See, this whole business began with the extra fingers. One on each hand. I cut them off but they grew back again.
On the left, between the middle and the ring finger’s one. On the right, the other, between my index and thumb.
Now, I’m an artist by trade; avant-garde stuff mostly. I paint and sculpt to pay the bills. Every artist does things they’d rather not in order to get by…my true passion is mostly stuff you’ve never seen. I live to shock. I live to appall. I live for one-time performance art.
For instance, I once went to the mall with a full beard and a mumu. I gave birth to a live baby complete with water breaking and requisite fluids. Then I went directly into ShoeLand and bought a pair of sneakers with the baby in my arms, umbilical cord snaking its way between my hairy legs. I did this all as if nothing had happened. Obviously it wasn’t my baby. I borrowed it. From whom is not important.
What is important is the art.
Another time, a poster of the mayor was done…wearing nothing but a smile, a full on boner, sticking out his thumb… I painted my face so as to not be easily identified. Then I stood at busy intersections throughout the week. I was naked as well, except for the sign; waving at cars and running from police.
Another time I went around throwing water-balloons full of paint from the windows of my car, onto people eating on restaurant patios, on children in parks. I’m not sure if that one was art or if I was just feeling mean. But who’s to say art can’t be mean?
Not you, and certainly not I.
Because of this, and what I’m about to disclose to you, I am unable to divulge my name or actual location. The legality of my operation is questionable to be sure. You’ll understand better later mark my words, because the news is sure to feature my latest work.
About a half a year ago was when the fingers began to grow; the day before my knuckles began popping of their own accord, followed by a pain that was strange as it throbbed its way, left and right, thorugh my hands. It happened over night. I didn’t notice right away. I went to the fridge, put my hand on the door…and, wait just a minute, one-two-three-four…
Five fingers on one side of the handle and my thumb on the other makes…six.
I forgot my focus on the glass of morning milk.
There in the kitchen with a strange mix of horror and delight, I stepped backwards to the window for better light.
I once saw something starring Uma Thurman. I don’t remember much about it, but in that movie the best piano player in the world was genetically designed to have six fingers on each hand.
I am not a pianist.
I pay my bills by taking commissions on Etsy painting pictures of cats for shut-ins. I cannot paint with six fingers. I can barely hold the brushes.
To my mind, I needed only remove the extra index on my right, you see? That was the one that was in the way keeping me from being able to hold the paintbrush tightly. So I took a plate and set it down and then went for a serrated knife. I pulled it slowly to the sound of my long inhale mirroring the metal as it exhaled from its sheath. I closed my eyes. I steeled myself–gritted teeth, hard, like the blade–for what was to come.
I’m sure the sound of my short-lived agony was not the discordant cacophony of sounds that played in my brain. Have you ever heard the sound of your pain? Anyone in proximity would have heard a knife through steak and the hee-haw of sawing across a plate. What I heard was the clash of breaking glass, nails on a chalkboard, my teeth as they gnashed against the screams as they passed through the rag stuffed into my mouth.
I hit the bone quickly, to be sure, there’s not much meat to slice through there. But that minute stretched on and on and on and I felt as through a gaping maw that didn’t exist had opened in the floor beneath me; a hole designed to swallow me through to a dimension of endless pain.
It wasn’t just my hand that hurt, my whole body was going into shock. With each “hee” I could see the white as it chipped away. But with the “haw” the knife was drowned in red. I was going to pass out I could feel a faintness in my head, and in the end just before I collapsed onto the kitchen floor, I snatched a cleaver from the drawer below and finished the work in one swift blow.
I awoke hours later. Before I opened my eyes I made a poor attempt at convincing myself that this was all a wild dream. The room swam into blurry focus and though the bleeding had stopped, I was still covered in blood. It dripped to the floor, from the cabinets, from the counter, from the shattered plate, from the cleaver above. Dizzily I stood using the countertop to support myself. Like a scene from some staged horror, the meat cleaver was driven through the broken plate and into the formica of the countertop. Everything was bloodstained. My finger lay to the left of the blade. I flicked the handle of the knife, chuckling as it vibrated to life and lobbed the bloody finger into the cat’s dish across the room and finally went to paint.
My hand was not even damaged. It seemed the skin that was broken had stitched itself back together seamlessly while I was out. A normal right hand. The scar that one would expect wasn’t there at all. I painted half a dozen cats that afternoon, all commissions for some crazy lady in Iowa.
The rest of the entire day my left hand called to me to solve the problem of asymmetry between himself and his twin. Not in words, no, I’m not that crazy. It was just a compulsive itch I had to scratch. Now that I knew the best way to do it was just get it done with, to cut it off real quick, in one swift motion, that’s just what I did.
