780. Natural Selection

Nomad’s last two dates in the New York metro area were back-to-back nights at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island and then there would be two days off while the whole entourage reset in the midwest for the final leg of the tour. It was like I could see a wall calendar in my mind, the days X-ed out and the days still to come. The last page of the calendar, at least.

After the doctor’s appointment I went back to Ziggy’s and took a nap. I don’t know what he did while I was asleep but whatever it was didn’t wake me. Maybe he read a book? I had the feeling he didn’t go out, anyway.

When I did wake up was maybe two hours later, the late afternoon edging toward evening. Summer in New York City. Part of me wanted to go sit in a park somewhere. But part of me didn’t want to go anywhere.

Ziggy climbed across the bed when he realized I was awake. “So. New cast?”

“Splint.” It was black and had Velcro straps. “I get to take it off to shower now.”

“Excellent. You want to?”

“Have a shower? Now that you mention it that’s an excellent idea.” I had fantasies about being able to wash and rinse my hair with both hands again. I sat up.

Ziggy leaned against the headboard. “Can I see it?”

“My hand, you mean?”

He nodded seriously.

“Sure.” I hadn’t looked at it myself, remember. But now that I could remove the splint, I would pretty much have to. I carefully pulled at the Velcro and it made that ripping sound like it does. Rrrrrrrip.

He gently eased the splint off and then undid the mummy wrap around my palm. He revealed the back of my hand and swallowed hard at what he saw. I actually was expecting it to be worse-looking, honestly. It wasn’t pretty by any stretch. You could see where the knife had gone through.

Ziggy turned my hand palm up, cradling it in his. Okay, this side looked worse. He clucked his tongue. “That’s going to make getting your fortune told difficult for sure.”

I snorted. “Oh, wise one, what do you see in the lines?”

“Stay away from sharp objects, my son,” he said, in his best old-lady voice, and then chuckled, too. “Huh. I guess you’ve got half-stigmata.”

“Guess so.” I curled my fingers experimentally. They were all a bit stiff but middle one especially didn’t want to bend with the others, which left it somewhat obscenely extended. I held it up. “Figures.”

“What did they say to do?”

“Massage it gently to loosen it up. I’m supposed to start working with the hand therapist as soon as I get back to town.” Two weeks.

Ziggy nodded, and then as if I’d been telling him to instead of merely describing my instructions, he pressed his thumbs gently against the heel of my hand and made circles with them. “So the bones are okay?”

“The bones are fine, supposedly. It’s only the what do they call it–soft tissue–that was–” I couldn’t bring myself to use the word “severed” for some reason. “Injured.”

He shuddered but worked his thumbs gently around the visible injury. “You must be going nuts.”

“I’m trying not to think about it,” I said. “Other than how to deal with it minute to minute.”

He got a thoughtful look on his face. “Which is kind of how you deal with everything.”

“I guess so. If I think too much about what could go wrong in the future I can’t get anything done in the present. So focusing on the present is pretty much the only thing that works.”

He pressed a kiss to the back of one of my knuckles. “That works. I’ll start the water.”

We got in together, not in a sexual way but in a comfortably intimate way, if that makes any sense? The kind of ease you can only have with someone you’ve already had a lot of sex with, at least if you’re me.

Washing my hair with both hands was a wonderfully sensual experience, by the way.

When we got out, Ziggy insisted on combing my hair out for me. He sat me on the corner of the bed and knelt behind me with a wide-toothed comb, patiently working it through. “I can’t believe you’ve still got these extensions in.”

“Your friend did say they could last four to six months if I took care of them.”

“Which you haven’t been, one-handed.” He pulled the comb slowly through my long, wet strands. “And your hair’s so straight they can slip right off.”

“Yeah, I’ve lost probably half of them. But I still like them. How is…Bernie? Anyway?”

“Bernard. Haven’t seen him lately. I think he’s gone for the summer?” Ziggy shrugged. “You could do a dye job that looked the same but was permanent. Well, at least until it grew out.”

“I think I’d rather get another tattoo,” I told him. “After I heal up, something on the back of my hand.”

“To hide the scar?”

“Not exactly hide, no.”

“Ah.” He nodded like he understood. “I still haven’t found the right artist to do the one I want.”

My memory stirred. He’d mentioned this. “The one you said you’d tell me about later?”

“The very one.”

“Is it later now?”

“Not late enough, no,” he said with a laugh. “Maybe I’ll just show you once it’s done.”

“And it’s not angel wings on your back, right? I had a dream once…”

“You told me, and no. Though it will go on my back.”

That was clearly all he was going to say on the subject. He liked keeping me in suspense I guess and I didn’t mind, honestly. It was like another thread of connection that held even when we were physically distant.

A little while later he took a phone call from Barrett and I didn’t hear all of it because he went into the office and shut the door but my impression was Barrett was checking up on when Ziggy was going to get back on schedule with his various training appointments. Ziggy’s answer was something like “when Daron leaves town.”

I didn’t take a Flexeril that evening and my brain seemed less foggy than it had been. I still didn’t want to go anywhere, though. Court came over and we got takeout Chinese and watched a movie. John Waters did a film starring Johnny Depp called Cry-Baby and it had finally come out on video. Court brought it over. I confess John Waters was a name I had heard a lot as some kind of indie/alternative film icon but I had never actually seen one of his movies.

Maybe my brain wasn’t as un-foggy as I thought. All I absorbed of the film seemed to be a melange of 1950s teen movie references that maybe would have made more sense if I’d seen some actual teen movies of the 1950s? It was a satire, so I didn’t feel any genuine emotion for the characters, though of course I grasped the whole teen rebellion against the “squares” thing. I dunno. I spent a lot of the film trying to figure out why it just wasn’t that entertaining to me. I didn’t figure it out.

At one point Court paused the film to run to pee and when she came back she shook her head at me. “Wow.”

“Wow what?” I paused with some lo mein halfway between the carton and my face.

“When did you learn to use chopsticks with your left hand?”

“Uh.” I had moved the chopsticks to my left hand because it was impossible to use them with the splint on (and probably while it was off, too, but I wasn’t ready to even try that yet). I stuffed the noodles in my face and then said, “I mean, I’m not perfect with them–”

“Have you ever done it left-handed before?”

“No? Probably not?” I clicked the tips together.

Ziggy snickered. “Court. You’re surprised by this?”

“Yes and no, I mean, yeah, so he’s got dexterity off the scale–I knew that–but still. Chopsticks? I’m still figuring them out with my right hand, I swear.”

“You’re exaggerating,” I said. “And I’m sure you could get it with practice.”

“Doubtful,” she said.

“Now I’m curious,” Ziggy said. He took a pair of chopsticks in his left hand and started trying to pick the water chestnuts out of a carton of stir fry with them. “A little awkward.”

We started the movie again. An hour later it was done and Court went back to her apartment, and Ziggy sat on the couch rubbing his left hand. “Ouch. I gave myself a cramp doing that.”

“Maybe it’s contagious.” I said it as a joke, but as I kissed him in the center of his palm I was thinking, it better not be.

(Thanks everyone for joining us in the 7th anniversary chats on Tuesday night! You can read Daron’s text chat and watch the archived video here: https://daron.ceciliatan.com/archives/5804. ALSO, please note thanks to generous donations this week there will be a Saturday post! If you’d like to see three posts a week *every week* remember it’s a goal in the DGC Patreon Campaign. If you could pledge a dollar a week, you could help us get to that point! Check out the Patreon page for more info! -ctan)


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