Transfer $62,000 to This Account Immediately


“Oh my God!” I shouted. “Chip, look at this!”

My husband took the letter from my hand, glanced at it and tossed it on the table. “Obviously a hoax.”

“Why would you assume that?”

“Because it wouldn’t be unusual to find either one of your brothers . . . uh . . . living in a Dumpster.”

“Well, I suppose that’s true,” I said. “But it came with this package!” With shaking hands, I opened the small padded envelope and immediately dropped it. “Aaagh! A finger! I’m gonna be sick.”

Chip grabbed the manila envelope and peered inside. “You’re right. It is a finger. It smells a little. So probably Joey’s.”

“You can’t tell by the smell,” I said. “It’s a finger!” I sunk into a kitchen chair.

“I could argue that point, but let’s see what we have here.” Chip slipped on a pair of disposable gloves and pulled the finger out of the envelope. “Seems to be a real finger.” He dropped the digit back into the package.

“Oh, ick! You touched it!”

“How else am I supposed to know if it’s real?”

“I’m calling the police!” Unlocking my cell phone with shaking hands was proving to be a real challenge.

“Wait a minute,” Chip said. “How do you know it’s your brother’s finger?”

“What is the matter with you? It’s somebody’s finger.”

“Which brother?” Chip asked.

“How should I know? It doesn’t matter!”

“Well now, think a minute,” Chip continued. “If it’s Walt’s finger, he could have caught it in something, or cut it off while cooking. You know how accident-prone he is.”

“I can’t believe we’re having this discussion.”

“And if it’s Joey’s finger, he most likely cut it off himself just to extort money from us.”

“I don’t care if it belongs to our neighbor,” I whined. “Someone is hurt. Maybe already dead. And it could be one of my brothers.” I continued to fumble with the phone.

“Yeah, but . . . which brother?” Chip persisted. “If it’s Joey, there is no way in hell we’d send anybody any money. And if it’s Walt, his health is so bad, he probably had a heart attack when they cut off his finger and he’s dead already.”

I stopped pounding the phone against the table and stared at my husband. “You can’t be serious.”

“I’m just saying. Slow down, hon. Think about it. First, we’re not rich enough to be targeted for ransom notes. Second, both your brothers have . . . shall we say, colorful histories.”

“Hey!” I protested.

“Am I right or not?”

“I stared at the phone in my hand. “You’re right, but . . ..”

“Tell me if you wouldn’t put a hoax like this past either one of them.”

“Well . . . no. But I don’t think Walt is up to cutting off his finger.”

“Probably not. But he’s twisted enough to put it to good use it if he did accidently cut it off.”

“I hate to admit it,” I said, “but if Walt is off his meds, it’s possible.”

“And Joey. Come on! He’s the one always broke and desperate for drug money. Face it. This is definitely his style. It’s a wonder that he has any fingers left.”

I set the phone on the table. “We still need to call the police.”

“I know you don’t care if Joey is arrested. But what about Walt? Any more jail time will kill him.”

“Chip, I’d pay the ransom for Walt!” I began to cry. “What if he’s tied up somewhere with his poor bloody stub wrapped in toilet paper?”

Chip picked up my phone, unlocked it and punched in Walt’s number. He placed the ringing phone in my hands.

I held my breath as the phone continued to ring—three, four, five times. “He never takes this long,” I wailed.

“Yes, he does,” Chip said. “When he’s on the porch smoking.”

After the sixth ring, Walt answered. “Hey sis! It’s good to hear your voice!”

“Are you okay?”

“Yep! Got my new wheelchair last Friday. I can take it all the way to the Walmart by myself. It’s great to have wheels again.”

“Oh Walt! That’s wonderful! Do you have all your fingers?”


“I’m sorry. That’s a weird question, isn’t it? Are your fingers . . . doing okay? All ten of them?”

Walt laughed. “Of course they are, sis. What have you been smokin’?”

“Not for years, brother. Let me call you back. I’m knee-deep in alligators here.”

I disconnected the call and looked at my husband. “How many days do you think it took this package to get from Joey’s house to here?”

“It’s just a priority mailer, not an overnight package. I’d say two to three days.”

“Well, that accounts for the smell,” I said. “But . . . hey, look. Since it’s been that long, do you think it matters much if I pick up the house a little and fix my hair before we call the police?”

“Not in the least.”

I grabbed the broom and began to sweep the kitchen floor.