“What’s going on Jake?” Melanie leaned over my shoulder to get a better look. As soon as I got a handle on whatever the hell had fallen into the beans and yanked it out, Melanie screamed. Fuck, I thought, as I tossed it down to the ground. Laying there on the floor was a blood-stained, mutilated hand—severed apart at the wrist, and partially ground. I was just about to say, “Dude, you probably don’t want to see this…” when Ted nudged past Melanie to see what had happened. In a kind of silent horror, Ted dropped to his knees and examined it at a short distance. I watched as his hand slowly rose up to his chest and grasped at something. He seemed unable to react as he contemplated the situation. As I glanced between Ted and Melanie, who by this point had gone completely white, I realized that I would have to be the one to do something. I picked up the phone and dialed my boss’s number.
“Hey Boss, you’re never going to believe this one.” After I told her what happened, she sternly instructed, “Just don’t call the cops quite yet, alright? I don’t want to end up like fucking Wendy’s. Just give me ten minutes.” I set the phone down on the receiver and turned my attention back to the mutilated hand. Much to my dismay, I noticed that blood was beginning to drip out of the espresso head. Ted shook his head and said, “I’m outta here, I don’t need this shit.” Fucking Ted. At least I wouldn’t have to look back on this day and remember Techno as the background music to the investigation.
As the back door slammed shut, Melanie seemed to regain consciousness of the situation. We both looked at each other expectantly, each of us waiting for the other to make a move. Finally, I bent down to get a better look. From what I could tell, this hand was nothing particularly special—although from the amount of knuckle hair I suspected it must have belonged to a man. I couldn’t tell if the wrinkles were due to age, or the fact that all the blood had been drained out of the mutilated piece of flesh, causing the skin to dry out and form tiny ridges. Nevertheless, I suspected the guy must have been at least thirty. Finally, my focus shifted to three tiny black markings along the inside edge of the thumb. Tattooed in one of those gothic fonts were the letters: BRC. B-R-C? I was briefly reminded of an old employee, Irving, who had his name tattooed onto the back of his hand, along with “Est. 1985,” the year he was born. Dumbass. I thought maybe this man had been stupid enough to do the same, tattooing his initials onto his hand so he wouldn’t forget or some shit. I began to look at the hand in a new light. No longer was this just a mere piece of mutilated flesh, but now this hand had a soul—albeit an idiotic one—but a soul nonetheless. It did, at one point, belong to a human being, and I was determined to find out whom.
Just then, the front door swung open, and there stood my boss—looking as though she had just been brutally awakened from her slumber by a bear. Her expression was one of curiosity, anger, and deep dissatisfaction. I felt as though when she did find whoever had done this, she would inexplicably shame him or her to death. How dare they commit a crime in her coffeehouse. Her anger, however, seemed to subside as she took control of the situation.
“Alright,” she said with a kind of breathy, ‘lets get this over with’ kind of voice. “We need to figure this out before we can notify the police. If the media gets a hold of this before the crime is solved… well, you all know what happened to Wendy's. You two are the only ones that can know… Where’s Ted?”
“I’ll call him,” Melanie offered eagerly. I couldn’t believe this bitch was still sucking up to the boss when there were body parts floating around.
“No, I’ll take care of it later. For now, why don’t we all have a look around the coffeehouse in case this motherfucker decided to leave any other body parts lying around.”