“Oh my God, there’s a tooth in my corn nuts,” Casey said.
I glanced at the contents of her cupped palm. “It’s not a tooth, dipshit.”
“It’s a goddammed tooth, Ray. Take a closer look.”
I poked at the kernels. “They’re corn nuts, Casey. They all kinda look like—“
I held one up and examined it. Damned if it wasn’t a mother-fucking tooth.
“I told you,” she said with satisfaction.
“Maybe you’d better not eat those until we find out how this got in there.”
“I’ve already eaten half the bag.”
“We should call the police or something.”
Casey laughed. “Who’re you gonna call, the snack police?”
I wasn’t thinking so clearly. We’d been tweaking hard for the last twenty-four hours. Plus, I was hungry.
“Hook me up with some of those,” I said.
She poured a pile into my hand and I tossed them all into my mouth. The salty goodness helped to clear my mind. I sat down on the cinderblock fence and inspected the tooth.
“It looks like a carnivore,” I said.
Casey scrunched her face up, confused. “A cadaver?”
“No, dip shit, a carnivore tooth. The ones that help you tear meat off the bone. Canines, that’s what they’re called.”
“You think it’s a dog tooth?”
“No.” It was way too complicated to explain.
Casey put her head on my shoulder, looking up at me with her pretty blue eyes. “What’s wrong, Ray?” she said.
“I really need to figure out how this tooth got in your corn nuts, babe. It’s like my new mission in life.”
She shrugged her shoulders. “Ok, let’s think about it. Do we know any toothless people?”
“Johnny’s missing a tooth,” I said.
“Yeah, but I don’t think it’s a cadaver.”
“Canine,” she repeated.
“You’re right about Johnny though.” He’d been missing that tooth since I met him five years ago. Seemed unlikely it would’ve made its way into Casey’s corn nuts now.
I put my hand on Casey’s knee. There was blood on my knuckles.
“Holy shit,” I said. “What the fuck happened to my hand?”
“Let me see,” Casey said, pressing it the wound. “Does that hurt?”
I pulled my hand back. “Hell yes, it hurts. Why’d you do that?”
“I’m sorry, Ray, I wanted to see if it was broken. I used to be a nurse, I know about these things.”
“I feel sorry for your patients, then.”
Casey crossed her arms in front of her, pouting.
“What’s got you all bent out of shape?”
“You didn’t have to say that, Ray.”
“What’d I say?”
“You said you felt sorry for my patients. I’m a good nurse and you know it.”
That was how we met; I’d cut my finger on a jigsaw and she was the ER nurse who treated me. But that was a long time ago; I couldn’t remember if she was a good nurse or not.
“Say it!” she said.
“Say I’m a good nurse, goddammit.”
“If you were a good nurse you’d have a job.”
“And if you were a man you’d have a job.”
That was taking shit too far. I got up in her face, raising my hand to hit her. That’s when I got a good look at her mouth. Her lip was all plumped up and bloody.
“The fuck happened to you?” I said.
Casey started crying. “You’re so mean! I’m gonna leave you, Ray, I swear I am.”
“Christ, girl, settle down. Smile at me.”
“I ain’t gonna smile at you, asshole.”
I laughed, pointing at her. “You dipshit, that was your tooth you found in the corn nuts.”
“No fucking way.”
“Open your mouth.”
“Open it, Casey! I just wanna check.”
She clamped her mouth shut. Goddammed women. Why’d they always have to make things difficult?
I lunged toward her and tried to force her mouth open but she kicked me, grazing my balls. I doubled over, cupping my crotch.
“Goddammit Casey,” I said. I struggled to find her tooth on the ground in front of me. ”I got your tooth, right here!”
But Casey had run off and I realized all I had was a corn nut in my hand.