Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dig Infinity

The following excerpt is from Dig Infinity by Ben Shakey. It will be published by Digital Books in April 2009.

Digger pulled off his socks and placed his left foot on the chopping block. He gripped the axe in his hand.

He curled back his Big toe. He curled back his little toe. His still thought of it as his pinky and he tried to correct his thinking to the more mature phrase of ‘little toe’. He really wanted to call it the little piggy that ran wee, wee, wee all the way home and then call for his mommy and his blanky as he was terrified into childlike state where he might actually wet his pants.

He looked at the three remaining toes that were not curled back and resting on the chopping block like French aristocrats before the guillotine.

Digger had three options.

He could become a conscientious objector and someone would be sent to Viet Nam in his place.

He could dodge to Canada and never see his family or country again.

Both of those options seemed oddly cowardly as well as ineffective.

Nobody ever talked of the third option.

The U.S. Army stated that anyone missing three toes on the same foot was not physically fit to serve.

He knew other guys that tried to fail the physical on purpose by claiming to be bed wetters or queers. The draft board saw right through them and they were shipped off the South East Asia, possibly that afternoon.

Well there was no seeing through this.

Nothing cowardly either.

The axe fell and Diggers toes slipped off like a pair of dirty socks.

They called him Digger because he dug everything, but after the ‘accident’ he didn’t dig surfing as much since his balance was off but he still hung out at the beach with his surf buddies.

He didn’t work but he managed to collect a little extra on his welfare due to his disability and he used that to buy extra drugs so there was usually someone willing to let him couch surf which wasn’t exactly surfing in the Pacific but it was good.

Eventually everyone got married, or jobs, or kids, or even rehab and he became the old guy on the beach looking for a place to crash. He moved on to straight up dealing since the only reason people wanted to hung out with an old toeless hippy talking about the old days on the beach was for the drugs anyways.

He finally found a place to crash for 4 years. The state penitentiary.

He was eventually evicted and was then even less employable and more addicted.

He curled fetal on the sidewalk, placed an empty cup in front of him and stuck out his damaged foot for passersbys to see. He wrote on his cardboard sign: WOUNDED IN THE VIET NAM WAR

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