Early one morning I drove to the medical lab to have my blood drawn. A small red hand lay on the curb in the parking lot. Its brilliant color caught my eye in the early morning sun contrasting vividly with the concrete. I paused and knelt to examine it.
Few others would stop to look at detritus on the ground, but I’m a scavenger. I believe that there are things in this world seemingly with no purpose except for that which only I can see in them. Found items, scrounged items, trash-picked items—they excite me. That which was once scorned calls to me. I have the “flea market gene,” and it activates itself when I pass thrift stores. Perhaps it can become “art.” I want to collect it but refrain. The “decluttering” gene kicked in and sense returned to me.
Still I wondered. Where did it come from? An action figure? Superman doesn’t wear gloves and Spiderman’s hands have webs on them. Batman’s gloves are black and Robin’s are green. Did the child cry when he realized his toy’s hand was amputated? How did it come to be precisely here, in this location, in the parking lot of a medical building? Perhaps the wind lofted it here, a particularly strong gust I’d imagine. Only a half inch long, it looked forlorn, abandoned, and incongruous in its strong color.
I noticed the texture of the concrete it lay upon: coarse whitish rock fragments embedded in a sandy matrix. Nearby upon the asphalt rested a rusty brake pad, or so I thought then. Now I’m not so sure what it is. A smear of yellow paint limned one edge. The asphalt appeared chunkier than the concrete of the curb, almost sticky. In the strong morning light, deep valleys crowded its surface—deep from the perspective of an ant or a microbe, that is. Were I the size of the red-handed toy, I’d have no trouble walking over that knurled surface though. I’d have sat on the brake pad using it as a bench and admired the view.
I snapped some pictures then went inside for my blood test, forgetting the little red hand and the rusted piece of steel, my odd trip into a land where a red toy hand pointed the direction of my travels. That two-minute pause gave me a moment to think about something different than usual and I cherished it. And here, six months later as I reviewed my old photos, I was brought back to that sunlit morning, the air crisp, and possibilities beckoning.