Empty Pockets

Empty Pockets

by Nolan Devine

As Clint and I ramble the big ambulance through yellow tape gates our headlights hit the remains — white light over wreckage. Torn flesh and twisted steel. Clint rolls a window to assess the situation. A thick haze of nicotine wafts from the cab to the officer at our door. He tells us the man shot off the road, then through the windshield. Dick gone stiff before he landed.

Skis and poles are scattered around the body like darts tossed by drunkards. “The body” being an old man whose arm came undone from the rest of him in ejection. He skidded belly down and scraped his face off. Only scraps of it remain. His trip ended with him peering up, white eyes and peeled skin. I wonder who he is, his missing features an everyman and no man.

“You alright there, buddy?” I poke the body with a pole.

“Ski that shit. Nahna-nahna. Ski. That. Shit,” Clint sings as he wheels in the body trolley.

Duty first. We fleece the pockets of our everyman. Clint draws gum and me a matchbook. There’s no cash, no cigs. Even in death the bastard gypped us. I drop a hand down his pants and squeeze ’til a testicle pops. I torch a cig with the matches then cloud his face in a vapor of tar.

“Good riddance to you, ya fucker.”

We hoist our guy to the trolley then wheel back to his car for the missing arm. It’s lodged through a gap in the steering wheel. I can see where it detached below the shoulder. Viscera hangs off the end like puppies ground to sausage. Cops always leave the scrub work to us. Clint dislodges the arm, aims it at me, and I give it a fist bump.

“Not that, dummy.” He points to the cheap watch strapped to its wrist and begins again. “Hey Howard.”

“Yeah, Clint?”

“Know the best part about a Timex?”

I shrug.

“It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” He cracks up a little too hard at his own joke.

As Clint laughs the fist uncurls and beckons toward me. It’s as if to say our business is unfinished. I blink. I laugh. I take a drag from my cig then give the man back his matches.