Screwed up Paper

I remember that guy. He had a bow tie for every day of the week and used to wear braces as if he were a Master of the Universe from the 1980s even though he clearly wasn’t. He was short and thin and had veiny arms, right? And his face was so wrinkled it looked like a screwed up piece of paper someone had tried and failed to throw in the bin.

I tried to write a story about him, back when I thought I could be a writer. I had it all planned out. He worked in a pub, of course, collected glasses and pulled pints, suffered the piss-taking he got from the local grammar school boys, or us, then went home to look after his bedridden wife, an old harridan who wasn’t really sick but pretended to be sick to stop him from doing what he wanted to do, whatever that was.

He loved her and resented her in equal measure and couldn’t leave her because he couldn’t be that guy, you know, the arsehole who leaves a dying wife for someone younger even though she wasn’t dying and he would never get with anyone younger because of his bow ties and screwed up paper face.

I imagined someone pretending to love him, some customer, younger of course, who did it for a dare. Her friends bet her she couldn’t do it, but she did and enjoyed flirting with him, the power it gave her, even if his responses kind of revolted her as much as her reactions revolted herself.

It all came to a head when she invited him out for a drink. Only when he turned up at the bar or cafe or whatever, she was there with friends. He said, hello. She said, who are you? He said, you invited me here, and she said, don’t make me laugh.

All of them laughed at him, at his veiny arms, at his bow tie, at his screwed up paper face, and he went home humiliated to his not-really-sick wife who told him to massage her feet and have a go at her corns while he was at it.

I didn’t write it, though. I couldn’t. I didn’t think it was true to life. It was too humiliating. And, anyway, my wife had a baby on the way and I had that to think about.


32 thoughts on “Screwed Up Paper Face

      • Well, I don’t know Woody from Toy Story. I’ll look him up. I also think your writing reminds me a bit of Pinter. Especially, Betrayal. In which characters express in words, almost the opposite of what they are actually feeling. Intense feeling. It’s a peculiar truth, I think, that you can’t say what you really feel. I don’t know. When what you are feeling is about you’ve realised your most important relationship has been a delusion. You are so destroyed. This is what I get from your writing. Ann

      • I’m glad you get so much from it. I think it’s kind of interesting when you do not say directly how you feel but imply it through other things. Delusions are what we live by, no?

      • Delusion. I prefer the view that we live most successfully by constantly adjusting realities. (That way, I can delude myself in the belief I do have some control of the helm). 🙂

  1. I read your post about the head teacher, and then came straight to this one (perhaps that was a predictable pathway, but the layout of your blog makes me feel like it’s walking into a portal with only a title like “Scewed Up Paper Face” as a warning or hint about what’s to follow) and though I’ve not read anything more than the first sentence I just wanted to say- This is great.

    Thanks for the appreciation, and keep on doing what you’re doing.

  2. Very strong writing. At least you’ve got me all worked up again. Very sad for the man with the screwed up paper face. If I could only get my hands on his conniving wife…

    • Well, she can’t get what she wants, so neither can he. i hope the portrait of the women in this story is not too harsh. Your comment made me think I went a bit far, but it’s the narrator who thinks that, I suppose. He just doesn’t realise it

  3. myothervoices,
    I started reading this and then realized that the voice I was reading it in was mine… and then I read it out loud and realized this is how I write. Not in a plagiaristic way, but this is how I write when I am just letting the muse flow straight through me. It sounds a bit like this, and I am always hesitant to share that because it may seem like a ramble or a little unfinished, but obviously it has been a success for you here.
    Thanks for sharing,

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