This morning I woke up in bed with an old man’s hand.
Not a severed hand from a different, older man.
Nothing as sinister as that.
No suggestion that I was, in some way, being sent a warning message from some aging mafioso masquerading as a perfectly normal member of the Twilight Valley Nursing Village who, for reasons best known only to himself, had given up on the cranial end of horses and settled for lopping off the hands of his fellow residents before depositing them in the beds of strangers under cover of darkness. There was a suggestion far back in my family tree that there was some sort of Italian connection to my heritage but even so the link would be tenuous at best. It’s not like I’m the direct descendent of Guiseppe “The Limp” Panettone or some such.
The hand, I confess, was my own.
Under normal circumstances this could be explained by the normal process of aging along with the equally normal process of not paying any attention to the appearance of a body part over time only to suddenly, inexplicably wake up on a given Wednesday and declare (inwardly of course, I’m not a complete lunatic) that a previously younger hand now looked a bit old.
The circumstances were, however, far from normal.
You see, the other hand (the left one if you’re interested) was as shiny and carefree as a freshly minted tampon advert. Youthful to the point of outright mockery. Lying there, palm up, smoothly gazing at the ceiling with politician smugness while my right hand withered before the searing gaze of the dawn.
The rage building in me was not of my own volition. Rather, it was anger by proxy for the pathetic creature attached to my right wrist. His (I considered the hand to be a him but I’m willing to concede that all gender varietals were possible) mute acceptance of the hand (oh the irony) that fate had dealt him was more than I could bear. His stoic, matter of factness about the whole situation nearly brought me tears.
Something had to be done.
In hindsight, the nail clippers were not the simplest of options but, given my reluctance to move very far and tip the offending extremity off to my plans, I grabbed the first thing that was, so to speak, to hand.
Thanks to the level of lefty’s self-satisfaction coupled with the slow progress of my right hand’s fading dexterity I was mostly through to the bone on both sides before the young upstart realised what was happening. At that point, briefly, all hell broke loose as my left hand threw itself from side to side like a silent diseased metronome, spraying the bed with the bright drops of its self-satisfied life-blood. As its cadence became increasingly frantic my noble veteran of a right hand seized the moment and snapped through the remaining bone and sinew with a deft twist that only a lifetime of experience could muster.
I slept for a while after that and, when I awoke, my old warrior of a paw worked tirelessly with my teeth to apply a makeshift tourniquet from a dressing gown tie to my left forearm.
I’m a little lightheaded but I’m sure it will pass. Maybe after a nap I can sneak into old Jacob’s place next door and dump lefty under his pillow.
Just for fun.