The door to Rachel’s room opened and closed, followed by the sound of footsteps.
Dovid winced. He knew what was coming. It was February third. Which meant—
“Dovid,” Rachel sing-songed, “guess what time it is?”
Dovid groaned, refusing to lift his fingers from his book. “No. No, no, no, come on, we’ve done this every year since we released that stupid video.”
“Exactly. It’s tradition now.”
“Watching it one more time isn’t going to matter to the view count,” he tried, just like he had every year for the last five years.
“Doesn’t matter,” Rachel said, plopping down next to him on the couch. “It’s still one of our highest viewed videos, and do I need to mention that it’s the one that went viral and got us popular in the first place?”
“Ugh.” Dovid marked his place and set his book down on the arm of the couch. “Fine then, just play the damn thing.”
Rachel didn’t say anything, but then there was the oh-so-familiar click of a mouse button and—
“Psst. Dovid. Dovid, wake up.”
Dovid sighed. Rachel had come into his room at three am to bother him. They’d hit on the idea together, but being woken up after a night of illicit drinking was much less fun than it had initially sounded.
“Rachel? What…what time’sit? What d’you want?”
“I needed to ask you about your name, remember?”
Dovid groaned, because he knew what was coming next. He knew a drunk, heavy-sleeper, and thus only half-awake, eighteen-year-old Dovid was sitting up in bed and fumbling for his glasses because he knew he was being filmed and his glasses were an important accessory even at fucking three am, and asking, “Wha’ about my name?”
“Well…I heard another person call you David yesterday.”
On the couch, present-day Dovid bristled indignantly. And video-Dovid was doing the same thing. “I know,” he mumbled. “Fuck him.”
“Why? What’s the big deal?”
“Because it’s my name,” Dovid whined. Whined. Present-Dovid groaned. “And it’s not that fucking hard.”
And here it went. “It’s so simple. It’s just two syllables. ‘Do-vid.’ Two vowel pronunciations. ‘Do-vid.’ It’s one of the simplest things to do! Everyone knows how to say ‘duh.’ It is an integral part of human language. Everyone knows how to say ‘vid’ because there isn’t a person on the planet who can’t say ‘video.’ Combine them. ‘Duh’ plus ‘vid.’ ‘Duh-vid.’ ‘Dovid.’ It isn’t! That! Hard!”
Dovid sank down into the couch. Video-Dovid was just warming up.
“And just why is ‘David’ supposedly so much easier to pronounce? Because it’s more mainstream? What makes something mainstream? Why can people get ‘Schwarzenegger’ and have that be mainstream? It’s not fair. My name is so much easier. It is, isn’t it?”
“It’s easier than ‘Schwarzenegger,’ sure,” Rachel said, in unison with her video-voice. He could tell that they were both trying not to laugh.
“See? Well, no, I mean, I can’t—” at that, at least, Dovid’s lips quirked. Even at three am he still managed to make blind jokes “—but you can. And so can so many other people. And that’s an expression too, that’s dumb. Just because I can’t see really doesn’t mean I can’t see a stupid point. Like how easy my name is. It is easy, isn’t it? Wait, you just said that. So did I. Anyway, David isn’t a dumb name, but it’s a different name. Than mine. Because I’m Dovid. Duh. Also ‘vid.’ And that’s my name. It’s so easy!” A pause. “And I’m awake now, thanks a lot.”
“You can go back to bed if you want to.”
“No, I can’t,” Dovid whined. Again. “I’m going to be kept up about the injustice of name usage and its varying pronunciation properties. Also, I am really awake. Ranting woke me up. Now what am I supposed to do? Rachel, I have a test in… What time is it?” Video-Dovid slammed his hand on the clock next him.
In an even, British accent, the clock chimed out, “The time is three fifty-eight.”
“Rachel. Rachel, Rachel, I have a test in the morning. And I’m awake. Why did we decide to do this?”
“Because you thought it’d be something funny to put on YouTube.”
“Was I right?”
“It was pretty funny, yeah.”
“Great.” A pause. “I’m going to take a shower, I think.”
“That means you should stop filming and also that you should go away.”
A laugh. “Okay. G’night.”
“There,” present-Rachel said as the video ended. “That wasn’t so bad, was it?”
“Baby me sounds like such a brat.”
“Adult you still sounds like that,” she pointed out.
“Excuse you, my voice definitely evened out.”
“I meant about the name thing.”
“Oh, shut up and finish your little ritual.”
She laughed. “Aaaannd our current view count for that video is two million, seven hundred and forty-three thousand, six hundred and eighty-nine views.”
“Fucking…when did we break six hundred thousand?”
Rachel nudged him. “Like last week. Weren’t you paying attention?”
“I don’t have your compulsion to track the current view counts of all our most popular videos,” Dovid grumbled. “Also, I hate that video.”
