The explosion had destroyed his hearing. That’s what they’re saying. He was certain that’s what they were saying. He stared intently at their mouths as they spoke, repeating their movements with his own slackened jaw after every sentence to make sure he was truly comprehending what they were saying. The steadily increasing dosages of morphine made them look like they were slurring. They were saying that the explosion had made him deaf. Not in those words, exactly, but it was implied. They were asking if he could hear them and given that he didn’t know for how long they had been asking, well, one can infer. Confident in the knowledge that he was adapting to his newfound handicap he let his eyes lose their focus and watched the fluorescent lighting pass rapidly overhead. After the second light his mind had started to clear. After the seventh he had forgotten whether he was counting up or down. He never saw the tenth.

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