Ogg had hurt people all his life. His Daddy said so. Said it often. Ogg held the double bit axe in one hand, blood on the blade and blood on the ground. Daddy’s hand was bloody. And missing two fingers. Not the important ones, just the small finger and the next one. The finger that doesn’t have a name. Daddy held his hand up and showed it to Ogg.
“See what you done?”
Daddy glowered at Ogg. He turned to Queedle, “See.”
Queedle stepped closer and took Daddy’s wrist and examined the bloody injury. Daddy jerked his hand away.
“Go get me the jug”, Daddy said to Queedle. He sat carefully on a nearby stump.
“I’m sorry, Daddy,” Ogg mumbled.
Daddy clenched his teeth as a wave of pain seemed to wash over him. “Damn, boy. You killed your mother on the day you was born and you been hurting folks around you all your life, and now you cut my hand off.”
“Only two fingers, Daddy. The little one and the other one.”
“I know what you done! Auggh, damn, it’s starting to hurt bad now. Where’s Queedle with that jug?”
“Should I help him find it?” Ogg took a couple of steps toward the wagon. The woods were a dark gray green as dusk began to settle and the wagon was visible in slices as Ogg looked between the trees toward the road.
“No, don’t help him do nothing. I’ll tell you what I want you to do. Lay that axe down first.”
Ogg stopped and sat the axe bit on the ground and leaned the handle against the branch of a fallen tree. As he did this he saw his Daddy’s two fingers on the ground in the leaves and wood chips. He bent to look.
“Here’s your fingers, Daddy. Do you want me to get them for you?”
He glanced up at Daddy, but Daddy’s eyes were closed and he was making a humming noise. Ogg saw his brother out of the corner of his eye walking from the wagon with the jug. He was wiping his mouth with his sleeve. Ogg reached out and prodded one of his Daddy’s fingers. He glanced at Queedle again and curled his fingers and palm around the fallen parts of his Daddy. Parts he had cut off with the axe when his Daddy reached to move a branch just as Ogg was swinging to chop it. Ogg could remember his Daddy’s hand coming into view, the axe on its way, his own arm throwing the axe blade at the branch and no way to stop. He was going to hurt his Daddy. It made him sad. When the axe blade cut into the branch Daddy’s fingers it didn’t even slow it down.
“What have you got there?” Queedle said, like always wanting whatever wasn’t his.
“Give me the damn jug!”
“Nothing.” Ogg held Daddy’s fingers in his hand, like they were the fingers of a child.
“Give me the jug and leave your brother alone.” Daddy reached for the jug with the hand that had all its fingers. He held his other three-fingered hand in the air but his arm was tucked close to his side.
Queedle handed Daddy the jug. “Your hand’s bleeding worse, Daddy.”
Daddy took a long pull from the jug and sat it down. He took his face wiping cloth out of his shirt pocket and wrapped it around his injured hand. He held it in place with his three fingers and wrapped it twice and tucked it in under itself. It soaked up the blood quickly.
Ogg felt better now that he could not see the bloody part where the fingers had been. Once Daddy had fixed the cloth over his hand he picked up the jug and took another pull.
“It’s getting dark. We better head back home. Queedle, gather up the tools and take them to the wagon. I’ll carry the jug.”
“What about me Daddy? Should I take an arm load of wood or help Queedle?” Ogg stood with his hands clasped behind his back. He knew he was in trouble but wasn’t sure if he would get the strap when he got home or if Daddy was going to take a branch to him right here. With Daddy’s hand all wrapped up and carrying a jug, Ogg was guessing he’d get the strap when he got home.
“No, Ogg, you stay here.”
“Stay here Ogg. I’m done with you. You hurt me bad. You’ve hurt your brothers, you killed your momma and I’m done with you. Stay here. Don’t come following behind the wagon. Don’t help load nothing. You’re a grown man. You find something else to do besides hurting your family that’s raised you and fed you for all these years. I’m done with you.”
“What?” Ogg heard the words, but he didn’t really hear them. He stopped and thought for a bit. This happened to him a lot. People said things. He heard words he knew, but when they were done talking he was unsure. His brain got it jumbled. “Why do you want me to stay, Daddy?”
Queedle had stopped to listen but just then Daddy caught up with him and threw his jug holding shoulder into Queedle’s chest.
“Go on. Ogg’s not coming home with us. He’s hurt us for the last time.”
Queedle stumbled back a step, hesitated, and turned toward the wagon with axes and hammers and bag of splitting wedges over his arm.
Ogg stood and thought about his Daddy’s words. He watched as his Daddy and Queedle walked around branches and tree trunks toward the wagon. It seemed kind of a dance. Ogg heard the loading noises as the sound carried through the darkening woods. Horse noises, wagon noises. Then the slice of wagon he could see between the trees was gone and he was alone.