When Jeff realized he could remove his arms he was mowing the front
lawn. He was surprised, at first, when the vibration from the mower worked
the lock free and his right arm dropped playfully to the ground.
He stood staring at it for a long time, shut off the mower with his attached
arm, and then stooped to pick up the other.
It hadn’t hurt at all; this surprised him more than the sight of his
right arm lying serenely in the newly clipped grass. Where was the blood?
He picked it up, gingerly at first, wondering why he wasn’t bleeding to
death, and noticed the wheel and latch joint clearly at the end. He rolled
up the empty short sleeve and looked at his shoulder seeing an open rotator
cuff and a clean, fleshy socket.
His neighbor, Will Franklin, was clipping his hedges and looked up at him
with a bit of concern.
“Fell off, eh?” He said, and then smiled. “That always happens when I’m
using the chain saw or weed eater.” He sat down his clippers and walked
over to Jeff - still silent and confused. “Let me get that, I have a knack
with these things.”
He pulled up Jeff’s sleeve and inserted the bare joint into the socket,
twisting it sideways, then patted Jeff’s shoulder to settle it into place.
“What-?” He stammered.
“Oh, don’t worry about it, it’s something you’ll get used to as you
Will walked back to his clippers. “If it keeps happening I have some good
adhesive that will keep it on.”
“But, I’m only thirty-seven.” Jeff’s voice sounded distant to him as he
stared down at his hand, flexing it. “Why didn’t anyone ever tell me?”
Will chuckled and waved his question away as a joke. “Wait until you lose
a leg.” He said. “I was at my daughter’s graduation and it fell
asleep, unlocked, and it dropped right off when I stood to applaud.” He
mused, laughing. “Now THAT was embarrassing.”
He went back to clipping and Jeff turned back to the lawn, his thoughts went
He asked his wife, Tricia, at dinner, if any of her body parts had ever …
just fallen off?
She stared at him over a forkful of mashed potatoes.
“Are you looking at me like I’m crazy because it’s happened a lot, or
because it’s never happened?” he asked.
“You’ve been dropping acid again, haven’t you?” she was angry. She
set down her fork. “Jeff.” She was stunned. “How am I supposed to answer
He gritted his teeth. “As if it was a serious question?”
She shook her head, her eyes circling around the room as if looking for a
camera. “No, Jeff, nothing has ever ‘just fallen off’.”
“Did you - “ he paused. “Did you know that they could?” the words
came out of his mouth sounding as crazy as he’d imagined two hours earlier.
“You could get arrested for that, you know? That’s illegal!”
She let out an exasperated sigh. “I thought we were going try and have a
baby - and you’re acting like you’re still in college.”
“I haven’t been - “
“If you get arrested I’m not covering for you.” She continued as Jeff
felt around his shoulder and released the switch. “We’ve spent too many -
His arm dropped to the floor.
Tricia’s mouth stayed open at the word “many”. She dropped her fork and
flattened both hands on the table in front of her.
Jeff slowly looked down at his arm on the floor then turned to her with a
She leaned sideways under the table, her hand keeping her from falling.
“How?” The white tablecloth muffled her voice and she slowly sat back
upright in her chair. “If - ?”
“I don’t know.” Jeff replied, still staring at it. He tried to flex
his fingers but, while he felt them move, they stayed in the same position
they’d been when the arm landed. He swiveled in his chair and reached down
with the other arm. “It happened when I was mowing.”
Tricia came over beside him and examined the arm and his shoulder. “This
isn’t right,” she ran her fingers across the empty socket. “And there’s
no blood.” Her face went from confused to harsh in an instant. “What did
you put my tea?” She demanded.
“Nothing!” He insisted. “Look, it’s really my arm!” He
shoved the dismembered arm into her hands and she let it drop back to the
floor with a thump. “Hey! Careful with that!”
Jeff reached down again to retrieve his arm as Tricia winced. He inserted it
back into the socket as Will had done and flexed his fingers.
Tricia touched his hand gently. “That’s the most amazing thing I’ve
ever seen.” She said. “How?”
Jeff shrugged. “Will acted as if it were the most natural thing in the
world. I was horrified but he seemed perfectly at ease.” He rolled back his
shirt sleeve, “Look, He showed me how to take it off, too - see, it comes
“No!” She placed her hand over Jeff’s shoulder and shook her head. “I
don’t want to see anymore.” She sat on the floor. “I have to call my
“What can she do about it?” Jeff asked.
“Well,” Tricia shook her head in bewilderment. “Why didn’t anyone
tell ME about this?”
“No one told me, either!”
“It’s not something that should have been kept a secret, God Damn it!”
Her eyes teared. “They should have said something about it at school!”
“Like sex ed?”
“Yes, goddamn it, like sex ed!”
“Trish,” Jeff reasoned. “This isn’t exactly like finding out about
“No.” She was frantic. “This is worse!”
Tricia stood and stomped to the phone, her dinner forgotten, and dialed
Jeff could hear the faint voice of Trish’s mother as she picked up.
“Alright, Mother!” Trish snapped without even saying hello. ”Is there
something you’d like to share with me about my arms and legs?”
Jeff dreamed. He dreamed of being a foreman of a machine shop. He was
sitting at a desk, his detached legs leaning against the filing cabinet as
if they were wet umbrellas set there to dry. The glass window overlooked a
huge warehouse containing hundreds of body parts - tagged and wrapped. A
large conveyor belt carried thousands of legs, arms, and torsos. They were a
jumbled train that rolled through the warehouse while small amputees
arranged them into clumps with their mouths. At the end of the line other men
pulled out small heads and assembled them with like colored torsos and limbs.
The resultant people stood and walked to the clothing room. The other window
looked into the defects room where a wide range of chaotic, mismatched
people clamored for replacement parts.
It was noisy and harsh. Impersonal - oddly familiar. He decided he needed
to go, reached for his legs and fell out of the chair.
The dragging crawl toward his limbs stretched out longer and longer and
Trish had awakened early to be at work and Jeff lay awake in bed as the
alarm buzzed on and on. He’d been lying there for almost an hour trying to
figure out how to sit up again without toppling over.
He’d had some irritation in the middle of the night and had removed his
right arm in order to sleep better. He’d spooned with Trish better than
ever before and had slept like a baby.
The problem was that his joints were loose- after removing and reattaching
his arms over and over- and his left arm had come undone while he slept. He
awoke to find that he had no way of dressing, standing properly, answering the
phone or turning off the alarm clock.
He turned to see the digital display read 9:29 and he just knew that he was
going to catch hell at work. But what could he do? He’d already tried
standing, tried to unplug the clock with his mouth, and gave up after
bumping his head on the wall. He flopped back into bed and rolled onto his
He first hoped that Trish would call but realized that it wouldn’t have mattered.
Their cordless phone already lay beneath the nightstand, kicked there when he’d
attempted to grab it with his feet.
The buzzing finally stopped at 9:30 and he lay there in silence, drifting
back to sleep. He wondered how he was going to explain all of this at work, but
figured they should probably be told about the arm thing eventually. This was
as good a time as any..
As he drifted off to sleep he wondered where he could buy some of that
adhesive Will had mentioned and he hoped it wasn’t too expensive.