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Drama Suspense Mystery

Chester Merril's index finger on his right hand found itself restless during its drive home. And it began to wander. 


With a tranquil mind he journeyed, the radio thrumming low as he daydreamed his way to the posterior of the standstill traffic. The restless digit couldn’t be trusted this afternoon, but Chester didn’t realise this. If he had, he would have taken precautionary measures. He was a good man with good intentions, and normally, well-behaved fingers.   


His car was stationary now. His neighbours-at-wheel, the same. With the day languid, warm and unremarkable, this good man would go on to commit a most vile act. Chester’s index finger, his utility finger, his self-guiding, self-aware finger with the latest autonomous recon-scout exploratory technology found its way to that most taboo of locations. And he picked his nose.


With traffic leaden and heat syrupy, with steering wheel dozing and his nose unguarded - the insurgent forefinger had found the perfect womb for a clandestine insertion. Deeper and further it went, climbing and scavenging for spoils. If conscious of its actions Chester would have known it was committing a forbidden and reviled act, even more so if one was in charge of a motor vehicle. And he would have prevented it. Thou shalt not insinuate thine action finger in thine right nostril whilst driving a Toyota.


Sadly, he was unaware of the finger’s probing adventure. He was unaware of the peril - thinking only of the fun ways he and his wife Margie could spend their weekend. But beside him a fellow driver in her Fiat 500 was not unaware. She was extremely aware, alarmed, disgusted, and screaming. Her forefinger wasn’t picking - her nostrils were flared in anger but totally sans-finger, as well they should be. Instead, her finger was performing an altogether different movement. It was pointing at Chester.


Chester was oblivious to the lady until she remembered she had a car horn in her Fiat, invented for this very purpose - highlighting an illicit in-car rhinal excavation. He looked across at the lady, realised what he was doing and where his finger was, he realised why she was beeping and at whom, and he was mortified. 


‘No, no, noooo! I wasn’t, I wasn’t, I wasn’t!’ he pleaded silently through his car window after hastily defenestrating the guilty finger. But he had been. He was. His forefinger now on best behaviour and well away from his nose as if nothing much had happened. But it was too late. And he saw the lady on her mobile phone call in his doom.


An extremely short time later with traffic hung as if in judgement, the authorities managed to chopper in a crack team of National Olfactory Specialist Enforcement (NOSE) agents. Their logistic ability was impressive in spite of the tightening crises, Chester conceded, and he was suddenly surrounded.


‘Please sir, raise your index fingers and step out of the car nowwwww!’ they ordered, weapons ready, foreheads beading. Heatwaves almost softening the asphalt beneath them. 


Chester obeyed and exited his car with hands high, afraid for his life and family. He knew he was caught bang to rights. And what would his excuse be anyway? He had no excuse, he knew that. Ignorance was his truth, but it was a truth that wouldn’t get him out of this mess. The drivers around him had all alighted their vehicles at this point. A palsied hush hung over the proceedings as if news had spread that a favourite elderly celebrity had died. The excitement of an effervescent Friday becoming sombre and heavy. 


‘Sir, you will come with us right now! Keep your fingers away from your face, and turn around!’ NOSE Agent number one ordered while keeping his firearm aimed at the tainted finger, followed by ‘Cuff him!’, as a second agent approached. 


‘You’re ours now you sack of shit!’ snarled NOSE Agent number two. 


Agent numbers three through twelve wrestled him to the ground with heavy knees and elbows, and placed him in Finger-cuffs. They dragged him away full of unvented aggression, but also wary of his fingers.


*


Chesters one phone call from the station had been to his parents who bailed him out of jail pending a full judicial investigation. He knew the penalty could be severe, and he thought about it constantly as his parents dropped him and their disappointment at the curb outside his home. They had said not a single word the entire drive.


‘Hi honey, I’m home!’, he shouted after watching his parents drive away. When things get hairy, stick to the classics, he thought.


‘Where have you been?’, Margie his wife asked, coming to meet him in the hall. ‘I’ve been worried shi…’, she began. ‘Where are your clothes? Why are you in those overalls? And why were you dropped off by Carla and Rodney? Wait, Chester, where is my Toyota!’, she demanded.


‘Honey, I need to tell you something,’ he said calmly, using his hands in a pacifying motion with palms languidly patting the air down in front of him. ‘Something’s happened. Something bad. While I was driving. I’m so sorry’, he said patiently and musically, as if trying to talk down a small child. 


The moment he took to think how best to proceed gave his wife time to join what she thought were the dots. Her eyes flitting left and right as she did the math. The dots and the math led her to the correct place.


‘Wait, Chester. Please tell me you didn’t. Tell me you haven’t…’ She implored.


‘Honey…’ he said.


‘Don’t honey me Chester. Do not honey ME!’


‘Margie look. It was nothing. It didn’t mean anything. I was just driving home from work. I lost my concentration and… And I just…’, he didn’t have the words. 


Margie had the words. ‘And. You. Just…What? Hmmm? You just WHAT Chester? Tell me... TELL ME!’, she yelled, stamping her foot. Her face in his.


He was scared now.


‘I don’t know. I was driving home from work, the traffic got backed up and... It was hot… I wasn’t thinking Marg! Anyway, before I had time to blink a lady was… and the traffic got... And the beeping… And the heat… So, soooo hot it got… And before I knew what hit me, I was, I was surrounded Margie! The agents… They had guns! I got so scared…’, living it through again by retelling what had happened made the full weight of the situation hit home. 


‘I did it Marg,’ he declared, gulping. ‘I did. I did it.’ He said again with more conviction, as if admitting to himself as well as his wife. Nodding gravely as he did so. 


