Ward of Moth

If we begin with the right cuff, then truly, there is no problem with it.

The right cuff, then. The entire right sleeve, in fact, assuming it is correct in its length, and most of them are, does its job admirably and no one is the wiser. If you should see this cuff, this sleeve – on me, I suppose – you would have no suspicions, no objections. No. You would say to yourself, if you said anything, and why bother, “Here is a perfectly ordinary man wearing a shirt.” I am covered.

To my right arm I apply, daily but sparingly, at last, Triamcinolone Acetonide Cream USP 1%. O, that’s what it says upon the crinkled tube. Left behind by an old girlfriend, long ago, who knows which one?

It helps, I believe. The little holes in my skin do not spread beyond the reach of my right cuff.

But if it should happen that, for some unknowable reason, we come to speak of the left cuff, now the situation is not identical. To my left arm, I apply no cream but rather, hydrogen peroxide. It is a failed experiment. It could be worse. The holes are only a blemish running down the underside of the left wrist. Onto my palm. Not noticeable at all, really, even among friends.

And so far as the collar is concerned, now that I wear a necktie daily, it reveals a neck, only a neck, or part of one, much like any other you might see.

With my shirt, necktie, slacks, socks, and shoes all in place, just so, I proceed with my days out in public.

One evening at home, suitably inebriated, I determined I would perform a surgery upon myself. The rows upon rows of holes upon my right leg were still red and squelchy in those days. Taking up a set of old tweezers – wherever would I have found them? – I pushed down into the hole in which I had seen the movement.

I remember the pain. I could relive it now, at will, if I sought to. The pain convulsed me and in the throes of my convulsions, I imagined I heard a scream bursting out from the tiny hole within my leg.

I will do no more surgeries.

My left leg now. As I write, it rests here across my right knee. The holes, maybe only one hundred in all, perhaps even fewer, have dried, their edges hardened, like those across my back. What remains of my skin, it is not so bad, after all, a bit like a dried husk. Sometimes it seems as though a large eye observes me from within a hole, here or there. Sometimes, many eyes, each with its own hole, of which there are probably no more than one hundred, in my leg. It could be worse.

An antenna poking out, or a claw or the odd hairy leg, now and then, these are but rare occurrences and cause me no troubles whatsoever so long as I do not gaze too closely or too long. And the tongues? The tongues were tiny and anyway, that was all my fault for having spilled a delicious salty snack upon myself.

As for the whispers, I have determined these are not whispers at all, but merely the sounds of chewing. They are louder at nighttime.

We are all covered up by clothes most of our lives and in this, I am no different. The holes, therefore, and whatever it is which – for lack of a better term – resides within the holes, they do not interfere with my job. Or with my writing, such as it is. Or with my weekly visits to Mom and Dad. Each of us has our burdens in this world, so don’t complain, old Harry. Others have it much worse.

At any rate, how much life could be left to me to live with it? Twenty years. Perhaps not even that.

I believe it’s better today. Better than last week.

So long as no one else can see the holes, the holes are not a problem. 

Comments

  1. We've all got something to cover up. As long as no one can see......

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    1. Everyone seems so normal until you get to know them.

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    2. Always gives me a chuckle when folks refer to me as 'normal'...oh if only they knew...and thank goodness they don't.

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    3. Haha... I understand. I'm not sure what "normal" means anymore. I say "average" sometimes, but rarely "normal" unless I'm trying to make a point.

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  2. So long we can live with our holes, the will will live with them too. They have no choice.

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    1. I am getting a bit better at not bothering to hide some of my idiosyncrasies as I get older. Still not good enough, though. I'd like not to care.

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  3. I have made the mistake of reading this right before bedtime. If I have a nightmare tonight, it's your goddamn fault, you fucker. Happy now? You authors are all the same.

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    1. If you turn on the telvision or a radio while you sleep, you probably won't be able to hear the chewing coming from inside your arm.

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  4. It's amazing the way a set of clothes will create the right image out in public, and the things they cover up that we hope will never be revealed.

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    1. I also have a beard, longish hair and, until recently I usually wore glasses. I could hardly cover up more if I wanted to. And I'm told that I don't always make eye contact. It sort of screams, "Just let me do what I need to do and get away from here."

