Kieran had spent most of his time thinking about Jack, thinking about him instead of talking to him. He needed to take his mind off of him and so he finished working on Kong’s walking stick. Something simple and meaningful like this was a good distraction from the memories he tried so hard to repress. There wasn’t much left to do, just tie a bit of string around the cloth securely. Another roustabout had carved the piece of wood, making the end of the stick thinner to accommodate smaller spaces. The ergonomic design would be better for him and would hopefully help him stay out of the animal pens lest another attack happened.
From the med tent he watched as people walked by and came upon Kong, still using his old walking stick to help him get around. Kieran stood and walked over to him. “Hello, Kong? I was wondering when I’d see ye again. I got something for ye.” It was still back in the med tent and he thought Kong might want to be able to use it as soon as possible. Besides which the midway was always crowded and he’d need more space to try out how his new walking stick.
The slow shuffle was normal as he made his way through the burdened crowd spilling from the Midway. His heart raced the way it always did in this navigational state - he hoped to make it unscathed through the crowds and scolded himself for waiting until the peak of the busiest time to venture through. Steps were counted as he made his way toward his destination.
Though he paused upon hearing the distinct accent of his new friend, Kieran, and Kong couldn’t help but smile. “My friend,” he would greet warmly. Curious about the thing Kieran had, though he had an idea that it was what Sean had suggested, he would nod. “That is very kind, I would like to see it.”
Waiting for Kieran to lead, Kong followed after the other when his friend began moving.
Taking Kong’s hand he led him back over to the medical tent and reached out to grab the walking stick where he left it. He placed the stick in the hand that he held and let go of it so that Kong could get the feel of it. “It’s a walking stick, better design than the one yer currently using.” He’d seen it in a hospital a while back and the design had been fairly simple.
He grabbed Kong’s other stick and placed it down so that he could try it out. “It’s thinner with some cloth at the end so ye can tap the ground to see if there’s anything such as feet or a barrier.” Surely it would kick up less dust as well.
That little bit of contact was appreciated. Following along, footfalls were silent yet eager. His own, usual stick was busy at its purpose of being his eyes in its sway from side to side though he trusted Kieran to lead him wholly. There was something about Kieran that Kong picked up on which seemed to exude trust. That was a feeling he found hard to refuse.
Pausing, he waited and was surprised to find the weight of a new stick in his hand. The other would be at aside in favor of exploration. “This is wonderful!” He exclaimed, touched deeply by the kindness of the gesture. Hands would roam the stick, feeling the work that had gone into the craft.
And then the new stick would be lowered to the ground. It was lighter than the old one; and while it lacked the sentimental value of the previous one, he found himself excited to make new memories with this one. “Thank you, my friend. I do not deserve such kindness.”
He sat as he watched Kong explore his new walking stick, a warmth filled him like it always had. These moments and reactions are what made healing so worth it. “I’m just doing my job. If ye got a proper walking stick then yer less likely to accidentally wander into the animal pens.” Of course the gift was thoughtful but it was also useful. He suddenly realized it sounded cold and his brain struggled to come up with something to combat that.
“And don’t be silly, everyone deserves kindness, especially those in need of help.” It was what God taught after all, wasn’t it? More and more he was beginning to think there might not be such a thing. That he was something more sinister and was only disguised by being called an angel. Though he had a shepherd so many questions were left unanswered for him.
“The stick that I had was from my village,” Kong explained softly. “Given to those deemed gifted as I was. Handcrafted by those also blind or impaired descendants of those who carry the gift in their bloodline.” That was probably why it wasn’t exactly what one of his stature usually had. “Every year that I grew another was given to me in the same manner.” But he was grateful to have the one Kieran put together.
The craftsmanship was sturdy, solid. And thoughtful was the gift. “Your gift is practical. I will cherish it.”
A part of Kieran felt bad for offering something that wasn’t as sentimental as his own walking stick. “I didn’t mean to offend I’ve just seen ye walking around and I thought maybe I could help.” He wished he could remember what his family history was like, if he had some sort of cherished piece of memorabilia that was passed on through generations. He’d never know.
“If ye need anything else, I’ve got loads of experience.” He’d treated many with blindness in the wars and he felt a sympathy toward them regarding their hardships.
“Please,” Kong replied, shaking his head, “you could never offend, please do not worry. I was only sharing the story with you so that you knew why I possessed it still.” Many things were handed down, a lot of traditions he didn’t always agree with or find value in. Their whole culture was based on tradition and heritage, stories and tales passed down through generations. Honoring elders was a large part of who they were.
“It would be an honor if you would take the old stick that I had as a gift. It is not worth anything, but it is rich with culture and from my home.”
If there was a way to restore eyesight he would’ve found it by now, but otherwise Kong was satisfied and happy. “I have asked too much of you already. Allow me to return the favor should you ever need anything that I can give.”
He looked over at the stick where it sat, honored to have been gifted it. “Are ye sure? I don’t want to take away yer family heirloom.” He protested. Gifts were meaningful but most times he didn’t quite think he deserved them, especially one so significant. Still, he would treasure it and perhaps find a place to display it in his wagon with Jack.
“I am sure. It is my gift to you.” Kong would nod, glad that the stick was not flat out refused. Being able to share a part of who he was with someone else made him feel as if he were part of something larger. For once.
The new stick felt good in his hand, it was firm and crafted from redwood. They didn’t have lumber here from his homeland but this was as close as he had been able to come.