‘No’, his wife said, shaking her head in denial. ‘No. No, no, no, no. NOOOOO!’, she screamed as he approached to embrace her, shrugging him off.


‘Don’t touch me,’ she said. ‘Do. Not. TOUCH ME! Stay. Away!’


‘Sweetheart’, he begged. Unsure what he would say next even if given the chance.


‘Get those fingers away from ME!’ , she shouted and stomped her foot again like an unruly child having a tantrum. ’Oh my god this isn’t happening, this isn’t happening! Oh god, oh god, oh god.’ She sat rocking on the grey living room sofa now. Arms hugging herself as if cold. Suddenly, all movement came to a halt. ‘What have you done Chester?’, she asked him quite simply, looking far away into an imaginary distance, sounding dislocated and detached. 


‘Look Margie, I’m sorry. I lost my head for just a second. I wasn’t thinking and… Maybe it won’t be as bad as…’


‘It is as bad as…’, she yelled. ‘what do you think’s going to happen when news of this spreads, hmmm? When the neighbours find out? And the kids…’, she paused, needing to take a breath and let out a sob at the thought of their children. ‘What will my parents say?’


‘We can get through this Marg! Together. If we just stay strong, you and me, we can…’, he pleaded. 


‘There is no you and me. Not anymore. Not after this. What were you thinking Chester? You weren’t thinking about your family that’s for sure.’ She asked, then answered. 


‘And things were starting to go so well for us! I’d just got that promotion, and the kids have been doing so well in school. Jimmy, he’s upstairs right now, he drew you a picture at school today Chester, he can’t wait to show you; “My Hero!”, it says. With a picture of you!’ she snarled, prodding him hard in the chest with an unyielding and resentful finger. ‘Well we can just rrrrrrip that up now!’, she said with bitter disdain and a sneer. 


‘OK look, we can’t let this beat us Marg, we can get past this,’ he begged. ‘We can find the kids a new school. And screw the neighbours! It’s not like they don’t do it! They do Margie, they do! Why, only last Sunday I saw Dennis across the street picking his nose, right out there!’, he implored, pointing through the window as if able to lay the guilt at the feet of his neighbour. 


‘Yes, while he was cleaning his car Chester! Not while he was driving it!’, Margie said, a resounding silence took over them. She was breathing heavily now. Looking furious. Chester could see she was playing it through in her mind while her eyes drilled into him, bruising his very core. 


‘Show me then…’, she spat. ‘let me see them.’ 


He knew what she meant. ‘Margie, I don’t think this will…’


‘SHOW ME!’, she shouted, demanding to see. 


Wordlessly he raised his finger to her. He wished she would shear it off, right there. The shame he felt made his head swim. The room felt as if it were contracting in on him ever so slightly. Things would never be the same again, he knew this now. 


Margie smirked dismissively, stood up from the sofa and walked out of the room shaking her head. Her eyes shot him down as she walked towards the door, watching him until she slammed it on him. And them. 


‘It’s over’, she declared bluntly through the door. 


*


Time moved on for Chester Merril. 


Estranged from his wife. Almost a stranger to his children now, whom he saw only during supervised visits. The authorities went easy on him thankfully, taking into account his previous exemplary behaviour, and no witnesses coming forward to profess having seen him picking his nose at the wheel before. He was still on probation however, but only on the proviso he visit a court-appointed therapist once a week. ‘And what do you think led you to commit this heinous act, Mr Merril? Why don’t you tell me about your relationship with your mother…’, that kind of thing. 


He let Margie and the kids have the house. He rebuilt his relationship with his parents as they slowly accepted him back into their lives. They did what they could to get him back on his feet. 


He found a new apartment in the next town away. He moved from job to job, but once they found out about his past he would never last very long. 


He went to a support group where he found solace in others who had also gone searching; searching only to find the one true answer there was to be found up one’s nose - shame. He laughed with them, cried with them, he bared his soul for them. ‘I was just… such a mess back then! I did it for attention, I think. I’m not that person anymore’, he would blub. Group hugs putting him back together again, piece by piece. 


Things were slowly getting back on track for Chester. Every now and then somebody would recognise him and shout or point him out in the street. His front door would get graffiti’d with obscenities about being a nosaphile or a bogey burglar now and again. But he had to hope that they would forget about it eventually and move on. Just like he was trying to do. 


Things would get better for Chester Merril he hoped. He would build himself a new life. And he did his best to get by - living his new life. One day at a time. 



October 09, 2023 06:01

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7 comments

Kathryn Kahn
17:15 Oct 16, 2023

What an interesting premise. I can't tell if I'm more repulsed at the description of the nose-picking or the reactions of the world around him. Either way, I was fully engaged! :-D There's something about the tone, it's parody, obviously, but almost like angry parody? Which is a thing. I'm not suggesting you change it, just reporting that I noticed it. Nice job with a really weird story.

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Damien Exton
09:06 Oct 17, 2023

Hi Kathryn! Really enjoyed your insight on this. And yes, it's definitely a disgusting subject, and ridiculous. But it occurred to me the day I did the first draft how everyone's in their own world in their own car. But then - others may see you different, and then boom! NOSE Police get you :o) Thank you very much for reading and taking the time to add a reply. Much appreciated

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Rabab Zaidi
08:25 Oct 15, 2023

Very interesting!

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Damien Exton
14:30 Oct 15, 2023

I’ll take that! Thank you very much Rabab

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Annie Persson
14:21 Oct 13, 2023

Love this! The ridiculousness of it kept me laughing all the way through. Great!

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Damien Exton
15:00 Oct 13, 2023

Thanks Annie. It is ridiculous definitely. I think us people do ridiculous things at times that inspired me to write it. Thank you for the kind words and for your time

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Annie Persson
17:40 Oct 13, 2023

You're welcome. :)

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