The empty sleeve gets all the attention. I mostly try to keep my mind off it. It just reminds me of how stupid things can happen when you’re drunk.
I don’t remember the accident. I woke up to find granny at my side, angry as hell. “You ruined the pickup,” she spit out. I felt a dull ache in my arm. The right one was bruised and getting pumped with some IV solution, the left one was bandaged up to the elbow. I remember the shock when my mind registered that it was shorter than it should be. Still, I refused to make the connection. “Where’s Garrett?” “Your brother’s gone home.” “You’ve been in surgery, and everything. They told us all to go home. I’ll call them now that you’re finished sleeping. Lazy bum.”
The doctor came in, and a pretty nurse. The doctor asked me stupid questions, but I had trouble answering. He asked if I was in pain. I said, “What do you think, asshole?” He added “On a scale from 1 to 10, where 10 is the highest, how much pain do you feel?” I said “11” always the smartass. The doctor mumbled something, and the nurse played with the drip. I fell asleep again and so I missed Garrett and mom. They didn’t stay long. They weren’t allowed to smoke in the room and they started hollering at each other on my account. I slept through it and missed everything. Seems they were thrown out. Must have been a riot.
Garrett was playing chicken with me, as stinking drunk as me, and he came out of it without a scratch. Figures, he was always the lucky one. I ask him “Who turned first?”. He turns his head away and says “I turned first.” I know Garrett, and he’s lying. Lying to protect my pride. That’s when I knew I was done in. When my own brother takes pity on me instead of goading me, I’ve got a problem.
Anyway, I got some insurance money on account of having lost an arm. The fuckers, pardon my French, amputated below the elbow – I would’ve gotten more if they’d cut above. It’s no good to me either way. They’re all in it together. Poor suckers like me get ripped off every single time. It’s a conspiracy. You’d think I’d get a break what with an arm missing and everything. Can’t even get my old job back. I applied for Social Security. At least they don’t press too hard when they see the empty sleeve. I give them a sap story about the pain. That drug they gave me at the hospital was pretty decent. I’d rather booze up myself, but I must admit that did the trick much quicker.
I am pretty spooked about the missing arm. It had my girl’s name tattooed with mine in a heart. I’m a romantic that way. It got ripped off and our names with it. When I was feeling a little bit better she dumped me. It’s like some kind of poetic justice, though I don’t see the poetry in it. She said she can’t do it with a cripple. Now that hurts. Cripple. I used to tease the vets in wheelchairs to get a rise out of them. Now I am one of them.
My friend Scotty came up with a great idea. We went back to Jim, the tattoo artist, and asked him if he has a refund policy for when his goods are lost or stolen. Then I showed him my arm. He went soft, said he was real sorry, went out back and got some weed for us. He said to come back for more if the pain is too strong. We smoked it and it helped. Whatdya know. Now I hang out at his store. I’m the receptionist. Business is slow but I can help myself to his stash and he can run errands. If clients come in, and they look serious, I text him and he doesn’t lose a sale. The rest of the time, we listen to music. Best job ever. I got another tattoo, just had to pay for the ink. I’m a walking advertisement for his talent. He wants to do something funny with the stump but we have to wait until it heals properly. I got a scorpion on the other arm in the meantime.
Granny got over the mishap with the pickup. It didn’t help that I borrowed it without asking. She says my receptionist job is not good enough but she’s just saying that. I’m her favorite grandchild and she can handle the loss. She’s loaded, won $1000 in the lottery, once. Anyway, that’s my story. Can you spare some change?