“You thought it was a good idea at the time,” she said, voice still colored with laughter.
“We came up with that idea while we were drunk! And we weren’t allowed to tell anyone that because we were both underage and we still can’t tell anyone because mom and dad never found out.”
Rachel patted him solemnly on the back. “A secret we will take to our graves.”
“I hate that video.”
“Oh, you do not, stop it. That video is what helped your rise to YouTube success and fame. And you’re known for way better stuff than ‘Angry Blind Teen Rants About His Name.’”
“I also shouldn’t have given you video-naming privileges.”
“I name all of your videos. I’m the creative one, remember? You’d be nothing without me.”
Even if it had been someone else, Dovid still would have bristled. He hated being reminded that sometimes he had to depend on others. That he wasn’t ever going to be quite as independent as he wanted to be. With Rachel, Dovid sighed but smiled. “Yeah, I know.”
Pretty much since they were born, Rachel took her “seventeen minutes older and thus the big sister” job very seriously. Even more so when she was old enough to realize that Dovid wasn’t a typical child.
Or no, because Dovid had been a pretty typical child. Just that, thanks to medulloepithelioma—a type of incredibly invasive cancer—he grew up missing two parts a typical child possessed, after they were removed in order to get rid of the cancer entirely.
Rachel learned early on that having a little brother without eyes meant she’d be acting as his eyes (and insisting on doing so) whenever the chance arose and sometimes when it didn’t. Rachel was the one who tried to beat up the kids who teased him, who helped navigate clothes shopping, and who, amazingly, didn’t mind doing most of the cleaning in their shared apartment.
And yet she did it all without being suffocating. They were just Dovid and Rachel Rosenstein, living and working together in Seattle, documenting their lives (well, mostly Dovid’s; Rachel hated being on camera) for a living, and getting along surprisingly well even after all these years. Which was pretty good considering their whole dynamic existed because of those things.
“So, hey,” Rachel said, bumping shoulders with Dovid on the couch. “Are we still on to review that restaurant today?”
“Yeah, I talked to the owner again this morning. They’re comping meals for both of us and he asked that we order more than we’d typically eat so that we can review as many dishes as we can.”
Rachel rubbed her hands together, the sound familiar. “Awesome. I’m going to eat so much dessert.”
“You always say that.”
“And it’s always true,” she said solemnly.
“And yet you refuse to be on camera to talk about said desserts, so I also have to eat a little bit of everything and, I don’t know if you noticed, Rachel, but I do try to maintain a certain physique for my viewers.”
“Okay, one, of course I try not to notice, you’re my baby brother. Two, saying it like that makes it sounds like your viewers are watching you for an entirely different reason, and three, it’s February— you’d freeze without a shirt on anyway.”
“One, I’m not your ‘baby’ brother, I’m like fifteen minutes younger than you—”
“Not the point. Two, you’ve read me some of that fanfiction—against my will, I might add—so you know even better than I do that some of our viewers watch me exactly for that reason, and three, I’m not saying I’m going to pose without a shirt on, duh—”
Dovid groaned. “I don’t know why I put up with you.”
“Because you love me. We already established this.”
“Yes to the stupid restaurant. We’re going to eat lots of food and desserts, and then you’re probably going to sneak some video of me working out later because you always do.”
“Can I help it if I need to give the fans what they want?”
“So you do admit some of them want me for my body,” he said triumphantly.
She patted him on the shoulder. “Don’t worry. I’ll help keep your virtue intact.”
“Oh no you fucking won’t, if I don’t want said virtue. You’ll make yourself scarce, like a good sex-repulsed aroace.”
He laughed and stood up. “Okay, I’m ready to get ready for food if you are. Wanna grab the camera and we’ll mic me up?”
“Already grabbed. Is that what you want to wear?”
Dovid ran his fingers down the front of his shirt. It was a nice cotton blend, and according to where he’d found it in his closet, was a faded grey plaid print. He was wearing a black tee underneath. “Yeah, sure. We don’t have to film ‘Dovid decides what to wear before he goes out’ every time I leave the house.”
“Yeah, but it always helps solidify the time skip.”
“Let me mic myself up, woman,” he said, holding out his hands for the gear.
“Yeah, hang on, checking sound…okay, yeah, we’re good.”
“Awesome. Should I do the clap?”
“Yeah, go ahead.”
Dovid clapped his hands, waited for Rachel’s answering finger snap to signal she was ready, counted to five in his head, and then opened his mouth.
“Hey, guys! This is Don’t Look Now with Dovid and Rachel. I’m Dovid, Rachel’s behind the camera, and today we are reviewing The Sweet Spot, a cafe bistro specializing in desserts. They have other food,” he added, “but mostly Rachel is interested in the desserts.”
“Dovid, come on, eyes on the prize.”
“I don’t even have eyes. You can’t tell me what to do.”
