Monday, March 30, 2009

The Finger, Part 2

(When a little girl finds a severed finger on the road, the finger evokes different responses in each person it passes to. If you're just joining us, go back to Part 1)

Carmen wrapped her arms around her little daughter in her lap. A third police car rolled to a stop along John F. Kennedy Boulevard. The cops already there laughed to themselves. They seemed bored. Filling time. Itching to stir trouble. The severed finger sweated in a plastic baggie in the middle of the sidewalk.

She turned her face from the red and blue strobe lights.

"All this is scaring my daughter," Carmen said. "Can we go?"

"Just sit tight," narrow-eyed cop said.

She forget their names before she was done hearing them. Officer Asshole and Officer Shit-for-Brains.

Carmen pulled a tissue from her purse and wet a spot with the tip of her tongue.

Shit-for-Brains freaked. He leveled a finger at her. "Don't touch that! Wait for the detective!"

"Can I clean this bloody fluid off her face?" Carmen said.

"Absolutely not! It's evidence."

"Christ Almighty. You've got to be kidding me," Carmen said.

"Ma'am, if you touch that evidence, I'm going to arrest you for obstruction of justice."

Celine hid her head.

"Screw. You," Carmen said.

She wanted to say fuck, but she failed as a parent enough for one day.

The cop glared at her, then yukked it up with his buddy.

The finger in the bag kept intruding on Carmen's thoughts. She squeezed Celine and kissed the top of her head. The girl's flesh was yielding and soft. With a deep solidity underneath.

She dialed her cell phone. As it rang, she stared at the dismembered finger. It wouldn't be human much longer. No warmth. No miracle of movement. Soon it would be putrid chemicals and a hollow stick of bone.

Celine's living fingers twined in her blouse and crumpled the fabric. Her tiny hands mirrored the dearest thoughts swimming in her head.

"I'm not going to be in today," Carmen said to her secretary.

She smiled downward.

"I don't care," Carmen said. "Let them take care of it. They'll survive without me."

Go back to Part 1.


Anonymous said...

And isn't it so true that minding your own business on a seemingly ordinary day, sometimes leads to the most extraordinary events. You captured that well.

the walking man said...

Piss on them Carmen wipe the mess from Celine's face. Fight the power!

Aniket said...

The thoughts seem to come right from a working mother's mind. Had we not known your prowess, it would have been hard to believe that a guy wrote this. And I guess, that is the hardest part to achieve, to make your character believable. Nice work Jason.

Margaret said...

It's during moments like this that a mother would kill for her child.

Nothing else matters except that little bundle held tight in her arms.

I love Carmen's strong character.

Can't wait for part 3.

Sarah Hina said...

Yes, the warmth envelops here, in spite of their circumstances. The shock of her daughter finding the finger transforming Carmen from busy working mom to fierce and tender protector.

Celine's flesh is what's important here. Not the finger-as-catalyst. Loved it. :) And can't wait to see what's next!

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm bristling automatically at that cop. I think I've met his brother.

Catvibe said...

Ditto on what Sarah said. In addition, I am enjoying watching how you pace this and move it along. It is good learning to watch how you do it so skillfully.

Jennifer said...

I love how you've taken a unique image like this: "The severed finger sweated in a plastic baggie in the middle of the sidewalk" and used it as a springboard to explore a common relationship (mother/daughter), but your rendering is so vivid and spot on that there is nothing common about the writing.

Aine said...

Nothing like a severed finger to act as the catalyst for prioritizing. :)

Perhaps that finger has a magic touch. Can't wait to see what it leads to next.

Also makes me wonder if this finger is more useful in it's detached state...

Meghan said...

Well-written piece...and really gross picture. :P

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

This reads so true to life. You depict each person so well.

I thought it was interesting how Carmen noticed the soft, yielding flesh of her little girl - the solid feel to her just as Celine, in Part One, liked the feel of the finger - cold, soft, and the hardness in the middle. she even brought it to her face.

Glad she chose her daughter over work! :)

Anonymous said...

Aggie, thanks. :) This series is a bit of an experiment in that direction.

Walking Man, solidarity, brother.

Aniket, thank you! I try very much to portray the complexities of people in a believable way.

Margaret, I felt that fierce protection too. Sometimes we need a stark reminder that we are all mortal and heading toward the ultimate conclusion. Nothing should be taken for granted.

Sarah, it's a stark contrast between living and not living flesh. The reminder that one is never far from the other. That's what sparks the mother's fierce emotion to hold and feel and revel in the moment.

Charles, taking the charitable view, I can see how dealing with what the police have to deal with day after day can harden them.

Catvibe, thanks! The pacing of language and the story are two of my greatest concerns as a writer. I'm glad you find my approach engaging!

Jennifer, you've very succinctly described what this series is exploring. :) And thank you very much for the high praise!

Aine, the finger has a magic touch.... I loved that! So true. In it's sad, grotesque way. I think it will have interesting travels.

Meghan, thanks and thanks! I could have spent longer getting the picture better, but it conveys the message well enough. ;)

Kaye, as I've matured as a writer (at least I hope I've matured) I've come to love delving into characters and the deep corners of their emotions. I really want vibrant characters. People who express things that we can relate to. But maybe with an extra focus and intensity for the sake of the story.

Vesper said...

I love this, Jason! I love its humour, its sharpness, is strong characterisation. I'm very much looking forward to the next part.

SzélsőFa said...

I thought the events would take a funny turn (see my comment at Part One) - but now I'm surprised to see Carmen loosing her control over the situation.
Strange outcome.

Karen said...

I've been waiting for Part II, and this doesn't disappoint(as if it could)! Carmen comes alive in this one - the protective instinct kicking in. I think she's ready to take on ole "Shifflebrains." Go Carmen!

Anonymous said...

Vesper, very glad you're into it! I never know how it'll go over when I try something different or strange. I hope it continues to engage you. :)

Szelsofa, we'll see where that mischievous finger takes us. ;)

Karen, yeah, Carmen's got it down! Keep up that pressure on me. I need to make each of these pieces have its own soul.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Nicely done, although I'm not too sure about the characterization of the cops. I'd need more to go on, backstory, mannerisms, ... to believe they'd be that callous.