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A Helping Hand
About the Author: A Twin Cities native, Jody Wenner writes mysteries and thrillers during the dark, cold months–which, let's be honest, is most of the year in Minnesota. She goes outside for a few weeks when the temperature reaches above eighty degrees and she enjoys hiking, water activities, or just about anything else outside as long as she can feel the sun shining on her face.


When he came to, he felt distinctly like a mixed drink on the rocks–not in the sense that he was craving one, but that he was one. Chilled. Shaken, not stirred.

He had no feeling in his right arm. Had he passed out on it again? He shifted his weight and attempted to stand. There was a crunching sound. His vision blurred. He slipped back down.

He lifted his hand to soothe the aching throb in his skull. A sticky substance made contact with his forehead. An acrid smell hit his nostrils with a force powerful enough to make him black out again.

Violent shivers forced him back into consciousness.

His double vision began to merge into a single sight, but he was still having a hard time processing what he was seeing. Clearly, he was still drunk. He blinked, but damn if it wasn’t still there—or not there, more accurately. He emitted a scream resembling a sheep going to slaughter.

When he came to again someone stood over him. “Dude. What happened to your hand?”

The man cleared his throat. “That’s what I was planning to ask you.”

“Not sure. I just got here,” said the kid. The man didn’t know him, had never seen this kid before but his first thought was that he was an awkward teen still coming into himself—tall and gangly with some scraggly facial hair.

“Where is here?” The man asked. The tub of ice water he was half-submerged in appeared to be located in a bathroom circa 1970.

“This is Beaver’s place.”

“How did I get here?”

“No clue, man. I told ya, I just got here.”

“Where is this Beaver person?” The man tried to get up again but his head spun wildly and the taste of vomit bubbled in the back of his throat.

“He left. Said he needed the money in an hour.”

“What money?”

The kid shrugged.

“I … need to talk to him.”

“Why?”

He lifted up his bloody stump toward the kid. “TO FIND OUT WHERE MY HAND WENT!”

“All right. Calm down.” The kid flipped the toilet seat down and sat on top of it. “Don’t you remember what happened?”

The man closed his eyes and groaned. “No. Nothing.”

“Damn. Well, all I know is that you owe Beaver Jones money and it’s my job to collect it.”

The man opened his eyes again. “You aren’t a very intimidating collection agent.”

“You aren’t all that terrifying yourself right now,” the kid shot back. “Besides, if either of us fail at getting Beaver his money, we’re both dead. You think you can get up?”

“I don’t know.” He was freezing. All he had on was a pair of boxers. “Where are my clothes?”

The kid picked up a pile from the floor. “Here.”

The man closed his eyes and gritted his teeth. His desire to get warm trumped the pain and he wiggled free of the cubes he was packed in. The kid extended his hand. The man glared at him.

After spewing a long profanity-based rant, the man successfully managed to climb out of the tub. Still fairly numb, he reluctantly let the kid help him put his clothes on. “Shouldn’t you be working at a fast food restaurant or something?” he asked as the kid buttoned his flannel shirt.

The kid laughed. “That actually sounds pretty good right about now cuz that thing is gnarly.”

The man looked at his missing hand. “I gotta sit down. I’m not feeling very good.”

“We really need to go.”

“Can you give me a minute? You chopped my hand off!”

“Whoa! That’s not on me. I told you, I just—”

“I know. You just got here.”

“It’s true,” the kid said. “This is messed up.”

“You’re saying that like this is the first time you’ve had to remove a man from a bathtub with a missing appendage.”

“It is. I swear. Beaver pays me to do odd jobs for him, but this one takes the cake. You don’t remember anything?” he paused. “You owe him drug money or something?”

The man shook his head. “I’m not into drugs. Is that the business you guys run here?”

“Not me.” The kid put his arms up in the air. “I’m innocent. What Beaver does is his own thing. I don’t ask.”

“News flash. If you work for a criminal you aren’t innocent.”

“You think you’re innocent?”



This story appears in our MAY 2018 Issue
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