by Michael Chadwick

Things are born. That is to say that when something is necessary, something will be created. It occurs, everywhere. In nature. In thought. Everywhere. For example, yesterday, at the Firebird Motel, my friend Emmezeka cut his thumb off. It was a pretty reasonable circumstance.

I was standing in the aisle. The aisle between two beds. There’s a certain symmetry to a hotel room with two beds. I was standing in that aisle, with my back facing the wall and I was watching the television…well, actually, even though the television was on…it was Charlie’s Angels, the TV show…even though it was on, I was staring at my reflection in the mirror on the wall opposite me. I was looking at every detail, at every unique imperfection. Looking to understand exactly where everything is located, when in the corner of my eye, I saw Emmezeka’s arm jerking.

I turned my attention to him. He was using the tenon saw. He was putting a lot of force behind his motions. I said, to no one in particular, more thinking out loud than anything else. I said, “You sacrifice precision with speed.” I turned my body away from the mirror, and towards Emmezeka. Just as I turned, I saw the blade positioned right above his thumb.

Have you ever been in a moment that was occurring and you were aware of everything in the moment at that precise moment? I could see that Emmezeka was going to cut his thumb. And I was aware, in complete understanding, that if I didn’t express that concern immediately it’d be too late.

A man once told me…well, he didn’t tell me. I overheard him saying it to someone else. I heard a man once say to someone else that, “you could only notice the play of the world, for a moment, before it rolls on.” I didn’t want that moment to pass me by. So I waited until I couldn’t hold that moment any longer. By that point, the blade was cutting into Emmezeka’s thumb.

“Mez,” I said. I call him Mez. I’m the only person who calls him that. I said, “Mez,” and he looked up. I said, “Mez, you’re cutting your thumb off,’ because as he looked up, he continued to cut. I said, “Mez, you’re cutting your thumb.” And when I said this, I pointed my finger down at his hand.

And at the moment I started to point, a beautiful red ribbon of blood shot out of his thumb. As it moved toward me, I saw this unbroken chain, this crimson rope, connected to Mez. It was beautiful. It shot straight up with a burst of momentum. It went as far and as high as it could before physics intervened. It leveled, for an instant, and then began its downward arch.

The blood hit my left collar, on the top part where my neck starts to show. I always have my collars starched. I get them cleaned at this Korean place. Very good price.

Then, in an instant, he recognized what was occurring and looked down.

But the thing was he didn’t lift the knife first. He lifted his hand. The hand with the cut thumb. He was already pretty close to removing it. Jerking his hand did the trick, so to speak.

I said, “Stick it in the cooler.” We had two coolers in the room. Big Igloo coolers. You know those coolers that construction people carry their lunches in? The Igloo cooler? We had two of them, but they were big, big versions of those. Like the size of small televisions. We had a red one and a blue one. So I told him, “Put it in the cooler.” And he turned around, and right behind him was the dresser. And on the dresser was one of the coolers. The blue one.

He was calm. He didn’t yell, or scream, or look panicked.

He said, “It’s a new day, Lou.” He calls me Lou. I don’t know why. There are no L’s, or O’s, or U’s in my name. My name doesn’t even have the sound ’lu.” I asked him once, “Why do you call me Lou?” And he said, “Because you look like a Lou to me.” What an interesting man.

So he said to me, “It’s a new day, Lou.” I said, “What are you talking about? It’s a new day? We have to hurry to the hospital, to get your thumb back on.” And he said, “There is no need to hurry, my friend. It’s a new day.”

He said, “Today, is day one… of Emmezeka minus one thumb.” And the moment he said this, he had this grin. The kind of grin that makes you think the right side of his face didn’t tell the left side it was supposed to be smiling. The timing couldn’t have been more…perfect. I started laughing with an energy and a vigor that I hadn’t experienced in ages.

I told him, “You have…no idea.” But I don’t think he heard me because I was laughing so hard. I am sure that it came out like a jumble of sounds. But those sounds must have been pleasing, or the site of my laughter made him happy, because he started laughing with me.


A lifelong wrestling fan, Con-U certified Michael Chadwick has interned with Vice and En Route and now makes a killing with the mad men -- he's the one in the bow-tie.

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