Manny’s Hands- Part 2
Read Part 1 here
“Dammit!” he said.
He grabbed the phone and dialed Dr. Eckhart.
It rang four times, and when Manny heard the voice on the other end, he thought it sounded like the pretty receptionist.
“Dr. Eckhart’s office. How can I help you?”
“Hi, sweetie. This is Manny Trinsic. I have some issues with my hand. I’m hoping to see the good doctor today.”
“Well, she just had a cancellation for four o’clock tomorrow. Would that work?”
“Actually, this is kind of an emergency. My hand seems to be getting worse.”
There was silence on the other end, and for a moment, Manny thought that he was in. The pretty receptionist had remembered him, thought he was cute, and decided to squeeze him in as a favor.
“I’m sorry, sir. But tomorrow is the earliest. Should I put you down?” she asked.
“But this is an emergency,” Manny said, hating that he sounded pathetic.
Only silence on the other end. Manny hung up.
Now he had a decision to make. Should he wait? Tomorrow might bring the same nonsense, but it’s not like he was in pain. He just had a large, puss-filled growth on his hand. He could certainly endure it. It was more about peace of mind. He wanted to know why this thing was growing on him. The only other option was the emergency room. He knew what that would be like. It would be crowded and hot, and he had very little patience for that sort of thing.
In the kitchen, with Manny holding the phone in one hand and the small towel in the other, that he felt something move inside of the bump on his hand. He jumped back, dropping the phone and instinctively put the towel over his hand.
“What the fuck?!” he said to the empty kitchen, his voice echoing off the metal pots hanging over his counter.
Another uncomfortable slither moved in his hand. He threw the towel down and put his hand up to his face. The bump was slowly moving around, like he imagined a baby might look like inside of the amniotic sack, moving around near the end of the third trimester, all knees and elbows pushing against the thin membrane. His bump was moving like that, almost rolling. He pushed on it, feeling something hard move under his finger. He pushed harder, and a small rip opened and let loose a splash of puss. It squirted into his face, and he recoiled. When he cleared his eyes, he looked at the bump on his hand and saw an eye peering back at him from inside of the rip.
Manny screamed and slammed his hand down on the counter. Blood and puss poured out from the sides of his fist and rolled out onto the counter. Manny didn’t even notice. He only wanted to be rid of that horrible eye that seemed to be staring at him, judging him from inside of his own body. He raised his hand and slammed it down again. A smaller amount of liquid oozed out, and Manny hoped that was from the eye itself. He pulled his hand up, afraid to look but unable not to. The flesh hung in a loose pocket from the side of his hand. The eye was gone. He had either smashed it, or it had recoiled back into his hand. He hated that thought, opting instead to think that the multi-colored fluid on his counter might be the eye itself.
He grabbed the towel from the floor and wrapped his hand again. He knew that he needed to go to the emergency room whether he wanted to or not.
Manny got dressed and headed for the door. He knew he would have to lie a little when the doctor asked him what was wrong. After all, how could he explain that he saw an eye inside of a bump on his hand? But what if when he got there, the eye was back? Then he knew he would not have to explain anything at all.
Manny’s anxiety kicked in when he left the house. He started thinking about what the doctor might recommend as a treatment for such a condition. Would they suggest amputation? Would the doctor ask him to sign some waiver saying that he was willing to donate his unique hand to science so they could study it and make him the backbone of a research project? Too many thoughts filled his head.
Manny pulled into the parking lot of a Taco Bell and killed the engine. He put his hands to his face and immediately felt that shortness of breath associated with his anxiety. He started to panic, knowing that he would not be able to get to the hospital in this condition. He needed to calm down. And right now, nothing in his head was letting him do that. He pulled his hands from his face and stared at the towel wrapped around it. What was under there? What horrors would look back at him if he pulled it free? He ripped the towel loose and saw only the deflated bump on his hand—no eye staring back at him. No bump filled with puss and blood. Only his hand with a slight bump on the side. Manny felt better. He breathed deep and started the car. The ride to the emergency room was smooth.
“It’s going to be a bit before we get to you, sir,” the nurse at the desk said.
Manny shifted uncomfortably and put his toweled hand on the counter.
“I know that I am not bleeding from several spots on my body, or you may not think that this is a matter of life and death, but this is an emergency. Hence my drive to the emergency room.”
The nurse watched him go through his speech. And when Manny finished, she held up her hands and smiled.
“And as I said, sir, it’s going to be a little bit before we get to you. Now sit down and wait, or don’t,” the nurse said, lowering her hands and going back to whatever she was doing.
Manny sighed and turned away from the desk. A small boy was standing behind him with a blood-soaked bandage around part of his head. The boy’s mother was kneeling behind him, holding his shoulders.
“Excuse me,” Manny said. He felt uncomfortable, unable to feel sorry for this kid in front of him. The boy might have a head injury, but did he have an eye growing in his hand? Manny thought not. So he moved aside and found a seat near the desk. He decided he felt like hassling the nurse. He was in that kind of mood.
The wait was an hour before Manny got to see the doctor, and the actual visit was less than five minutes. But what the doctor told him lasted all the way home.
The doctor told him he had a condition known as Leasia Dermatata. It was common in pigs, but for some reason, he had it. It was not fatal, but it would lead to irritability in his hands for the rest of his life. Manny never mentioned the eye, but he had a feeling that the doctor’s assessment of his ailment was just a bit off base. He listened anyway, chiming in twice to ask a question. But in the end, he left feeling unsatisfied, and for the first time, thought that maybe he was going crazy. After all, sane folks don’t see eyes in their hands. They don’t do it because it’s not normal to have an eye in your hand. So Manny left, and the drive home was filled with a growing sense of unease. His anxiety returned, this time just as he was walking into his apartment.
Look for the thrilling conclusion to Manny’s Hands to be published on May 11th.