As the boys were running about, we saw that we had new neighbors moving in. There was a parade of family members hauling boxes and at one point, a little boy crept out of the condo and became transfixed at the spectacle of my neighbor's and my hooligans playing about like monkeys. His Grandma followed him out in an attempt to urge him back inside but it was a hopeless case. Once my kids and my neighbor's kids took off in their scooters, the new kid was swept up in their wake. Poor Grandma was pretty frazzled and kept trying and trying to get her grandson to go back home with her. I could sympathize because moving is stressful enough but moving AND watching a small child is madness. Grandma, P's mom and I ended up trailing behind the parade of neighborhood boys and chatting when P's mom had to break away to check on her middle child. Shortly after she left, P and Ben found...the thing.
I should mention that I had consumed nothing the entire day up to that point except for coffee. My blood sugar was crashing and I was wired from the caffeine. I was keeping it together for the most part but the thing was sort of the tipping point. P and Ben were about 20 feet ahead of us, intently studying something on the ground and as we got closer I could hear P saying over and over "It's real! Oh my goodness, it's real!" Ben made some noises along the line of "blech" and pointed at the ground excitedly when he saw me. It was at that point that P said that they had found a hand. A hand. I looked where my son was pointing and my already frazzled brain tried to put together the information being sent to it by my optic nerve. It looked like a hand. A skinned, somewhat mutilated, and very definitely severed hand. My first thought was that it was some kind of amazing Halloween prop. I told the boys as much and to illustrate my certainty, I poked it. I really wish I hadn't poked it. I was expecting hard plastic but instead felt something altogether more yielding and a tad slimy. I tried to confer with Grandma but she must have met her tipping point, too. Beyond offering up her son-in-law's medical expertise ("He's medical," she says to me) she couldn't offer anything else and instead told the boys that I was going to get some paper towels and dispose of it.
I should have resisted more to being volunteered to handle the thing but I wasn't entirely in my right mind. I passed P's mom as I headed back to my home and gave her a very brief and terribly vague overview of what was going on. I retrieved the towels and went back to the thing, wrapped it up, and headed to the dumpster. On my way there, I decided to stop by the new neighbor's garage to see if the Medical Son-in-Law could offer any insight. This is the part where I introduced myself to my new neighbors, flushed and shaky and clutching a skinned body part.
"Hi! I'm Sarah. Does this look like a HUMAN HAND to you?"
It turns out that Medical Son-in-Law is not, in fact, medical. However, he and his wife looked at the thing, agreed with me that it was real and definitely not a prop, and urged me to call the police. I probably should have done that before handling the damn thing but better late than never. I left them standing dumbfounded in their garage and made my way back to the spot while on the phone with a 911 dispatcher. I explained what had happened and ensured them that I was putting it back where it was found and I would leave it the hell alone. When I got back to the spot, another of my neighbor friends had joined the party and she took a look at the thing once I put it back on the ground. She's super smart and way more savvy about biology than I am and she thought it looked like it could possibly be a bear paw. Her equally smart and savvy husband came out to join us and seemed to draw the same conclusion. By and by, a police officer showed up. He donned some blue gloves and studied the thing but I didn't get to hang around for the final verdict because the kids scattered once again. I was also really close to collapsing on the sidewalk from hypoglycemia so once I decided that I wasn't going to be interrogated or chastised for being so stupid, I gathered my kids and went home. I met my new neighbors on the way back and told them it was probably a bear paw and might have mumbled something in an attempt to reassure them that finding stray body parts on the lawn isn't the norm for our neighborhood. I'm pretty sure they'll be steering clear of me in the future.
And I still don't know what the hell it was.