him to look as if he knew what was going on. He also had Skilled Ahhh! Level 5 abilities which allowed him to extend pinky and thumb into a why shape, making a knowing and serious expression, and express a calming and sympathetic Ah-ha! He could also Twitch Nose (Level 6) which allowed him to say Yes in a culturally acceptable way. He explained about the smoking. Mary put out the cigarette. Note: Am in no way making fun of the occasionally completely arbitrary-seeming levels of interpreting ability....
“Anyway,” interjected Natalie, her hand waving desperately for attention like a flagbearer at an airport trying to make the plane SLOWDOWNPLEASESLOWDOWN before he was flatter than Birkenstocks, “here’s the deal. They recognize me and agree that you can home go. But, first, questions.”
Amil nodded. He was terrified of this place. The walls were so white as to be blinding.
“Mark, Mary-“ But Staten Island Deaf Mother was at it again.
“-girl you upset about? Pretty! Signs nice! Works here? Good job, teach you something maybe-“
Flag. The plane paused. “You two talk outside, we two finish ten minutes, okay?” They nodded and walked out, leaving Natalie alone with only one of the five officers that had been there. She shook her head, then sighed and sat at the table across from Amil.
“So, spill,” she said, and Amil was surprised that although she was tired her voice came out clear and strong.
He told her about leaving the school, and becoming a gardener. He told her about watching a golden couple flirt, daintily almost in their manners, in the moonlight, hands describing slow arcs in deep-spread, golden light so bright it was blue. He told her about being asked by the man, one night, to always watch the lady, in letters written carefully in sand, then scuffed away with one boot.
You know the rest, said Amil. He had proudly signed some of the words – not enough to make sense by themselves yet but more than enough to help Natalie lipread him easily. Deaf people were good at puzzles. You left, and the prince asked me to follow. And he died, and I was here… He paused. I’d like to stay. I have a long-term passport from the government. I wasn’t spying on you. I was just… making sure you were okay. He said if you ever found out you’d understand.
Almost crying, Natalie realized she did. But she had things to do before she could cry.
She turned to Frank Anding, one of the officers behind her. “But what about this man you say he killed?”
“We just wanted him for enquiries. The man died at the dormitory of a school for Deaf children. Amil was the only adult person around. We needed to know if he knew…” the man hesitated, disgust in his voice.
“Knew what?” said Natalie, but she could guess.
“If he had ever seen the man touch the children. We have nobody to ask them in sign language. There are rumors of an old man, but we cannot find him. We used to have some gay guy who could interpret, but they kicked him out-” Frank paused, obviously angry. “Anyway - it’s bigger than it sounds. One of the children was the brother of the Crown Prince, and a Prince in his own right.”
Natalie shared a glance with Amil, then felt a hand on her shoulder. “Listen, I think this guy is innocent too. But it would be a lot easier to release him, you know, if someone would be willing to be a guarantor? A family he could stay with or check in with, maybe…” Frank shrugged. But Natalie’d already had an idea. She went to get Mark. He was bemused, but accepted. Amil looked resigned, but happy; better a guarantor and no fuss than, well, lots of fuss.
The three stood outside of the building on Worth St., near Natalie’s mother’s car; the Pink Elephant had come once the CIA had, politely, realized it was not an emergency and, equally politely, asked for their car back. The mothers were off to one side, smoking carefully.
Three pairs of eyes stared at each other, not sure what to do next.
“Tomorrow, can we go to the beach?” said Natalie. She almost always made the first move.
“Tomorrow, why not, newspaper said 85 should,” shrugged Mark, being carefully easygoing.
“We could bring a barbecue thing,” Amil planned, fingerspelling barbecue in the most painfully slow way, but with precision.
“OK, but no turkey. BBQ turkey, I hate. Tastes woody.” Natalie again, being direct.
“Me cook fantastic turkey [insert description of really tasty Turkey here that I’m too tired to write.] You enjoy enjoy, slurp, swallow, lick lips, more!” Mark salivated in the fine old tradition of hungry Deaf men. Natalie and Amil stared at him.
"We could tape his hands,” Amil suggested. The three of them laughed.
Mark shook his head and walked off to his mother, signing to her softly in the streetlight. Natalie looked at them, and then at her own mother. Could they be so close, ever? Her mother saw her eyes, and indicated the car. Time to go.
But hey. She had the beach to look forward to.