the Frozen Finger Farewell
Michael D. Davis
Posey Peale walked into the grimy, dark bar all kinds of eyes from all sorts of
skulls looked her over. She walked up to the counter, her beautiful body wading
through the pool of degenerates.
looking for Count Whorton,” she said.
bartender, a man with a face like a movie star and a body big enough to give
anyone trouble said, “Why’s someone like you looking for him?”
I need his help,” Posey Peale said, “And am I correct in saying I just found
smile spread across the bartender’s face like mildew in moist weather. “You
think I’m Count Whorton?”
bartender burst out laughing. He laughed so hard his side started to hurt and
tears formed in his eyes. He only stopped to get a few other men in on the joke
and they started laughing just as hard.
what’s the joke here?” Said Posey severely.
Miss,” the bartender wiped his eyes. “I’ll show you where Whorton is.”
took her outside and showed her a door on the front of the building opposite of
the bar entrance on the right. He opened the door where a lump of a man slept
on stone stairs leading to a second-floor apartment.
he in the apartment up there?”
bartender smiled. “That's his place, but he seems to be taking a nap on his
porch.” He turned and left Posey at the bottom of the steps.
Count, Count Whorton,” Posey Peale said standing in the door. “Count Whorton?”
He didn’t wake or even move, just laid there like a dead man.
went up a few steps and started shaking his shoulders while repeating his name
until the Count awoke saying, in an accent like no other she’d heard of, “If you
desire to preserve your futile life, leave me alone.”
his face was turned away from her, resting flat on the cold stone she heard him
clearly. And she ignored him.
Whorton, I must speak with you.”
may leave a note, but Count Whorton isn’t here.”
leaned and held up the wall with her shoulder. “I am not leaving.”
Whorton released a long groan. “Fine,” He stood up and walked through the
apartment door, leaving it open for her. By the time she shut the door, he was
in the bathroom. Posey perched on the end of the couch as she waited.
Whorton finally burst back out of the bathroom. “I owe you my gratitude.”
I slept any longer there would have been no requirement to retreat to the John
if you get me.”
smiled stiffly and said, “I do.”
Peale looked at the Count under the light and she was brought in on the
bartender’s joke. Count Whorton was a short, pudgy, no-necked creature with
skin the color of a wet napkin. He had a hunched back and deep, dark circles
under his eyes. Hidden under his hat was short, dry hair like nothing else in
nature and when he smiled his fat cheeks contorted in a look of pain to reveal
only the top row of his yellowish-white, crooked, animal-like teeth. On the
outside, Posey released a small smile for having mixed up the very different-looking
men and on the inside, she shuddered at Count Whorton’s grim appearance.
the Count said, “Divulge what you came here to, then scoot at no slow pace.”
walked into his shoebox-sized kitchen and took out a plastic fast food cup with
a bent straw then slithered up and sat in a large chair opposite Posey.
I need your detective services.”
right there, I don’t do that anymore. I’m a part-time night stocker at a grocery
store and a full-time drunk. So, if that's all you needed you can be getting
along about now.”
Posey said, “I went to a friend. A friend that comes from a long line of cops.
And I said I needed someone. I needed a private eye like you see in the movies,
one that doesn't keep records, but always solves the case. One that can take
care of himself and always has a bead on everyone but won’t be running to the
papers or the cops. And he said you. I was told you’d be grumpy, odd, probably
drunk, and overall unpleasant, but that you’d help me.”
granted I thought you’d look like the bartender downstairs but nonetheless.”
that pretty boy has less brains than a goldfish. So, who is this rare human
being with the badge in his blood and a few kind words to say about me?”
the Nash family.”
and he sent me here.”
Whorton looked Posey over, his sleepy dark brown eyes darting over her from
head to toe before finally sighing heavily. “What’s the problem?”
reached into her purse and brought out a plastic baggy. “I found this in my
mother’s mini fridge.” She tossed the baggy over to him. Count Whorton looked
it over without opening it. Then he threw the baggy back at her saying, “so,
it’s a finger.”
was located in mother’s mini fridge,” Posey said her eyebrows lowering.
your mother has all ten of hers, did you confront her and inquire where the
lone digit originated?”
shook her head. “No, what a conversation that would be. ‘Mother I was nabbing
some of the good liquor you keep in your room when I found a finger, care to
explain?’ Anyways, I know who’s finger it is, I think.”
Whorton leaned forward. “Who’s is it?”
reached into his jacket over his cardigan, pulled out a cigarette, lit it and
leaned back. “So’s your sister dearly departed or just missing one of her nose
sister’s alive and well.”
she’s missing a middle finger, you find a middle finger. Where's the problem
Posey paused then said, “How do you know it’s a middle finger?”
seen my share.”
corners of Poseys lips perked up. “Well, the thing is a few years ago Violet,
due to a kitchen accident, got an infection in her left hand and had to have it
you got a finger that you believe to have at one time or the other sat at the
end of your sisters now, I’m guessing, hook hand. Why not go to your sister?”
is something else as well. My brother went missing around the same time of my
was nineteen, my parents say he ran away. He left a note, but it just wasn’t
did this all happen?”
years ago, I was thirteen and my sister was sixteen.”
