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The Invisible Ones

Too Tired

What’s in a Name





What’s in a Name?


Purvis Gentry hated his name. He hated his parents—particularly his father—for giving it to him. He hated all those schoolmates—“schoolmates,” what a laugh—and teachers and stupid relatives who took such delight in taunting him with his name. He wasn’t sure which he hated worse: his name or its diminutive, Purv.

His middle name, Ignatius, only made things worse. I mean, who could walk tall with the initials P.I.G.? Naturally, some would-be wag in second grade had come up with the nickname Purv the Pig and, as is the way of such things, it had stuck with him through life.

He would have changed his name if he had thought about it and realized he could. Then again, he never had the $2500 that it would take to do so, judges and lawyers being on the take like they are. So he remained Purvis the Pig and seethed with resentment and anger and hatred.

Purvis was 24 but looked thrice that, thanks to a lifetime of poor nutrition, even poorer hygiene, and an almost complete lack of interest in himself. His rat-brown hair, which he cut himself with a pair of scissors he’d picked up at Goodwill and weren’t quite as sharp as they should be, hung listlessly to his collar or formed a ragged line above his eyes where he’d cut it so he could see.

Although his real height was 6’2, he slumped, his chest caved inward, so that those height calculators at the 7-11 pegged him at only 5’9 or so. It was hard to tell, really, because the way he walked—rising onto his tiptoes, taking a lurching step forward, and then landing hard onto his heel—changed the height by about four inches. He weighed probably 180, had ears that protruded from his head like airscoops on the sides of jet fighter engines, nondescript dull-brown eyes that he habitually kept downcast as if to hide his shame at being himself, and a scraggly beard that he would occasionally haphazardly swipe a razor at. He’d had his nose broken a year ago or so when Murph, the local tough guy, had roughed him up for no particular reason that Purvis could see other than just because he could. As a result, his nose pointed vaguely toward his left earlobe and he whistled when he ran—which was as seldom as he could get by with.

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