Monday, March 10, 2008

The Finger

His index finger tapped his cards slowly and passively, then suddenly decisively and quickly.

I couldn't help but focus on the malformed digit. It was bulbous and thick, with a huge yellow fingernail that wrapped more than halfway around the circumference. The trunk like a raw carrot was worn white along the lines of his prints forming grotesque calluses. His other fingers did not match it for size nor did they match its awkwardness.

I chucked my cards toward the dealer feeling the action had landed on me. Thankfully, I wore sunglasses, and though I often used the anonymity of my eyes to gaze on the cocktail waitresses fatty cleavages or stare down an opponent looking for tells, this time I enjoyed my surreptitious study of the finger.

It was so thick it looked like two fingers merge into one. I though about twins absorbing one another in a womb, and wondered if some sort of prenatal osmosis had caused the disfigurement. His owner, a flashy lawyer, had no compulsion to hide it's ugliness, in fact, he seemed to wave the finger excessively. Almost as if he'd calculated the uneasiness it caused in his opponents and wanted everybody to be fully aware of his mutation.

As I felt a couple of cards slide under my hands, I watched his finger trap his hole cards with an audible thud. Surely, one of its siblings had to match it. I studied those fingers all the more, on both hands and none did. This finger, more petrified anteater snout, then human form intrigued me all the more with each second I study it. Perhaps, I mused it was not actually a finger, but his big toe. Sometimes doctors will give patients who lose their thumb their big toe as a replacement, surgically sewing it on. Maybe this guy lost a digit and replaced it at an early enough age, early enough to morph into it's thumblike shape and growing into the monster it now was. Except it was his finger not his thumb. Maybe they tried it with an index finger. More radically, I concluded perhaps it was someone else's transplanted toe-thumb given to him upon their death and the loss of his finger, maybe his brother, and they grew up the son of carpenter.

Disinterestedly I saw my cards were a pair of fours. If I wasn't distracted I might have tried to play them but my focus was only on the finger. I tossed them into the muck and ignored the dealer chastising me for folding out of turn. That's what it must be a confused toe-thumb finger. I looked around the table, to see if anybody else was as taken by the aberrant finger as I was. The lady to his left certainly was. I watched her beady eyes, sunken beneath ample sweaty flesh, linger on the finger.

She was heavy, but I say that only to be polite, more accurately, and more bluntly she was obese. Her folds spilled out of her top that was about two years too thin for her, or depending on the speed of her consuming two months. I pondered just for a moment how long ago that shirt fit her, and how much longer she'd squeeze her bingo wings into it's sleeves, but then the finger brought me back to my primary train of though.

It's owner was pointing it, like a loaded bazooka, at me.

"Bub, you sleeping over there?" He asked. "I love it when these guys wear their sunglasses, watcha hiding from? The law? The TV cameras..." the finger swept through the air in a circle, like a staff held by Moses, with the business end baring down on me.

"I'm hiding from the finger," I thought. I said nothing but raised my eyebrows and slightly shrugged a nonreply.

"Cat got your tongue?" He made a circle in the air with the finger, the air swooshed as though each molecule was pushing away from touching it's repulsive form.

The table laughed. I noticed the huge woman's body rippled in literal waves, breasts indistinguishable from belly, one gelatinous jolly mass, chuckling her amusement. Her eyes told a different story, they were only on the finger and they harbored contempt. Darting from player to player I saw the entire table was now transfixed by the finger.

The man behind the finger, sneered at me again, "You a mute? You dumb boy?"

"Yes scared quiet by your social scar," I thought but I shrugged again though the finger was starting to get to me.

"You know when someone's talking to you, it's rude not to reply," the finger wagged into my face, like a ragged python in the reeds.

The dealer tossed out another hand, but the action paused as the finger stayed in my face. Finally, I felt forced to talk.

My disgust steeling my will, I mumbled, "My apologies... but I don't like fingers in my face... and even more unsettling is that crippled, toe-thumb with its own elbow wagging in my face," the mumble turned to talk and the talk turned to a yell as I found vocalization to my thoughts, "so kindly either put that away or risk losing it and ending up much better for it, because I feel, I'm going to gnaw that off with my own teeth, if that's the only means I have, so I suggest you get it out of my face NOW!"

With a jump, I came out of my slumber, the lawyer tapping me awake as it was my turn to act. Gathering myself, I folded my 7-3 off suit, and as I did, I saw the most peculiar mole on the man across from me.

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