Chapter 13: Face prints.


 

Morty pulled himself back to his feet. He shook off the last lingering sleep and felt it quickly replaced by pains covering the destructable parts of his body. He stepped again into the bathroom and blinked at the mirror.

It had apparently been days since he had last shaved. Something struck him as unnatural about the whole affair. Unclean. Wrong. Not-right. Aright. Unright.

“I shouldnt have to shave to look spiffy”, he thought to himself out loud. “Maybe there is a better way.”

He clipped his scraggly beard down, with his manicure scissors for his face (Morty had lots of manicure scissors, all with very specific names and uses). And clipped it until it was just a whisp of peach fuzz. Then he ran cold water in the sink, dipped a razor in it and dragged it across the remaining hair. Without any shaving cream.

In Minnesota, this is what they call “Minnesota Shaving,” it was meant to be a daily metaphor for life in Minnesota: painful and pointless. The proper method was to drag the blade slowly, not quite against the face, so it would pull each hair individually. The brisk sensation certainly woke old Morty up. He would have screamed, but was already almost crippled from the pain of his previous misadventures and this posed an almost welcome diversion.

As he finished, Morty felt most of the haze of the morning disappear, but still could not remember where he had been since his initial blackout, he just had a strong desire to get rid of his facial hair.

“Elec…trolysis?” he said to himself in a rare orgy of insight and self-discovery.

“No, Mortymer, no” he continued, assuming his only voice of condescention: the one he used to talk to himself, “no no no no no no no!”

“Electrolysis is for women only”

It was true, electrolysis did seem to be for women only, but there was something unnatural about that. Why should women be allowed electroshock treatment to remove hair from their body that was unnatural, in order or their own spiffiness.

See, in this instance, Morty was relying on the Spiffy Matrix from Standfords 1962 study in daily spiffiness. Morty took this to heart, even though he didnt trust Californians. Among other things, the Spiffy Matrix helped the researchers calculate, indisputably, that exposed parts of the body were generally more spiffy the less body hair that was showing, unless it was hair, in which case the inverse was true. The spiffy matrix also approved of shiny smiles and fancy suits. Two things that Morty really took to heart.

“So, either god doesnt want me spiffy, or its my duty to fight the tide and try to be spiffy, no matter what anyone says?”

“Exactly, Mortymer, no”

“That’s not making any sense.”

“So? You are talking to yourself.”

Morty had a rare moment of clarity when he realized that he was too stupid to have a comeback to something that he said to himself. He blinked, shook his head, and stepped out of the bathroom, and out his front door. He noticed a strange dent in the floor in the shape of his face, and wondered why that was there.

As he made it up the stairs, and out of the basement, he saw the sun shine, and it left a big headache in the back of his eyeballs. It was some serious pain, it felt like two screws in through his retina being yanked out the back by dental floss being tied through hoops. It caused a sharp of pain in the back of his sinuses, and he reflexively started sneezing uncontrollably. He stared bleary eyed out and saw the door, and headed towards it, still sneezing violently.

By the time he got out the door, Morty was a shrieking bad of spittle, he would have scared a fucking polar bear. He stumbled down the steps, clumsily, bearly able to keep his balance because of his injuries and staggered away in the shade of a tree, barely crying, mumbling and lightly flailing his arms.

He ducked in an alleyway, pinched his nose and regained his composure. Breathing deeply, he stepped back out on to the sidewalk and headed out towards the main road.

The main road in the greater Courage Falls area had the service station, where people got their service. A clothing store that specialized in suits and maternity dresses, and 3 different booths selling pre-made carrots and oil, which no real Minnesotan would consider food, but it came in perfect sizes for sneaking into the movie theatere. The movie theater was a small shack where people stood and watched an ancient projector tick away at what little dignity these people had left. This was the new theater. The old theater got ravaged by wolverines and then set on fire by the local police when a couple of them failed in a sister-swapping bet.

