Monday, March 15, 2010

Mag 5

The Captain's Hand

It was made of smooth, tooled wood with amazing hinges at the joints of the fingers. It was a hand. Even the fingernails were delineated. When I first saw it, the fingers were half-clenched. It was beautiful. And it was hideous.

As I gazed at it resting on black velvet in it’s glass case in the seafarers museum, a chill ran over me.

I could only think of the captain.

Like the legendary Captain Ahab, he had lost part of his body in a battle with a whale at sea.

His "hand" was hand-crafted in Sweden by an artisan some years later.
It never worked very well. It was supposed to be controlled by nerves in what was left of his arm. But it didn’t. When he wanted to put it forth to grasp another’s hand, it frequently shot up the middle finger in what was thought to be an obscene gesture.

Needless to say, the captain had few friends.

His life became more restricted, more lonely, and he retreated to a small cabin near the sea on a remote coast.

He slowly became more remote himself, refusing to answer letters from family and friends of his former life. He eventually was thought to have died, passed into the beyond.

Yet he lived on.

Until. Yes, until. A long forgotten, nay, long ignored former love of his came to find him in his self-imposed exile. She had searched for years and finally learned the location of his self-imposed exile. And eventually she came.

But she was too late.

All she found was his artificial hand, floating in the surf, just offshore from his tiny cabin on the rocky crest of land.

It was slightly clenched, as if frozen and no longer defiant.

She took it and cleaned it and kept it.

In a small glass box, lined with black velvet.


This is the fifth in a series of writing tests based on photo prompts put forth by Willow. You can read other entrants' offerings at Magpie Tales.


  1. Sad and mysterious; great visuals of utter lonliness. Nice work with the prompt.

  2. "It was slightly clenched, as if frozen and no longer defiant."

    Ooo...shivers! And it is so amazing we were thinking on the same wave length, these great minds of ours. :^)

  3. SDH - Thank you.

    Willow - Yes, great minds, boss.

  4. Poor woman to lose a love and then to find just his hand.. hope it wasn't like this for her....... frequently shot up the middle finger in what was thought to be an obscene gesture......
    that would have been quite upsetting for her!!
    Loved the description of the hand.

  5. Nicely done! This one makes me hope for a ghost story to follow. The old sea captain come back in search for his missing hand...

  6. Catalyst

    Ah! what lurks behind a great writers mind?

    Good read, and I did not see that ending coming,,,,


  7. I guess those sea captains have more problems with their hands than anybody... poor guy.. that middle finger will do it! hee hee.
    Great job Catalyst! :) The Bach

  8. Your imagination is a wonderous thing. Well done.

  9. Joanny - I didn't really feel this one had much going for it but I thank you all the same.

    Bach - Yes, it seems like I couldn't decide whether this one was funny or gothic. Thank you.

    Steve - And your kindness is overwhelming. Thanks.

  10. ah, but his memory live on in words...and in dreams that one day he catches his great white beast...nicely done!

  11. Catalyst, I very much enjoy how you surprise us at the end of each tale. The Mandela ending in the previous Magpie post was so believable. This one, again, makes us take a deep breath at the end!

    Another terrific story!!

  12. Brian - I fear you put more into it than I imagined. But I'll take it!

    RBB - I had no idea! Thank you.

  13. No longer defiantly raising his one finger salute. How sad:-)

    Well done, Catalyst.

  14. Absolutely excellent. Just my cup of salt--- er tea!

  15. Creepy but very atmospheric and interesting. I love the parting shot.....'lined with velvet'!

  16. Very nice atmosphere! And a terrific ending!

  17. Ronda - Thank you!

    Meggie - Shaken, not stirred!

    Rinkly Rimes - Glad you liked it.

    Spacedlaw - Thank you!

    Vicki Lane - High praise. Thank you!

  18. I've just got around to reading this. Very enjoyable.

  19. Poor guy...but his girlfriend in the box creeps me out a little.

  20. Martin H. - Thank you.

    Steviewren - Perhaps as it should(?)

  21. Personally I think it was an insurance scam, like leaving your clothes on a beach.
    I bet she met up with him in South America somewhere six months later.

  22. That was nothing short of spectacular. You are a gifted writer Catalyst.
    I would also like to add with reference to your 'Interests' in About Me... Living to be at least 100 ... I would like to say. With a mind like yours.. I am certain this will be an achievable goal.

  23. Thank you so much for your kind words, Katherine.

    As to the "Interests", maybe I should raise that to 200! :)

  24. Great mood you've created here Catalyst. And the reader is left thinking of that hand in the box. I'm with the other Jen - would make for a great ghost story!

    (Some years ago my father bought a cottage with all its contents from an old woman named Kathleen, who had reached the end of her life. It was great to go through all the things she had! The most curious was a wooden leg, propped in a corner of one of the bedrooms. At first we thought it should stay there, but then we all became convinced there was a ghost associated with it!)

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  27. Thank you, Jennifer. I deleted the other two duplicate posts. No problem.

  28. I love this! Chilling and funny and sad all at once. I love the thing about the middle finger, and so 'needless to say, the captain had few friends.'

  29. Great take on the prompt!
    Thanks for visiting me.

  30. Lucy - Thanks! Yes, I guess I couldn't decide whether this was a funny story or not!

    Jayne - Thanks and it was a pleasure to visit you.

  31. Please forgive my tardiness...I have been on two trips and my son was just married :)
    Delighted to be able to visit and to read your work.

    Your work is so reminiscent of the Cpt in the old film The Ghost and ms Muir. Not the actual premise...but that this wooden hand could so easily be from a salty sea character as he. (ie the middle finger) LOL...

    I genuinely liked this piece and read it three times. Not for clarification...but absorption...true, unfettered absorption!

    (ps thank you for your kind remarks about my work...(text and visuals))

  32. What a touching, sad and poignant story. I'm glad she got there in time to rescue the hand

  33. Muse - Congratulations on acquiring a new daughter-in-law and thank you for your words about Mag 5.

    Martha - Thank you, too.


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