Anyhoo, self-wallowing aside, Lefty and I had a pretty big mess on our hands. Well, I mean, not literally. I just got done telling you that. But a metaphorical mess. An abstract mess, if you will. Two guys and four legs seems pretty normal but in this instance, it was anything but. It was like, seven times removed from normal. If normal were Earth, then we were Alpha Centauri.
I bent down by the waist and Lefty picked up the paper towels. It was a well rehearsed move with us, as somebody else controlling half of your body has a steep learning curve. Thankfully, Lefty is quite patient, although he does sometimes extend a fist across my chest, knuckles down. To an outside observer, I’m pantomiming looking at a watch, and he expresses awareness about my slow progress this way.
It’s easier than what he used to do, which was start to step away. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to move a leg without first preparing yourself in any way, but let’s just say we went through a couple of pairs of pants before I sat us down and explained just how things were going to start to work.
He sometimes regresses in times of stress, however, and although I keep avoiding this issue of the ever-present dismembered legs in my kitchen, it was a very stressful time, and Lefty was eager to do something. He took a step towards the counter to put the paper towels back and we tumbled to the ground.
Unfortunately my face landed square in the thigh of the strange human drumstick with a sound best represented by the grossest thing you can imagine. I’m sorry, but my imagination for metaphors is about as well developed as my imagination for nicknames. Thanks to this closer inspection, I discovered that the legs had belonged to a man (thanks to all the hair now in my agape mouth), and that this man had lost a bet at one point. At least I hope that’s why he had a tattoo of Yosemite Sam mooning the viewer on his shin. Some people are just odd.
Now, I think I’m pretty justified in saying you all should be proud of me. I thought I just might be a detective on par with Sherlock to realize all of this in the split second of time I spent on that meaty hunk of flesh that used to belong to a living, breathing person. Sorry if I’m getting a little morbid.
But after this flash of discovery, I naturally tried to push myself up off of the floor as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, Lefty thought it a better idea to push the leg away from my face, and we fell again, this time without a hairy flesh pillow to cushion our fall. Morbid again, got it.
The hard linoleum caused a very unappealing crack to reverberate around the room. I had broken my nose on my own floor, thanks to the lack of a safe landing spot for my face after an arm I didn’t control caused me to fall a second time. Now, at least, the paper towels were going to be needed after a pool of blood began spreading across the kitchen floor.
“Up,” I said to Lefty, coordinating our actions. Neither limb reacted. Lefty had apparently fainted at the sight of all this blood. Awesome.
Fortunately, I’ve had situations like this before. For awhile, Lefty was an insomniac at night and instead took naps during the day, so I was practiced in standing up without his help.
Nose still bleeding profusely all across my floor and even staining the bottom of my favorite T-shirt (right out of the laundry, of course), I rolled to my side of my body, and pushed myself into a floppy, unsteady sitting position. From there I stood fully, all of my weight leaning on my own leg. Lefty’s leg dragged through the quite sizable creek of blood I was leaving, staining the bottom of my least favorite jeans (thank goodness) and effectively ruining a sock.
Collapsing into a lightly padded kitchen chair, I surveyed the damage. Two male legs, unclaimed. A large puddle of blood and slightly smaller streak of blood leading to my sock, red as any in Boston. And finally, a man sitting on a chair waiting for half of his own body to wake up.
This was going to be tough to explain to my cleaning lady.
Lefty awoke with a jump. To anyone else, it would look like I had just decided to spaz out for a second, but only I knew that it was Lefty, back from his episode.
“Hey buddy,” I said, not unkindly. I wanted to get to solving this mystery, but Lefty was my best friend, and I couldn’t stay mad at him for too long. “How you feeling?” I asked.
Lefty wavered his hand, splayed out, then pointed back at my chest. Okay, you?
“Needless to say, I’m more than a little confused,” my voice, although I was glad to have one over Lefty’s muteness, was horrendously nasal. In an effort to spare Lefty another fainting session, I had stuffed napkins up my nose to staunch the bleeding. “But overall, we’ve been through worse.”
That was, thankfully, a lie. But it doesn’t hurt to pretend sometimes.
Lefty reached up and gently touched the bridge of my nose. I tried to act tough in front of what used to be my own hand, but couldn’t help wincing and hissing through clenched teeth.
A thumbs down from Lefty.
“You don’t have to tell me twice, I’m the one who has to deal with this pain.” Although Lefty can feel where my limbs are, he seems to remain mostly unaffected by any physical harm that I encounter. I don’t feel like that’s very fair. Either that, or he’s a huge, pain-proof badass. That’d be embarrassing. To be out-toughed by your own left hand and leg.
Lefty raised his hand again and wiggled his index and middle fingers.
“Go? Where to?”
The hand flipped upside down in a profession of ignorance. Lefty knew, but didn’t know how to tell me. You think we’d be better at charades by now.
Suddenly the hand perked up. You wouldn’t think a hand could perk up, but Lefty was obviously no ordinary hand. He pointed at my crotch. I promise he doesn’t do that as often as this story is beginning to suggest. But, back to the point, he got his point across.
“Ah. Bathroom. Why?”
The watch looking gesture.
“Fine. Okay. Ready? Up!” And we stood with the ease that only practice can supply. Now we were up and walking, thankfully avoiding the blood stains as well as the legs that were still red from where Lefty had slapped them away. We would deal with them later, after Lefty had completed whatever it was he needed in the bathroom. I respectfully kept my eyes averted from the gruesome scene, which wasn’t very easy. We wouldn’t want Lefty fainting again.