There were other amenities, a barber shop, a hair salon, a bicycle repair shop. The bike store was unusual in that it sold stolen bikes, but also employed a few local hooligans to steal any bikes that were sold, so nobody actually had any bicycles except the owner of the stolen bicycle store. At night it was the home of an under aged prostitution ring, frequented by the police.

Thats just how things are in Minnesota.

Finally, Morty found the new shop. Frepointe Electrolysis. He remembered the flyer. It seemed right. And he had to do right.

He stepped in the shop, it had a pungent aroma of beeswax, burnt hair and arm pit. It was surprisingly bustling for the early Saturday morning, and Morty noticed many prominent Courage Fallians baring their bodies with a stroke of diginity and elegance. A light conversational murmur ribboned through the boutique, yet it seemed that there were no immediate attendents.

“Hello?”,

A midget transvestite in pink hot pants walked by him.

“Takes all kinds, in Courage, Minnesota!” Morty thought to himself.

Another midget transvestite in pink hot pants walked up. It had a surprisingly deep voice.

“Electroylsis, eh? Where do you want it? Balls? Legs? Toes? I can shock it all out. You like Ghandi? You want to look like Ghandi? Electroysis on your balls! Makes your hair fall out! You want the mayor’s special? Just pull it out up to your sock line so it feels silky smooth all the way up. We also got the slash-n-burn, thats for your crotch.”

Morty said “why does god make me shave to look spiffy? And if I dont shave and can still look spiffy, is that actually the right thing to do?”

“Sh..shave?” the midget stammered. You want electrolysis so you dont have to SHAVE?”

The store went silent. All eyes were on Morty. Voluntarily opting out of doing the Minnesota Shaving was a prosecutable offense during the McCarthy era.

“I have to do right, Mister.” Morty said reluctantly.

“Well, OK, freakshow, lets see what we can do.”

He grabbed Morty’s hand and led him through the open air electrolysis stations, sitting him down far from the windows, in the back.

“You might not want to let anybody see you get this done. Tell ya what, Ill fix it in. It’ll still look natural, you dont wanna be a waxface, do ya, kid?”

“Will I look spiffy?”

“Better’n ya look now, you look like you shaved with manicure scissors, and have been sleeping in that suit for days. Shaddup now, Ill give you the house special.”

The midget handed him a small rubber ball to chew on.

“Bite down on that.”

The midget quickly slapped a strip of duct-tape across his mouth.

“Thats to keep it in, here we go!”

Electrolysis is a process where a small metal pole is inserted into the hair follicle and blasted with electricity and RF radiation. The midget pulled out a stylus with a thick, coiled cable running back to the primary machine. The primary machine was a 7 foot tall cabinet, adorned with switches and dials, two tesla coils sat on top, gathering electricity and discharging over the conversations below. The ambient electricity made all the hair on the puny humans bodies stand on end. The stylus input to the cabinet was two large jumper cables and followed up to the tip of the stylus which was only 51.3 picometers. Just enough to shock the shit out of a hair follicle.

The midget pulled his safety gloved hand down on his visor mask, and set on Morty. With each follicle, a high pitched doppler sound whizzed by and created a sharp crackling sound with each follicle.

Morty sat there gagged, afraid to move, feeling the poker sliding into the follicles, heating up, and the final charge sizzling the hair. Followed by another, and another. Each hair leaving a trace of a burnt smell. Being forced to breathe through his nose, he finally realized that the stench of arm-pit was coming from the midget.

And he sat there paralyzed, unfocused on the slow moving prod being driven into his face, delivering electric currents. Channeling out the surrounding odors, missing the witty banter of his neighbors. He sat there unnerved hoping that he would truly look spiffy. And all the while, the midget carried on.

“Yeah, y’know, if you asked me, I dont think it ever would have occurred to me to take a job doing this, let alone in the middle of Minnesota, y’know, I wasnt always a midget, not too long ago I was Horton, the Garlic Lovin Vampire, yeah I’d go from town to town and show people how I could live off drinking the blood of livestock, but I also really liked raw garlic. It was all a scam of course, but I wasnt technically a midget, because I stood on stilts underneath my Vampire cloak, so no one could really tell.