Whorton put out his cigarette. “Alright, I’m slightly interested. My fee will
be a thousand dollars.”
gave him a shocked look. “That’s pretty steep.”
tells me you can afford it.”
I don’t have it on me.”
alright, we’re leaving anyway.” Count Whorton sucked on his bent plastic straw
then put it down and went for the door.
stood up. “Wait, where are we going?”
opened the door and started down the stairs saying over his shoulder, “Your
humble home to get my payment and to find the former owner of that finger.”
the sidewalk, out front, Posey was leading the way to her car when a shrill
voice that could split wood called, “Countey.” Across the alley, leaning out
the ground floor window of a brick apartment house was a chubby, light brown
skinned prostitute in her early fifties. She wore blood red lipstick and a low-cut
top that was fighting a losing battle to contain her large breasts.
Whorton turned to her, showing his hound dog teeth in a smile. “Irma Side, how
are you doing?”
as always, Countey.”
there anything I can do for you?” asked the Count walking from Posey to the
just didn’t know if you wanted me to come over tonight.”
I’m not in the money as it were.”
okay, you’ve owed me before. Unless you want someone else, like her. Who is
is my client, I’ve taken a case.”
her name then?”
Whorton’s brows furrowed. “I didn’t ask,” he turned, “Miss disembodied-finger
what’s your name?”
reddened and said her name.
Whorton turned back to Irma. “Posey Peale, I asked for a thousand for my fee.”
looks like she has money.”
he turned to Posey then back. “You think I should have asked for more?”
she’ll give you a bonus.”
after I get paid, I’m right back here. Me, you, a bottle of booze, we’ll make a
night of it.”
stomach turned a bit as Count Whorton and Irma kissed. The sight of the ugly
man smooching the aged hooker in broad daylight wasn’t a sight for school
they got in the car Posey said, “So, your girlfriend’s a hooker.”
are not in a formal relationship. She’s a friend and I’m her regular.”
you could tell she’s a prostitute a mile away. She might as well advertise.”
did for a while,” Count Whorton said, “Put up a sign in the window that said come
in Side for 75$ Irma Side prostitute
but the police made her take it down. I thought it was proactive. There are
more prostitutes here in Quartertown than there are trees in the park. You have
to find a way around the competition.”
Peale family had money. That showed in their house which stood taller than all
the other domino-like houses on the west side of the city. Following Posey
inside, Count Whorton saw a woman cleaning about and could tell she was the
led him into a sitting room and said, “Wait here, I’ll go get the money.”
kinda got dry mouth, anything to drink?”
pointed to a cabinet then left the room.
Whorton went to the cabinet. He pulled out a bottle of bourbon and brought it
to his lips. When he returned it, two-thirds were gone. He put some in a glass
and walked around.
pictures around the room contained Posey, her parents and some other mucky-mucks.
Count Whorton couldn’t pick out the sister at first till he figured out she was
wearing a high-end plastic prosthetic for a hand. (Money can buy anything.) As
he was examining a silver framed picture, a tall older man came into the room.
the hell are you?” said the old man.
Whorton faced him.
the last time I saw something like you in this house I had to call the
must be Mr. Peale.”
am, and you?”
Whorley Whorton, investigator hired by your daughter.”
for… don’t tell me. This is about Peter.”
course it is. She’s been obsessed with her brother since he… went away. Is
there any way you can talk her out of this?”
get paid by her, not you.”
Mr. Peale went over to an old rolltop and took out an envelope. “Here's five
hundred, in cash, tell her there's nothing to it.”
Whorton took the five bills and put them in his pocket. “I’ll see what I can
came back into the room. “Hi, dad.”
is Count Whorton, a friend. I’m gonna show him the house.”
Peale nodded his head. “Good to meet you Count.”
out of the room, Posey gave Count Whorton a check. He slid it into his pocket
with the five green misters.
taking you to Peter’s room, so, you can look it over.”
Whorton just nodded. He felt slightly drunk from the bourbon, but it was a good
feeling. Posey led him to a room on the second floor. The contents of it had
been swallowed up by boxes stacked against a wall.
his stuff in boxes?”
says it’s if he wants us to ship it to him, like I believe that. I think she
just didn’t want his room to be his room anymore.”
Whorton opened a box and rifled the contents. There was nothing special. He
went through two more uninteresting boxes before the fourth which held an old
cell phone and power cord. Sitting on the bare mattress of the bed, he plugged
the phone into the wall. It lit up and turned on easily. Posey hovered over
Count Whorton like a vulture over a retirement home before he told her to sit
down. There were several un-deleted texts from May, 2012. All to and from someone
listed as Nick in the contacts.
Peter: moms being a bitch again
Nick: like usual?
Peter: Been worse lately
Peter: Just has… and it's not
just me she did something bad to Violet
Peter: I can't tell you… I’d
just like to tell her off for once. If not for me then for Violet and Posey
Nick: I’d like to see that.