I placed the pad of my extra finger on the edge of the counter and hid the rest in a balled fist, out of the way and without a moment to hesitate, as quick as you please, I slammed the cleaver through to the chopping block beneath.
The first time you see, it’s a pretty incredible sight; your skin, as it repairs itself right before your eyes. Reaching across like something alive from one side of the hole to the opposite side. The hole closes on its own. I never told anyone about any of this. I’d surely have ended up on some examination table to be poked and prodded: to figure out why.
I’ve done this so many times now, I can’t recall how that first time felt. All I remember now for sure is for a second time that day, I flipped the finger to the cat as I walked away. I then retired to bed thinking that would be the end of this business.
That was not the end of this business. The next morning I could count to twelve again without consulting my toes. The pattern of the day before repeated several times over in the days to come.
Maybe it was something hidden in my genetics? Maybe it was my dabbling in the occult in my youth? Some strange voodoo gave me this…
Should I call it that?
I’ve never needed an explanation. It just is, and the speculation as to why is for another story.
After some time, I began to notice Baron, the cat, choking on the bones. He’d been saving them like a dog would, to gnaw and break and savor the taste of the marrow inside.
I couldn’t let my poor cat continue to choke on pieces of me, so I saved them up, two by two until they numbered in teens and then crammed them into the blender, determined to make my own fancy-feast, but the blender was cheap so the idea–short lived. The shattered bones stopped up the blade and as the blender expired, it made my studio apartment smell like an electrical fire.
I didn’t know what to do with them each morning after that, but I began to store them. I know what you’re thinking but you can’t just throw severed fingers in the bin along with the other shit. What if someone found them going through your trash? The police would come and they’d have questions to ask. No. I couldn’t just throw them away, but then it all clicked in my head and one day: What if these new fingers once severed apart could be saved for some sort of horrible art?
At that time, I didn’t quite know my plan. It was still growing, you understand? Somewhere hidden in my mind. It had yet to reveal itself; yet to be made. I knew it would come, so until then, I saved.
I tried many ways, and pickling was great, but I scrapped the idea. Studios just don’t have the space for that many fingers disembodied in jars. Besides, for my friends, though aware I was strange, these jars full of fingers would need be explained and this was *my* secret. I was not going to share. Not with them, or with anyone–not even with you…though, I’ve since changed my mind, as is my prerogative to do.
Each morning I woke and went to the kitchen and chopped. It becomes routine, like starting a pot of coffee or having a shower. I’d place them in the fridge, in a bowl, till they browned. After that they’d be transferred; wrapped in tissue to dry and then moved again to a bag in a deep freeze I’d found online. A $40 Facebook Marketplace find.
I had an idea.
I had a wonderful, awful idea.
The hardest part of this whole scheme was deciding on the packaging.
I settled on a colored foil. Blue and green and orange and red. Bright colors, so they’d be just as attractive as the rest…but I’m getting ahead.
At the dollar store, I purchased from among the children’s party favors, hundreds of rainbow spider rings. Each finger, shriveled, frozen and brown was wrapped in colored foil and a ring placed around.
Every day the chopping continued, the freezing continued, and the wrapping continued…
Until finally, the big day came…yesterday.
They came in droves: the princesses, the princes, the goblins, ghouls and witches. “Trick-or-treat,” they said, but it wasn’t a treat they’d get. So as not to be caught, I mixed the foiled fingers with candy I’d bought, and each time, filling my hands to the top, I became the most popular candy-man on the block. A neighbor who’s stingy is a neighbor forgot. Like it or not, as they spread the word of my generous helpings of candy, these kids were part of my plot.
I’ve never liked children. They smell of television and their hands are stickied with jams. Into each of their bags I crammed and I crammed handfuls to meet their demands. Some had come more than once, those greedy little beasts; and this year you can bet, is not one they’ll forget when they go to unwrap all their treats.
I know what you’re thinking they’ll catch me and soon, and if not I’ll live life on the lam. Well, I beg to differ, I’ve thought all this through. Would you like to hear more of the plan?
In that house, for a month, I squatted and plotted, that home is not mine…but no one seemed to know. All it takes is some luck, a smile, and a truck and you too can befriend Clark Row Road. All things about me those families knew were lies based on falsehoods I fed. Last night, before the night was through, I packed up my things and I fled.
They’ll never find me, the fingers, their prints, have never committed a crime. With each finger new, the prints were new too, only the DNA was mine…
…and it’s not on file anywhere.
Originally my plan was to be to repeat this each Halloween but I think next year, I’m done scaring kids–I get nothing from haunting their dreams. With Halloween done and my project complete, I’ve found a brand new scheme–and you’ll never guess the thing I’ve planned next, oh ladies and gents, it’s a scream. I’m not quite sure of the details yet but this morning I woke with a shock, my god, you wouldn’t believe, overnight I’ve grown…