Posted by: Matt Y | 02/25/2013

Horror Contest submission


For the longest time I felt alone.

When a person typically thinks of body issues they think of the Hollywood starlets that are plastered across the tabloids in the supermarket, with headlines that speculate as to which ones had a face life and who had a tummy tuck.  They may think of soccer moms who are fighting a battle against time, or the eating disorders of teenage girls.  Not many people think of men first, or at all, as having these same problems.

Of course they do, I know the statistics by heart.  Men make up to 15 percent of all those with eating disorders, likely higher as many refuse to admit they have a problem.  Every year the percentage of men who have plastic surgery grows steadily larger, with some facilities now specializing in just male cosmetic surgery.  Nose jobs, liposuction and breast reduction are the most common procedures that are done for men.

I see these statistics and I feel less alone in this world.

Every morning I wake up and face myself in the mirror.  I know not all men are created equally, but sometimes I wonder if my Maker ever even gave consideration to what He was doing.  Did He intend for the knobby knees, the too large nose, and the high forehead?  I don’t know what would be worse, to find out that He intended for me to look like an assemblage of mismatched parts, or that He just did not care.

I see my cheekbones and some days I feel that they are too sharp, or too round.  I look at my chin and wonder if square jaws are the in thing still, and if women still think having a dimple in the middle is cute or not.  I look in the mirror and mentally make a list of every imperfection before I head out for the day, which takes a while.  The mirror shows my history written in the thin (and not so thin) lines of scars from past surgeries that are scribbled across my body.

Then I spend the day shopping.

While wandering through malls and stores I see a man with a nose that is just perfect, I lift my smartphone and take a picture of him and the store he works at, discreetly of course, I have found that people do not like to have their pictures taken by strangers.  Still, I might want to have that nose recorded for future reference, though in a day or two I may look at that picture and completely change my mind.

I must say these multi-purpose portable devices are the best thing about the current generation.  There was a time I would have to try and write or draw my impressions and that was so much slower and created inaccuracies that I would later regret.

I see a woman with earlobes that are amazing.  They are little works of art and she doesn’t even seem to realize it.  Still, they would never work for me.  Seeing something so perfect and knowing that I will unlikely ever be able to achieve such perfection frustrates me and I spend much of the afternoon in a depressed funk.

That night I decide to try and cheer myself up by going out to a club.  I am older than the crowd that one might find in a typical nightclub, and even all of my surgeries can’t hide that fact.  There is a youthful energy that surrounds many of people in the club like an aura.  That pure life energy is intoxicating and I am drawn to it like a moth to the flame.

The club does nothing to suppress my bad mood.  Usually when I go to the club I am uplifted by the sight of so many smooth skinned beautiful strangers, pressing against each other to the beat of loud music, lost in the moment.  It is a celebration of life.  Tonight all it does is remind me of how different I am from the people in the crowd.

Instead of trying to join in, I instead sit at the bar, sulking and trying to drown my current misery.

Then a hand touches my shoulder.

I turn and there stood a man, tall and dark haired, wearing a suit jacket over a polo shirt.  He also was older than those around us though his smile seemed to give off the same youthful energy.  I smiled back and asked if he could take the seat next to me.  I said that was fine.

He introduced himself as Tony, and I told him my name was Frank.  Both of us were old fashioned and shook hands as we introduced ourselves to each other.  His handshake was strong and warm, his skin soft.  After the handshake he rested his hand on the bar and I glanced at it.  It was a magnificent hand.  The nails were well manicured and immediately I felt embarrassed about my hands.  I had work done on them years ago, and the signs of age were obvious.  The skin was dry and cracked and the other day I thought I noticed a mole for the first time.

Tony asked me what I did and I told him I was a musician, that I played violin music and sold it independently online.  He laughed and said that he loved violin music, and would look up my music later on iTunes.  I could tell he was lying, yet it was sort of flattering how hard he was trying to impress me so I let him get away with it.  He asked why the violin.  I told him that it was an instrument I learned from my Father and felt it was important to try to carry on the music of an instrument that he loved.

He then told me about his job.  He was some kind of software consultant and sought to explain to me details of what this meant.  I tuned him out, making sure to smile and nod in the appropriate places.  While I appreciate the benefits of the computer age I also have no understanding of it, and thought if I tried to understand the science that affected my life, I might go mad.  I spent the time watching his hands; once he got into talking about his job his hands became animated and flew all over the place.  They truly were exquisite.

After a few drinks Tony’s eye became half drooped and he started to find excuses to touch my arm or leg in a way that was a subtle enough signal that I could ignore without offending him, or choose to accept.  Another drink and I asked him if he would like to come over to my place and hear my violin music.  He grinned wide and said he would love to.

Together we left the place, taking a cab the short distance back to my condo.  The air inside of the cab was tense enough that the air itself practically vibrated with expectation.  Once through my door Tony did not wait to make a move, he was all over me, kissing, touching, and pulling at my clothes impatiently.  I let him while I set my keys on an end table next to the door and grabbed a thick paperweight that rested there.  Tony took a step back for a moment to remove his suit coat and I swung overhead with the paperweight in my fist, and felt the impact of the blow up to my elbow as it connected to the side of his head.

He fell, and then tried to stagger back up to his knees, giving me a look of confusion and betrayal.  I wanted to try to explain to him why, only I don’t think it would have comforted him any, so I brought the paperweight down again, and again.  I was concerned about the condition of his hands, not his face.

After I picked up the phone and called Ivan Igorovich.  His family and mine went back a long way, and I trusted his surgical skills.  He sighed and told me that this needed to stop, that some day I must learn to be happy with who I was.  It was a speech I had heard from him before and waited for him to finish.  Eventually he agreed to come over.

I really wanted those hands.

After Dr. Frankenstein created me I was called a monster by villagers.  I wanted to tell them that I agreed.  I was a monster.  In attempting to bring me to life the Doctor never thought about what it was He was creating, only that He wanted to prove that He could do it.  I’ve spent a lot of my life hating Him for that.

I wish I could have explained to those villagers that I did not choose to be created the way I was, that my only hope was to someday be just like them.  How every morning I wake up, look in the mirror and see the monster reflected back to me.  To see the imperfections and try to finish the work of my Creator, to hope that one day I’ll look in the mirror and see a man instead of the monster.

Until then I will continue to strive towards perfection.

Speaking of, I think that mall worker’s nose is a bit straighter than mine…


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