Nash, he and my brother were best friends. He doesn't think Peter ran away
either. That’s half the reason he gave me your name.”
Whorton searched more on the phone until he found some pictures. There were
several, all taken on a gravel pathway. Peter and Nick starred in most of the
shots accompanied by a few others of similar age. In the last photo, a woman
that looked like a human prune stood in the background like looming death.
were these taken?”
took the phone. “Just outside, the driveway used to be dirt and gravel. We put
the cement down some years back.”
Whorton took the phone, slipping it in his pocket as he stood up with a hand on
the wall to keep himself steady. Posey stood up next to him, her legs spring
loaded. “You know what happened to my brother.”
have a theory at least.”
I got a theory,” Count Whorton said, “but theories in this business are like
toilet paper to a grizzly bear. You can have loads of the stuff, but if you
don’t know how to use it, it’s just thin scratchy paper on a roll. I do have a
hypothesis, but I can’t go telling it. It would just be a bunch of words said
by a hard-to-look-at drunk. However, we have something putting bullets in those
words and that's that frosty finger of yours. Hell, you give any shitbrained
boy in blue bearing the badge a finger and he’ll want to know two things,
‘whose is it?’ and ‘how did the owner happen to lose it?’ you follow?”
I follow. Does this mean you’re going to the police?”
you want to?”
here, you aren’t paying me to run to the police. You’re paying me to put two
and two together. So, I can tell you what I think right now and leave you to do
what you will.”
this?” said a voice from the door. It was Posey's mother. She looked just how
she did in the picture on the phone. Her dark bug-like eyes crawled across the
room, spreading disease as they went, finally landing on Count Whorton. “Who is
this ugly man?”
jumped like a scared cat at the woman who stood in the door cutting off the
room’s air. “This is Count Whorton.”
is he in this room?”
said Count Whorton, “I believe I know what happened to Peter. Um… apologies
what's your first name?”
Julia, let us go downstairs. Find your husband, your other daughter, have a
drink and solve a mystery.”
son ran away.”
let's talk about it.”
Peale and Violet were already in the sitting room when the three of them filed
in. Julia took a chair and said, “Phillip, get this horrible looking man out of
our house, now!”
Peale started to get up from the couch.
your seat, Phillip,” Count Whorton said making his way to the cabinet. “I’m
gonna have my say and leave.” He pulled a bottle out, opened it and drank.
looked at the faces in the room. “What is going on?”
I assume,” Count Whorton said, “the daughter with the missing hand. You know I
personally would have gotten a hook.”
the one saying your mother killed your brother.”
her and pops buried him in the driveway, then paved it over.” Count Whorton
fell into the corner of the couch cradling the bottle of booze. “The way I got
it figured is Julia, granted I just met her, is a supreme bitch and if we were
in the wild, she would have ate her young. But we ain’t. So, when Petey stood
up to her, told her off as it were, she killed him instead of eating him. And
Pops helped bury him and cover it up because, well, the damage was already done
and he’s a mucky-muck who wants to stay that way.” Towards the end, his words
started to slur as he felt the weight of the liquor.
insane, I loved Peter,” Julia said.
anyone else catch that?”
said ‘loved’, not love,” Posey said.
that thing was talking about him in
the past tense and I made the mistake of doing the same.”
Count Whorton said, “I forgot the finger. I think what set Petey off was him
seeing his mom whack off his sister’s finger.”
was a kitchen accident,” Julia said.
think so. I think teenage daughter in a heated moment gave you the finger and
as punishment, you took it from her. Hell, a bus passed me the other day and an
eight-year-old gave me the bird. Anyways, I bet you didn’t plan on infection
taking the rest of the hand or Petey boy seeing you do it.”
was an accident.”
it was an accident,” Posey said, “Why’d you keep the finger?” She held up for
all to see the plastic baggy from her purse.
kept it?” Violet said, “why, why?”
show you,” Julia said sternly, “show you what you get when you do such things.”
how could you?” Mr. Peale said.
up, you spineless shit. If you were a better father none of this would have
Julia talked, Violet started to cry, Mr. Peale sat as stiff as a corpse and
Posey made her way to the phone. Count Whorton stood up slowly, straightened
himself, then his hat. He sidled up to Posey and gave her the cell phone.
gonna bug out before the bulls get here, darling. I’m also taking this bottle.
Something tells me if you’re on that phone, moms and pops will be moving in
behind cement walls and not be needing it.”
you have to leave before the police come?”
I do, told Irma after I was done here we’d make a night of it.” And with that
one of the ugliest men Posey had ever seen walked out, he had fifteen hundred
dollars in his pocket, a bottle of liquor in his hand, a drunken buzz on, and
he was on his way to his old hooker.
Michael D. Davis was born and
raised in a small town in the heart of Iowa. Having written over thirty short
stories, ranging in genre from comedy to horror, from flash fiction to novella,
he continues in his accursed pursuit of a career in the written word.