The Tin Man

"You're the best, Ku. Good as new."

The tinsmith shook his head sadly, uncapped a flask, downed two swallows. "Don't mention it."

I watched the new metal of my left hand open and close its fingers. My fingers. Mine and yet not mine. It had been that way with the legs. Adjusting to the way tin flexes and bends. The way it held my weight, the way it sounded as I walked. Then one day I woke up and forgot it had ever been different. "Brilliant, Ku. I've got better control now with your tin than I'll ever have with my right."

Ku-Klip picks up a rivet from the bench, pinches it. "Nick, maybe if you up and left..."

"I'm not leaving without Nimmie."

"Fat chance of that. That melonfarmer of a mother--"

"She's an old woman who's tired and scared and there's no crime in wanting your daughter around."

"'Sa crime to hire a witch to go chopping up the boyfriend."

I flex my new arm up and down. "Price you pay for love, my friend. An arm and a leg. Two legs."

Ku-Klip's face is flushed. "You think it's gonna stop there, Nick? You think the Witch does anything half-way? Think she's told your axe to go easy on you after the next limb? 'Spare his neck, axe. Don't bother with the rib cage. And don't touch his dick.'" I look at the floor. "Know what I think, Nick? You actually like playing the martyr. Well, Saint Chopper, let me show you what you have in store." Ku hauls a wooden box onto the workbench, unclasps the lid, and thrusts his latest work into my hands.

I stare into the lifeless eyes of my own head, re-created in tin. "Pays to be prepared," I mutter.

"Damn straight."