A Man of Fingernails

“Hello Sir, what would you like us to victual you with today?”

“Ah yes, could I have the hamburger, double fries and a strawberry shake, thanks”.

The man pays, and the order is in his hands. His left hand’s extended fingernails clutch the hamburger, and then the fries, and then the strawberry shake. He’s checking for salt and sugar content expecting a fair amount. And though he doesn’t eat this delicacy very often, he always checks for consistency.

‘Thank you” Pres says to the victualler assistant. “All good”, and he finds an empty plastic table setting.

Fingernails grow, fingernails split, fingernails scratch, fingernails blacken; it’s all about fingernails to a man, curious in his Elvis Presley jumpsuit, imbibing a family restaurant lunchtime special.

It’s not that he’s obsessive, he’s just anxious. His parents had warned him about proper eating. His fingernails are his monitor, his gauge, his calculator in the shop.

His fingernails do things others can’t imagine of. He can bring up his social media page on the nail of his right hand’s index finger. Another nail acts like a compass, and yet another is like an envelope opener.

He slowly eats his meal and savors the flavours and texture. Of course he’s being stared at, and in an inspired moment he peels off his Presley jumpsuit and drops it to the floor. Revealed is a plain t-shirt, jeans and white runners. He mouths at the staring eyes ‘see, I’m normal like you’. They stop, and he continues with his meal.

The sun shines and the day is brilliant. It’s a great time to be alive. A month ago the thumb nail on his left hand extended and split; the top part then went black and dropped off. He took this to be a sign of renewal. The nail quickly grew back. It was a signal for change. And now by peeling off his jumpsuit he has taken another step toward making a positive change.

And tonight he’s meeting a girl. He’s got a picture of her on a nail. She’s pretty and her name is Naomi. She works in finance; and they met on an online dating site. She says she spends a lot of time and money on her nails.

He’s got the afternoon to enjoy before his big date tonight. He decides to give his nails a manicure at his favourite place of beauty. He’s got a few but this one treats him the best. The girls here always clean each nail thoroughly, right down to the last millimetre of the twenty centimetres they can extend to.

‘Hi Pres, how you doing? Here for the works? Mary, can you come here and do the works on Pres for me?”

“I’m not Pres anymore. I’ve returned to my old self. I’m Carl now.”

“Really? That’s good for you Carl.”

Mary’s a good choice. She’s been his favourite. The other girls work on him too, but Mary has that X factor his nails need. He sits on his favourite chair and places his hands on a small bench in front and extends his fingers and nails.

Each nail gets a thorough oil, buff and polish and any dirt is cleaned away. They are as pink as can be and Mary winks to his good health. His pink smooth nails are wonderful to work with. They are firm and show no signs of ridges or other defects.

“You’ve got a girl on your mind haven’t you Pres, I mean Carl” she says. “I can tell by your nails. They look electric. Can I see her?”

He brings her up on his pinkie nail and they stretch their necks forward to look at her. “Nice girl; and pretty too”.

He pays and says cheerio. His nails are pixel primed. Must remember my lines and don’t be too pushy, he says to himself. He’ll need to control his nails of course. They have been unpredictable in the past and got him into serious trouble. He’ll never get over the last girl he fell in love with.

Carl had had a great evening with her. There was much laughter and talk over dinner at a Spanish restaurant, and there was a lot of non verbal intimacy. They had known each other platonically for awhile and they, without talking, were now speaking with their eyes, each with strong feeling, having decided this night is to be the night. She went back to his place, and feeling comfortable the lovers were soon in each others arms kissing. Their clothes quickly came off and they began to make passionate love.

What happened next changed Carl’s life. Their passionate throes became a spiritual ecstasy each so desperately sought from the other. Certain religious men had told him that sexual ecstasy this was THE way to God. Some invited him to help them get there. As Carl was gently caressing her, he was conscious of his withholding so that she might be pleasured, and her climax was near.

While his left hand stroked her face he had shifted his body for their comfort. In that second he cramped, his upper body rose slightly and to steady he reached for her shoulder. But he slipped and in a split second a nail punctured her throat. She died in his arms. And by the time the police came he had cut his nails to the quick in disgust.

That was seven years ago. The jury found Carl guilty of accidental manslaughter and he got ten years with parole after five. Carl identified with Elvis to ease his pain. Elvis was a distinct identity.  He was Jesus who could swing. The white jumpsuit meant purity.  But Carl found he needed to grow back his nails. The long nails helped him keep the other prisoners at bay. Carl had left prison as Pres. And it has taken him a long time to adjust to normal life. He’s hoping Naomi is someone who can help him.



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