The boy in the orange and lime green shirt lifted the hammer and struck the water worn stone in front of him. It sounded dulled when the hammerhead struck — dull and uneven.
Approaching the boy, he looked at me and my Sheriff’s uniform and immediately stood up. He held both of his hands behind his back.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
The little boy of eleven answered, “Nothing.”
“Then what do you got behind your back?” I countered.
I had a smile on my face, amused by the thought that children never changed.
The boy put his head down and slowly brought his hand from behind his back. In his left hand he held a white tube with yellow and red wires dangling from either end.
I stepped closer to the boy as he extended his right hand out with the palm up.
“Can I have that please?” I asked, more coaxing than demanding.
“Now go home and go quick!” I ordered.
“Am I in trouble?” the boy asked.
I jus’ shook my head “no” and he turned and ran past me and the other Deputy Sheriff standing in the field.
Sighing, I slowly started to turn towards my partner Dale.
“What should…,” I started to say.
BLAM! The white tube exploded with a thunderous roar.
For a second the world seemed to stop for both of us. Dale was frozen in place and I was sitting on the ground blinking; blood squirting from what remained of my right hand.
I raised my hand above my head out of instinct and Dale grabbed at his radio.
As I stood up, Dale commanded, “Sit down, you’re in shock.”
But I was not listening as I was looking at the bright red blood running down my arm and the mangled stump of my little finger. My ring finger was disjointed and misshapen as well.
I looked at the ground in search of the missing little finger.
“Help me find my finger, Dale,” I said.
The words sound like they spoken from a tin can, hollow to the point of nearly an echo, yet they did not echo. The fire department and two other law-enforcement officers arrived including a California Highway Patrolman, but I didn’t realize this, I was so intent on finding his missing finger.
Sam, the highway patrol officer, walked up and put his hand on my shoulder. He said something, but I couldn’t hear it.
That’s when I panicked.
Sam walked me to his patrol car and opened the passenger side, where I sat down. Dale was directing the fire fighters and the other Sheriff’s Deputy in the attempt to recover my lost little finger.
Leaning back, I closed my eyes as Sam bandaged me jus’ enough to stop the bleeding. When I next opened my eyes I was at Seaside Hospital.
Inside the emergency room the nurses were busy making preparations for the doctor to work on my hand. They cleaned the wound which consisted of a deep gauge in the palm, the dislocated ring finger with lots of cuts at the base where it should be attached to the hand, and the absent pinky finger that had been violently ripped from the big knuckle.
My ears were also a great source of irritation for me. It was the sound of the Pacific Ocean pounding the sandy beaches of DeMartin’s Beach, a sound I normally enjoyed, except it was now so loud and I couldn’t get away from it.
“I’m going to have to sew the top of your little finger shut,” the doctor said.
I couldn’t understand him, so he wrote it down, where I stared at it blankly for a few seconds and nodded “Okay”.
I was hoping this was a bad dream and that I’d soon awaken from it.
The doctor started to close the remaining flap of skin over my finger as the nurse cleaned my face. I had a little cut next to his nose jus’ under my left eye.
The nurse felt it, then looked at the doctor and felt it again. Suddenly the cut erupted.
The nurse jumped back as her eyes rolled up into the back of her head as she collapsed to the floor. The doctor’s eyes widened with astonishment as he looked at the cut and then to the object lying in my lap.
The cut burned deep as the nurse had touched it a second time and was a momentary sharp pain jus’ before the nurse fainted. I had my eyes closed tight against that pain.
When I opened them, the doctor was holding the missing part of my little finger. He was busy cleaning it off and getting it ready to be sewn back on.
I leaned back and drifted off.
The medication the doctor had given me was taking affect and could relax now. The bad dream wasn’t so bad after all; I had my little finger back.