“Okay, okay. Anyway, yes, The Sweet Spot. As always, I’m going to review on the three things I find most important when picking an eatery.” He held up three fingers. “One! The atmosphere. The sounds, the smells…is it an appetizing place to eat? Obviously, I can’t comment on the decor, but that’s Rachel’s job to show you. Two! The food. Duh—Rachel don’t say it!” He heard her snort, then cleared his throat. “The food. Since that’s a huge part of any place to eat. And three, accessibility. Is there a weird stoop at the door that I have to be aware of? Are the tables and chairs spaced far enough apart that I can get around easily and by myself? What about the restroom? Though for that one, we didn’t get a private meal at this place, so I can’t actually show you the restroom, sorry guys, but I will, of course, describe in detail. All that and more, coming up.” He stopped talking, waiting for Rachel.
“Camera’s paused,” she said a second later. “Ready to head over?”
Dovid nodded. “Yup. Let’s do this.”
Due to the busy, populated, and close-together storefront setup of downtown Seattle, they often weren’t able to film right outside of the building they were visiting. Today, for instance, they were positioned across the street, The Sweet Spot in the background. So Dovid had to go back down the block to the crosswalk, cross the street, and then pick his way along using his cane until Rachel let him know he’d reached the right place.
She filmed b-roll with his mic off as he walked. “Okay,” she said after a few minutes. “Door’s about two steps to the left.” Dovid nodded, then turned his mic back on. When he wasn’t doing a video and had Rachel or someone else by his side, he often let them just hold the door open so he could go on in. But this was, again, partly about accessibility.
“Okay,” he said as he got to the door and felt for the handle to open it up. The door swung inward. “First of all, there’s no bump or anything on the stoop, it’s all smooth. Nothing to trip on or get a wheelchair stuck on, so that’s a plus.” He put his arms out on the doorway. “And the doorway’s a decent width. A chair shouldn’t have a problem. So far so good.”
Once he got into the actual cafe though, the problems started. Especially since he heard Rachel’s quiet “uh-oh.” He pushed on, tapping forward.
“Hi,” from a female-sounding voice. “I’m Bernice. How many am I seating today?”
“Two,” Dovid said.
“And would you like a booth or table?”
“Okay! Just follow me.” And then an uncertain pause.
Dovid wasn’t going to count that as a strike against the cafe. “If you could talk to me and walk slowly, I should be able to follow you just fine.”
“Um, okay, sure. What should I talk about?”
“Anything you want. Something you find interesting. Or tell me about your favorite foods here.”
“Alright, uh, sure.” The hostess launched into a mini-speech about the cafe’s specials, focusing on a couple different desserts that were house favorites. Dovid followed along with his cane.
But he kept bumping into chairs. The tables were very close together, and it was hard to navigate with a cane. And a wheelchair certainly would have an even harder time. Bernice was walking pretty fast too. Dovid found himself trying to hurry up to follow her, and he actually bumped into a chair—with someone sitting on it.
“Sorry, sorry,” he said, pulling his hand back. “I didn’t see you.”
A falter, probably as the stranger took in his glasses and cane. “Oh, uh, that’s okay.”
“Sorry,” he said again, before finally being seated at the booth Bernice led them to.
“I’m really sorry about that,” Bernice said. “I didn’t think…um.”
Dovid nodded, accepting the apology. “Thanks for showing me to the booth.”
“You’re welcome. Your server will be with you momentarily.”
As soon as Bernice’s footsteps faded, Dovid turned so he was sitting straight in his seat.
“Am I facing the camera?”
“Yeah, and it’s on the tripod. Go ahead.”
Dovid counted to six in his head to give Rachel editing leeway, then said, “So that was a negative for The Sweet Spot. The aisle was plain too narrow for me to get through easily on my own. Which also means it’d be even harder to have someone side-by-side leading me along. And I don’t know exactly how wide the aisle was because I couldn’t see it, but it really didn’t seem like a chair would be able to maneuver comfortably either. Now, our hostess might not have been thinking and there was a wider path she could have shown us, but I can only judge what I got.” He waited a few more seconds then, to Rachel, “We’ve got to edit out the part where she shows her face, and play music over her talking. I don’t want her to get into trouble.”
“We might have to edit out most of that bit, or cut the video around the parts she’s in. I tried to film mostly you though.”
“Can you sort of fuzz out her back or something?”
“Yeah, I can censor her. That shouldn’t be a problem.”
“And we’ve got to slow-mo me bumping into that guy.”
“You sure that wouldn’t be kind of…in poor taste?”
Dovid tilted his head. “You think so? I don’t. It sucks that I ran into someone, and it’s going to have some people up in arms. I think putting an effect on it would make it a little more lighthearted.”
“Maybe… Oh, oh, here comes the server. Turning the camera back on.”
