“Can’t you stop delaying?” winced Gabriel. He was holding his left hand out by its wrist with the tight grip of his right hand.
“I don’t know man, you are in this much pain and I didn’t even do anything yet,” replied Oliver.
“I’m anticipating the pain, that way the relative increase when you cut it off won’t be so extreme…” explained Gabriel, whose layers of thoughts put into this event continued to unfold.
“Oh, is that how it works?” said Oliver with amusement. “I still like my idea better of finding a local anesthetic, a practice mind you backed by thousands of years of human experimentation to reduce pain.” Oliver shifted his grip on the knife. “Besides,” he continued, “what are you drunk for if your so against reducing the pain? And are you in the best state of mind?”
“Yes, but I told you when I was sober,” Gabriel said with a whine of annoyance. “I told you that I would want to be drunk, and I told you specifically because I knew you’d be okay with helping me and not backing out, thinking I was just brave for something I’d regret when the Everclear wore off.”
“Your hangover’s going to hurt worse than your hand” Oliver laughed. He lifted the knife, ready to swing down at the counter with his friends hand on it. Gabriel strained his body away, as if the farther he got from his hand on the counter, the more disassociated he would be from what was about to result. Oliver looked at Gabriel’s twisted face: “are you sure you want to me to do this?”
“Stop asking that,” said Gabriel. “I just need you to cut this stupid fucking pinky finger off so I can have some normal, authentic interactions with people.”
“Isn’t it your ring finger you should be mad at?” asked Oliver, hoping he might have a new argument to back his friend away from the edge. He lowered the knife for the moment.
“I can’t get mad at the missing finger, because it’s fucking missing,” said Gabriel, ready to reveal his whole constructed logic out of his perceived misfortune. “It’s my pinky finger that stands out to me… everyone else notices the lack of a finger, not me. I notice the finger that makes the accident seem weird, seem cursed, seem like I’m in confederation with satanical forces. Missing a ring finger makes people wonder, create little stories in their head about me, maybe even gossip if they’re assholes. I know they do, I can tell… but usually I just keep my hand fisted, and then they have conceptions about why that is, and my tense body language I’m sure gives off bad vibes, and, and it’s just fucking with my life. But if you do this, maybe I can find a girl who won’t think I’m cursed and not marry me, who will overlook my maimed hand missing two fingers, rather than stare at my deformed hand missing one finger.”
“Clearing the path for you to get married is a reason not to do this, I might have to revoke my offer, sir” Oliver said as he put the knife down on the opposite counter. “Gay people are so happy that they just won the right to marry. I think maybe they haven’t thought it through yet. But maybe there are less arguments between people of the same sex?”
“It’s about equal rights dude,” said Gabriel with a corrective tone, “and you and I are arguing plenty.
“But remember Frodo, he lost one finger and the ring, I don’t think he could trade a second finger for the ring back,” said Oliver, “and…”
“Fuck Frodo,” interrupted Gabriel. “But marrying or not marrying, I don’t want this getting in the way, and I don’t want to feel so awkward around people, around new people who aren’t used to me and vice versa.”
“Alright, alright,” said Oliver.
“No, it’s not alright,” continued Gabriel, “it makes me doubt myself in all social situations, it gnaws at me. If people can get plastic surgery to add things, and sometimes subtract things, can’t I? It’s not like I use the pinky finger for much, its on my non-dominant hand and it has no reinforcing finger to mesh and add support to. It’s aloofness only amplifies my own feeling of being aloof.”
“You could go to a surgeon with a psychiatrist’s note,” Oliver suggested. “I mean, there are plenty of them who chop off another thing that is aloof, a man’s most important digit, or limb according to some dudes who describe their appendage.” A wry smile grew on Oliver’s face, realizing how he could connect this situation with another that was always one of amusement and befuddlement to him. Gabriel snapped him out of his musings.
“I want the pain,” said Gabriel, resolutely. “I specifically didn’t go to a doctor, who would refer me to a psychiatrist anyways… a long fucking goose chase and a bunch of people trying to talk me out of what I intend to do. They would also do a much neater job than you, which would need explaining, and go against my story I’ve made up.”
“Your brother’s buzz saw?” asked Oliver.
“No, I changed it,” Gabriel said, “it was my granddad’s table saw in his basement. It works because he would be too old and out of it to realize I had injured myself. So basically I pass out after cutting my two fingers off, and by the time I come to and get to the hospital, they had been disconnected too long to reattach… technology wasn’t good back then for connection anyways. Also, my granddad is dead now, so he wouldn’t have to lie or listen to my bullshit story and then repeat it if ever asked.”
“Why were you cutting the wood? Or were you even cutting wood?” asked Oliver.
“I don’t fucking know.”
“Well you should know, cause some people might ask that.”
“Hmm, I’ll have to think of that,” said Gabriel. “But it works for my counting theory of 8 digits, too, though now I should consider my thumbs as fingers. I’ll have to theorize around that little problem. But I’ve got it figured out, and even if I don’t, you know how much I want this, so please just do it!” Gabriel held his hand out again. It was so tense and tight that all the ligaments and delicate bones were protruding from the top of his hand.
“Alright,” said Oliver, picking up the knife with a new resolve. He said nothing more, he just let his arm muscles take over, bringing the knife speeding down directly perpendicular to his friend’s pinky finger joint.