The Boney Finger
The steady sound of rain on the tin roof awakened Adeline Saxton. Her head ached and her ankles were numb. Looking up into the barn rafters, she watched a rat carrying a piece of bread in its mouth. Dust danced into the air is the rodent passed over her. Three days had gone by with nothing to eat and she was growing weak and desperate. Fearing she would never see her children again, she chewed at the thick twine that bound her wrists. Suddenly, she heard voices through the wall.
“Let her go or I’ll kill you both!”
Adeline became enraged. She had not heard her husband’s voice for three years. She hated him for leaving her. Trying to stand up, she collapsed in the hay.
“We have no interest in your wife, Saxton,” said the old man in a raspy voice. “Bring her father to us and she goes free.”
“You’ve made a big mistake. Her father’s dead,” countered Stephen.
“So, she lied to you. A family of thieves and liars.”
“If he’s alive why don’t you ask her where he is?”
“Shut up tight as a drum, that one. Just like her father. She’s a fool.”
“Where are my children?”
“Begging for scraps of bread for all we care. Now, go find the old man or she dies.”
Silence. Adeline pressed her back against the wooden slats and stared into the rafters above. She was too weak to scream.
“If her father is alive, why do you want him?”
“He has something that belongs to me.”
Tears ran down Adeline’s soiled face, leaving small trails that dripped off her cheekbones. Regret filled the pit of her stomach. She should have told him the truth about her father years ago. He would have left anyway. Regret quickly turned back into the anger she felt toward Stephen.
“I tell you he’s dead. I saw him buried,” shouted Stephen.
“Did you look in the pine box?”
“What do you want from him?”
“Like I said, he has something that belongs to me.”
Adeline strained to hear Stephen’s voice.
“What happened to your finger?” he asked.
“Your wife never told you, did she? Her father bit it off years ago. I can still see it hanging from his mouth. Nice chap, your father-in-law. Murderous thief. It’s my finger and I want it back.”
Adeline began banging her head against the barn wall.
“I’ll find him, but first, let me see my wife,” said Stephen.
Adeline groaned as the door before her flew open. She struggled to sit up. Bits of hay hung from her hair as she looked up into her husband’s soft eyes. His three-year absence had changed him. She looked away, still wanting to hate him.
“Are you alright?”
Adeline stared into the floor and nodded.
“You’ve seen her, now go,” shouted the old man.
Stephen lunged at the younger man, knocking him to the floor. Grabbing a pitchfork, he stuck it into the man’s chest. Adeline screamed, but it was too late. The old man brought a shovel down on Stephen’s head.
“So much for your pathetic husband. Now tell me where your father hid it before I kill you too.”
Adeline looked down at her husband, lying on the floor. Was he breathing? The last time she had seen him he was standing in the doorway of their home with cold eyes. She was begging to him stay. Adeline had realized in that moment her husband was a hollow man, incapable of love. But here he was, fighting for her life. She wanted so much not to hate him. If she could only see him breathing. Looking up into the face of the old man she suddenly grew cold.
“Why do you want that old bony finger back?”
The old man smiled a toothless grin.
“Cause, our daddy said I could have it back when I died.”
Suddenly his face turned to horror. The sharp points of the pitchfork were sticking out of his boney chest, but no blood poured from his wounds. Falling at Adeline’s feet, his four-fingered right hand fell across her lap. The old man looked up at her and snarled.
“I’ve spent my whole life looking for my boney finger and now even though I’m dead you still deny me.”
“Stay dead old man. You were a fool to waste your life looking for something of no use to you,” said Adeline, as she pushed his hand off of her lap. Adeline looked over to see Stephen breathing.
“Are you alright?” she asked, crawling over to him.
“I’m fine. Are you alright?”
“Good now. Why did you come back?” she asked.
“I realized how much I loved you. I’ll never…”
Adeline dropped her head.
“It’s buried in the floor below your feet.”
“What are you talking about?” he asked.
“My father’s treasure map.”
Stephen lifted up the floorboards revealing a wooden box.
“Go on, open it.”
He reached in and pulled out an old map. The boney finger fell out on the floor. Adeline’s face tightened.
“The map will lead you to the treasures of Moraw," she told him. "It’s what you’ve been searching for these last three years.”
Stephen placed the map back in the box. Lowering it down into the hole, he then covered it with the floorboards. After kicking the finger to the side he looked down at Adeline.
“Let’s go home. I have all the treasure I need sitting before me.”
Adeline took his hand.
“How did you know where I was?
“Your father told me.”