No Longer Required
Hortensio awoke and his arms were on vacation.
A note stated that his left arm was touring the Costa Brava, visiting the sites where Joan Miró sketched a biomorphic vision or two—while the right arm was tracing Darwin’s “finch routes” through the Galapagos.
Over the next weeks the arms sent him postcards, twice-weekly, as they extended their travels to the former ice fields beyond Ilulissat, slowly paddled the Zambezi River, and covered portions of the Annapurna and Appalachian Trails. The arms had a fruitful summer.
Back at home Hortensio became well acquainted with the adroitness of his feet. They were both usurpers, ever trying to make him realize the superfluity of his arms.
Daily they harangued him to break off relations with his peripatetic and prodigal arms: “The fortune they are spending! Their wanton disregard of your dexterity!” was the constant cavil.
At his feet’s prodding, Hortensio wrote both arms a note at their next appointed stops—Iquitos for the right arm; Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky for the left—telling them not to bother returning home: “Your services are no longer required.”
At the right foot’s prompting, Hortensio filed a complaint with the State Department which prompted an alert from Homeland Security. “That’ll fix ‘em,” the left foot said.
His arms are wandering rogues to this day.
“Its face was like the face she had seen in some medieval paintings where the martyr’s limbs are being sawed off and his expression says he is being deprived of nothing essential.”
— Flannery O’Connor / The Violent Bear It Away