Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Did K. ever show you the human arm he found when he was cleaning out the attic crawlspace?" The question was very nonchalant, off-the-cuff. And a week away from Halloween, I knew right off the (vampire) bat that this was some kind of gag. I wasn't for a second going to believe that my daughter's good friend's parents had a human arm knocking around their house, and that they were going to pull it out after my wife and I brought the girls back from seeing AstroBoy. K. jumped up from the couch, and climbed onto the arm of a chair next to the armoire that held their TV set. He's got a bit of a bad back, and I was saying something like "C'mon guys, knock it off -- I'm not buying this gag," especially because I thought he was going to fall off the chair arm and finish off his spine in the process of trying to retrieve the rubber snake or whatever the hell he was going to actually throw at me for the joke.

And then, I found myself watching K. fishing around below the crown molding of the armoire, and he retrieved something wrapped up in a very conventional blue, terry cloth bath towel, and the towel ends were flapping around a bit, and some small brown flakes were falling out onto the carpet. My ears were starting to pick up sounds again, and K. and his wife were saying something like "Are you sure that you're OK to see this? ...because some people really get freaked out or can't handle this sort of thing...."

Yes, I definitely want to see it. And since I can ask first hand how you actually found this thing, I want to know everything about it. So I'm sitting on a nice upholstered chair with the towel across my legs and it's unwrapped and I'm holding a dark brown, mummified woman's (I think, because the fingers seemed slender) arm. The upper arm didn't seem to have much flesh on it, and the ball joint on the end of the bone was apparent. The lower arm had some flesh and dried out veins/arteries on it, and the hand, fingers together and relatively straight, was completely intact. I wish now that I had turned it over to look at the palm, but I was handling it very gently.

In a nutshell, K. found the arm while in an attic crawlspace to put in some new wiring. It was with a plaque that had two wire loops/supports, and he thinks it may have come from a doctor's collection or a medical college or something. He said it gave him a bit of a start when he came across it, crawling on his elbows. (By the way, the girls were not in the room while the arm was under examination.) The discovery occurred about 10 years ago. And having recently explored the Mutter Museum, I'm absolutely certain that this was no fake. And so, we looked at it, and K. started to put it away, and I asked to look at it a second time, and then I put it away to try to save K's back, and he warned me to be careful since it would drop down a bit once I got it above the crown molding, and of course, I managed to make a nice rapping noise by banging the socket against the top of the armoire. Anyone up for a reading of Sheridan LeFanu's "Narrative of the Ghost of a Hand"? Unbelievable....