It’s bugging me not to know. I suppose I could knock on the door and ask, but that would be weird. Like sticking a leg in her cooler wasn’t bizarre. It’s asking that’s strange.
The leg in question was rubber, and it was a spare. It’s a little difficult to explain how one comes about having spare rubber limbs in their house, but over the years, we’ve had many. The prevalence of Halloween superstores now makes fake body parts easy to acquire, but my history with them goes back to the days when the late great James Dent still roamed the halls of the Gazette.
While cleaning his office, Dent found a realistic-looking rubber leg, which he gave to my boss, who gave it to me. The leg was fantastic with realistic-looking, bendable toes and a heft that seemed about the same as what an actual half-leg might be.
It made many appearances over the years. Its toes barely peeking out under the curtains or a bed. Trapped under the garage door. Partially wedged in the mower. Hidden in luggage.
A friend who house-sat our pets was digging a cup of Purina from the bin of dry food when she came across toes. Said the friend, “I’d seen that damn foot so many times by then that I didn’t even jump.”
Clearly, the foot needed a rest. We packed it away and forgot about it for the last year or two, until Didier’s kids were visiting over the summer.
It was late and everyone was watching a horror movie when Celeste and I took the pup outside for his final romp of the night. We came back in through the garage, which is where the leg has been living, tucked deep in a cabinet.
Which I gave to the pup.
Who raced happily inside with it, right in the middle of where the kids were watching their scary movie.
Their reaction reminded me a little of when a neighbor boy came to our house when Celeste and I still lived in Poca. Back then, we had a fairly large collection of body parts randomly lying about, including a hand. The hand’s nails had been polished and it was wearing a few bandaids and a bit of Mercurochrome, so it looked a little more realistic than it had when it was fresh from the store. Somehow, that hand ended up on top of a cabinet in our family room.
My daughter and some friends were in the family room with this new kid. He was a big, burly boy about 10 years old, and he happened to leap onto our ping-pong table just as I walked in the room.
“Hey!” I said—and then, in one of those ponderous parenting moments I’ll never quite understand—rather than asking him to get off the table, I grabbed the fake hand and said, “This is all that’s left of the last kid who did that.”
He jumped down and backed slowly out of my house, never taking his eyes off me for an instant. He seemed like a fairly tough kid with a decent sense of humor, so I didn’t really give it much thought until a few weeks later. When the flower pot incident occurred.
Back then, our collection included a sticky finger that was meant to be tossed up onto the ceiling, where it would cling for a while and then drop on some poor, unsuspecting person who happened to pass underneath. At some point, the finger likely fell into one of my houseplants and remained there, unnoticed, until summer came and I carried my plants to the deck for some sun. From there, rain likely loosened the finger’s grip and it fell to the ground.
Where it remained until that same boy’s errant baseball rolled down the hill and landed directly beside it.
I’ve been told he’s in college now, studying forensics. I can’t help but wonder if we didn’t have something to do with that choice.
We live in a different neighborhood now, with a fresh batch of unsuspecting neighbors. And a brand new one next door. One who returned from a trip and left her big Igloo cooler sitting by her driveway, propped open, to dry.
And there, it attracted a leg.
I heard no screams. Saw no flashing blue lights.
So I’m guessing she’s cool.