Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Tail

He'd had the tail for years.  If you think it's easy to hide a tail that size, you are mistaken.  One does not simply fold a tail flat and tuck it in one's pants like a shirt tail.  It couldn't be looped, like a lasso, for the tendons, cartilage and scar tissue were stubborn with age.  He finally took to wearing a longish coat and, in summer, loose Hawaiian shirts and baggy pants.  During the winter he felt relatively free. People keep to themselves in the winter, don't they?  They scurry out as needed, carry out the least required, and scurry back home again to their nests and warm fires.  In winter, he didn't worry about the tail being spotted. Summers were different. People become more curious when the weather is warm. They sit on benches in the park, gather on porches, or stroll on the sidewalk, enjoying the sun, watching each other, and waiting for something interesting to happen; something like, perhaps, the sudden appearance of a tail-wielding man  

Tails make sleep difficult, as well.   It's hard to find a comfortable position. The best way was face down, of course, but he wasn't a natural stomach sleeper.  Occasionally, he thought back to the days before his tail had grown in; days when he slept eight or nine glorious hours at a time. He had awoken feeling fully rested, clear-headed and ready to tackle the world with all the vigor of the youthful and tail-less.  Now, most days, he operated within a buzzing, foggy bubble. Some days it sapped his energy just to dress and feed himself.  

I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking what anyone normal would think when considering the misery a tail that size must  cause its host.  Why keep it?  Why not dispatch that tail tout de suite?  Isn't that what you would do?  Find yourself a good doctor, a highly recommended tail specialist, and say to him, "Doc, this tail has to go!"?  But the man wasn't really normal like you, was he?  And he was afraid.

He thought about getting rid of the tail, of course he did.  He thought about it all the time.  When he awoke in the middle of the night, for the third or fourth time, and shifted his weight once again, to counter the weight of the tail, he often vowed that, come morning, he would call the doctor first thing.  Then morning would come and he would somehow forget.  The day would draw on and, at some point, he would remember, but he still wouldn't make the call.  There were too many unknowns.  

For one thing, it had become a part of him, like an arm or a leg.  Who in their right mind cuts off their arm? And what if the tail was meant to be?  God, in all his wisdom, surely would not have given him a tail without a reason.  Wouldn't it be wrong to remove a tail when he hadn't yet discovered its true purpose?  And, finally, as perverse as it might sound, the tail was his only friend.  Yes, it's true, he thought of the tail as a comrade. His fear of discovery had alienated him from any close friendships.  His tail was all he had.  Once it was gone who would he talk to?

Maybe he could grow a new tail-probably, he could-but going through the trouble to rid himself of the current tail, physically and emotionally, only to grow a new one...well, that was just insane. No, if he was going to cut off his tail, he would be done with it once and for all.  It was a deliberate and thoughtful process.  Excising a tail was not an endeavor one undertook as nonchalantly as cutting one's fingernails.  

He wasn't sure yet.

Chicken out