“Hi, there. My name is Anthony, and I’ll be your server today.” There was the sound of something being set down in front of him on the table; probably the menu. “Can I start either of you off with something to drink?”
“Do you guys have a braille menu, by chance?”
“Oh, um. I… I can certainly check. Would you like anything to drink while I go do that?”
“I’ll just have water to start with, thank you.”
“I’d like lemonade please,” Rachel said.
“Got it. I’ll be right back with your drinks and a new menu.” Anthony’s footsteps moved away from the table.
“Still filming?” Dovid asked.
“Yeah, go ahead.”
“Okay,” Dovid said to his future-viewers, “if we’re invited to a place to review it, the staff is usually briefed ahead of time, especially given my situation. The places are also usually proud to boast that they’re properly accessible, but at this point I’m sort of guessing that the owner invited me knowing about my restaurant reviewing and not about the blindness. You know as well as I do that most of the places that invite me personally have introduced a braille menu. I’m sort of skeptical that this place has one. That’s not necessarily a negative against them, but it’s kind of confusing. How do you even know about my channel and not know I’m freaking blind?”
“Here we are,” Anthony said, setting two heavy objects on the table. “Water for you, and a lemonade for you. And I’m so sorry, but I asked and I don’t think we have a braille menu. But, um…”
Dovid squashed a sigh and tried to sound polite. “Yes?”
“Are you guys Don’t Look Now? If you aren’t and don’t know what I’m talking about just forget I said anything, but I—”
Now Dovid grinned. “Hey yeah, we are. You a fan?”
“Yes! I watch you guys with my sister. She’s going to freak that I met you and that she didn’t. Oh my god, am I going to be in one of your videos?”
“Yup,” Rachel said, and it sounded like she was grinning too.
“Oh my god, that is so awesome. Could I, um, I’m so sorry to fan out over you, you probably just want to eat in peace, but could I have a picture?”
“Sure,” Rachel said. “I’ll take one of you and Dovid together. You have a phone?”
After Anthony had his picture taken with Dovid, he cleared his throat. “Right, um, yes, well. Thank you so much. And now I will be your very dignified server. And oh god, I’m so sorry we don’t have a braille menu, I know that’s like, one of your big deals.”
“It’s not your fault,” Dovid said. “Rachel’ll just read me everything like she usually does when this happens.”
“I could recommend you something too, if you want?”
Dovid raised an eyebrow at Rachel. Bernice had already listed off a bunch of recommendations, but that had been mostly for background noise. Besides, at this point, Dovid was way more partial to Anthony than he was to Bernice.
“Yeah sure, go ahead.” He smiled. “What do you think we should try?”
Anthony suggested two sandwiches, a pasta dish, and three desserts, including something called the Cookie Monster Madness Milkshake.
“We’ll take one of everything you just said,” Dovid told him. “Rachel, is there anything else you want to try?”
“Oof, I wish, but no, that’s already a lot of food. I’ll be content with three desserts.”
“Oh yeah,” Dovid said. “Could I also have some coffee?”
“Sure thing,” Anthony said. “I’ll bring that to you now.”
Dovid smiled again. “Thanks a lot.”
Once Anthony’s footsteps had retreated again, Dovid turned to Rachel. “I like him,” he announced. “He’s cute.”
“You only like him because he just fanboyed all over you,” Rachel said, the laughter clear in her voice.
“That did add to the cuteness factor, yes, but—”
“But you like his voice.”
“I do like his voice,” Dovid said.
“This is totally going into the blooper footage.”
“Aw, no, don’t be mean. He’s nervous enough as it is.”
“I won’t show him, I’ll just find a creative way to highlight that you thought your server was cute.”
Dovid shrugged. “Okay, sure. Anyway, read some of the menu out loud to me? We still need the voice-over for the menu pan.”
“Right, sure. Oh, wait, hold up. Your crush is back.”
“I brought you your coffee,” Anthony said, setting two things down on the table with a click. “Cream and sugar are next to the coffee.”
“You’re welcome. And, um, your orders will be up soon. Anything else I can do for you right now?”
“That’s all,” Dovid said, after Rachel stayed silent. “Thank you.”
Dovid moved his hand on the table until he reached the mug and placed it in front of him. Then he grabbed the creamer and sugar and set it to the side. He drank his coffee black, for the most part.
“Alright,” he said to Rachel, “We’ve got a window without interruptions. Read to me?”
“Sure thing.” Rachel read down the menu, and Dovid had to admit that the cafe had some really interesting and tasty sounding dishes. He also liked the creative names of them all.
“The menu is fun,” he told the camera, once Rachel was finished. “And I admit to being partial to the staff. Or rather, our server seems great.” Rachel snorted. Dovid continued, knowing she’d fix that in editing. “We ordered a total of six dishes. Way more food than even Rachel can eat—”
“Do you deny it?”
A sigh. “No.”