Bill’s Glasses


There was one pair of gray glasses left at the front desk and the elderly lady gave them to me. The community center was closing for the day. The woman slipped into her red cardigan and threw her basket weaved purse over her shoulder.
“The height of the eclipse is to take place around three on Monday. Take time to stop to witness it, Sherry. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event” She said as we walked out the front door. She locked the building and turned to me. “If you can share the glasses, please do. They are completely sold out in our area and it’s too late to order them online.” She explained.
“I will make sure to be in the presence of a few other people Thank you very much.” I said, and I leaned in to give her a gentle hug.
It was Friday afternoon. I had the weekend to think about who I wanted to share my glasses with. I weighed my options and it didn’t take long for me to decide where I wanted to be. I’d go to the Oncology office. The parking lot was always full, and patients were continuously going in and out. I wanted to be with my people. I’m not employed there, I’m a patient. The plan would be to break away from my job as an exterminator and be at the entrance of the oncology office by 2:45. I tucked the glasses in my glove box and smiled.

Monday morning was cloudy. We wouldn’t be able to see the eclipse without a clear sky. I sent up a prayer and headed into work. I’d watch the sky and keep my eyes on the clock. Over the next few hours, the clouds parted and revealed a beautiful blue sky.

I found a parking space in the furthest row from the building. The sky was changing rapidly. Patients were scattered across the parking lot, most of them were shielding their eyes from sky. I ran to the entrance with the glasses in my hand.

A Chevy Blazer had pulled as close to the front door as possible. The driver, a wiry man with black hair and a bushy beard stepped out of the vehicle. He quickly entered the building to help another man.

“I got ya Bill, take it slow. “He said as he braced the thin man around the waist.

As Bill took tiny steps, I observed the bruising on his forearms. His fingernails were brittle and a pale shade of blue. I knew he was very ill. I wanted to share my glasses with him, but I knew in my heart, he had to get in that truck and go home. He could probably care less about the solar eclipse.

As the moon overtook a portion of the sun, I heard a noise. It sounded like a nickel or a quarter hit the pavement. I turned my head to the Chevy.

“Danny, my wedding band fell off.” Bill said using all his breath. The two men stopped on the sidewalk. I watched the wedding band roll and land directly beneath the vehicle. I didn’t say a word as I approached Bill and Danny. I braced Bill’s other side and gave Danny a look. I wanted him to know he could collect the ring. I would hold Bill. A woman came to our rescue with a wheelchair and we lowered Bill into the seat.
“Lost the wife years ago, I need my ring.” He huffed.
“Bill, do you want to witness the solar eclipse?” I asked.
His ice blue eyes were revealed beneath his heavy lids and he nodded yes. I placed the glasses on his face and he turned directly towards the sun. He let out a shallow sigh. Danny had joined us with the wedding band in his hand. The wheelchair was facing the sun as Danny and I turned our backs and looked at the ground.
“They say he doesn’t have much longer. Small-cell lung cancer. He’s my brother.” He said in a whisper. I placed my hand on his back and remained silent. We listened to Bill wheeze as he delighted in the view of the solar eclipse.
“You didn’t want to see it for yourself?” Craig asked.
“This is exactly what I wanted to see.” I smiled and squeezed Danny’s shoulder. I heard him choke back tears as he wiped his eyes.

We turned around to see Bill sitting still in the wheelchair with folded hands. His wide toothless smile gave me peace.