I didn’t really want to be here. In fact it was too late for me to be honest. My cousin Marcus insisted it would be a quick trip and he’s right most of the time. This is what you do for family. Technically it was my job but nothing I could ever claim taxes on. I mean – how do you claim being a “leper” as a taxable deduction? You can’t because I already tried looking it up. To understand the joke, you have to know I have Tellman’s Disorder. Now don’t bother trying to look that up either. I’m a single case that my specialist has tried to get in the books. However, until some other suffering soul shows up with this – he is kind of screwed. Basically I grow an excess amount of skin due to my body’s over reaction to ultraviolet light exposure. However – the skin goes necrotic in the light so it blackens and flakes off. I don’t actually loose limbs like a real leper – but I would give those Psoriasis commercials a run for their money.
You see I had a normal childhood. I went to school, graduated with honors and was pretty good with numbers. Being an accountant seemed to be in my future when the condition first manifested itself. As close as I can guess – it must have been an allergic reaction to something in the building where I was taking my CPA classes. I had managed to finish my degree and certs while in the hospital as my professors watched horrified as what they certainly thought this was the end of a brilliant mind. I still have my suspicion that I was given passing grades purely on the fact that they thought I was going to die.
So there I was – a licensed CPA who looks like I’m going to die any second – but in fact I’m quite healthy. The best part for the world is that it is an internal condition. I’m not contagious and there isn’t any danger of it spreading. So I guess I’m blessed. Sure my cholesterol can use some work. I go for runs – though at night, exercise regularly and lift weights. I’m the healthiest person in my family and I look like I should be read my last rites. In fact – it was because of my nightly runs that I am here now.
A few months ago I went out for my run. So imagine this if you will: normal running shoes, gray sweats and a hoodie. Pretty normal right? Well to prevent myself from having a nasty mixture of sweat and necrotic skin plaster to the inside of my clothing – I wear a body stocking. The pro of this is no loose skin in the clothing and I sweat more. Had I been a “whole” person – I would have looked pretty good. Technically I do look good – that is if you can appreciate “exposed” muscle mass. So anyways – I have to wear the hood over my head and a pair of goggles, a bandana over the lower part of my face and gloves. It may seem like a lot to wear – but you know – it’s better than having people think you are a zombie and freak out. Heaven forbid one of those zombie apocalypse groups found out about me! Yet it wasn’t one of them. No – it was much worse than that – I got mugged.
I was running through the end of a shopping complex. It was mostly going out of business with a few stores staying around. My cousin Marcus owns a sandwich shop that somehow manages to stay in business there. I came around the back side of the building when I took a bat in the gut. I doubled over and fought for breath. Looking up I saw three guys who had that unwashed thuggery look about them.
“Alright freak,” said the one that had the bat, “Me and the boys here have been watching you for the last month run through here. At first you were kinda like a guessing game as we were wondering what your trip was. Then we figured it out. You are either some high end asshole who has found a clever way to make yourself hidden among the broke masses or you were one of those health nuts who thinks the world too dirty. Well guess what sugar bum – its reality check time.”
He grabbed the back of the hoodie. I could feel my hair slide out of my scalp. It wasn’t painful but it meant that now I had a big bald patch of skin missing. I thought they were going to just rough me up until I saw one of them flip a garbage can over. That was when horror and panic set in. They were going to rape me behind a shitty shopping center. They were going rape me over the backside of a disgusting garbage can. I fought to breathe and struggled as two of them picked me up. “Now let’s see that pretty face of yours,” the bat holder said as he grabbed at the bandana and goggles. I shook my head and screamed no as he pulled them and part of my face off. He fell back and screamed when he saw the black and red of my face. The guy to my right looked and let go of my arm, “Leper…he’s a fucking leper! Oh my god I touched him – oh god oh god oh god.” He ran into the night. The other guys simply fainted which was a new one. Bats ran the other direction.
That is when I saw Marcus.
He had come running around the corner with a crowbar and a few of his friends with chains. They had saw me wave and heard the scream so they came running. His friends freaked out a little bit until he gave them his famous STFU glare. I put my bandana and goggles back on and thanked him for coming when he did. He stood here looking at the guy who had fainted with a sort of thoughtful look. He looked over to me and said, “I have a strange proposal for you cousin.”
So here I am a few months later. My cousin had been using the sandwich shop as a front to launder and collect money for the mob. However, his books were off and he needed to tighten things down less he bring the heat on himself. So on the books – I’m his accountant. Off the books I make trips with him like tonight.
George Hamner had refused to pay the money he owed to the bookie that worked for Marcus. His horse had gotten clipped by another horse during a race. Hamner refused to pay the money saying he had been set up to lose. Rather than rough him up – Marcus wanted to scare him into paying.
We drove up to the alleyway behind his house. Entering in through back gate, one of my cousin’s guys set up a small table and battery powered desk light. One of the other guys took out the back lights so the only bit of illumination was my desk light. They quietly broke in through the back and dragged out an exceedingly agitated middle aged man. Hamner began to yell for help and was promptly gagged. They pushed him on to his knees at the table and that is when I could smell urine.
Marcus had bought me new sweats and had me keep the grime filled ones. He gave them a few tears to make them really look ragged. Add that and the goggles and my natural looks and we had “a packaged deal” or something to that effect according to Marcus.
Wearing a nice suit – Marcus came out of the shadows with a smile, “Mr. Hamner – meet the Leper. He is taking over our friendly little betting game. He wants to help us ensure that everyone gets a fair shake.” I sat there and smiled at his with a cocked head. I made sure I had eaten some blue berries before we left – though really I needed to floss. I tapped my fingers on the table in a somewhat erratic fashion that I saw in a movie and it really did seem to unnerve the poor guy even more.
“Now I’m sure Mr. Hamner, a visit like this was a big misunderstanding. Leper here really doesn’t like to leave home and I’m sure you don’t like to be woken up because of his awkward sleeping hours,” Marcus said and on cue I began to drool out a bit. I could see Hamner struggle in their arms as they pulled him closer to the light. The man was actually crying. I really felt bad for him – but he really was being a putz with the bet. Sometimes you just got to take the good with the bad.
Dropping my voice a bit into a slightly gravely tone – I pulled myself slowly across the table and was an inch away from his face. “Now George…let’s talk about my payment shall we?”
In retrospect – I could think of worse things to do a Thursday night…