Rory has hypermobility. No, it doesn’t mean he’s super-fast. It means his joints are overly flexible, and all the connective tissues in his body are very stretchy. It gives him access to a bunch of cool party tricks.
Rory is so stretchy that he can suck his earlobes, he can almost tie his eyelids in a knot and he can hook his bottom lip under his chin. He makes light of his condition, but he knows that it will cut his life short. Rory has an unspecified variant of Ehlers Danlos syndrome and he’s the only person in the world known to have this variant of the genetic disorder. It makes him feel very alone.
This feeling of loneliness could have something to do with the fact that he IS alone. He might know some good party tricks, but he never goes to parties. His only relatives live on the other side of the country, and they’re the last people he’d call “family.” It’s this alienation that gives him the feeling of impunity when acting out. It started when he stole a bottle of water from a supermarket. He was thirsty. He justified it in his mind. It escalated to stealing cheap wine, then spirits. He wasn’t a drinker. He just did it for the thrill, and he didn’t have to justify it to anybody. No family. No friends. No lover. Nobody.
He did it so often that he’d become complacent. He took a three-dollar bottle of wine from a store that he’d stolen from before. He was nearly at his doorstep when a police car pulled onto the footpath in front of him. He froze, knowing he’d been caught. The shopkeeper must have called them.
The police were understanding at the station. Rory was an articulate and polite man. He had no record. He was squeaky clean. “We all slip up from time to time.” Said an officer as she took his fingerprints to add to his file. “That’s odd,” she said. Your parents registered you with the kidnapping mitigation scheme in the nineties, but your prints don’t match the file.” She updated the file and sent Rory on his way with a mark against his name.
Rory sat in his apartment contemplating the hand he’d been dealt. His life hadn’t turned out as well as he’d been promised. And he sat literally contemplating the hands he’d been given by his mother – he contemplated the nature of his dynamic fingerprints. Was it a glitch in the system? Or was there something else going on? He looked with loathing at his fingerprints and let his frustration boil over. As he did, his fingerprints began to change.
Rory watched as the little lines in his fingers rippled and danced. Another party trick maybe? Or maybe he should keep it to himself and use it to his advantage…
Rory had to get his life back on track. Before his run-in with the police he had a perfect record. Perhaps it was his dull and unfulfilling life that had driven him to steal cheap booze. He only got caught stealing one bottle, so he still had a hoard of bottles that he didn’t get caught stealing. He’d have to get rid of them somehow. The thought of drinking them himself – as a non-drinker – was overwhelming. He decided to put out an open invitation on his social media pages. That way he could give a little back to the community.
It was arranged. There’d be an informal meeting of Rory’s old contacts from high school and whoever else invited themselves along. Rory wasn’t the party-going type, so he just booked out the last place he’d attended a wedding as a guest, figuring it would do the job. The big night came around and there was enough alcohol to get everyone drunk three times over. Rory remained lucid though, sticking with cola and water.
Rory was surprised to see an old school bully attending the event. This kid had caused so much grief, yet he obviously didn’t think it’d be inappropriate to attend Rory’s event. Whatever. People change. Maybe it’s a chance to make amends. Rory – in trying to rise above the injustice of the situation – confidently approached and warmly greeted his old foe.
The bully hardly recognised Rory. He had to ask his name, and he had no idea that Rory was the host of the whole event! Never mind. The bully had a group of ladies fully engaged in his arrogant boasting about being on the board at the National Art Gallery. Rory stood as an outsider and listened to the tale “…so we called the Musée d’Orsay back and told them to hold the Van Gogh. We had a shipment of Dalis coming in that same week, which was bound to draw a bigger crowd…” Rory felt invisible.
“Here, let me take your empty beer bottle for you.” Interjected Rory, in one final attempt at breaking the ice and making a connection. The arrogant man snarled at him, but let him take it before he resumed his swooning of the pretty ladies. The rest of the night went relatively smoothly. Rory talked to some old acquaintances and even made coffee dates with some. He went home feeling glad, tired and somewhat content. His feeling of contentedness did not come from the connections he made though. It came from something he had yet to do.
Rory planted himself on his couch, and out of a paper bag he pulled an empty beer bottle. He dusted it with a little talcum powder and presto. He had a clear impression of more fingerprints than he could ever have wanted. He studied them and he practiced. He replicated them on paper and learned them as if they were his own signature. He finally went to bed when the sun was beginning to rise, and he was content.
One morning, many months later, Rory ate his breakfast to reports on the TV news:
“A director at the National Art Gallery is in disgrace. The court found that, contrary to his own testimony, the defendant had taken several Dali paintings off the wall and dumped them in a dumpster a block away. Security footage had shown a masked man performing the destructive act. The defendant’s fingerprints were all over the scene of the crime, identifying him as the masked vandal, which led to a speedy conviction. He’ll serve a prison sentence, the duration of which will be settled later at the sentencing hearing…”
Rory was content.