Duty and Love
(c)2000 Jim Farris, All Rights Reserved.
John DeLancy had been a rising star in
Hollywood at the beginning of the 22nd Century, but a freak
accident had stolen everything - his career, his looks, his
girl, and most of all, his sight. Blinded, he struggles
alone in a world of darkness, never knowing someone would
reach out to him out of duty, and offer him her love.
"Duty and Love"
"A dog?! You got me a seeing eye dog?!"
I was incensed. It wasn't bad enough that a pyrotechnic
accident on the set of my fourth film, Nova Profundus,
had scarred my face, blinded me, and ended what the New York
Times had called "the promising career of John
DeLancy." No, now my insurance agent was calling to tell
me that my policy simply didn't pay enough to cover restoring
my sight with either cybernetic or synth-flesh replacement
eyes. I was going to be blind the rest of my life. To spend
the rest of my days in perpetual darkness, never to see the
sun again, never to see a woman's face - nothing. I would
also probably be unemployed the rest of my life. Aside from
the fact that there weren't that many screenplays
that called for blind male leading or supporting roles, how
could I take stage direction without being able to see the
director? How could I read scripts? It would take years for
me to master Braille, and I didn't think after I'd been
"out of the loop" that long that Hollywood would
even remember me, much less bend over backwards to
accommodate this handicap. Why hire a real blind
actor and have to make special and possibly expensive
accommodations for his handicap when you can hire someone who
pretends to be blind and do just as well for a lot less
money? "Dammit, you can't do this to me! Come on!
Cybereyes aren't that expensive!"
Mr. Anderson, my insurance rep, replied without
hesitation, his voice strained. "I'm sorry, Mr. DeLancy,
but that's just not going to be possible. Your policy's
benefits have been used up. According to your physician,
Doctor Shwarte, the pyrotechnic charge that blinded you...
Well, I'm sorry to discuss this so bluntly, but let's face
facts, sir. Your eyes were burned and destroyed. You received
third degree burns to your upper face and head. Even your
optic nerves are damaged. Good God, man! Don't you realize
the extent of your injury? I'm having to call you on the
phone myself because my secretary literally can't stand
looking at you!" he said, then paused a moment,
apparently taking a breath to calm down. "I'm sorry, Mr.
DeLancy. I shouldn't have said that. No offense intended,
sir, but let's be honest, here. Your face, sir, is totally
destroyed. We've paid to have basic reconstructive work done,
so you have hair and eyebrows and a nose again, but let's
face it - your acting career is over."
"Alright - so what if it is? You still can't just
leave me blind the rest of my life!"
"Sir, to be honest, the majority of your insurance
policy's benefits were used up just saving your life. This is
the best that can be afforded on what remains. Now, I'm not
an unfeeling man - in fact, I've gone out of my way to help
you, here, and searched for an option that you can
I was desperate. "But a seeing eye dog? I've
never even had a pet in my life, not even a goldfish! I don't
know how to take care of a dog. Besides, doesn't it
take weeks or months of training to learn how to work with
"Oh, no, sir. I'm sorry, I guess you didn't hear me
correctly when I first explained it. Not an ordinary dog, of
course not. Like I said - I'm not an unfeeling man. We got
you the best you could afford on what remained of your
benefits. A neo-dog."
"A neo-dog?" I asked, incredulous.
"Yes, sir," my insurance agent replied. I could
hear the ruffling of papers over the vid-phone for a moment,
and deeply wished I could see the screen. Or anything, for
that matter. "Ah - here it is. Yes, her name is Buffy,
though of course you can give her a different name if you
like. She was purchased from Byron Kennels in Santa Monica
just this morning, and should be delivered to your apartment
in Pasadena this afternoon. She's a good bitch from a good
bloodline, and is fully trained as a personal assistant for
the blind. You won't have to learn a thing to use her, sir,
she will adapt to you and your needs. Perhaps in a few years,
after you've retrained for a new field through the
government's aid and assistance programs, you can afford a
pair of cybereyes yourself. Your bio in our company files
shows you had a bachelor's degree in theater and an
associate's degree in teaching. Perhaps you can go back to
college with government funding, and become an educator. I
really don't know, sir - I only know this is the best we can
do for you on what little was left." I heard a short
beep over the phone. "I'm sorry, sir, I have a call on
the other line. I'll have to talk to you later. Goodbye, sir
- and good luck."
"But... But I wanted to see again," I said, my
voice cracking. Only the buzzing of the dialtone answered me.
I fumbled for a moment to hang up the phone. When I
finally managed it, I struggled to control my emotions. 'I
am not going to cry,' I thought to myself. Aside from
the fact that I refused to allow myself the luxury of tears,
I didn't want to have to dry my tears - I still didn't like
touching my empty eyesockets, feeling the slightly bumpy
scar-tissue that covered them. Or feeling any part of my
face, for that matter. Sometimes I'd go to sleep at night,
hoping to wake up in the morning and discover all the last
year had simply been a dream. The pain, the darkness, the
nine months of smelling the hospital and enduring the
whispered comments of the nurses. The last three months
particularly I wished was only a dream. Stumbling around in
my apartment as I tried to learn to navigate without eyes.
The endless calls from bill-collectors, the bankruptcy, the
ghoulish media-hounds who called to get my picture and paste
it on the cover of the tabloids. The pitying voice of the
government social worker. Everything. I wished it all was a
But each morning I awoke, and found it was still dark.
The doorbell chimed, and I turned to head to the door. A
sudden, sharp pain hit my hip as I bumped into the
living-room table, and I cried out. Something bounced onto
the floor. "It's fifteen-forty-seven hours on nine
October, Twenty-one-oh-two," my audible alarm clock
"Yeah, I know, dammit. The first day of the rest of
my life," I growled. I felt around on the floor, but the
alarm clock was silent, now. The doorbell rang again.
"Screw it. I'll find it later," I muttered to
myself, and walked painfully to the door.
Available now from DiskUs
"A freak accident not
only takes John Delancy's career and girlfriend, it also
takes his sight and leaves him in a world of darkness,
struggling to survive with the meager social security checks
from the government. Little did he know that at the lowest
point in his existence, his life would be forever changed by
a female like none he'd ever met before. Together, they learn
about each other as they rebuild John's tattered life. This
is a story that will warm your heart even as it shocks you
and shows you a glimpse into what the 22nd century might
Chris Bellar, Reviews by
"Duty and Love
by J. Farris is one story you'll never forget. John DeLancy,
a brilliant and talented actor, finds himself blinded and
horribly disfigured when filming his latest movie. John
cloisters himself away from the public eye, but soon
discovers he can't make it on his own. Buffy, a neo-dog, is
delivered to John to help in his everyday activities and to
slowly pull him out of his seclusion. However, neither is
prepared for the devotion and attraction they feel for one
another. Enjoy this hilariously delightful tale of a love
that sees beyond the outer shell and to the inner most depths
of each one of us."
Kim's Reviews~~Reviewed by Kim
"Duty and Love
crosses all boundaries...in a deceptively simple way that
makes one suddenly stop to catch their breath and wonder
about their own feelings of love and duty. On one level, it's
a simple story of an unlikely romance, but on a deeper level,
it speaks to our very hearts about just who we are and what
we believe. I urge everyone to read it...and then read it
again more slowly.
Leta Nolan Childers,
Best-selling author of Best