Lamont A. Turner

Finger Pudding

“There’s a fucking finger in my pudding!” Chester shouted. 

Everyone leaned forward over the table to stare into the bowl of brown slop while Chester poked at it with his spoon. 

“You’re nuts!” Brett said, shaking his head in disgust. “Anything to get attention!”

“It was right there! I saw it!” Chester insisted, brown sludge and whipped cream spattering onto his wrists as he punished the pudding with his spoon.

“Hey! Maybe this is one of those vision things!” Thad suggested. “Chester might be seeing into the future again.”

Everyone stood back and examined their fingers. Chester was renowned as a prophet. Ever since old man Ross had been picked up for dealing meth just a week after Chester claimed he’d had a vision of the old man behind bars, Chester had been a minor celebrity.  Ross had been one of those proverbial pillars of the community, and nobody had any reason to suspect he was a dealer, least of all Chester who had never met the man. People started consulting Chester before playing the lottery or buying a used car.

“Chester thinks penicillin makes you gay,” Brett said. “The guy would be wearing a tinfoil hat if he could figure out how to make one cover the point on his head.”

“Remember that time he said Ricky Toombs would knock up his cousin?” Thad said, stuffing his hands in his pockets. “Tell me how he knew that was going to happen?”

“The DNA test hasn’t come back yet,” Brett retorted. “Besides, everybody knows Ricky’s a pervert. It’s not like it would be a big surprise if the kid is his.”

“So when’s it gonna happen, Chester? When will one of us lose a finger?” asked Toby, the youngest of the bunch, prompting Brett to smack him in the back of the head.

“You clowns wanna hide your fingers for the rest of your lives, be my guest,” Brett said, spreading his hands out palm down on the table. “I’m gonna…”

He was cut off by a mass of flying cutlery as a passing waitress tripped; pushing the tray she was carrying toward him as she fell. Chairs scooted back, as everyone rushed to avoid the wave of french fries and malted milk cascading toward them. 

It was only after Thad had helped the waitress back to her feet and everyone had wiped the ketchup from their faces that they noticed Brett was still sitting, staring at the mass of forks and broken glass on the table. His hands were under it. 

“Damn, dude! You hurt?” Thad asked, noticing the blood dripping off the edge of the table.    

Gritting his teeth, Brett extricated his right hand from the mess, and swept the rubble to the floor, uncovering a left hand with a shard of glass stuck in the webbing between his index and middle finger. It looked like his index finger had been cut to the bone.

“Chester was right!” Toby exclaimed, making sure to stay out of the reach of Brett’s good hand. “Look at your finger!”

Brett scowled at Chester who stood a few feet away, basking in the glow of his latest triumph. 

“Better wipe that grin off your puss,” Brett said, holding his hand up and squeezing the wrist as he got up. “I still got another hand to…” He sat back down, trying to get his eyes to focus. The manager came over to tell him an ambulance was on the way, but Brett was only aware of the blood rushing in his ears.

***

Brett ended up needing six stitches but, as he stressed to Toby as they left the ER, the finger was still attached. Toby dropped him off as his apartment, and offered to stay, but Brett insisted he was fine. He watched Toby drive off before changing into a shirt that wasn’t covered in blood and stuffing the keys to his Dodge into his right pocket.

Twenty minutes and three shots of gin later, Brett pounded on the door of the leaky aluminum box Chester pretended was a home. Getting no response, he kicked at it until the door started bending in its frame and he heard a voice shouting from inside.

“You’re going to break my door!” Chester yelled, flinging the door open just as Brett was pulling back his leg to administer the coup de grace. Brett responded by slamming his right fist into Chester’s face, knocking him back onto the piles of dirty laundry and Styrofoam dinner trays on the floor of the trailer.

“You tripped that waitress!” Brett bellowed, standing over Chester. He bent down, grabbed a handful of Chester’s shirt and reared back with his left hand to deliver another punch before remembering that hand was out of commission. Instead he let Chester drop, and gave him a kick in the side as he landed.

“You’re crazy!” Chester shouted, coughing up red tinged saliva as he held up his hands to ward off the next blow.

“I’m crazy? I’m not the loser who has to pretend he has some kind of magic voodoo powers to get people to notice him!”

“They’re real,” Chester sobbed. “I can see things!”

“Sure you can,” Brett said, giving him another kick.  As Brett’s heart raced, a haze filled the room. He was beginning to feel light-headed from the mix of pain killers and booze, along with the blood loss. Stumbling back a little, he reached out for a floor lamp to steady himself, but the lamp went over, taking him with it. His head hit the floor hard.

He was only out for a minute, but it was long enough for Chester to recover and grab a cinder block from out in the yard. As Brett opened his eyes, he saw a gray shadow rushing at him followed by a flash of light, and then darkness. 

Not wanting too much of a mess to clean up, Chester dragged Brett down the stack of boards that served as steps and out into the grass before dropping the block on his head again, and again, and again. After finally catching his breath, Chester went in and found his cell phone in the cushion of the ratty recliner facing the television. He dropped into the recliner and rang up Thad.

“Guess what,” he said into the phone as Thad picked up. “I just had another vision.”

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