‘Killer’s Kid Finds Foot.’ I could just imagine the headlines if someone found out, it would be a great story, but I had a responsibility I couldn’t shirk. I felt bad for messing up his uniform, but words weren’t working, so I had to try a visual.
It was a lovely, sunny day; the sky’s blue almost white this early in the morning and the few clouds went on their way, late for a date with yesterday’s storm. I was standing before the reception desk at the Port Angeles’ Police Station and the young man in a very crisp uniform stared at me. There wasn’t that much to stare at. I was about five nine, and a little jiggly here and there, but mainly in the right places. My hazel eyes stared back out of a face lightly freckled with the sun and I tried again.
“I have a foot in my bag,” I said. I was getting a little bit annoyed. I had come to the seaside town to enjoy the beach and I didn’t want to spend all my time at the police department.
“I have a foot in my bag,” I said for the third time. This time I put the emphases on foot and said it just a little louder in case it would help him to understand. At least this time I got a reaction. He glanced over the counter at my feet. So what could I do? I heaved a sigh and the bag to the counter. I opened it so he could see inside and said once more, “I’ve got a foot in my bag.”
That was when he threw up all over his crisp black uniform. The officers got a little excited after that, but as I explained in the back room, I found the foot floating in the tide when I took my sunrise walk on the beach off the City Pier and since it clearly wasn’t the crime scene, there was no point in leaving it there for a child to find. Fortunately I had some doggie doo bags with me to pick up interesting finds on the beach. I guess I’d found one.
They asked me for my name. I gave them the one I use and showed them my I.D., and my employee badge for the State Psychiatric Hospital where I worked on a ward as a nurse. I was nearing 30 and I had come to see how I wanted to die.
I had an aggressive form of bone cancer. The doctors wanted to take my leg and give me chemo. It might work, it might not, and they have might have to chop off more. There was an experimental treatment trial open. My doctor had told me about it as we walked down the corridor for sugar and coffee in the cafe. It was his standard operating procedure for breaking the news. He walked with one hand grasping the other wrist behind his back. It helped him avoid putting his arms around his patients. He was a very sympathetic doctor and didn’t want to offend. He told me that the new treatment would save my leg, but my insurance wouldn’t pay for it. Like I’ve told my friend Donna many times, I feel like I’m a hostage to private insurance.
They would kill me for free, though. I could stop treatment and choose death, they would pay for that prescription, but they wouldn’t pay for me to choose life, long and whole. That was the frosting on this particular pineapple upside-down cupcake. The cherry on top was that there was already a lot of death in my family; my father was killed when I was seven. Most said good riddance and I always wondered why my mom married him. He was already marked for death when she did. Maybe I was supposed to be his legacy. But how much is one life worth, anyway? How much should someone pay for it? Is it worth the cost to ransom me? I had to wonder how many others might live if I accepted death. I could go through all this and be gunned down anyway. It’s an uncertain world. My landlord at the Scarsdale Apartments was still picking out bullet fragments from our entrance after Jean’s argument with her lover Herman. I could get hurt by a patient, or if life wanted to try sick irony, I could even die at the hands of a serial killer. A lot of people would think there was cosmic justice in that. I wouldn’t, but then, that’s just me.
I asked the police if they had any missing persons. They weren’t saying, but someone mentioned the possibility of a boating accident. I could only hope.
“Where can we reach you if we have any questions?” They asked, finally.
I told them how to find me and they let me go. On my way I prayed sincerely the press wouldn’t find the skeleton in my closet. I really can’t be finding severed body parts with a name like mine. If they discovered my birth certificate, they would say I was my father’s daughter and life as I knew it would be over. I try and keep it hidden, but it’s all over the web and in print, there was even a movie. You can’t hide from death when your father’s name is Theodore Robert Bundy.
Carla Blaschka’s greatest achievements are taking 24 years to complete her B.A. degree in Theology, a record anywhere, and an hour and a half to write a complete story out of random parts gleaned from her favorite newspaper, the Stranger. A mild-mannered office worker by trade, Carla stories first came to life on stage at Richard Hugo House’s open mic, and then graced the stage at Seattle’s Poetry Slam and The Faire Gallery & Cafe. Carla has always seen the world through her hands, discovering the story to be told only after it’s scribbled on paper. She lives in Seattle with the memories of her cats, and in anticipation of the one to come.
Copyright © 2009 by Carla Blaschka
in Plain View
Challenge from The Stranger July 9-15, 2009, Vol 18, No 43
Theme: Man with identity hidden, foot in bag. Cover art by Danny Snell Location: Mental Hospital (pg 34) Plot Point: Pulled bullet fragments out of a wall (pg 11) Quote: “I feel like I’m a hostage to private insurance” by Jody Hall, owner of Cupcake Royale. From “Is Maria Cantwell a Puppet for the Senate Finance Committee?” by Eli Sanders (pg 11) Rhetorical Element: Cupcakes (pineapple upside-down) (ad, pg 10) Character Trait: Walks with one hand clasping wrist behind back (Bauhaus People)