By Mike Putnam

It started with facial hair. Whenever he was bored or worried or stationary too long he would pull and tug at the oily strands, tearing them from the follicles one at a time. Without looking, he absent-mindedly stuck them between his lips to verify that he had in fact pulled hair out then dropped them by the wayside. Sometimes, when conscious of the action, he wondered how many places he had left them. He knew there were hotel rooms in Ontario and the Dominican Republic that probably still hid tiny black hairs behind beds or under desks. Cheek hair, chin hair, throat hair, sideburn hair, spread out across classrooms and retail centers and public restrooms throughout a mostly tri-state area. Sometimes even nose hair but those hurt a great deal to remove and would always make his eyes water. The coverage on his lip was already sparse, so harvesting from either side meant seeing a Chaplin moustache reflected back when he looked in the mirror.

This pulling and tugging would make what was usually a full beard patchy and unattractive, but the thought of stopping was an impossibility once he had gotten in the habit of including these tiny hairs when he packed orders for the museum where he worked as a shipping clerk. Soon it led to clipping locks from his scalp, tearing finger nails at random, even spitting into the boxes to allow as much of himself as possible to go across the US (and parts of Canada). Within a few weeks there was a part of him in all fifty states and every province. As his boredom with work and the desire to ship as much of his body as he could heightened, he started to use his box-cutter to bleed into the shipments. Once he ripped out an entire nail with a pair of pliers (after consuming half a flask of single-barrel whiskey at lunch) and shipped it to Clearwater, Florida. It was intoxicating, being everywhere at once. But the habit stopped when he fainted pulling a molar from his mouth and received a concussion when his head split open on the concrete floor. He viewed it as a successful career though, noteworthy even, despite the fact that his celebrity was known to no one but himself.

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Mike Putnam is an American author currently living in Cleveland, Ohio. He has previously been published in Linguistic Erosion and Daily Love.
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2 Responses
  1. Magi Says:

    I love this short! This brings to light the seemingly innocuous habits that everyone has, but I especially like how it can lead to a strange motive and dark actions.

    Thanks for the story Mr. Putnam! Where can I find more?

  2. Lindy Says:

    Love this short story. I like the idea of "sending pieces of yourself out"..brings out the question--What is the self? Does it manifest in our physical being? Can you, as he says, be everywhere at once?

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