Richard’s stomach heaved, and a mass of bile and half-chewed food splattered down into the toilet. He retched again and again, until he could retch no more. A thin line of bile and spittle hung from his parted lips. He wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his bathrobe and gasped for air.
It was a relief to finally have it all out; he had felt the nausea building for almost an hour now, and he was sick of trying to hold it in, but even so… He wet a washcloth and wiped the putrid refuse crusted around his mouth.
His mouth tasted like the inside of a garbage disposal. His teeth felt strange and rough, and he kept finding bits of undigested food nestled in the cracks between his teeth.
He was about to flush the whole putrid mess into oblivion when something caught his eye.
It was a flash of color that didn’t quite belong. In the mass of brown and dull red there was a unnatural spot of green floating in the middle of the recently unearthed contents of his stomach.
Bright. Lime. Green.
That wasn’t right. Was it? Richard looked a little closer. It was. It was a finger. He didn’t want to believe it at first but there it was floating close to the edge of the bowl and the bright green spot…was fingernail polish.
Richard felt his heart start to pound in his chest. He sank down to the floor with his back against the cool tile wall and tried to compose himself.
A finger. His breath was coming faster almost in gasps, and he could hear his heart pounding in his ears. A finger.
He shook himself out of his stupor and stood to his feet. He took a pair of tweezers from the cup by the sink and picked the finger out of the vomit holding it by the fingernail. That long green fake fingernail.
Outside of the toilet bowl the finger looked even more grotesque. The skin was white to the point of being nearly translucent and wisps of ragged skin hung from the stump like fleshy streamers.
Richard almost retched again, but he managed to keep it down.
The fear and the panic started to subside, and something like reason came back into his throbbing head. He had to think. Had to figure this whole thing out. Figure it out before…
He flushed what was left of his vomit and dug in his pocket for his cell phone. He scrolled down the list of contacts until he found Van’s number and hit send.
The phone rang for what seemed like an eternity before Van finally picked up.
“Wazzzit?” Van asked.
“You okay?” Richard asked.
“Just hung over man. Why?”
“I need…I need to know about last night. I can’t…remember.”
“Yeah man me neither. It’s all just a blur you know?”
“Try. It’s important.”
“Well I mean we went to the bar, right? And then…there was something with you and that chick? But then she dissed you or something? I don’t really remember man.”
“What happened? After she dissed me I mean.”
“Hey what is this, the fifth degree? My head’s pounding and I think I’m gonna puke man.”
“I wouldn’t be bugging you like this if it wasn’t important. Did…did I go anywhere with the girl?”
“Nah, man. She was still with her friends when you left…I think.”
“You were pissed man. Talking about needing to blow off some steam or something. To be honest I was kinda worried for you.”
“But I left alone. And I didn’t say…anything else?”
“Nope. Just left.”
“Okay. Look Van, I’m sorry about all this, but…well I hope you feel better okay? Get some rest.”
“Hey, that’s what the weekend’s for right?”
Richard hung up the phone and looked at the finger. It was sitting there on the counter and it looked almost like it was looking at him. Mocking him.
Why can’t I remember? Richard thought. I mean I was drunk sure. But thatdrunk?
He thought about the woman Richard had mentioned. He could see her now in his mind. He remembered thinking she was his type, that he needed to move on after Maria. But she didn’t think so much of him. She’d given him the finger and laughed in his face.
The finger yes.
But not this finger. Because he could see the moment in his mind and her nails weren’t painted at all. He liked women who painted their nails. Maria had painted her nails.
But Van had said nothing had happened, and Richard was sure his friend would remember if…but no. He didn’t remember a thing.
Richard took a big swig of mouthwash and rinsed out the last tastes of vomit from his mouth. He picked up the finger and thought Maria would know what to do with you. And the thought made him laugh. He laughed and laughed for a long time. And then he stopped laughing.
Maria, yes. But she was gone. Almost gone anyway.
He walked out to the garage, flicked on the fluorescent light and opened the big chest freezer. The harsh light played in sparks and twinkles over what was left of Maria’s frozen skin. By now all he had left of her was her left arm. And at the end of the arm, a hand. With the middle finger bitten off.
And the head of course. But he never ate the face.
“Getting sloppy,” he told Maria. “Got drunk, got a case of the munchies. Got to watch myself. Could’ve done something really stupid there you know? Could’ve told someone about you. Can’t have that now can we?”
Maria didn’t answer. Her mouth was frozen into a perpetual scream.
Richard tossed the finger into the freezer and slammed the lid shut. He went to the kitchen, poured himself a bowl of Fruit Loops and thought on what kind of girl he would bring home for dinner next. He liked to keep his options open. But this time he thought he might pass on the painted nails.