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The Man Who Loved Twirling His Hands By James Reed
At this time of the year, news items get into the “slow news” mode. I was mentally whinging about this while walking to the community centre to get my daily dose of computer time, when I saw a madman walking, in a fashion, and whirling his hands in giant circles, although pure mathematicians would disagree I suppose. Then a voice said: you have two minutes to write a short story. I looked around, but there was nobody there, so it must have been my homunculi, the little man in my brain, whatever, “my” is. So, I, whatever that is, stopped in mid-stride, and took out some scraps of paper, and did this:
“Nigel like to twirl his hands, just like some people, well me, get silent joy out of tearing up paper and neurotically folding the pieces until they disintegrate. Nigel though had a raw disorder which was a psychological condition that caused him to hand-twirl, as if he was some kind of decaying circus performer, ageing politically correct marching person, or one of those strength athletes who spin round Indian clubs for shoulder exercise, or just to smash those who upset them. The problem was that Nigel was a menace to society most of the time. People drinking hot coffee could end up with the boiling liquid on their faces, in their eyes, instead of in their stomachs where it would in the normal train of events cause cancer. Then there was also the problem of medical expenses, as Nigel went through rotor cuff muscles (it’s in the shoulder) as people go through clothes, the surgeons constantly having to repair failing tissues, all on Medicare.
Did Nigel’s story end happily? No, how could it? Eventually he went totally mad, thought that he was a helicopter, and found out the hard way, that Newton’s law of gravitational attraction, was still valid, and not a social construction after all. Who will remember Nigel in 20 years’ time? Who will remember, anything? “I would like to go mad on one condition, namely, that I would become a happy madman, lively and always in a good mood, without any troubles and obsessions, laughing senselessly from morning to night.” Emil Cioran, On the Heights of Despair (1934). That’s me all over, and Uncle Len, who seems to have disappeared, perhaps to perform his annual duties at the North Pole, distributing gifts to polar bears.