Here’s a bit of short fiction, a happy little tale about a man who decided to take drastic action when one of his hands decided to start betraying him.
He sat at his workbench in his shed and put his phone down. He knew he had to do it and he had to do it now.
It was time to remove his evil hand. His right forearm was wrapped in a tea towel and held tight in the vice, gripping him firmly just below the elbow. Further down, at around the midpoint of his forearm was the modified rotary chop saw. He had to alter the cutting depth of the blade and raise his arm up on a wooden block so he would be able to go through his arm in one clean motion. He didn’t think he would have the fortitude to force himself to do it again. A little further down the workbench, a stainless-steel tray was clamped eight inches in the air. Beneath it was a Rothsburger butane torch, the type plumbers use to sweat joints on gas pipes with a flame over 600 degrees. It glowed white, through orange to red radiating outwards from where the flame caressed the tray. He was thankful that his evil hand was his right one. He wasn’t sure he could do what he was about to do if he wasn’t a left hander.
Exactly when his hand developed a mind of its own and turned evil, he couldn’t remember. Until about six months ago it was just his right hand. It didn’t do anything unusual or out of the ordinary. It was just his hand. He remembered sitting, watching reruns of The Bill, hearing a rhythmic tapping in the room as the theme tune blared out. Much to his surprise, when he looked down he saw it was his own fingers, drumming along to the television. As soon as he noticed, his hand stopped. At first, he thought it was pretty cool. He had never been the most dexterous person. In his youth, he had tried to play guitar but he couldn’t get his fingers to work properly, the coordination required to have both of his hands working independently eluded him. However, his right hand now had a mind of its own. It started with the occasional brush of a woman’s breasts or buttocks on the tube. He found himself stroking a young girl’s hair as he stood in the queue in Marks and Spencer’s, much to the displeasure of the child’s father, who promptly struck him in the face and knocked him to the floor. He had to go off sick at work as his hand wouldn’t be content just data inputting job, often writing obscenities instead of inputting values and finally, the day before he went off sick, just kept turning his computer off every time he turned it on. There was the other stuff, the bedroom stuff. Often, he woke up with his hand doing things to himself he wouldn’t normally do, touching himself in places he wouldn’t normally touch himself, at first he was mortified but when he realised the hand wouldn’t stop, he put a disposable rubber glove on every night before bed, it was easier than chaining his hand to his bed.
He picked up the bottle of Bacardi on the worktop. He had the foresight to leave the lid off, so taking a drink wouldn’t provide him with any problems. Mouthing the bottle, took a slug and then poured some over his restrained arm. He then picked up the belt that was coiled around itself and strapped it loosely to his upper arm. He inserted a short piece of timber in the loop and twisted it until it was good and tight. He was ready. His right-hand started squirming, pushing, twisting and probing, trying to find an escape and then went still. It was too tightly bound in the vice, the only way his hand would be free would be when he loosened it. That worked both ways though, his hand would be free of him, but he would be free of his hand. He would be able to go back to work, travel on the tube without fear of inadvertently molesting some innocent passer-by, drive again even. Once his wound had healed and he had a prosthetic, the world would be his again, and safe from ill-behaved digits. A moment flicked into his head of the first time he drove with his newly awakened hand, which was also the last. His hand veered the steering wheel, aiming straight into a crowd of shoppers off Oxford Street. Thankfully, his feet were fine and he managed to brake before the car made contact with anyone. He had offered his sincere apologies to those he nearly murdered and claimed there was something wrong with his car, which he paid to be recovered, to make the story seem more plausible.
Putting his finger on the trigger of the chop saw, but not pressing it, he did one final test and pulled the saw down, checking that cut would be on the place he had marked. It lined up perfectly. All he had to do was pull the trigger and push downwards. He figured if he closed his eyes he wouldn’t have to watch and so he couldn’t pass out. It was imperative that as soon as the limb was removed, he unclamped his arm and pushed in onto the super-heated tray. Once cauterised, he could pass out if he needed. It wasn’t the ideal way to close the wound, but it was all he could come up with. He knew the risk of infection was high but was banking on the ambulance he had called arriving quickly, taking him to hospital and into proper sanitary conditions where he could heal. He pulled the trigger and the saw spun up rapidly. This was it, his chance to take his life back, to start again and be a better man. The fingers on his trapped hand sprang back into life, twisting and stretching, trying in a last act of desperation to stop itself being severed from its life source. It was too late and with a primal scream, he screwed his eyes shut and pulled the saw down.
Empty of air, he slumped forward, panting heavily. It was done, he wasn’t sure if his stump hurt or not, but it smelled like a pork chop on a skillet. He opened his eyes and his stomach flipped. His stomach flipped and he wasn’t sure if it was hunger or nausea. He grabbed at the bottle of Bacardi and took and deep swig. Looking at his severed right hand, oozing blood and lifeless, it suddenly occurred to him that they might try and re-attach it. In the distance he could hear the sirens of the ambulance; they must be close now. Despite his light-headedness, he forced himself to sit up straight and with his good hand picked up his evil one and placed it beneath the saw again, this time lengthways. He studied it for a few seconds as it writhed, not quite ready to admit defeat. Again, he pulled the trigger and pulled the saw down quickly, this time he watched. He split his dead hand straight between the middle two fingers, released the saw and then quickly twisted the hand forty-five degrees and pulled the saw blade down again, effectively quartering it. The hand was still. There was no way they could put that back together and reattach it to him. His world started to close in around him, the sirens of the ambulance had stopped. He heard his name being shouted. Relief flooded over him and almost instantly he felt himself surrender to unconsciousness.
When he woke, it was in a room of brilliant white, in a hospital bed, exactly as he had expected to be. The first thing he noticed was his left hand was chained to the bed. Maybe they thought he was insane or a danger to himself or others. He looked down at where his right hand should have been. A stump. It was a heavily bandaged stump. He reached his injured arm over to his chained one and touched his stump gingerly through the bandages, making sure there was nothing there. There wasn’t. He was elated. Free to be himself again without a part of his body betraying him. He could start his life again, without a body part holding him hostage. He lay back down and laughed, laughed so much he cried. As he sobbed, he didn’t notice the fingers on his remaining left hand were tap-tap-tapping away, dancing to the rhythm of an old 80’s police show.