I started the day with hands. The first thing I saw when waking, they seemed to glow in the half-light that slid through the blind slats...eerie ghost-hands that were seperate from the rest of everything, still and quiet on the red plaid comforter. They looked blue, like corpse hands.
I began to think of them as entities of their own, even though they behaved normally and went through the usual morning rituals just as they always did...they showered, brushed teeth, ran their cool fingers through my hair; they even selected the cracked mug with the faded smiley face when the coffee was ready. The cup barely shook; a minor miracle. Maybe they weren't my hands after all, because my hands were always trembling long before the coffee was done, and never failed to spill a fair amount across the table as I read yesterday's paper.
Yet on the surface of this strange morning, calm. A natural calm that came all alone (On little cat feet, ha ha) without the benefit of narcotics. Amazed at my new hands, I took off to work. They gripped the wheel with confidence, seemed to know the way just like my old hands...they even waved at Mrs. Campos when we passed the Shop 'N Save. She stared and didn't wave back; I don't think she recognized the hands.
Once at work, the hands revealed themselves as imposters. My partner Henry knew at once that they were replicants, a duo far different from my original pair. They were helpful...cleaned our rig, checked our equipment, turned our radio to country music; and this was the REAL betrayal, my true hands would have cut themselves off before performing that blasphemy. Henry kept looking at me sideways, but didn't say much. I think he was scared of the hands.
Our first call was a crackhead frequent flyer named Aaron. He called 911 at least twice a week, complaining of nausea, of vomiting, of explosive diarreah. We hated Aaron; he always puked in the rig, spit on the foor, shit on our clean sheets. The real hands would have accidentally hit him up side his pea-head with the O2 tank...but not these hands. These hands helped him to the rig, gave him an emesis basin, started an IV and pushed phenergan to ease his nausea; they even placed Aaron on the defib to access his heart rhythm. They seemed to actually care.
Aaron watched them do all of this with gaurded eyes, he flinched at each procedure. It was clear that even Aaron knew these hands were faux...he kept his eyes on them like a mouse keeps his eye on the snake. Henry was silent, but obviously siding with Aaron.
And that's how it went all day...the hands did it all. They attended every patient as if every patient was really in need of their expertise. They patted brows, pushed meds, administered painkillers like candy. They changed stretcher sheets, asissted the astounded nurses in the ER, filled out forms in a timely manner, never flipped one doctor the bird. They left the radio alone the whole shift. When our shift was over, they clocked out on time. They waved goodbye to Henry, to the Chief...they didn't wave back, either.
Then we were home, them and I. They opened the door, turned on the light, ran their fingers through my hair...and stopped. I could feel my scalp pulsing beneath, felt the blood pushing past the roots. The mirror by my bed showed a face that looked like me, hands trapped in a short tangle of black and gray...shaking. My hands, my true pair. I wondered where they had been, I knew where they were going. Opening a small drawer in the bedstand, they took up a leather pouch, took out a familiar friend; slender, sharp, 20 CC.
Somewhere in the dark, the replicants died.