weekly irregular dose of fabulous1 fiction
Week #29 - Just Like A Peanut Butter Sandwich
Saturday, 09 Aug 2008 21:14
This is probably the closest I've come to writing in the horror genre. And the main character isn't terribly likeable, either. I guess those are your two warnings for the story.
I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, especially considering I wrote this story in a day. I'm now one less story behind :D
Just Like A Peanut Butter Sandwich
Changing your face — your skin — is actually the easiest thing in the world. Maybe not the easiest. Not as easy or natural as farting, but you get the idea. You don't realize how simple it is until you try. You just don't know how flimsily it's attached to you; not until you learn the knack.
Feel along your hairline, just run your nails along and you'll find the seam. You have to dig your nails in a bit but once the skin starts to bunch up, you can just pinch and then pull your face away. It'll come off in one piece, don't you worry. The first few times I did it, I was sure my skin was going to tear in two like I was peeling an orange. It doesn't. There's no blood; not like you'd expect. Just this sticky goo that was holding your face on. It's easier than pulling off a Band-aid. More like separating the two slices of a peanut butter sandwich.
I learned the trick in Prague, in an Internet café on Vodičkova Street, not even a block away from the crush of tourists at Wenceslas Square. I was a tourist, too, don't get me wrong. If there's one thing that a tourist hates, it's other tourists. You want the city you're visiting to yourself. Trudging down a street with an army of other Americans, Brits and a few Canadians, craning your necks to see the balconey where Václav Havel gave his big speech, the whole group of you almost toppling down like dominoes when someone stops to snap a photo, who wants that? If we liked each other so much, we'd just stay home.
"Do you want me to show you the coolest trick in the world?" this guy said to me. For a second, I thought he was coming on to me, but I relaxed right away. I guess I'm a bit vain, and when I think another guy is coming on to me, I'm usually wrong. He's usually just a weirdo. "All I want is your pack of smokes. And buy me a beer. Two — I love Czech beer."
He wasn't Czech. American, I guess. I never found out for sure.
"What's this trick?" I was expecting he was going to tell me how to sneak onto the metro or something. The guy looked like a backpacker, but one who'd at some point crossed the line from being a poor, young traveller to homelessness. His clothes were tattered, the logo of the rock band on his t-shirt was half flecked away. Torn and filthy jeans.
I guess that's why he showed me what he knew. I wasn't chosen or anything, there was simply no one else in the café and he was totally broke.
"Ever feel like changing your skin?" And there sitting across the table from me, his cigarette burning down in the ashtray, he peeled back his forehead a little bit to show me what he meant.
He showed me how, in an alley behind the café. The first time, he pulled my face off for me. I remember shivering as my face came away from my body, touching the exposed flesh. I snorted out a laugh, when I saw my face dangling in his hand like a deflated balloon. It looked so silly hanging there.
"It'll go back on, right?" I asked him.
"Oh yeah," he handed it back to me, "But it doesn't have to be your face, it can be someone else's."
You'd be surprised at how flexible skin is. How much it will stretch and whose face will fit on you. There were a few things he didn't mention, though, that I'd learn on my own later on.
This guy, Jim he told me his name was, he had a part time job in a morgue sweeping the floors. That's where he'd get his faces from. When he felt like a change, he'd grab the face off one of the corpses they hauled in. It wasn't a bad idea because was no one was going to miss them. At worst, someone would find a faceless body and just figure it came in that way, or that someone had already started the autopsy and then went on their coffee break before finishing.
He offered to let me come get a new face from his morgue, but I turned him down; the idea of putting on a dead guy's face was gross. And anyway, I had a better idea.
I was staying at a hostel there and I headed back after giving Jim my smokes and enough crowns to buy, like, six or seven beers. I put my face back on first, of course, and carefully smoothed out all the creases and wrinkles. Once it was back on, you'd never even guess it had been taken off.
There was this guy I'd been travelling with, sort of. I mean, we weren't buddies or anything, we just happened to end up sitting across from each other on the train from Berlin. We shot the shit and played some cards but I wouldn't say we were friends. I even forgot his name right after he told me, although I later checked his passport and saw it was Daniel Pearson. Through sheer coincidence, we ended up at the same hostel.
This guy was really good looking. I mean, I don't swing that way, but he must have been because the girls just threw themselves at him. On the train to Prague, these two Australian girls were walking to the dining car, took one look at the guy and sat down and started chatting him up. They basically ignored me entirely, which didn't seem fair. There was two of them, so one of them could have chatted me up, right? And I saw this other girl, sitting across the aisle from us, checking him out, too.
The other thing I learned about the guy was that he liked to drink. The girls loved him but when he sat down to have a drink, he wouldn't stop until he was in a stupor. One of those types. He drank most of a bottle of whiskey on the train and kept going on about absinthe.
"I'm going to get some fucking absinthe in Prague. Not the shit they sell to tourists at the train station. I'm going to get the real shit. It's like getting high."
He must have told me that fifty times as the train rattled over Germany and the Czech Republic.
