Excerpt from “Mask” by John Minahan ~~Colours~~

picture-Mask-MinahanAfter breakfast, while Diana was taking archery lessons specially designed for blind archers, Rocky was in the deep left field area of the baseball field, on his hands and knees, carefully sorting through various-sized stones and rocks. He needed four, but they had to be almost identical in size, shape, weight, and smoothness, which made the job difficult. Twenty minutes later, when he made the final selection, all four stones about the size of a peach pit, he shoved them in his pocket and walked quickly to the camp canteen. There, he bought only one item, a small-sized box of Johnson & Johnson cotton balls. Next, he went to the dining hall, which was almost empty by then, bought a can of Coke from the machine, and hung around, occasionally strolling to the windowed kitchen door and glancing in. Around fifteen minutes later, when the chef, a counselor, and dishwasher, a C.A., finished cleaning up and came out the door, he watched them leave the hall, then went quickly into the kitchen. He placed the box of cotton balls on the counter, grabbed two small pots hanging above, went to the sink, filled each pot with water, carried them to the stove, placed them on separate electric burners, switched one to high heat, the other to low. Now he reached into his pocket, removed two stones, dropped one in each pot. Lastly he walked to the big freezer/refrigerator, took out his other two stones, placed one in the freezer compartment, the other in the refrigerator section. He left through the back door.
Diana was sitting on the grass at the archery range with five other campers, listening to the counsellor giving instructions to a fifteen-year-old boy. Rocky glanced at his watch, took her hand, helped her up.
“We’re almost late for class,” he whispered.
“What class?”
“Rocky’s class.”
She smiled, shrugged, held his hand as they walked quickly over to the dining hall and around to the back door of the kitchen. As soon as Rocky closed the door, she knew where they were from the strong food smells.
“We shouldn’t be in here,” she said quietly.
“Yes, we should.”
“We’re going to get so busted if they find us in here.”
“Naw.” He pulled up a high kitchen stool. “Here, sit.”
She sat cautiously. “What’re you doing?”
“Wait, God, you have no patience.” He went to the stove, where one of the pots of water was boiling, turned off both burners, then walked to the freezer compartment of the refrigerator, opened the door, grabbed the stone, ran back to her. “Open your hand.”
He opened her right hand, placing the freezing-cold stone in it. It felt like an oddly shaped ice cube before she realized it wasn’t wet.
“This is blue,” he said.
She frowned, then opened her eyes wide.
He raced back to the refrigerator, took out the cold stone, ran back and placed it in her other hand.
“This is green.”
Diana gasped. Then said, “Yes, yes, yes! I think I’m beginning to understand!”
Now he went to the stove, looked at the pot of steaming water that had just stopped boiling. He glanced around the counters, looking for some kind of utensil to pick up the stone, started charging around, opening drawers, finally finding a big soup ladle. As he scooped the stone from the water, it dropped to the stove and bounced to the floor. He got down fast, tried to pick it up with his fingers, but it was too hot.
Shit! Oops, sorry, Diana.”
“That’s okay, I say it all the time.”
Rocky walked over to her, took the cold and cool stones from her hands, put them in his pocket, went back, knelt down, touched the hot stone quickly several times, then picked it up, stood up, and tossed it around like a juggler until it cooled off a little. When he felt it was ready and wouldn’t burn her, he opened her right hand and placed the hot stone in it carefully.
“That’s red.”
Yes! I get it!
“Now, when that cools a little more, it’ll be pink.”
He went back to the stove, stuck his finger in the pot of warm water to test it, took out the lukewarm stone, came back, and placed it in her left hand.
“That’s yellow.”
Diana held the two stones high in the air and screamed with joy. “Yes! Yes! Yes!
Laughing now, Rocky stepped to the counter, opened the box of cotton balls, grabbed a big bunch, took her right hand and patted it all over with the fluffy cotton.
“This is billowy.”
“Yes. Oh, yes.”
Finally, he took her hand and placed it gently on the side of her face.
“This is beautiful.”


1 Comment

Filed under Literature, Non-Fiction

One response to “Excerpt from “Mask” by John Minahan ~~Colours~~

  1. The novel “Mask’ was written by John Minahan, based on a screenplay by Anna Hamilton Phelan. It was published in 1985.
    The story is based on the life of Rocky Dennis, who was born in California USA on 4 December 1961 and died on 4 October 1978, aged 16 years. He had been born with craniodiaphyseal dysplasia, which is a bone disorder that causes calcium to build up in the skull, disfiguring the facial features and shortening life expectancy.

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