A Man of Fingernails by B F Moloney

Fingernails grow, fingernails split, fingernails scratch, fingernails blacken; its all about fingernails to a man, curious in his Presley suit, imbibing in a Macdonald’s lunchtime special. They stare, they stare, the people really do, but he’s used to it. Not that there’s anything wrong with elongated fingernails.

“Hello Pres, how are we to be your provedore today?”
Ah yes, could I have the Big Mac, double fries and a strawberry shake, thanks”

He pays, and the instant order is in his hands. His left hand’s fingernails extend around the Mac, and then the fries, and then the strawberry shake. He’s checking for the salt and sugar content. He’s knows there’s a fair bit, he doesn’t eat this too often; but there must be consistency.

The hungry ones around him are all agape. ‘Thank you” he says, “All good”, and finds an empty plastic table and its chairs.

Its not that he’s obsessive, he’s just anxious. His parents regularly warned him about proper eating, and showed him how to calculate the calories. His fingernails are his monitor, his gauge, his canary in the coalmine.

His fingernails do things others can only dream. He can bring up his Facebook page on the nail of his right hand’s index finger. Another nail acts like a compass, and another an envelope opener.

He slowly eats his meal, savouring its flavours and texture. Of course he’s being stared at, so he peels off his Presley suit to reveal a t-shirt and jeans over white runners. Then the staring stops and he continues his meal. He’s really quite normal.

The sun shines and the day is brilliant. It’s a great time to be alive. This morning his thumb nail on his left hand extended too far and it split; the top part went black and then dropped off. He took this to be a sign of renewal. He’s due for a change.

Tonight he’s meeting a girl. He’s already seen her on a nail. She’s pretty and her name is Naomi. She works in finance as he once did. They first met on an online dating site and she says she spends a lot of time and money on her nails.

He’s got the afternoon to enjoy before the big date. He decides to give his nails a manicure at his favourite place of beauty. He’s got a few but this one treats him the best. The girls always clean each nail thoroughly, right down to the last centimetre of the twenty they can extend to.

‘Hi Pres, how you been? Here for the works? Mary, can you come here and do the work on Pres for me?”

“Sure Sharon, just give me a sec”. Mary’s a good choice. She’s his favourite. The other girls have worked on him too, but Mary has that X factor his nails need. He sits on his favourite chair and places his hands on a small bench in front and he extends his fingers and his nails.
Each nail gets a thorough oil, buff and polish and the minutest dirt is cleaned away. They are as pink as can be and Mary give him a wink to his good health. His pink smooth nails are wonderful to work with. They are firm and neither side shows any sign of defects, except the thumb nail.

“You’ve got a girl on your mind haven’t you” she says. “I can tell by your nails. They look electric. Can I see her?”

He brings her up on his pinkie nail and they both stretch their necks forward to look at her. “Nice girl. She’s pretty”.

He pays with a tip and says cheerio. His nails are absolutely pixel primed. The day couldn’t get any better, but it will when it enters night. Must remember my lines and be polite and don’t be too pushy, he thinks to himself. He’ll need to control his nails of course. They have been unpredictable in the past. He’s never got over the last girl he went to dinner with.

It began as a great night. They had known each other for awhile and tonight’s the night. Much laughter and talk and a lot of verbal intimacy. She went back to his place for the coffee and feeling comfortable with each other they were soon in each others arms kissing. The clothes came off and they began to make passionate love.

What happened next changed his life. It began while their lovemaking was taking them far away from everything in their lives and in the world. Everything was being forgotten, and each passionate throe elevated the other’s into spiritual ecstasy. He was gently caressing her, conscious of his withholding so that she might be pleasured by him even greater. It was getting close and his left hand stroked her face.

He began to shift his body so they could have maximum comfort. In that second he cramped, his upper body rose slightly and to steady he reached for her shoulder. But he slipped and in that second a nail punctured her throat.

That was seven years ago. The jury found him guilty of accidental manslaughter and he got ten years with parole after five. He came out identifying with Elvis. It was the only way he could have coped. Elvis was his hero. It was the only way he could hold on to renewal, and today is his unveiling.

B F Moloney lives in Tasmania Australia where he manages a second hand bookshop. Born into the mad and imaginative world of Catholicism, he’s long escaped it with his imagination suitably perverted by the experience. Loony Tunes and David Lynch have helped him see an absurder light, and he hopes to write a little more.