Duet for Tenor and Transradial Orthosis
The first thing I noticed were his hands, which were stained beyond all washing by brown-black grease hiding in the creases of his knuckles and beneath what little of his fingernails hadn't been bitten down to the quick. They were delicate, though, I could see by the way that he set his glass on the bar and ran his fingertips around the damp rim where his mouth had just been; he touched it like he'd touch a lover, I thought, long before I knew he'd never in his life touched a lover that way. The scent of new money rolled off him, not in that flashy, obnoxious way tasteless barbarians turn gilded lilies with a few extra notes in their billfolds, but like a man who'd come to enjoy all the things that wealth could get him but still didn't feel like he fit in any of the places you had to go to get those things. He waited until the starched-collared bartender had wandered his way to the other end of the bar before inclining his head in my direction and saying to me, "I'll buy you a drink if you let me see that arm." My head throbbed from a high receding too rapidly, and all I could think was, I didn't come to London for this.