They called it a 'spider web crack'. The point of impact. The shatter. The break.
Glass doesn't break the same way it used to. It doesn't shatter. The blood seeped slowly into my eyes, down my cheek, down my face. I was still breathing, wasn't I? I could still feel my fingers twitch and move.
Her head in my lap, eyes wide open.
Tap tap tap. The secretary drummed a pen on her desk. Tap tap tap. Monotonous and slow.
"I'm gonna break that bitch's hand in fourteen fucking places if she doesn't knock that off," my partner whispered cheerfully, smiling while nodding to the secretary across the way. She smiled back. And stopped tapping the pen. I looked down at my paper, trying to find my place in the obituaries again.
"Fourteen is an oddly specific number."
"That's how many minutes she's been tapping that fucking pen. I've been keeping track."
"Are there even 14 bones in the hand?"
He glanced down at his own meaty palm, "Probably. There's a lot of bones in it."
I flexed my hand too, reflexively. How funny would it be if there actually were fourteen bones in the human hand; precisely. Pretty funny. Ha. Ha ha. Ha.
"I'm sorry about the wait, gentleman. Ms. Sureimeille is usually very punctual for her appointments," the secretary brushed back some of her hair out of her eyes, still smiling warmly at my partner.
My partner nodded again to the secretary before turning to me, "If we're lucky, she's lying dead in a ditch somewhere. Wrap this up and get out of here before the traffic gets bad."
No such luck, the elevator against the far wall opened and Sureimeille sprang out like a startled rabbit. She looked out of breath, to her credit. She bustled down the hall towards us and my partner rose from his seat, all smiles.
"Ms. Sureimeille? We're here to talk to you about your son."
Her face fell.
"Why is it police always come in pairs?"
"I dunno. Why do drug dealers always have the same shitty Scarface poster hanging in their living room?"
Spider glanced up at the poster. It was fraying around the edges, curling, like it had been folded wrong at some point. Or unrolled carelessly.
"…I don't sell drugs," he replied simply. My partner simply stared. He rapped a crack pipe against the coffee table. Once. Twice.
A girl was lounging carelessly across a bean bag chair in the corner opposite mine. A small, dark creature was slowly crawling its way up her arm.
She smiled through an opiate lidded gaze. "It's a tarantula."
"You know why weed isn't legal, Spider?" My partner asked, trying to get the conversation back on topic.
"William Randolph Hearst-" The fucking weed-dealer mantra. I cut him off.
"Aren't you worried it will bite?"
She smiled down at it before picking it up gently, "No fangs, see? Besides. He's my friend."
"Not your pet."
She placed the spider on her shoulder. It nudged it's chelicerae at her bra strap. A t-shirt was discarded at the foot of the bean-bag chair. "Exactly."
"The reason weed is illegal is because not everyone buys weed. Everyone buys beer. That's why it's legal. Do you know, Spider, why not everyone buys weed?"
"Does he have a name?"
The tarantula perched atop her dark auburn hair and nestled in the part of it. She closed her eyes, blissful, "Spider."
"After him?" I gestured pointlessly with a finger to the drug dealer. She shook her head.
"No. He…" she flicked her long, cherry pink nail to the drug dealer, "Is named after him," she pointed back to the spider.
"Not everyone buys weed because pot dealers are fucking insufferable. It's the worst fucking part of the weed experience, having to contact a goddamn pot dealer. Do you know what the moral of this story is, Spider? Do you know why I dragged myself down here on a goddamn Saturday so I could play fucking Aesop? I tell you one thing, it's not so my partner could sleep with your girlfriend. Something which, by the way, is going to happen."
The girl winked at me. The spider eyed me warily.
"It's to tell you to get your fucking shit together. Cuz I'm sick of cleaning up after you. Get it together. Now grab your bags and saddle up, cowboy. You and me are going to take a ride while my partner keeps your girl company. Let's go."
My partner rose off the couch and dusted the resin from his jacket before jerking a thumb towards Spider. The spider started crawling down the girl's arm.
"Do you want me to put him away?"
I flicked open my wallet and started rummaging through the bills.
"Depends. Is he my friend yet?" The door slammed behind us.
She picked the tarantula up again and regarded it thoughtfully.
"He's not sure yet."
"Then maybe you should put him away."
Sureimeille's son was not fine. But his arms were. The discussion had gone something like this:
"Two legs, two arms, right?"
"No. Four arms. Four legs would make him look like a fucking centaur. Two sets of arms plus one set of arms, one set of legs makes eight. Two times four. It's what he asked for. Eight. Like a spider."
Spider's arms were wrapped in plasticwrap in the trunk. Along with Sureimeille's. My partner grabbed them and took them up to the client's house once we arrived. I grabbed the tools.
"Sureimeille. Spider." I gestured as my partner set them down on the bed. The client nodded appreciatively.
"You should know, Sir, that it won't be an easy process. Especially in order to maintain both gross motor and fine motor control. There's a lot of trick to it in the nerves, and it will most likely be painful."
He shrugged and began to take off his shirt, unbuttoning, starting from the collar. I sighed and motioned for my partner to unwrap the arms.
Beneath his shirt the static work had already been done. Nerves, pulled to the surface of the skin and then elongated down the rib cage starting from the shoulder. They pulsed a feint white in the gloom.
Two sets of bandages stood out against the skin. I unwrapped a leather harness and began to fasten it around his shoulder blades. "The bone work has already been done; this is only for the healing process, mostly." The client nodded again.
I took out my scalpel and cut away the bandages. The white of the bone provided a stark contrast against the blood-red muscle. Some of it had even started to tendonize. I took out a few rubber bands and strapped down the nerve cord to the bone. The client flinched.
"First arm, mid abdomen. Hold it while I fit it to the joint," My partner snapped on a pair of nitrile gloves and help it up. Slowly, I guided the ball of Sureimeille's arm into the artificial plaster and steel socket we had molded a wee ago. It popped in with a distinct 'thock' noise, like a tennis ball hitting the pavement.
I unwrapped the nerve cord and started running it down the length of the arm, tying it in places with the suture, clamping the joint and flesh in where it needed to be done.
"Going to need some filler meat to square it up. Got any?" He gestured to a cooler. My partner opened it and pulled out some soft, squishy muscle tissue. I took it and started tying it around the joints, humming while I worked.
There was an installation above her bed, Spider's girlfriend. Thin, gossamer webbing, a spider's web, made of steel and Plexiglas as far as I could tell. She set the spider on it while I took off my shirt and pants. It crawled upwards, towards the corner of the ceiling. I watched it for a moment, and noticed that it had added its own silk to the steel frame, building it into the same pattern that had been laid out for it. I laid down on the bed.
"Remember, not a pet. A friend."
Written by Needle553312