The Damnedest

   By Ronald Cypress


It was the damnedest thing, Darren Tomlinson would tell people with a constant baffled yet somewhat affable attitude that was only fitting for him. Anyone else in the town would have been enraged if someone had taken most of their right arm off. Anyone else would have been screaming for the guilty party’s blood. Darren didn’t even seem ready to fully admit that someone had in fact cut his arm off a few inches above the elbow. According to him, it was possible that an accident could have caused him to lose his arm three years ago.

He was one of the drunks. The town had a few of them. Times were hard, everyone said. But everyone had jobs if they really wanted them. Darren had work available to him, and everyone knew that he was reliable when it came to performing various odd jobs as long as they were spaced out with a couple of days between the jobs. The work he performed didn’t disappoint most of the time, but then again the people didn’t expect too much from Darren. He was a drunk and a screw-up. People were just happy that he wasn’t committing crimes and victimizing them. There was a time when he had been known as a thief. That had changed by the time someone took his right arm from him.

Let’s just get right into it.

Darren had lost his license years ago, so he rode around on an old silver bike. The bike was easily recognizable as his because it had of the bright, pink rubber handles that were on it. It was basically his only means of transportation unless he managed to get a ride somewhere. Darren seemed happy on his bike. All that’s not really relevant, but he was pretty upset when the bike was destroyed. At the time he almost seemed more upset about the bike than the fact that he had lost an arm.

It was the bike and the pink handles that someone noticed first when they found Darren lying in a grassy area about fifteen feet from the road that runs by the church that had burned down many years ago. Some homeless transient was killed in the fire, and people say that place is haunted. Darren was found not far from what remains of that church, right next to his bike. The person that found him said it took him a while to realize that something was wrong with Darren when he first saw him. It wasn’t until he went to shake Darren that the man realized the right arm was gone.

It had been cleanly cut off. And it wasn’t an accident. Doctors said that someone had done the job, and they had done it with admirable expertise. It was a sick thing to do, of course, but the cut had been very clean. And Darren had been bandaged enough to stop the bleeding and to prevent any serious infection from developing while he was lying there with his arm gone. Everyone agreed that Darren could have easily lost his life if it hadn’t been for the fact that whoever took his arm had decided to care for him after they did what they had done.

It couldn’t have been an accident.

Darren would still continue to insist that a car could have struck him while he was riding around drunk on his bike. The police and doctors tried to get information out of him about what had really happen, but the man couldn’t remember. It was believable coming from him. The guy was too inebriated to even remember someone taking his arm from him.

They kept Darren in the hospital for quite some time, holding him there even after what remained of his arm had completely healed. The police investigated the case, but to this day they still haven’t made an arrest and there are no prime suspects. All of the local doctors and prominent people in the medical field were questioned, the police figuring that it would have to be someone like them in order for the cut to be so well done and for Darren to still be alive after the arm was removed.

That didn’t lead anywhere.

No one had any reason to want a drunkard’s arm. They couldn’t find anyone who hated Darren enough to do such a thing to him. If anyone did hate him that much, why not just go ahead and kill him? Taking his arm was cruel, but with someone like Darren it wasn’t going to be the end of the world. It wasn’t even really going to slow him down. He could still hit up every local bar, and drunkenly go on about how his arm had been taken, how it was the damnedest thing that had ever happened to him. There were always people who were willing to listen.

Many of the people were pretty curious to hear from him. Many were concerned about his well-being. They felt bad about what had happened to him. The fact that no one had been arrested also made everyone feel at least a tinge of fear over possibly being the next victim, though no other such cases would occur within the years after Darren lost his arm. All in all, people were happy to see that he was taking it so well.

It was quite a bizarre thing that happened to him.

People probed him for answers, wanting to know about who he could have possibly upset so much that they decided to disfigure him. Darren insisted that he got along with all living creatures, and most people would agree. He was still a sad case. It was hard not to see the tragedy. His bike was destroyed, so he would just walk or stumble around town, the short-sleeve shirt he wore making it easy to see what had been done. Work hardly came his way, but Darren was taken care of by the government and charity so he always had money to drink. People would often smile when they saw him out, but the smiles would usually fade quickly.

They were always reminded.

The world was a strange place.

The craziest thing could be right around the corner.

It was a strange place.