(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.