Cody Jennings ’s dog, Freckles, found it. She practically howled with grief after nudging it with her nose.
Cody firmly believed dogs experienced grief as well as a wide variety of other human emotions.
It was, in a word, perfect.
It almost didn’t look real. Brody prayed to God it wasn’t, but he knew better.
It was pale, with evenly tapered toes and a manicure so shiny and unblemished he wondered if she, or they, had gotten it done that day.
He wasn’t all sure what to do next. He resisted the urge to pick it up with his bare hands. It almost seemed to cry out to be held—like Cinderella’s glass slipper. Held aloft and examined for clues as to who it’s owner might be.
But that was, Cody felt sure, against some kind of protocol. Although he wasn’t actually beholden to any authority on the matter he sensed that he should either call the local authorities or run back home to grab a baggie to put it in. For a moment he was flummoxed, he had no cell service out in this area and running back home meant leaving it— leaving her, or them—it—that which remained and danger of a coyote or some other predator nabbing it while he was away seemed too great.
Dusk was approaching and he knew they’d be out roaming the area. He hears a few yips to the North.
So he made an executive decision as his father used to say. He pulled his faded but relatively clean red bandana out of his back pocket and gently wrapped the delicate but all too human appendage in it and made off toward the house with Freckles in tow.
Both Freckles and Cod made muffled crying sounds. Brody took in a deep breath as he carried it across the fields. He knew this was its first funeral of sorts. So he carried it with great dignity and solemnity.
He felt it was owed that.
As he walked he imagined its owner’s life. He wondered where the rest of her—he assumed it was, in fact, her—was. But somewhere in his mind, he knew there was the possibility that the owner identified differently. He wasn’t altogether out of touch.
But somehow he felt sure it was in fact hers.
So he let his mind wander and wonder—was she a mother? Was she married? What had Sher been thinking? How did it feel? And Who? Who would grieve her — did they already know?
Surely they must. It was all over the news.
Not long after it happened, Sheriff Wilcox had sent out deputies to the surrounding area, a good 50 mike radius to start off with—to tell the neighboring folks to begin the search for, well, and this was where the deputy, Jamie Price stumbled a bit and said, “parts.”
At that, both Cody and Jamie who had gone to school together once upon a time gasped a bit and blanched.
There was no question Cody would go out to look. Jamie assured him it was unlikely—but possible he might come upon ‘something.’
Jamie did not, however, tell Cody what to do if ‘something’ was found. He was in too much of a rush to gather others in the area for the search.
It seems odd now that he did not tell him what to do but Cody felt pretty certain Jamie didn’t expect him to discover anything.
But discover he did. And now as he approached the back door of his home, a lovely old farmhouse passed down from generations on end in his family. The house itself was no stranger to death. Or even tragedy for that matter. His great grandfather lost a hand, and shortly thereafter his life, to the thresher.
And so with great reverence, Cody turned the knob holding the foot in his other hand and passed through the kitchen and grabbed his cell phone and keys.
He put the call into 911 and delivered the news to the operator who took the call.
“911. What’s your emergency?”
“I. I… I found a, her, foot.”