I may be blind but I can still kick your ass -- Anon Guest
"Do not act incautiously when confronting little bald wrinkly smiling men," -- Terry Pratchett.
He was old, and balding, and had the kind of life-worn face that could make a raisin look youthful. He was feeling his way along the road with a staff, and seemed to be deliberate about being slow about it. Fortunately for Threnody, she had heard of Rule One.
"Ho there, Uncle," she said. "Are you in need of some help?"
"I'm not your Uncle, and keep your 'ho there'." The little old man tapped onwards. "Trying to get on my good side, eh? I don't have any."
"I've always found it helps to be kind," said Threnody. "If not me, then the person who needs kindness."
"That's a fool's goal," said the blind man, now taking even more time to get on his way. Threnody found a perch on a boulder and waited patiently. "You can't fix the world with kindness."
"Being nasty does no-one any favours," countered Threnody. "The world is mean enough without me adding to it."
"Are you arguing with me, young lady?"
"I thought this was a philosophical debate, but it seems like you're looking for a fight."
"Damn straight," he said. "I may be blind, but I can still kick your ass."
"I've no doubt you can," said Threnody. "That's why I refuse to start a fight. I've no need to have my ass kicked, and if passing each other on this narrow road requires me to wait all day for you to pass, so be it. I'm not in any great hurry."
Those milky white eyes seemed to glare right through her. The grin never faltered. "You really would, wouldn't you? You'd wait all day for me and help me to wherever I need to go... just because it's the better way. The peaceful way."
"It's my way," said Threnody. "The best fight is the one you don't have to have."
"The second best," said the old man, "is the one you win quickly. Do you know how to win a fight quickly?"
Threnody considered this. "Usually I run away. I'm pretty good at running and hiding."
"Some would call you a coward," he said.
"They can call me what they like. It's just a word."
Again, that sightless glare. Finally, it seemed like Threnody had won a prize. "You might do," he said. "I've been looking for the sort of person who doesn't ever want to fight for years. Come. Follow. I'll teach you."
"Teach me?" Threnody followed his much faster and longer steps, "What do you teach?"
"How to win. Every time. You will become a legend among legends, if I teach you what I know. Can't have some egotistical braggart learning that stuff. They'd wreck the whole world and call themselves a hero." He stopped in his tracks and faced her. "I need someone who already knows patience and refuses anger. That's you."
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / rozum]
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