The first casualty was the large boy man with the soft hands. He had taken control of the tablesaw and was ripping ply for the little Asian girls with rectilinear eyewear and anyone else willing to let him. The bearded shop staff for some reason believed him when he said he knew what he was doing, &c, &c. That was soon revealed to be a mistake in judgment on their part when, after a number of successful, cocky rips, he tried a new technique and showed how close he could get his hand to the blade. The Asian girl who spoke in Ebonics shouted to be careful and he shouted back under his safety glasses that it was OK because the blade was outfitted with a laser thingamajig that would make it stop if his hand got within a mm of it or some small such dimension.
It was almost certainly her fault because the young man was at that moment trying to impress and seemingly in his element in the shop he slid his hand through the blade in one quick motion and the fingers popped off in quick succession, flying this way and that. The blood was immediately apparent and continued to flow freely out of the alien paddle that remained. His scream was more of a muffled grunting and crying as he concealed the paddle in his doubled over form amidst the sawdust. The Asian Ebonics girl immediately vomited while turning away and falling against a bandsaw. Others moved away. A few just stared transfixed. Some were dialing 911. The bearded shop staff ran in swearing and yelling what happened what happened and swearing some more and saying I thought you said you knew what you were doing and other accusations at the wounded boy as they obviously shifted blame onto him as the chief protagonist in his grave injury.
The bearded shop staff huddle around him. Someone thinks to hit the kill switch on the tablesaw and it whirrs and clunks to a halt. They are cursing at him and one of them is looking for the fingers and keeps repeating how if they find them and get them in a cooler they can sew them back on and he should be OK. Now with purpose the group disbands to look for the fingers. A few people step away because it looks like there are enough people searching and they clearly don’t want to find a finger or pieces of finger. Someone, the girl who was in her car on the phone all that time, found one and she shouted happily, I found one! Then remembered to not be excited about finding the maimed boy’s finger on the floor of the shop that marked an end to his human dexterity.
The blood streamed and the boy was dazed and sweat-soaked and shivering. Wild stare at nothing in particular. The others were on their phones, mostly. Something to keep busy. Dean was pissed. Stupid waste. His stomach was still balled up over it. Not an auspicious beginning but he didn’t believe in such things anyway. He’d had a few close calls with accidents in the past. All walked away from with no or minor injuries. When he was little there was the incident where he kept touching the hot glass of a gas lantern. Each time it hurt and he cried. Then he came back and did it again and cried again. He had done a few stupid things to impress girls. He had not lost any fingers or limbs. Maybe a little dignity.
One of the bearded shop guys came up with a spraycan of 44 adhesive. I don’t know what else to do, he said. Nothing in the first aid kit for such a wound though the shop was filled with killing machines. The pressure couldn’t stop the blood, by now a raging black pool with moving bits of sawdust like millions of little maggots. A horror scene with the shrunken boy in the middle, now beyond pale. Hold him, said Beard One to Beard Two. Hold him steady there. Sorry, I gotta do this. It’ll work. You’ll be OK.
Beard Two grimaced and looked away as he held the paddle and the boy sprawled and grunted and gurgled. He never screamed or yelled out but something seemed to be going in his mind. Beard One concentrated the adhesive on the stubs but sprayed all around the deformed hand and glued Beard Two’s hands tight to it as well. The boy whined it seemed and clenched his teeth. He was dazed and his legs were spread out in his own blood on the timber floor, which was now stained for sure.
The EMT siren dopplered through the maze of sheds and cut at the open barn door of the scene. The fingers, save one, had not been found. The adhesive had done the job and the EMT’s were impressed. They slid the boy, unwilling or unable to move, still staring wild-eyed, tears running down the granite surface of his face.
This is not a good beginning. Things can start badly and go on being bad, he thought. Or, perhaps this was the explosion of bad that would clear the air and purify the universe for everyone else. He didn’t believe in such things, but just maybe it meant something that this boy was taken out. For one it meant that no one would be allowed to use the table saw. It was then he noticed that one of the bearded shop guys, the one who had sprayed the 44, was missing a pinky. Was it really this important that they make their own desks, he wondered.