(The Dead Part Of You – American Music Club)
It could have been worse, he always used to say, grinning his gap-toothed grin and using his right hand to tighten the knot that kept his left arm bound to his body. I could have been trying to eat your brains, right now. He’d laugh, and the fingers on his left arm would wriggle and squirm, desperate for escape, so he’d give them a slap and they’d retreat to a sullen fist.
He never liked it if you called him lucky though, and he’d tell you that he wasn’t lucky, just fast, and he'd been fast twice. He’d not been fast enough when the dead thing lurched out of the trees and grabbed for him. He thought he had been, but he slipped in the mud and then it was on him. It sank its teeth into his arm, drawing blood, and then its head came up, hungry for what was inside his head, and that’s when he was really fast the first time.
Scrabbling for purchase in the mud, his hand touched rock and he grabbed it, and he swung it, very fast, very hard. “Hit dead centre,” he would always tell you. “Split it like a ripe melon.”
Then, when he had pushed the twitching body off him, he was very fast the second time. He ran to his car, pulled the baling wire from the back, and tied it tight around his upper arm, so tight it sank into his flesh. Rumour had it that might work, if you were fast. Other rumour had it that nothing would do other than chopping the arm off, but he knew he would bleed to death then anyway. He tied it so tight that the circulation was cut off, and his arm died its own limbly death, and then it came back. He was ready for it though, and used his own belt to tie it to his torso, and drove one-handed back to the town. After that, it was really just a case of living with it.
Sometimes, when he got really drunk, and we got really drunk, he’d untie his arm and chase you round the room with it, playing a grand game of chicken. It was fine if it slapped you, but you really didn’t want to let it catch you with a fingernail and draw blood. He tried to keep the nails trim, but it was hard with all that wriggling around it did. “Be fast,” he shouted at us, as he stumbled over tables and around chairs. “Don’t be lucky, be fast.”