It didn’t sound so bad when he thought about it quietly to himself. But when Jorge heard the words as they tumbled off his wagging tongue, it occurred to him that perhaps he sounded crazy.
Brain-fucked sociopath with a speech impediment.
He had good reasons though, for avoiding epidermic contact. It wasn’t the feel of flesh that diddled his nerves, no not that at all. Peggy Snorkleton had luxurious skin that felt like the distressed hide he wrapped around his Glock, and he did so enjoy a good rubbing against her.
It wasn’t until his mother accidentally lost her balance at the traveling freak show and collided with a leper that he began to see just how vile a human’s hull could actually be. The varying degrees of elasticity, the blemishes that sprung up the closer you got to a person, the moles dripping off bare backs like stalactic raisins.
Freckles on an albino.
And then there was the dermatitis; the dandruff, the miniscule vellum scraps piling up like abraded artifacts across bathroom sinks.
Lately he was petrified of flesh-eating diseases.
Crabs waiting to hail a new carapace cab from a dirty pubic pelt they’ve outgrown.
And still, after all the careful explaining, the guests at Francis Featherflicker’s birthday party didn’t understand why Jorge chose to stand in a corner while the rest of the revelers partook in a riveting round of Twister. It was nearly too much for Jorge to bear, even as a spectator: the mashing of limbs, the entwining of phalanges, the friction of bare flesh against the plastic mat, the rubbing and sloughing of a half dozen human appendages catapulting derma debris into the air.
He could be inhaling someone’s scalp scales.
Somewhere in between right-hand-red and left-foot-yellow, a boy with jagged-edged hair gave a diminuitive girl an Indian brushburn. For kicks, he did this. The sound of her flesh twisting beneath the boys clammy palm sent a fissure through Jorge’s psyche.
It was here that Jorge began to notice that his teeth were grinding.
He was used to being excluded, though he supposed he excluded himself. He was used to mostly sexless relationships; and on the occasion where he woke up feeling a bit randy, a sheet with a hole in the exact positioning of the genital vicinity would need to be laid down between him and whatever person was willing to be his partner in such Amish-styled relations. He was used to declining invitations to pool parties, the thought of all that moist skin, amalgamating into a filthy stew of sweat, urine, chlorine, saliva once sent him reeling into panic.
Jorge was accustomed to people regarding him as a pariah.
Queerbot ripping entrails from roadkilled hobos.
But when, in the middle of quite some intense limb-locking, Curly Dustbin wafted a legume-laced bubble of flatulence into the faces of several unfortunate guests fighting for the green spot, causing a chain reaction of chunky purging, Jorge was thankful to be standing alone in a corner.
(Originally published April 14, 2009. Reposted today because I can do shit like that.)