Saturday, October 30, 2021

“The Hand” by Karen Ervin

“Whose hand is this? Oh yes, it’s mine.” He was holding a wine glass, attempting to place it back on its coaster, when he noticed his hand, as though it did not belong to him. Or maybe it did at one time but not any longer. His hand suddenly looked foreign, like it belonged to someone else, like maybe he was just borrowing it and hadn’t fully gotten used to it yet. Like a new car that he was taking for a test drive before deciding to buy. Only it wasn’t a car, it was a hand. You can’t test drive a hand and you can’t really trade one in for a newer model either. So what was he doing equating his hand with a car?

Still the hand felt odd. He hadn’t felt this way before, unsure of whose hand it was. He had never been unsure of anything since he was a child. He placed the glass on the coaster and focused his eyes on the hand. Do I know this hand? he thought. Can I even recognize who I’ve become?

He stared at his hand, spreading his fingers apart, turning the hand about, palm up then palm down, searching the back of it for some meaning. The hand was steady now. Only minutes ago it had been trembling, shaking with fear and rage. Now it is completely calm, able to delicately place the long-stemmed wine glass back on its coaster without spilling a drop, without clanging into anything on its way back to the table.

He was calm and collected, the hand, whatever hand it was, borrowed or stolen, was steady as a jewel smith setting a precious stone. Minutes ago it had been full of rage and anger; it had been shifty, swollen, knuckles turned white. It had done an awful thing, that hand, whatever hand, stolen from some mad lunatic perhaps. Still, he used to know the hand, he used to be on friendly terms... He took the hand and covered his eyes.

He would have to erase what he, what this hand had done. He glanced around the room until he spotted the body. Yes, the woman’s body still lay there, where he had left it. The blue silk scarf still across her body, the body of his long time lover, or someone he barely knew. She had seemed to change overnight.

He sighed. He felt little remorse; killing her was something he simply had to do. She was going to ruin it all. It wasn’t in a fit of rage that he’d killed her. He had planned it, calculated it. But he killed her with his bare hands. Just held her throat until she couldn’t breathe. He held so tightly that his knuckles started to turn white. Red first, then white.

She was no longer gasping, or trying to gasp for air when he started to focus on his hand. But her eyes were wide open, staring at him, seeming to ask why. Then he shook and shook her so violently that her eyes closed and he let her fall, letting the scarf drape over her body. But the hand, the hand was throbbing. Such incredible strength, such brute force had been exerted that his hand was throbbing and shaking uncontrollably.

He would have to move the body soon.

He sipped his wine, then gently set the glass on the table and put his jacket on. He rolled her body up in the rug where she lay (her favourite rug). He manoeuvred the body in such a way as to place it lengthwise on the rug. She was about five foot five and the rug was easily six feet long. The hard part would be picking it up and then the actual disposal.

He had never had the need to dispose of a dead body before and didn’t really know how to do it. Should he just walk out of the building with his bundle, hail a taxi and leave it in the trunk? It worked in the movies, and they were never caught. Of course, they were also psycho, but then again, maybe so was he.

The body lay rolled in the rug. Unless someone bent over to look at the rug, no one would have a clue that a dead body was rolled inside. They’d just think the rug was longer than it was, made a thicker cylinder when all rolled up.

He poured another glass of wine. His hand, once again, steady, decisive. Why move the body at all? He would simply leave. The building was not his residence. At some point the body would be found and he might even be questioned by the police. But for now, his hand was steady so he left.


Karen Ervin has a B.A. degree in English and a Master of Library Science. She taught university students as an adjunct online instructor while working full time as a mental health librarian at a Pennsylvania State Psychiatric Hospital. She has a chapter published in “Cases on Electronic Records and Resource Management...” (IGI Global, 2014) and has served as a judge for the Independent Book Publishers Association Benjamin Franklin Awards.

She retired in 2019, married a Canadian, and currently lives in St. Catharines. Her hobbies include reading and writing poetry, stories, and book reviews.

See Brian Henry’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.