Flipping the Frozen Finger Farewell
By 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
“I’m looking for Count Whorton,”
The 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?”
“Because I need his help,” Posey Peale said, “And am
I correct in saying I just found him?”
smile spread across the bartender’s face like mildew in moist weather. “You
think I’m Count Whorton?”
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
“Hey, 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.
“Is he in the apartment up
The 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.
“Um… 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.
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.”
face was turned away from her, resting flat on the cold stone she heard him clearly. And
she ignored him.
“Count Whorton, I must speak with you.”
may leave a note, but Count Whorton isn’t here.”
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.”
“If I slept any longer there would have been no requirement to
retreat to the John if you get me.”
stiffly and said, “I do.”
Posey 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.”
“Stop 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?”
“Christ, the Nash family.”
and he sent me here.”
Count Whorton looked Posey over, his sleepy
dark brown eyes darting over her from head to toe before finally sighing heavily. “What’s
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
Posey 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,
Whorton leaned forward. “Who’s is it?”
He 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 pickers?”
sister’s alive and well.”
“So, she’s missing
a middle finger, you find a middle finger. Where's the problem here?”
Posey paused then said, “How do you know it’s a middle finger?”
“I’ve 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 amputated.”
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 sister’s
nineteen, my parents say he ran away. He left a note, but it just wasn’t like him.”
did this all happen?”
“Six years ago, I was thirteen and my
sister was sixteen.”
Count 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.”
“Fine, I don’t have
it on me.”
“That’s alright, we’re leaving
anyway.” Count Whorton sucked on his bent plastic straw then put it down and went
for the door.
Posey 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
“Same as always, Countey.”
there anything I can do for you?” asked the Count walking from Posey to the prostitute.
“I just didn’t know if you wanted me to come over tonight.”
“Well, I’m not in the money as it were.”
okay, you’ve owed me before. Unless you want someone else, like her. Who is she?”
“That is my client, I’ve taken a case.”
her name then?”
Count Whorton’s brows furrowed. “I
didn’t ask,” he turned, “Miss disembodied-finger what’s your name?”
reddened and said her name.
Count Whorton turned back to Irma.
“Posey Peale, I asked for a thousand for my fee.”
looks like she has money.”
“Yes,” he turned to
Posey then back. “You think I should have asked for more?”
she’ll give you a bonus.”
“Anyways, 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 children.
they got in the car Posey said, “So, your girlfriend’s a hooker.”
“We are not in a formal relationship. She’s a friend and
I’m her regular.”
“Well, 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 Apt. 3.”
“Yes, 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 maid.
led him into a sitting room and said, “Wait here, I’ll go get the money.”
kinda got dry mouth, anything to drink?”
to a cabinet then left the room.
Count 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.
“Christ, the last time I saw something like you in this house I
had to call the exterminator.”
must be Mr. Peale.”
“I am, and you?”
Whorley Whorton, investigator hired by your daughter.”
for… don’t tell me. This is about Peter.”
“Of 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.”
“Fine,” 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.”
Count Whorton took the five bills
and put them in his pocket. “I’ll see what I can do.”
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.”
Once out of
the room, Posey gave Count Whorton a check. He slid it into his pocket with the five green
“I’m taking you to Peter’s room, so, you can look it
Count 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?”
“Mom 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.”
Count 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
moms being a bitch again
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.
“Nick Nash, he and my brother were best
friends. He doesn't think Peter ran away either. That’s half the reason he gave me
Count 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.
“Where were these taken?”
took the phone. “Just outside, the driveway used to be dirt and gravel. We put the
cement down some years back.”
Count 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.”
“Yeah, 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?”
“Yeah, I follow. Does this
mean you’re going to the police?”
“I don’t know.”
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
“What’s 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.”
“Why 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
“My son ran away.”
let's talk about it.”
Mr. 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.
“Keep 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.”
“I’m 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
“That's insane, I loved Peter,” Julia said.
anyone else catch that?”
“You said ‘loved’,
not love,” Posey said.
“Well, that thing was talking about him in the past tense and I made the mistake of doing
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.”
“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?”
you,” Julia said sternly, “show you what you get when you do such things.”
how could you?” Mr. Peale said.
“Shut up, you spineless shit.
If you were a better father none of this would have happened.”
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.”
“Do you have to leave before
the police come?”
“Yeah 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
It's well known that
an artist becomes more popular by dying, so our pal Steve Cartwright is typing his bio with one hand while
pummeling his head with a frozen mackerel with the other. Stop,
Steve! Death by mackerel is no way to go! He
(Steve, not the mackerel) has a collection of
spooky toons, Suddenly Halloween!, available at Amazon.com. He's done art for several magazines, newspapers,
websites, commercial and governmental clients, books, and
scribbling - but mostly drooling - on tavern napkins. He also creates art
pro bono for several animal rescue groups.
He was awarded the 2004 James Award for his cover art for Champagne
Shivers. He recently illustrated the Cimarron Review,
Stories for Children, and Still Crazy magazine covers. Take a gander (
or a goose ) at his online gallery: www.angelfire.com/sc2/cartoonsbycartwright . And please hurry
with your response - that mackerel's killin' your pal, Steve Cartwright.