“Darn,” Zeke said. He pointed to the suction machine against the door. “I forgot about that thing. You use it to suck babies out of the womb in the first trimester.” He looked around. “You call this an examination room but really it’s a death chamber. You do suction abortions here, and you could still use that machine if I just maimed you, so it looks like the whole hand will need to come off.” He stepped to the counter where he would be working. “Come on,” he said grimly, gesturing to the stool. “Let’s get this done.”
Finley felt his gorge rise again.
“No, I…I can’t go through with it.”
Zeke laid the shears on the counter and pulled his shotgun around. He aimed it at Finley and said, “You’ve murdered babies and you’ll murder more if I don’t stop you. I’ve offered you a way to save your life, but whether you take it or not is up to you.”
Finley tried to think of a response but nothing came to him. He took a stiff-legged step toward the stool, then another, and when he reached it he sat down heavily.
“Good,” Zeke said. He returned the shotgun to its place over his shoulder and picked up the shears. “Now lay your arm here on the counter.”
“Closer to the sink.”
Finley scooted his arm toward the sink and pictured his severed hand falling into the bottom of it. Not only that, but he saw it jump up on its fingertips and do a little dance over the drain. His mind was slipping.
Zeke snipped the shears a couple of times.
“We won’t worry about sterilization and painkillers and all that. As soon as I’m done we’ll get you stretched out on the floor, and then I’ll talk to the folks outside. They’ve probably been listening and know what’s going on, and in five minutes you should be doped up and full of antibiotics. Okay?”
For a moment Finley thought that if they could reattach the hand quickly enough he would be able to continue doing surgery, but then he knew that would never happen. His fine motor skills would be gone. He would never operate again.
He began to sob.
Zeke patted him on the shoulder. “I understand how you feel, doctor, but try to control yourself. I might need your advice on the surgery. Like right now. I put the tourniquet here, don’t I?” He indicated a spot about two inches above Finley’s wrist. Finley nodded. Zeke pulled the length of plastic hose from his pocket, slid the sleeve of the windbreaker up to Finley’s elbow and tied the hose around his forearm.
“Okay, this is how I’m going to do it. I’ll stand here, put the shears on the counter and slide the jaws over your wrist. Then I’ll lean down as hard as I can. If I hit at the end of the arm bone I’ll just be cutting through gristle and veins and such, right?”
“Well anyway,” Zeke went on, “after we do it I’ll talk to the people outside. Like I said, if they’re reasonable you should be out of here in a few minutes. Do you understand?”
Finley couldn’t answer.
“Okay, put your arm down here again, and you should probably close your eyes.”
Finley placed his arm on the counter.
“Don’t move or pull away,” Zeke said. “I’ll do my best to hit the joint, but you’ll have to hold still. It’ll take two, maybe three chops, and… Here… Let me get set…”
Zeke squirmed around for a better position. Finley couldn’t force himself to close his eyes. He watched Zeke put the hand holding the shears on the countertop. Everything seemed to get so quiet. The shears made a loud scraping sound as Zeke slid them forward. He opened the jaws wide and pushed until Finley’s wrist was wedged between the blades.
“Okay. I think that’s right, isn’t it, doctor? Is that where the arm bone ends?”
Finley heard something from above. A tick. Zeke heard it too, and they looked up together as a figure dressed in black came crashing down through the ceiling’s acoustical tiles.
Of course, Finley thought. It hadn’t occurred to him that the police could come through the ceiling. And apparently the idea hadn’t occurred to Zeke, either. He looked like he was caught completely off guard. When he saw what was happening he let go of the shears and reached back for his shotgun.
The policeman fell in a rain of tile and debris, and he seemed to have two strong springs for legs. He hit the floor flat-footed and dipped a bit, then he came up facing them with a shotgun already leveled and aiming. He fired before Zeke could swing his gun forward.
The roar of the blast deafened Finley. He didn’t actually hear Zeke thud back against the wall, but later he would remember it that way. Zeke hit the wall and began a long red slide down.
Finley threw his hands up as he turned to the policeman. He thought that’s what he was supposed to do, but he should have taken the effect of adrenaline into account. That and the fact that he was wearing Zeke’s windbreaker. The officer aimed at him and squeezed off another shot, but fortunately he pulled the barrel up just before the gun discharged.
Finley felt his right arm jerk back, and when he brought it down in front of his face he saw that the hand was gone. He looked at the bloody stump, then he looked at Zeke on the floor.
It was surprising that he was still alive. The shotgun had cut him nearly in half. He held his hands over his shredded abdomen and smiled up at Finley, and although Finley was still deaf, he would swear later that he heard Zeke hum a few notes of God Moves in Mysterious Ways as he released his dying breath.
Mike Sheedy’s stories have appeared in various magazines. His collection ‘Now is th Tim’ can be found at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This story is taken from that collection. His novel ‘The Living, the Dead, and the Double-Dead’ is also available at the sites mentioned above.