The fifth story for my collection Middle of Nowhere is up! In “Lazy Insanity,” a young man with lifelong dreams of becoming an Air Force pilot accidentally cuts off his pinky finger and learns that now he can never fly. With no other aspirations, he begins to go crazy as he searches for meaning in his life.
ZEKE HAD ALWAYS BEEN AN ODD GUY. He was an odd boy who grew into an odd teenager and was destined to become an even odder adult. He used to blame it on his pinky finger, or really, his missing one. When he was ten, his mother Diana asked him to cut up the celery for his father’s salad. She gave him a knife big enough to see his reflection. As he studied himself and the abundance of freckles on his nose, his pinky rolled off the counter while the celery stalk remained intact.
Since that unfortunate day, he blamed any problems on that missing member. “It put me off balance,” he’d say, pointing to his squash-shaped head. It only proved worthwhile for grossing out younger kids in the recess yard, but that got old soon. It did, however, destroy his lifelong dream of becoming an Air Force pilot.
“Air Force pilots have all their digits,” his father said, shooting him in the heart one day over a dinner of beef stew.
“They don’t have to,” Zeke said, quiet enough so his parents had to read his lips to understand.
“Nine won’t cut it. Never will. The training is rigorous and you have to be able to grasp things with both hands. Not just left, not just right. Both!”
This immediately turned Zeke’s life upside down. He stared at the stub that remained from his one glorious pinky and realized that if he never made that salad for his father, a different and more pleasant story would be told.