turkey tale 02
I never even noticed this guy was only using one hand at first. Drinking beer, smoking cigarettes, paying for stuff, whatever. He was just so natural at it. I think the first thing I noticed was the way he did that little one-handed book of matches trick like you see in movies. I commented on it, said it was a neat trick. He got real weird like I had insulted him. Defensive or something. Like he had to prove something about a big chip on his shoulder but you better not By God ask him about it!
So that's when I realized he was doing everything with one hand, and he never took the other hand out of his jacket pocket. I noticed it, but I tried not to notice it if you know what I mean, because he acted so weird about the match book thing. It was like having mousetraps out on the bar with the pretzels, this guy sitting on the barstool by me.
But you know how it is after a couple of beers, anybody loosens up, even this guy. The bartender took to calling him Handy Man and that seemed to break the ice, like it was no longer "taboo" to realize the obvious fact that this guy never took his hand out of his jacket pocket. And eventually we got around to just why the hell that was. And he said something like "It was a woman. Ain't it always a woman?", like he was quoting some cheap Dashiell Hammett story he read that afternoon. I guess I shoulda just said "Yeah, dames!" and went along for the ride. But I hate going along for the ride, or maybe I'm just a nit-picker, and I said "Well, no, not really. I mean, there's a million reasons you could keep your hand in your pocket that don't start with a woman!"
Well, that did it! He made a fist with his public hand and crashed it down on the bar and barked "Well THIS one started with a woman, god damn it! I oughta know, I married the god damn bitch!" and stormed off to take a piss or give his pocket hand some air or something. I'm not sure what he stormed off to do. I'm just glad he stormed off to do it because I'm a wimp and I thought he was about to punch my face off.
"OK, OK!" I allowed to the absence of him. "It was a woman!"
"You're not from here, are you?" That was the bartender, making a brilliant observation. After we established that I was indeed not from there and was totally ignorant of the Legend of Handy Man, the bartender clued me in.
Let's just call him Mr. Man. I never did get his real name, and come to think of it, I don't think the bartender ever said it. I don't know if he even knows it. But he knew, and everybody else in that little town where my transmission gave out knew that Mr. Man used to be married to Mrs. Man. Mrs. Man was a sorry no-account who laid around and watched television and dreamed about her 15 minutes of fame. You know the type. You may even be the type. There must be billions out there, scarfing up celebrity magazines and tabloid TV. Mrs. Man was like a black hole sucking that crap in, wallowing in it, rutting and snorting and so desperate to be talked about on Inside Edition and headlined on the Drudge Report that one night she actually did what she had been thinking about doing for weeks. Or at least she tried.
Mr. Man lay sleeping. Mrs. Man got a knife from the knife block in the kitchen. She took that knife from the kitchen to the bedroom. The blade was traveling swiftly in a downward arc toward Mr. Man's penis when he rolled over in his sleep. The edge of the blade passed neatly through Mr. Man's thumb at the joint as he rolled over. Everything happened so fast and so chaotically that Mrs. Man did not even realize she had missed, and that it was a thumb she picked up and threw out the window.
That's the way it's done in all the tabloid stories, so that's the way Mrs. Man did it. In the stories, the wife chops off the husband's penis and throws it out the window. A dog or a duck runs by and grabs it and runs off with the penis in its mouth. Sometimes the penis is recovered, and sometimes it is not.
Fate is fickle. That's what Mr. Man learned that night. Fate smiled on Mr. Man when he rolled over in his sleep, losing his thumb but sparing his penis. But fate frowned on Mr. Man when he ran outside looking for the dog or the duck that had his thumb, and saw a big old wild turkey running off with it. Undaunted and determined to get his thumb back, Mr. Man ran for the turkey. Equally determined to keep the thumb for himself, the turkey flew into the trees. Mr. Man ran into the woods after the turkey, but only succeeded in scratching and banging himself up. He was just losing sight of the turkey anyway in the dark undergrowth when a large hard limb held his forehead in place as his body raced forward and upward, stopped for what seemed like an instant and a long time, then plummeted down. The rock under his hip was the worst part of landing, but it was all bad.
He hauled himself back inside his house and wrapped his bloody hand in an old tee shirt. He punched Mrs. Man on his way out the door with his good hand, got in his car and headed for the Emergency Room. Oh yeah, he put some clothes on too. After he wrapped his hand and punched his wife. I guess I forgot to mention that. He was naked when he was running through the woods, so it was actually even worse than you were probably imagining. Mr. Man slept in the nude.
Anyway, so he's trucking down the road in his car with his clothes on and everything and what should he see but that stupid turkey scratching and pecking on the school playground! He left the road and tore across the schoolyard and caught the turkey with the windshield as the turkey took flight. As the bartender told it "BAM! You never saw anybody so glad to crack a windshield!"
Mr. Man slammed the brakes, jumped out and heaved the surprisingly heavy turkey in his back seat and drove off to the Emergency Room. He was standing at the Admissions desk and telling the lady there the whole gruesome story when he fell to the floor, passed out from shock and exhaustion and Lord knows what else.
They got him up on a gurney and wheeled him inside, and somebody went out and got the turkey and searched the car. They were telling Mr. Man all of this when he came around 24 hours later, how they even cut the turkey open and searched his guts but couldn't find the thumb. They were telling Mr. Man they did all they could think to do as he raised his hand and saw the turkey's head where his thumb ought to be. They were telling Mr. Man that a turkey head actually makes a pretty good thumb when he again fell down the endless black pit of unconsciousness.
The bartender was selling me this load of fertilizer when the Handy Man walked out of the rest room and headed for the door to leave. As he walked across the room I heard a muffled turkey gobble, like it was coming out of a tow sack, or maybe out of somebody's pocket.
I turned to the bartender. "You all must think I'm a real sucker. Your Handy Man can do a lot with one hand. It don't take a high school graduate to figure that man can wiggle a turkey call with one hand too. Is that what you call it? How do you say it? 'Pluck' a turkey call? 'Cackle' a turkey call? What's the word for operating a turkey call?"
"Hey, buddy, your car's ready," the local Gomer called from the doorway. I put a twenty on the bar and said "Keep the change." Big spender.
As I drove out of town I passed Handy Man. He raised his pocket hand out of his pocket and waved me goodbye. Triumph and defeat battled for position on his face.