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Killer Keychain
By Mary Ann Smyth, June 2004

Blood spurted suddenly, then slowed to a drip. I stared at my finger in disbelief. It had a hole in it! A hole in my finger! Wafting through the air was the distinct odor of ... gunpowder?

The day began like all my other Thursdays. I opened the shop (an 'upscale resale shop' as we volunteers like to call it) and tidied up from the previous day's business. Others were sorting clothing, steaming, and pricing in the back room. I could hear their voices happily chatting, catching up on the previous week's news. Me? I stood behind the jewelry case (also the sales counter), idly watching two customers browsing. Roaming the room, my eyes alighted on a small pistol on a ring. A tiny wee object. Just the thing for a budding mystery writer to sport on her keychain.

Taking it from the case, I realized the miniature replica had working parts. You can see what's coming, right? I couldn't, not then. Who would'a thought? I balanced the miniscule thing on one finger on my left hand, while I tried to pull the trigger with the other hand. Nothing. Aha! The tiny doohickey at the top of the barrel begged to be cocked. What would you do? I cocked it and pulled the trigger.

Wow! A very large, unbelievably loud bang for such a tiny weapon. And a large hole appeared in my finger.

Wrapped the poor damaged digit in a paper towel and held it aloft until closing. Then stopped at my doctor's office on the way home. That's when something or other hit the fan. You'd have thought I'd been carried into the office bleeding from every orifice. The wound was dressed competently, but the constant fluttering around me was disconcerting to say the least. This office was full of alarmists. I left with a bandage that would cover the flame on the Statue of Liberty's torch (not the whole torch, thank goodness) and was directed to the nearest hospital, whose staff were alerted to my imminent arrival).

Have to admit, I began to have fun. Everyone wanted to see the weapon and the wound. One woman even Xeroxed the darn gun, saying her boyfriend would never believe her. I was a modern day Annie Oakley!

Was informed that my doctor would be notified immediately if tests showed anything lodged in my finger. Call came early the next morning to go ASAP to a hand specialist's office as something foreign had been found.

By this time the pain that appeared late the previous day was down to a dull roar. But with all this fuss, I was beginning to feel apprehensive. I visualized myself on an operating table, concerned faces peering down as the doctor extracted that foreign object and repaired the damage. The pain became aggressive as I sat in the waiting room. I held the huge bandage in my other hand, practicing a noble and long suffering look. With a soft sigh now and then, and the occasional twinge of pain crossing my face, I saw myself as a true tragic figure.

I imagined an amputation!! No, don't go there. Where is this doctor? The one who's going to save my finger. Maybe my life.

Finally, my turn.

I tried to be brave, as the specialist slowly unwound the bandage seemed like there was enough gauze to wind round an Egyptian mummy. Don't remember the questions he asked as he carefully disrobed my agonized digit. I do remember that I expected him to try to hide his dismay as he examined the damage. Would he be gentle as he rushed me into surgery? Would he insist I call my loved ones to help me through this monumental moment? Would he point out to his staff how stalwart I was in the face of such adversity?

Hah! He muttered 'Looks fine to me.' My ego shriveled like a spent balloon. All that posturing for naught. The excruciating pain dissipated the instant he unwrapped a Band-Aid the size of a dime and placed it cavalierly over the wound. Telling me to come back in a week, Dr. Deflating informed me that what showed in the X-ray was nothing more than a blob of gunpowder that would dissipate into my system with time, nothing to worry about.

Then came a quizzical mien, and I anticipated bad news. He's not sure I can take it. He's wondering if he should call a nurse in case I go into hysterics.

Hah again! His next words, 'How did you do that again?'

It was kind of nice for that short period to be the center of caring attention. Ah, well. Back to the everyday world. Which ain't bad. I still have my finger ... and I'm still the proud owner of that killer keychain.
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