Have you ever been in a three-legged race? Now, imagine the coordination it takes to do that, but without the third leg and you’re tied together by a sternum instead of a rope. To anyone new, it would be almost impossible to complete the little shuffle Lefty and I put together, but we’ve grown accustomed to each other over the years. Our walk could pass for a man with chronic back pain, a sort of straight backed, jerky, “please don’t touch me or I’ll die” type of movement. It works great during any conversations with my old high school crowd.
Not that I see them a lot. Out of all the things that could drive me crazy in my life, the one that’s most likely succeeding in my drive to insanity is my self-imposed seclusion. It’s not easy carrying on a conversation with a stranger carrying a built in third wheel, and even on his best days, Lefty isn’t that great at matching my hand gestures. Once, in a grocery store, he made a dismissive wanking motion at the cashier when her and I were talking about dogs. However, I was very interested and the two mixed signals only raised confusion for the both of us. Her and I, I mean. Lefty was very clear on how he felt.
For a second, I began to question my own sanity. Had I begun living such a reclusive life that I had to make up a whole new half of my body, just to have somebody to talk to? And if so, how could I be sure there actually were disembodied legs in my kitchen?
I didn’t have time to ask these thoughts aloud to Lefty, if he were indeed real, before we got to the bathroom. Lefty pounded my chest with a fist, as he always does when he wants to grab my attention, then pointed to our left, where the mirror hung against the wall. Looking into it, I decided that at least my fall was indeed outside of just my imagination, as my nose had already begun to turn purple in addition to the massive swelling. Leaning closer, I and Lefty both reached for my nose at the same time. I slapped him away.
“Get out of here. I want to see.”
Lefty acquiesced, despite my snapping at him. Like I said, he’s not a bad guy.
I gingerly touched my nose. It still hurt, and I winced again. Slowly, Lefty’s hand rose in front of mine, and from my perspective looking in the mirror, hovered over my nose. Then, suddenly, he made a quick jerking motion about half an inch to the left. My nose was skewed to the right. By about half an inch.
“Oh no. No no no no.” I said, pulling his arm down. He pounded my chest then raised his hand again. This time, he placed his thumb on one side of the nose and the fingers on another, as gently as a cat taking a nap. I took a deep breath, at least as good of one you can take through napkins and what’s most likely a deviated septum. Then, I made a weak whining noise, like a dog that has been holding pee for too long. I nodded once, and Lefty jerked my nose back into place.
I awoke an unknown time later, head resting on my fist. My left fist. Lefty had somehow climbed on top of the toilet while I was out, and took up a sitting position. I suppose I had looked, to an outsider, much like I was in deep thought. I do most my best thinking on the toilet, so maybe I’m not that different from all of you after all.
“Look at us, two manly men. Men are big fainters, right?”
No answer from Lefty except shaking the cramps out of his fist for holding my head up so long. I suppose there could have been deeper meaning, but I’m not sure I want to hear what Lefty had to say right now.
“So, what do we do now?” I asked my own hand in a serious tone. I’m sure everyone’s had this experience.
Go. Two. Around corner.
“Ugh, I don’t want to go back and look at those things again. You might faint.”
Bah. (A flick of the wrist. It’s how he dismisses ideas.) Go. I. Good. To signify himself over me, he points to his own bicep with a thumb instead of my chest with an index finger. It gets kind of tricky when we get to talking quickly, but practice makes perfect. I never learned sign language and Lefty isn’t exactly able to head on down to the rec center to take a couple classes, so we survive on a mix of homophones and clumsy charade gestures.
Sometimes we discuss looking up the SEALs hand signals, because even a personality that’s encased in one half of a body likes feeling badass sometimes. However, we never get around to it.
I really don’t know why. It’s not like I have a job to take up all my time. I can barely write an email, much less fill out spreadsheets all day. I collect a disability check from the government thanks to “paralysis”. Hope you taxpayers don’t mind.
I mean, I do have hobbies. Lefty and I paint two halves of a painting sometimes. Lefty’s half is usually much more abstract than mine, seeing as he’s right handed, but I doubt anyone would notice that my half isn’t also supposed to be abstract. We’re both terrible artists, but no one seems to mind. I sell them here and there to people who like looking rich by having the money to spend on not very good art.
Sorry, I’m rambling again. The legs.
We walked back into my kitchen. The hell of the thing was, one of them was gone. The one with the Yosemite Sam tattoo. The original owner’s left leg, curiously enough, although it had been laying on the right.
Lefty threw his arm in the air. “Well isn’t that just the damndest thing you ever did see,” was about all I could muster. I’m not one for profanity, although Lefty can be a tad vulgar at times. He has his ways.
Door. Lefty pointed to the small screen door that resided at farthest corner of the kitchen. We shuffled on over there in our own special way, and stepped outside. Unfortunately, we were now in the backyard, and it was on the other side of the house that we heard the car speeding away.
“Left,” I said, and we turned around the corner to try and get a glimpse of whoever happened to steal my disembodied leg.
All I could catch, although Lefty might be able to fill me in later, was the tail end of a bright red four door sedan. Lefty was always better at details, but they were pretty difficult to get out of him.
“Front,” I called out. Lefty doesn’t mind being commanded. He sees it more as coordination.
We arrived in my driveway to skillfully witness dark black skidmarks leading away from my house. The owner of the sedan had managed to peel out in an automatic before escaping. Now it was my turn to toss up my hand, at a loss for clues.
Drive, Lefty pantomimed, one hand on an imaginary steering wheel.
Around several corners. There. There. Now! The watch motion and the repeated pointing made me realize how important it was we get a quick start after the thieves and most probably, murderers.
Maybe I am going crazy after all, chasing after someone who stole a leg I didn’t even want.