I actually had the idea for this story the evening before the challenge came out. We were standing around after karate class talking about how I broke Mike's nose (this was like two or three years ago, and I was the third person to break it in about two months, so I don't feel that guilty; it was getting pretty weak) and how it's never going to heal now, and it will just get longer and longer, that bit that's never going to reattach, and he'll be able to swing it and hit people like a third arm... anyway.
"Have you been taking your meds?" Simone asked. If she was calling, she was probably at home, bored.
"Yes," he lied. He could feel the skin stretching on his nose, the cartilage pushing outward and, like a faun growing antlers, he wanted to rub the stretched flesh.
"You aren't, are you?" Simone said. She sounded like she was pacing, probably tidying up her condo.
"Yeah, I am," said Jack. The meds were between him and his doctor. She was not either of those people.
He rubbed the back of his hand on his nose; the scabs were definitely peeling off. Still, he couldn't leave the house like this, with his nose getting longer. Children would point at him in the playground. The man in the home Depot would ask if that was a mask and was he here to rob the place. More learned people would make Cyrano de Bergerac references, but only the children would voice what everyone knew was true -- he was a lair, Pinocchio, except he was no longer a real boy, he was an adult, a man, a lawyer. Some people would say that was a fitting problem for a lawyer to have, and how could he practice law like that. Well, the joke was on them; lawyering was no problem, it was regular life that was the trick.
"You're at home, right?" He wasn't her problem, anyway. Simone was pleasant enough, of the proper social class, and an age-appropriate three years younger than him, but there was no chemistry.
"Of course I'm at home," he said.
"What is it you don't like about them? Is it the weight?"
"That's not a selling point for the drugs, no." he could handle that, maybe, if it didn't feel like his thoughts were pushing through butter. No, it was worse than butter, it was like trying to push his thoughts through hydrogenated vegetable oil. They were still in there somewhere, but there was no way at them that didn't involve getting covered in slime. Not like now. The thoughts exploded like fireworks and drifted together without the sulfur smell and the nasty haze. If only his nose didn't itch so much. He crossed his eyes and looked down at it. It was definitely longer than a few minutes ago.
"The fat is okay," said Simone. "I like a little bulk."
The fat was not okay, but he had a feeling it wouldn't last long, the way he was burning energy right now. He tried rubbing his nose on the wall, to peel off that long bit. A grinding tool might help get it back down to size. Those were all in the basement. Cell service would be abysmal down there. "Look, I've got to go," he said.
"I’m coming over," he heard Simone say as he hung up.
The basement was a barely used collection of tools and benches. He opened a drawer, took out a wood file, experimentally rubbed it on the tip of his nose. He rubbed harder, and the scabs came free, but that just unleashed all the pent-up growth from his sinus cavities. Sure, his head felt better now, but his nose was twice as long. He set the file back in its drawer.
Cocaine had once been an effective antidote to this problem. The current meds were pretty much the opposite, but mechanically, the dremel tool might do the same thing. He chose a router bit, plugged it in, put it up to his nostril. It didn't hurt much more than a dental drill, at last until he hit the cartilage. Then he jerked back, and the cord frayed away from the wall socket, and the tool shut off and wouldn't start again. Maybe part of cocaine's effect had been biochemical, in addition to the physical scouring.
There were two options left. His up close vision wasn't as good as it used to be, and Simone might be here soon, so maybe the band saw wasn't the way to go. He put the safety key into the belt sander, flipped the power, and put his face to the sandpaper just as there was a pounding on the door.
He'd recently changed the locks and re-hidden the spare key, so Simone might be angry and irrational.
He shut off the belt sander and took out the safety key, and put a paper towel to his nose as he headed back upstairs. If he had glanced at the windows he might have noticed flashing lights. But his eyesight was somewhat blocked by the wad of bounty on his face.
She wouldn't know he'd lied if she couldn't see his nose, even if he hadn't managed to get rid of the extra bit yet.
He opened the door.
But it wasn't her. Two cops stood there. A few feet back stood a pair of paramedics, and for some reason a couple of firetrucks were in the street. At first, Jack thought they would tell him he needed to evacuate because one of his neighbours' houses was on fire.
But no, they seemed all to be here on his account. "How are things going?" he said, through the paper towel.
"Would you mind stepping outside, sir?" one of the cops said.
Jack sighed. Simone had lied. She wasn't coming, she was calling the cops. He shut the door behind him, heard the lock click. That was fine.
"Your nose okay?" good cop asked.
"Just a bleed." The paper towel was sodden, dripping down his arm. Probably they thought he'd been doing coke again. Who knew what Simone had said about him.
He glanced across the street and saw her, sitting in her BMW. She had come by after all. But she had lied about something else. Her nose was so long, it was amazing she could turn the steering wheel.
It must be the fat. It wasn't okay with her after all. He was so right not to take the meds.