The Exchange

Mynemer stood smoking a cigar just outside of the reception hall. A band played inside and people danced, everyone getting drunk in their wedding suits. Mynemer puffed away, lost in thought. He looked out at the row of expensive cars gleaming in the drive, listened to the sounds of frolicking relatives. A Saint Bernard came towards him across the lawn, a small, barrel-shaped container around its neck. Mynemer removed the barrel while the dog waited obediently. He slid a panel open and looked inside. There was a severed human hand and a fifty dollar bill. He took out the bill and noticed that scrawled on the back in lipstick was the word “David”. He removed the hand and tossed it into a nearby trash can. Then he took a large knife from his pocket and knelt on the slate patio floor. Teeth clenching the cigar, he began sawing through his wrist, blood spraying and pooling on the stone tiles.

He whimpered slightly as he cut and his face turned red with the strain. Two little boys in suits and ties came out the door and glanced at him, then rushed back inside. He went on sawing, halfway through now, his tuxedo spattered with blood.

Several men in tuxes came through the door but stopped abruptly when the dog growled at them. They stared at Mynemer as he went on cutting. Now crowds of people pushed to see from inside the hall and the music stopped playing. There was some commotion over by the trash can- one of the kids had found the other hand.

Mynemer cut through the last piece of flesh and dropped his severed hand into the opening in the small barrel. Stumbling, and bleeding profusely, he lifted the canister and reattached it to the Saint Bernard’s collar. As soon as he did this the dog took off running. Then Mynemer cradled his bloody stump and fell to his knees, the cigar falling out of his mouth.

The bride pushed through the crowd, still in her wedding dress, crying. “Father,” she sobbed. “What did you do?” She knelt down beside him, hugging him, getting blood all over her white dress. Sirens could be heard.

“Give me another cigar,” he whispered to her in Spanish. She reached inside his jacket and pulled out a cigar, biting the end off. Then she put it in his mouth and lit it. He puffed and puffed. “Thanks, darling,” he said and puffed away as paramedics bound his stump and laid him onto a stretcher. “Goodbye my love,” he called to his daughter as they slid him into the back of the ambulance and slammed the door, tearing across the lawn, siren wailing.

Copyright © 2008. All Rights Reserved.

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