"I don't wear my wedding ring," he told me. "Well, just on my chain."
I said something about the dangers of working in a factory job like what he has and wearing rings. "You know the principal of our school? When we were at that one awful place? She almost pulled her finger off on a door, one of those fire doors with the metal panel things." I paused and pulled on my beer. "She had stitches all the way around her finger."
My brother took a breath. The phone beeped as his daughter tried to dial, and I knew I was still on speakerphone. I tried not to accidentally teach his daughter the words "fuckin hell" or "piece of shit" or even "jackass." His in-laws wouldn't be amused.
My brother took a breath and if I didn't know he never smokes around his kid, I'd think he was smoking. "We did this training," he said. He works at a chemical factory in a relatively high-paying skilled-laborer position. "There were all these pictures, in black and white. The instructor said we could come see the color ones but they were graphic. The black and white ones were graphic, too."
I made a noise to show I was listening.
"Gold," he told me, "is a really good conductor of heat. It'll heat up like that. These pictures showed this guy, he got a welding spark attached to his ring, and it heated up, burned all the way to the bone."
My brother took another breath, and I took a swig of beer and tried not to think about my ring adhering to the skin, burning through the skin, finding the bone. He continued, "They tried to pull the ring off, and the skin came with it. Took everything off, looked like a skeleton. No fingernail, no nothing. Don't know what was holding it together."
"Tendons?" I managed, practically in a fetal position and rocking back and forth.
"Dunno," he said. "Looked just like a skeleton. I don't never wear my ring at work. My wife, she understands, as long as I always have it on me. She don't like it if I leave it in the truck or something, though. But she knows I can't wear it while I'm working."
His daughter managed to find the button that ended the call about this time. I heard the click and hung up on my end to wait for his call-back. By the time the call came through, the topic would change to what does a cow say, or what kind of cookies are his daughter's favorites now, or anything, really.
Anything but naked, boney fingers, destroyed.
By the way, this is a dupe account, I admit. I have reasons for changing nicks, and if/when you figure it out, I'd appreciate the courtesy of not tying me to my other nick.
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