Everybody Loves a Hero (Gregory)

Sure, it’s thick under my nails, like raisins, only darker black and with green specks -- the vegetable veins I call ‘em. Big juicy raisins be worth a high price at market, something people’d pay cash for, though of course they’d prefer credit. A rare crop of plump grapes, dried in a winter sun by a process so slow you’d never say they were dry. Aged is what you’d say.

People may look at my fingernails strange. Suspicious onlookers looking at me like I’m one of those freaks to carry a rattail comb in his hip pocket. But you know what I think? I think it’s some sort of formality, like they feel obliged to say to themselves, “There’s that weirdo with the nails so dirty looks like he’s growing a mustache under there.” Like it’s their place to look at me like that’s how I get my rocks off, like my primary reason for being is to knock my head against a brick wall until one of us shouts “Uncle.”

I know these looks are all a performance, just a formality like I said, and inside they really don’t think I’m half bad. Sure, they don’t know it yet. They just think of me as that dirty guy on the bus, the one never with a tissue handy to whip the snot dripping down his lip. But deep down, they’re jealous, wishing they’re as free as me. I don’t pay that high price of living up to their standards. I just nod and smile at their looks, look down at my fingernails and nod again -- let’s them know I know they think that black shit under there is pretty cool.

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