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  5. And though the holes may seem infected, festering even, to all those outsiders you fear catch a glimpse, something inside of you feels like they belong, like they fulfill a niche role in your bodily ecosystem.
    The mark of a successful parasite.

    Missed opportunity for a cool tripophobia-inducing post image.
    http://i1.wp.com/www.rumournews.in/uploads/2016/10/maxresdefault-16.jpg

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    1. I almost used a picture of a hand full of holes in a tripophobia article. I thought it might be too on the nose.

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  6. Yes, it's the holes you CAN'T see that can possibly do something terrible to the casual observer. That's why I keep mine covered, too.

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    1. The things in the holes have only attacked people on the street once or twice.

      Other than that, if I was behind you in the grocery store line, you wouldn't give me a second look.

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  7. I got a bad rash on my arm when I was a dishwasher for a while, and my manager gave me a jar of prescription hydrocortisone left over from a poison-oak/boob incident. It knocked the rash right off of me, but left patches of little water-filled holes on the finger I used to apply it with.
    It turns out that hydrocortisone does that to me, for some unknown reason, that I convinced myself had nothing to do with the drugs I was taking at that time.
    I guess I could ask my doctor, now that I have one, but it was a long time ago, and I like to keep my doctor focused on more current health issues, so...

    By the way, this post reads like a chapter in VALIS, by Phillip K. Dick.

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. I could turn this whole web page into an ongoing series of body horror tales if I had the nerve. Oh my God, I'm just a disgusting mess.

      I appreciate the Philip K. Dick comparison. I haven't tried to write like him... yet. But turning into Horselover Fat could be a longterm goal.

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  8. Many realities hidden behind a wall of perception.

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    1. I hadn't seen this quote, attributed to Toba Beta, before.

      I know I just give a cursory scan to most of the things around me, most days, and then assume that everything is pretty conventional if something doesn't jump out at me. I suppose it's how our brains work.

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  9. All I could think about while reading this was trypophobia, which I wouldn't call a fear of mine, but definitely makes me uncomfortable. And while I do have a tendency to complain while experiencing a psoriasis flare up, maybe I'll remember this post next time, to really put things into perspective.

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    1. I have eczema, which doesn't lead to infested holes in the body, but might as well sometimes. I tried to pull this post back from the edge of being a trypophobia piece. But the (photoshopped) pictures in online articles about that phobia would creep anybody out.

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  10. Mango worms actually work like that, and they are anything but a joke.

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    1. Jesus Christ, that's a google search I wish I hadn't done. I know maggots don't eat living tissue, and I've always kind of slept better at night thinking that's how worms and larvae operate. So much for that.

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  11. Harry, this is creepy! I feel my skin crawling!! Yuck!!!!!

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    1. Woohoo! I finally wrote something sort of creepy. It's taken me decades. Maybe I'll try one again.

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  12. Okay, did you watch an episode of Discovery Channel's, "Monsters Inside me"? Totally freaked out now.
    Great writing!

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    1. I didn't know such a show existed! I thought all the shows on that network were about people who were short or people who were morbidly obese. I might have to look this up...

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  13. You've been reading naked Lunch again, haven't you.

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    1. Haha. The subject matter seems in alignment, although the style doesn't at all. The very fact that people know what the post was about means it could have been "Naked Lunch."

      Now I will cut up the words in this comment, combine them at random with text from the New York Times, and post the results. Then it will be "Naked Lunch!"

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    2. Actually, it reads as if someone took burroughs and translated it into another language, trying to reframe it so it made senseas they went along. And then that got translated back to english.

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  14. I wear a lot of lycra so have very few secrets from the outside world although I haven't seen my actual chin in a long while.

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    1. I'm not nearly honest enough with myself to wear lycra or shave.

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  15. When I was a teenager (a long, long time ago) I used to have the occasional dream about having worms come out of the skin on my face. Sometimes the dream was so real I had to go to the bathroom and look. If I have that dream again, it will be your fault.

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    1. With all due apologies for the bad mental images I'm causing, I'm starting to like my attempt at maybe giving some people the heebie-jeebies. Maybe I just want everybody to feel as freaked out as I feel, all the time.

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