Anse By Alan Caldwell

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The last time I saw my uncle Anse before all this happened, he showed me a finger, not his finger mind you, but the severed finger of some poor bastard that owed him fifty dollars for some of his homegrown Alabama high test. I told him that I didn’t know he sold much weed to black folks since there weren’t but about fifty of them in Cleburne county. He laughed and told me that all fingers turn black when they dry out.

He didn’t cut the poor bastard’s finger off as retribution but because he had a gold ring on that finger that Anse figured was worth about what the poor bastard owed him. The dumb bastard was a real fat fucker and the ring had been on his fat hairy finger so long that the flesh held it captive. Anse told him to get the motherfucker off or he would cut the motherfucker off himself. Evidently, according to Anse, the fat bastard pulled and pulled and then slathered his fat hairy finger in soap to try to get the ring to slide off but the ring was firmly ensconced in flesh. So Anse held the Fat bastard down, broke the finger right at the last knuckle and then cut through the broken place with his Case pocketknife. He said he broke it first because trying to saw through a finger bone would dull your blade.

Anse said the fat bastard didn’t carry on too badly and didn’t really hold a grudge because he showed back up at Anse’s trailer after about two or three weeks, his hand still wrapped up like a trailer park mummy, looking to see if Anse had harvested a fresh batch. Anse told me that although the fat bastard had cash this time he gave him a half pound for free since he got a hundred dollars for the bloody ring and figured he owed the fat bastard some change.

So that was the last time I saw Anse before all this happened. I couldn’t believe it when he took that goddamn finger out and laid it on the table next to his Huddle House breakfast plate and told me the story. He was always showing me something. He once showed me the dried out and sharpened bone that’s in a coon’s pecker that he used as a toothpick. Anyway, he kept on eating with that finger jerky laying on the table till I told him to put it up before I puked in my fucking grits. He laughed and then stuck the finger back in the bib of his overalls and said, “ok college boy, all them books done made you soft.”

That’s the last I saw of Anse before all of this happened.

Alan Caldwell lives in Carroll County, Georgia, but is working on moving to his rural property in the mountains of Northeast Alabama. He has been married to his lovely wife, Brandi, for 33 years. He has one son, Caleb, who is a firefighter, a daughter-in-law, Chelsee, who is an emergency room nurse, and a grandson, Asher.  Alan has been teaching for 27 years and spends much of his free time outdoors or reading.  Alan has been collecting stories, mostly about his family, for over 40 years, but has just begun writing them.