Idealism, Warts and the Inescapable Pain of Disappointment
Gerard is covered with warts, all sorts of warts, but when he’s at the pub with his mates he behaves like them. Everyone’s curious about Gerard or Papi as his mates call him, but Gerard dismisses the attention. What his mates don’t know is that Gerard has a secret life hearing the confessions of disappointed people. They worship him for being so different, so out there. More
Gerard is covered with warts, all sorts of warts, but when he’s at the pub with his mates he behaves like them. Everyone’s curious about Gerard or Papi as his mates call him, but Gerard dismisses the attention. What his mates don’t know is that Gerard has a secret life hearing the confessions of disappointed people. They worship him for being so different, so out there. Another parfable by the author of Simon’s Armbands, Henry’s War Effort and ThinkFish.
Gerard’s body is covered with warts. And a great number are spread nicely around his body. The soles of Gerard’s feet as yet have none. They will come when he is mentally idle. Some warts look like cauliflowers, others sunflower heads, some miniature mesas; some are like seaweed polyps, and on closer inspection, a few look like crowns. Gerard the Papillomavirus Man. That’s what his beer garden mates call him when they’re sober. Papi for short, when they’re drunk. Forget William Morris and his elegant designs. Forget Jackson Pollock’s palate thrashings. Gerard is that curious landscape of mercurial lumps. Many are tattooed with different colours; red and blue, yellow, black and his favourite orange; because carrots, his favourite vegetable, are more orange than oranges; and besides, oranges give him reflux.
It took his mates quite a while to get used to him standing around, beer in hand, his face and hands covered with these mounds. Many disappear and then they return; Papi’s warts do. But they never come back the same. Micro cauliflowers last year, chopped walnuts this. Polyps yesterday, smooth mounds today. Wart reincarnation Gerard calls it.
His mates ask him why he doesn’t do something about them. He looks real ugly they tell him. But they say it with wry smiles. They’re the ones who are defensive, not him. He doesn’t care what other people think. Has he got them on his knob, his curious male and female drinking associates ask. Can we have a look? No he says; I’m not a freak. Aren’t they contagious? Only if they mistrust him and then touch him, he says.
Why doesn’t he get a cure? Freeze them off, get some acid; rub cream on them, dig them out; he’ll enjoy the bleeding. Sea swims are supposed to be good. A clever mate suggested to Gerard that he rub seeds over the warts, then leave the seeds on a bird dish in the back yard, watch the birds eat them while he’s counting down from 121 to absolute zero, and when the birds dump the seeds in long grass, or better still on grotesque statues, the warts will be gone. Or try drinking stagnant water just as the sun rises, and the sick feeling mixed with the suns rays will drive them away. Burying potatoes after rubbing the warts with them apparently doesn’t work.