Mr. Faceworthy’s Obsession
A Stain in My Life
I have nothing against imperfection. It’s just that ugly people annoy me. I haven’t had a quiet moment ever since that old hag moved here. Nobody would believe me, but she wants to kill me. Slowly, but surely.
I, Edward Faceworthy, was a child prodigy, an accomplished aesthete. I used to sculpt in pine apples. My first sculpture was the beautiful face of my piano teacher. I myself am a man of delightful physical features, I might go as far as to say I am extremely handsome.
All my acquaintances are at least acceptable, physically speaking. I’m in the habit of giving them marks. For example, yesterday I went out with a C+ girl. I took pity on her. I loved her eyebrows though, they reminded me a bit of Rita Hayworth. Throw stones at me, hit me, but for the love of me, I will never be able to tolerate a crooked nose, an unshapely lip or an eye that took a trip in the wrong direction. It’s not my fault that I lust after details. Up till now, things have been good for me. My ex-wife: A+. My mistress: A– . Not a single friend below B+.
A month ago, however, the viper came to town; the banshee who is planning on stealing my soul and intends to destroy the very foundation of my happiness. I’ve known it right from the start, from the second I saw her. Well, not her per se, but... I find it so hard to put it in words... her wart – huge, hairy and haughty, creeping into her wizened cheek, like a poisonous raisin.
On the day of her arrival, I agreed to help her carry a box. The object served to me as a visual shield for a while, but, once I stepped on the threshold, a small crack in the wood revealed the horror on the old hag’s cheek. I chucked the box and hotfooted it. As I was running, I heard her laughing behind me. Five minutes later, I was disturbed by three knocks at the door. It was her. I half-opened the door, squinting my poor eyes. I even dropped a tear or two.
‘I was cutting onions’, I told her and put on a housewife face.
The witch giggled and said she had discovered a stain on her bathroom ceiling and asked me if I could have a look at it; perhaps one of my pipes was broken.
‘It’s not leaking from this apartment, lady!’ I snapped at her.
At that moment, the old hag forced herself into my hallway. She was in MY house, her wart and all! I made a giant step backwards, my eyes still squinting, like an imbecile’s. The old woman was heading towards me. All my furniture items were crumbling around me, knocked by my fidgety feet and elbows.
‘This is not a good time. Please, go home!’
Nothing stopped her. Eventually, I decided to give her a hand, hoping that this might get the jinx off my back. I descended the staircase in silent terror, heading for her apartment. I was approaching my last step, when I tripped and fell flat on the floor. The old hag screamed, and then leaned towards me. I felt her breath and the cursed wart sniffling my livid cheek. The three hairs which adorned it were getting closer and closer, with each of her nagging sighs.
I was on the brink of falling into an abyss. Luckily, the janitor, who happened to be there, picked me up, thus saving me from an undeserved fate. After that, the old trout never knocked on my door again, nor addressed me more than a few words.
Now she is terrorizing me tacitly. She always opens the door precisely when I go out to work, or she happens to be there when I come home with a dame. She does this solely to drive me out of my wits. I try to avoid her as much as possible, but I’m afraid that one day, that evil outgrowth will find me...
I haven’t seen her for a week. I’m sure she is concocting a fatal encounter between me and her wart.
A Most Unexpected Discovery
Yesterday something happened; a strange noise gave me a startle. I heard a thud coming from the old hag’s apartment. It was as if a sack of potatoes had fallen on the floor from high above, crashing some sort of life form in the process. The first thought that crossed my mind was this: could this be an indication of the fact that her odious body has met its final destination? What if, during her fall, her wart decided to leave its homeland and cling to a nail and will forever be imprinted in the memory of that house, as a reminder of the ugliness that had once resided there? I struggled to chase away these thoughts that were weaving such a terrible image within the walls of my being.
I minded my own business that night (I finished a reproduction after The Girl with a Pearl Earring), embracing lucidity with an impressive determination. I only went out to buy some ciggies. When I returned, I inevitably passed by her apartment. The door was wide open. A few men in black were pacing back and forth, holding candles. Next to them, a bunch of aesthetically-challenged women were sobbing relentlessly. I felt a drop of hope sprouting in my somewhat heavy heart. Could it be?... Oh, God, that would be so wonderful! I murmured to myself. I approached the bereaved individuals and asked the best-looking gentleman:
‘Excuse me, sir, did anyone relinquish life in this cozy establishment?’
‘Mrs. Gobbles died today. I’m her nephew, George.’
The answer seemed to me like the angelic music accompanying a rekindled muse. I am saved! I shouted with an invisible voice, while pretending to look deeply disturbed.
One of the women took me by the arm and whispered in my ear:
‘She was my sister... Before she departed, she asked me to give away all her prized possessions to the people who were there for her when she needed them the most. No will, no lawyers. Just common sense and gratitude. She was the only one to inherit jewelry from our mother. Her soul was pure as a dove’s... Mr. Faceworthy, this is for you. She didn’t forget that time when you helped her carry a box.’
The woman slipped a small package into my hand. All of a sudden, a wave of pity and remorse flooded my senses. I began to loathe my foulness. I had allowed myself to become immersed in a sea of disgust. But why? After all, she was a human being. My mother used to tell me stories about witches with big noses and jutted chins, who turned people into mice and performed a series of delightful magical tricks. As a child, I used to admire them: their clever wickedness, their power, their unusual humor. No, no, I mustn’t succumb to weakness... This is good news. I am free to savor beauty once again. The nightmare is gone.
I admit, I was anxious to see what Mrs. Gobbles had left me by means of an unconventional will. I have always loved jewelry, especially bracelets. I unwrapped the package with a childish enthusiasm.
A tiny ivory box! Now that’s a surprise! My eyes glittered with tears of joy. I’m sorry, Mrs. Gobbles! You were much nobler than I could ever be. Thank you for this...
I opened the box. There it lay – gibbous, brownish, adorned with three hairs – the old woman’s wart.