“Anyway, that didnt pan out, because people just found out I liked inflicting pain on people with sharp objects. Well, that got me run out of Clearwater Utah, so I hit the road as a traveling scarification and branding expert. Along the way I became a specialist in giving people tattoos made with chicken bone pens and beetle-blood ink. There wasnt much of a market for that kind of esoterica at the truck stops of Arizona and Utah, so I kept moving.”

Morty finally became a little concerned about the person doing the procedure, but his hands were so precise, he jumped from pore to pore almost immediately.

“So I settled in to chicago, with some kind of alternative scene house. They liked having a midget around, and I liked leaving permanent marks on the vagrants who slept on the benches around the house. I made enough money robbing them that I was able to invest in a new invention: the heated tattoo gun. It worked just like a normal tattoo gun, except that it kept the needle hot, so it hurt more. It was great for tough guys: bikers, truckers, drunks. But it all went bust when I went to jail for attempted murder.

“That gave me a lot to think about, I realized I should be trying a different path. Then I got the word.”

Morty mouthed “Grrghhgghg FFRrghrhggh.”

“Yeah,” the midget continued, “it was really something, I learned the word ‘Electrology’, which they all call electrolysis here. It sounded like a new challenge, kind of Zen like, y’know. I think of it like that old game operation. I just pretend that if I miss the follicle that I’ll get electrocuted. One second….”

Morty stood still, a single bead of sweat dripped from his bushy eyebrows.

“EeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

The midget pulled a pair of tweezers out of his pocket and ripped the last hair with a flourish, jumped in a circle. And landed squatting on the ground.

He reached back without looking and ripped the Duct Tape off of Mortys Lips. The ball fell out with 20 minutes of accumulated terror drool.

Morty stood speechless, sweating, and pained. While his face was indestructible, his follicles were clearly not, and a dull pain seemed to make his face feel like it was glowing, which was good because his shiny small had faded.

“Ladies, and Gentleman, I give you, ANOTHER MASTERPIECE!” and pointed at Morty.

The crowd shared a hushed awe, and slowly began applauding. Chaotic at first, but eventually syncopated and rhythmic. Morty sat in a daze, but felt himself being pulled to his feet. He had pulled the ring of his diseases to the ringing in his ear and was floating out of his chair, he could see the duct tape billowing in the exhaust of the air conditionter. He passed a mirror, but his vision was blurring again, he felt himself slipping in and out of consciousness, he was smiling into a marshmallow and swimming in a cup of jello.

“…and you can pick up your tab the next time…”

Morty floated out of the clinic and up the main road, the blackness closing back in. Intoxication set in, the air grew stagnant and reeked of ammonia, the sky turned purple and set over the sun. The day grew dark and the road a head beckoned. Morty once again broke his routine and walked towards the edge of town.

The fulfillment of the task, the emptiness of his life. The terror, the memory blanks. He was left passive in his mind just watching the processes skip by. His body had been beaten into complacency, and he just walked on, as if in a dream. With no opinions other than acceptance, he simply accepted the choices he was making even though it now seemed like he was no longer making them.

Morty stumbled past the distractions of the main road, and into the small residential sector. He was nowhere near his apartment building, it was getting to the middle of an unseasonably warm day, and he was just wandering. His face was drooped into a plain dull unquestioning stare, and he slumped forward on each step like a zombie sleepwalker. A few strands of spittle still hung from his chin and were flapping in the gentle breeze strung down to his loosened tie. His active mind had taken such a backseat that he was unaware of his purposelessness. He shuffled along the sidewalk, in a mostly straight line, but turned corners randomly and traced an erratic pattern through the traces of small apartment buildings and cheaply constructed duplexes, unaware of the people around him, stumbling across the street without checking for traffic, and occasionally getting smacked in his indestructible face by neighborhood children with wiffle bats.

It would have been the longest saturday morning of his life, if he could have only remembered it.

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