I found him nodding off in the common room of the hostel, half a bottle of absinthe and a shot glass in front of him. It looked like mouthwash, only thick as gravy. I picked up the open bottle and sniffed. I prefer beer, thank you very much.
So what I did was put the cap back on his absinthe and put it in his jacket pocket, and I got him to his feet. He wasn't totally passed out, but wasn't exactly with it either.
"C'mon pal," I said, "let's get you to bed before you piss yourself in public or something and embarrass yourself."
He groaned but walked when I led him down the hall and up the stairs to his room. I nearly dropped him in front of his door while trying to fish his keys from his pants pocket.
Inside, I laid him down on his bed and dug through his stuff for his passport. The police in Prague sometimes stopped foreigners on the street and if you didn't have your passport with you they would slap you with a fine. It was really just a shakedown but what are you going to do?
I was still new at it, so it took me a few minutes to find the seam on him and peel off his face. I stuffed it into my pocket, locked the room behind me and walked quickly back to my own room. I left my face on the back of the toilet in my bathroom — I wiped it down first of course and then walked out into Prague wearing this guy Daniel Pearson's face.
It felt pretty good to be wearing someone's mask. I was suddenly anonymous. Like, no one knew who I was in Prague anyhow, but whatever I did, they'd blame ol' Danny Pearson for in the morning. It felt like freedom, and power.
As I walked around, I wondered who else might not be wearing their own face. It couldn't just be me and Jim who knew how to change. Maybe that hot girl who passed me by was really some ugly chick who'd learned to swap faces, too. I wondered where she got her new face from. She might have paid some hot friend a few thousand crowns to let her borrow it. Or maybe she was more sneaky, like I was.
I found a club that catered to tourists. It sucked, and they charged more for drinks, and Czech women are hotter than tourist women, but I didn't speak any Czech.
I walked up to the bar and ordered a beer, a local one. The tourist bars only served Czech beers and Budweiser. I turned around and faced the crowd, checking them out. After a few minutes this really nice looking girl walked up, stood beside me and waved to the bartender.
I turned to her, put my arm on her shoulder, smiled Danny Pearson's smile and said to her, "Nice night, huh?"
She gave me a quick half-smile and when she got her drink, she just turned her back on me and walked back into the crowd. I guessed that Pearson's face didn't appeal to everyone, after all. But I struck out with the next few girls, too. I got worried that maybe I didn't have the face on properly, so I went to the bathroom to check on it. It looked okay to me, so I didn't know what was wrong.
After an hour of that, I was starting to get pissed off. I couldn't figure out why Pearson's face wasn't scoring for me. I had half a mind to just peel it off and toss it in a garbage can on the way back to the hostel, but I didn't because I'm not an asshole. I let myself back into his room; he was still passed out. I put his face back on nice and proper, good as new. And I even stuffed his passport back into his backpack.
"Thanks for nothing," I said on my way out.
Back in my room, I saw my own face sitting on the toilet, and thought how stupid and ugly it looked.
There's one thing Jim never mentioned to me. If you keep pulling your face off and on, you stretch it out too much. After a few weeks in Prague, of trying on different faces, it was time to head back home. In the airport, I noticed a few people staring at me. I started to ask them what the fuck their problem was, but then I ran my finger along my hairline I felt the flap where my face was starting to peel away.
I ran to a bathroom, a single occupant one, and checked myself in the mirror. My face was definitely coming off. I smoothed my skin back down and watched it start to peel back up again. Like tape that's beginning to lose its adhesive. The skin along the edge even felt a little dried out, more like beef jerky than soft skin.
I knew I'd never make it through security with my face falling off, so that's what I'm still doing in Prague. I eventually tracked down Jim and got a morgue face off of him. The fucker charged me an arm and leg, too.
But this face is just a temporary one. I'm keeping my eye out for someone, another tourist, whose face I'd really want to keep. I'll need his passport, too, to get home.
5 responses to "Week #29 - Just Like A Peanut Butter Sandwich "
Erinn the Bold wrote:
Sunday, 10 Aug 2008 08:28
"like tape that's beginning to loose its adhesive." needs to LOSE the second o, that one really gets under my skin. Double pun intended.
Erinn the Bold wrote:
Monday, 11 Aug 2008 06:33
Just because I feel like a tool when my whole comment isn't included, I'll re-post the first half of my statement, which was "Good job, Dana, really creepy". I think the fact that he doesn't do the worst things you could do with the face/off idea makes it creepier than if he had.
Tuesday, 12 Aug 2008 21:18
Why did I read this before bed??? And there's no Ducky here from me to run to. Now I'll be up all night trying not to dream about faces peeling off like an old, dirty bandaid.
Wednesday, 20 Aug 2008 07:49
This was kind of creepy. I'm kind of glad you didn't describe what a non-faced face looks like. (Not that I didn't picture it anyway.)
Thursday, 04 Sep 2008 19:31
Wow, I really love this one, Dana, it's so creepy and cool! I love especially that he couldn't score with the other face ("beauty's on the inside" and all that jazz).