The last of my Insanity Series. I think I shall write about normal people now.
Yossarian Petragello was a charmless man, the sort of hideous creature you hide your smallest children from. Reeking of stale smoke and bitter spirits the man fell short at three foot three. A hacking cough accompanying a quivering frame. His enemies didn’t see him as a threat. Often they barely knew he was there. And when they finally took his measure, they saw only an invalid; sunken eyes and yellowed teeth.
His mother (God rest her soul), died in childbirth, leaving the squealing infant all alone; afterbirth in the gutter. The growing boy refused all comforts; a healthy home, heart and hearth. The isolation, harmless at first, began to have an impact. A fondness for ill-fitting clothes emerged, a series of facial tics and a variety of mental conditions grown to order. Ranging from common bulimia to full-fledged schizophrenia. Little wonder, then, the origins of the nickname Petty. Designed to dig at an already broken man.
Most days Yossarian woke to the faint sound of beetles skittering across the hard floor of the motel. A motel he’d been a resident at for the past twelve years. The landlord had long since tired of treating this customer with respect, his good humour replaced with a dulled sense of superiority. Yossarian was sick of seeing this look in people’s eyes; those he regarded as friends, he gazed up at and saw only pity, pressing him further into the ground.
It came to him, as all great ideas did, at three am, in a drunken stupor. In a desperate attempt to preserve the memory he staggered around the tiny room in search of a pen, before ultimately collapsing in a tangle of filthy sheets and bedclothes. This time Yossarian woke not to the subtle scratching of his tiny friends, but to a burning in his skin. Crudely cut into his arm were the words Plastic Sugary. It was not as if this was the first time he had considered such an alternative, his teenage years being filled with dreams of beauty and self-worth. It wouldn’t make him taller though. It wouldn’t bring him respect. He rose to use the bathroom and stumbled as the fire spread to his foot, falling to the floor. From his somewhat bleary perspective Yossarian could make out the single word etched into his heel. Korea.
The idea had almost no merit in the end. Bone lengthening surgery was hardly cheap and its legality outside Asia was questionable. Still, the thought stuck with him. Even being a couple inches taller would be an improvement. He could pass for a short man, no longer humiliated as a dwarf or midget; a lesser part of society. Dignified. Respectable.
Yossarian didn’t think of himself as ‘an alcoholic’, he saw drinking as a remedy. A way to silence the mutterings of his mind. So when they made a greater effort to be heard he quietened them just as forcefully. As his head began to droop he repositioned himself on the bed, his legs deadweight against the sagging mattress. The scotch had left in its wake a kind of numbness, and he gave a lazy smile, content with his plan. Reaching into the paper bag on his left, he pulled out a hacksaw, its teeth dimly glinting in the dying light of day. “God’s anaesthetic” he muttered, taking a last bitter swig. To his credit, throughout the ordeal Yossarian didn’t scream, didn’t call out for help, not even in the face of unconsciousness.
Yossarian woke once more to the dull skittering sound and gave a small chuckle, looking blearily around. A man in a white coat stood over him, pen scratching on a clipboard.
“Mister Petragello? I’m Doctor Michaels, would you mind explaining why you tried to saw through your legs?” Yossarian squeezed his eyes open and shut but the scene remained where it was. Reality had never been so white, everything was so unbearably white.
“Did you hear me?” asked the doctor. Yossarian squirmed against unseen restraints, wondering if the man above could be trusted, a figure superior if ever there was one. He questioned whether to tell this man of his plan; to saw through the bones himself; after all, he’d seen medical shows, he knew the procedure. Why should he be denied happiness? However he said nothing, glaring at the man with the clipboard, daring him to make a snide remark. Yossarian no longer cared, he would be tall soon, the cuts already made – through to the bone. Millimetres of bone tissue would already be venturing across the great divide, making him stronger, bolder, more confident –
Yes, a charmless man, the sort of hideous creature you hide your smallest children from. Reeking of stale smoke and bitter spirits, bound to a chair; both legs removed but for an infection of the soul.