What is the sound of one hand flapping?

Quite a few years ago, I chanced upon a severed rubber hand a few weeks before Halloween. I can't remember who gave it to me, but it was molded from a real hand and the overall effect was pretty convincing if you weren't too close.

In my infinite wisdom, I thought it would be funny to slam it in the trunk lid of my shitbox Chevy Citation, leaving its fingers sticking out above the license plate. I enjoyed seeing people's reaction in my rear view mirror when they noticed it.

After about a week of this, I pretty much forgot about it. It was still hanging out of the back of my car, getting grimier by the day.

I was watching television one night, and the doorbell rang. I got up and opened it, and a state trooper was standing on my doorstep. It turns out that the sound of one hand flapping is a lot like a siren. The conversation went something like this:

Cop: Mr. Johnny Virgil?

Me: Yes, that's me.

Cop: Do you own a maroon 1986 Chevrolet Citation?

Me: Yeah, why?

Cop: Does it have, uh, a human hand sticking out from under the trunk lid by any chance? I know that sounds crazy, but we've been getting reports all week and someone reported your license plate number.

Me: (laughing nervously) Ha ha, well, yes, actually. It's not real though. It's a rubber hand.

Cop: Can you come with me please?

Me: Um, where are we going?

Cop: Out to your car. I'd like to take a look at it if you don't mind.

I put some shoes on, grabbed my keys and followed the cop outside to the parking lot of the apartment complex. He had his giant flashlight swinging around sort of randomly, and I was trying to remember where I had left the car. I finally remembered and we walked over to it. He played his light across the back of the trunk, and there was the hand. The problem was, while the thing had started out looking pretty fake, the road grime had taken its toll. Dirt and dust had collected around the fingernails, and combined with the grime in the skin creases and the general overall grubbiness, in the beam of the flashlight this thing looked as real as the hand on the end of my arm, had my arm been attached to the torso of my recently exhumed corpse. The cop took a quick step back.

"Open the trunk please," he said, suddenly all business.

I unlocked the trunk, and the hand fell onto the ground with a muffled thump. I picked it up, wiggled it around, and then handed it to him. He shined his light on it for a few seconds, flipping it over, then visibly relaxed and said, "OK. It's probably not a good idea to keep that there. You wouldn't believe the number of calls we received on this. We've had troopers looking for you all week."

I told him I was sorry about that, and I tossed the hand on the front seat. He left, and I went back inside.

The next day, I stuck it behind the little door to the gas cap. I figured that still looked creepy, but it was more funny-creepy than axe-murder creepy. And you'd have to be insane to think that someone was actually reaching out from down inside the gas tank.

Two nights later, the doorbell rang again. I opened the door, and the same trooper was standing there, holding the grubby severed hand and looking at me. He was not smiling.

"I'm gonna have to take this," he said.

"Yeah, that's probably best," I replied.

'I don't want to have to come out here again," he said, pointing the severed hand at me for emphasis.

"No sir," I agreed. "That would be bad."

"OK," he said, "We understand each other."

He turned and walked back to his cruiser. I could tell that for a split second, he wanted to slam the hand in the black-and-white's back door and drive around with it that way, but he restrained himself and just tossed it on the seat next to him and then drove away.

And that, sadly, was the last I saw of my severed hand.

Halloween is coming up pretty quickly, and I'm thinking it might be time for another one.

I'm heading to a Phoenix resort next week for a conference with my co-worker Special Dark, so there should be some good blog fodder in the making. Plus, I'm pretty sure I saw in the brochure that they sell severed hands in the lobby store. I'll let you know how I make out. Hopefully it won't get confiscated at the airport.

Is it better to check a severed hand with your luggage, or keep it in your carry-on? I can never remember.


  1. Very funny and you know super trooper wanted to do exactly what you said.

  2. I think it's fine for carry-on - just don't fill it with liquid for chrissakes.

  3. Anonymous5:36 PM

    LOVE the story, but Sweetie, you're about 20 years too young for that trooper to have been driving a black and white. In NY, they've been blue and gold for maybe 30 years now.

  4. Yeah, that's true. I call'em black n' whites even though they're blue and yellow.

    The Blues Brothers is one of my all time favorite movies, if that explains anything.

    I hate Illinois Nazis.

  5. Yeah, Phoenix in August was not my idea. Special Dark volunteered me to go to our boss, and to refuse would be to basically say, "Yes, I'm not interested in training unless it's someplace warm in January" so I decided to go. I'm not looking forward to the 6 hour flight either. That bastard is going to pay. Oh yes. He'll pay.

  6. Take the hand and slam it in your luggage as if someone was in the bag.

    Homeland Security and the TSA will love it.

  7. And I get a cavity search! Bonus!

  8. Anonymous10:57 AM

    I am *so glad* Red linked to this. Awesome. : )

  9. As long as the severed hand is not holding a Diet Coke I think you're good.

  10. Anonymous6:29 PM

    Mordja, I agree. I lost it on that line.

    Classic, Johnny. Classic.

  11. You, sir, are an evil genius. I pulled a similar prank on my friends once. I was in the back seat and my friend in the front passenger side called out "Is everyone in?" We all said yes. Right after she slammed the door shut I yelled "AAAAHHHHH!!!!!" She totally fell for it. The funny part was, I was sitting between two other people in the back and there was no way my legs were long enough to reach the door.

    I can't imagine why she was pissed at me...

  12. Anonymous4:38 PM

    I'm new to your blog and am going through old posts. That is about the funniest thing I've ever read!!!