“Say the word hate.”
It was practically a bomb shelter. Low ceilings and carpet laced with polyester. The walls were some type of metal with circular holes punched throughout. The room was painted a shade of manila.
“Say the word teardrop.”
Was teardrop one word? Was there a hyphen? Are a tear and a drop really that different? Doesn’t a tear have to be a drop or a stream of drops? Before the words reversed and Walker stumbled into a philosophical discussion rooted in semantics he quit. He glanced over his blind shoulder, but thought better than to ask the opinion of the audiologist seated behind him. He couldn’t see her. Was she mentally dissecting him or just doing her job? Was she wondering what he was doing later? And if they were going to run into each other at a bar and then find themselves in the back of her car fogging up the windows of her ’93 Camry? Or was she just checking her text messages?
With orthopedic headphones wrapped over his ears, Walker sat in a little blue chair facing a sign that read: “Please turn off all cell phones and pagers.”
“Say the word umbrella.”
The part about pagers didn’t even bother him. His peers always pointed out that sort of thing. Dated technology or in this case archaic. He would have been willing to bet at the time the sign was printed on the neon 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper, pagers were already obsolete. It was probably the work of an apathetic employee re-printing a saved template or an intern who thought he was being really funny by not saying anything. But pagers weren’t going to hold his attention. He closed his eyes and focused while the words became less discernible and the static was turned up.
“Say the word gym.”
The audiologist’s pencil scribbled something in his portfolio. He knew it couldn’t be good. Gin didn’t seem like a word they would use, but that’s what he had heard and all the other words were so melancholic: death, heart, nightmare–foreboding diction, he thought.
“Say the word sunrise.”
How did they pick these words? Were these words simply the best for testing one’s hearing? More likely, the ear specialist who wrote this test, was in some isolated facility in Stockholm or Stockton and was totally suicidal, selecting words at random from a diary while mock-slicing her wrist with a ballpoint pen. While the audiologist noted his error, Walker concluded with his face to the wall, she was cute. Her name was Sophie or Sophia–he couldn’t say for sure. Although he couldn’t hear and he didn’t know her name, he couldn’t help, but think that things were looking up.
–The Neapolitan Mastiff