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I Gave Them the Finger
About the Author: Chad lives in Michigan with his wife, children, and far too many pets. He loves music, rain, sarcasm, dry humor, and cheese but has a strong disdain for dishonesty and hard-boiled eggs. Chad has written for Famous Monsters of Filmland, Rue Morgue, Cemetery Dance and Scream magazine. His fiction can be found in several magazines and anthologies as well as his own 18-story collection, NIGHT AS A CATALYST. He has written collaborative efforts with authors Terry M. West and J. Thorn.

I found the finger next to the mailbox, out near the street. I remember it was a Monday. I’d been expecting a package, a bottle of Celestial Sage–some cologne I’d ordered. I like to smell good, and I wasn’t partial to the bottle I was given last Christmas—licorice dipped in bug spray, if you ask me.

I almost didn’t see the finger, as my package had arrived and I was excited to get back inside with it. But there was the digit, lying in the grass only two feet from a dog’s mess—the work of Ms. Smothers’s poodle, no doubt. The woman held zero regard for anyone else. If I were less of a man I’d set a bear trap.

What was most peculiar about the finger was the missing bone. The finger hadn’t been lobbed off but degloved. The owner, if still alive, would be writhing in pain with a number of bones exposed and angry red with blood. The sight made me feel for my own fingers, like a man guarding his balls when witnessing another receive a hit to the nether regions. Instinct.

I bent to retrieve the fleshy tube when ants crawled out from inside. I stomped on the skin, squashing any insects inside, then picked it up. It was heavier than I thought it’d be, and I took note that the cut was jagged and not clean. An accident had happened. Perhaps one of my neighbors. Immediately I suspected Mr. Ervans, two doors down. The man was a klutz, carelessly mangling his hands with hammers, car hoods, and barbed wire. I could picture him stripping himself of flesh while fixing the mower, his hand near the blades while the motor still ran. I didn’t care much for Mr. Ervans, and if the finger I held belonged to him I wasn’t so sure I was willing to give it back.

I looked across the street and saw Ms. Peters out doing her thing, raking. Dead grass, leaves, cigarette butts, dog turds. It’s a daily ritual for Ms. Peters, to keep the perfect lawn, collecting imperfections. I got to thinking that she wasn’t doing it because she wanted to, but because she had to. There was something obsessive compulsive about it. During autumn it’s downright tragic. She’s out there from sunup until sundown every day keeping up with the leaves. I swear she loses 10 pounds a year, whether it be from the labor or her nerves I don’t know. God bless her. But the finger wasn’t hers. This was a man’s finger. It was wide and fat with a patch of hair you could run a comb through.

But something told me it had to be a neighbor’s finger. I lived at the end of a cul-de-sac. No traffic in the area, unless you lived there. And if any strange vehicle were to come down this far, there’s no doubt Ms. Peters would notice, so I decided to ask if she’d seen anything. That way I could deduce any outside source altogether, and get on with the investigation.

I tore open the box of Celestial Sage and sprayed some on my neck and wrists—sandalwood with a hint of clove buried under musk. There was no trace of alcohol. The scent was organic, exotic. Damn, it smelled good!

I put the finger in the box the cologne had come in, then headed to Ms. Peters’s. She sat on her front lawn, sipping on a glass of lemonade, her rake propped against her chair. There was sweat across her forehead, the product of obsessive raking.

“Afternoon, Ms. Peters,” I said.

“Ben.” She nodded.

“I was wondering if you might know whose this is.” I opened the box and showed her the finger.

She looked over her glasses while sipping on the lemonade.

“Where’s the bone?” she said.

“Still on the person, I assume.”

She poked at it, curiously.

“Have you seen any suspicious vehicles around?” I asked.

“Can’t say as I have. Reynolds got himself a new truck a month or two ago, but that’s it.”

“Any idea how this could happen?”

She seemed to ponder, her index finger against her chin.

“You ask Ervans yet? He’s always getting his body into trouble, foolish bastard.”

“I thought about that, but Mr. Ervans has smaller hands.”

“True. And the fingernails he still has are either bruised or trying to grow back. This guy here had a manicure.”

I looked closer. She was right, the nail was perfect, cuticle free and just the right amount of edge.

“Okay, well let me know if you come up with any theories. I think I’ll look around a bit more, maybe ask the others.”

This story appears in our FEB 2018 Issue
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Reader Discussion

That was a very curious tale. I was excited to find out the owner of that finger.
By Susan Rickard

I quite enjoyed this! I love when you want to read every word causes it's written so well.
By Jennifer Kunz

Very nicely done!
By Craig Faustus Buck

Fantastic tale! The story had me peeking between my fingers due to the suspense! I like it!
By Nina Ritter

These are my favorite type of short story. Fun, easy to read and interesting. Good job Chad!
By Jan Simon

Well written, oddly intriguing. Not normally my kind of story, but found I looked forward to how the writer was planning to end it. I wasn't disappointed.
By Judy Kimball

A great story. However, I still want to know who owned that finger......
By Frances Dunn

Good story, well written and exciting. I got to start caring about the characters which is no mean feat at such a short length. I’d still like to know who owned the finger but not knowing did not spoil the ending.
By Stan Guthrie

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