By: Dan Cardoza
It’s late October, my favorite time of year. I can smell the damp rust of autumn leaves in the crisp air. I vow to take my sweet time on this beautiful Saturday morning. After mowing the lawn, I stand in my tool shed, staring at my Echo HC-152, 20″ electric hedge trimmer hanging high on the redwood wall, on its designated yellow hook. The trigger-happy, 20” jagged blade reciprocal trimmer, with silver sharks’ teeth I now wish I never purchased. Even if it was nearly 30 percent off at Lowes. The steam from my 190 degrees Starbuck’s latte escapes its to-go Calderon like a caffeinated ghost.
I snap-out of my foggy gaze and feel a slight pang of guilt. The disheveled hedges and shrubs must be annoyed from waiting, puffing their faces blue in the chill of a breeze. I can almost hear their green teeth chatter. I have good cause to make them wait. Fear. Maybe if I would have been a little more careful, or just kept using the manual clippers, the tragic accident would have never happened. After all, the manual clippers required the use of two hands, making it all but impossible to cut my hands. But no, I just had to take advantage of the sale.
There on the concrete floor, beneath the electric hedge trimmer, I see two fingers and a right thumb, thatched in a small bloody pile. The thumb still oozing, the metacarpal bone dull white and jagged. The wound gapes like the gills of a dead fish. Next to my thumb, the phalanx index finger bone is splintered and the nail nearly black.
I wish my thumb had been spared. That haunts me the most.
From now on, it’s strictly air guitar for me. I am going to sell my Fender guitar.
But I also mourn not being able to point out the brightest star in the sky to my young daughter, with my index finger. Now neither exists. The singular event I won’t miss is walking Tiffney down the aisle someday. I imagine it clearly, everyone staring at my narcissistic missing fingers and thumb with me getting more eyes than Tiff, all dressed up in her beautiful white wedding gown.
It’s early Saturday morning, long before I’ve made peace with the Photinia and Rosemary shrubs, now warming in the early morning sun. I dream that eternity is an itch I will never quite be able to scratch. At exactly 3:00 A.M., I abruptly wake in the pitch black of dark, in a teeth-chattering cold sweat. Someone is in my bed, panting and gasping for air, as I frantically finger my eleven digits like a litter of newborn puppies. Somewhere, a Lowe’s night shift team member is hanging sales tags on brand new Echo Hedge Trimmers.