Tom kneeled down by the body, bracing his Gerber blade against the heel of his thumb. “Hey, it’s not any of my business, but how are they paying you these days? I imagine they stopped just taking your word for it that you killed some insurgents.”
Scott smiled. “Yeah. Apparently that time Jim and I tried to take responsibility for that mosque bombing was too much for them- I don’t know why, I mean, we said they were all enemy combatants. We even took pictures of a few of the severed hands we found holding grenades and- anyway, they’ve got us collecting ears. Left ears. How bout you?”
“We were doing ears for a while, but a few of the Blackwell execs started asking questions. Apparently, they talked to a few doctors and found out that since children have disproportionately large heads for their bodies, compared to adults, it was theoretically possible that some of the ears that were being turned in belonged to kids.” Scott stopped, and asked, “Well, were they?”
“Yeah, of course. I mean, a dead kid’s a sad thing, but if they’re going to try blaming you for their death anyway, you might as well get paid for it.” Scott frowned, then said, “Still, pretty clever, you know, for execs, to have figured that out.” Tom wiped his forehead on his sleeve. “Yeah, I know; I was actually impressed. They also said it would stop us from trying to take credit for cripples who couldn’t use a weapon. We argued that one, that suicide bombers didn’t need fingers, but you know, no union, no bargaining power.”
“So what do they have you collecting? Fuck- this woman’s wearing earrings.” Tom shrugged, “So?” Scott swore under his breath; “So they always give us the third degree with women- I mean, if they know it’s a woman. For some reason nobody buys that women can be terrorists, too. It’s sexist is what it is. But It’s just not worth it, you know, all that hassle, taking in a woman’s ear. I’ll just leave it.” Tom paused before asking, “You mind if I take her finger?” Scott shook his head, belching quietly to himself, “No, man. It’s not like I’ve got any plans for it. You mind if I-”
“No man, knock yourself out. But yeah, I’m much happier since we moved to the finger rate, because, I mean, look at your pointers. Very few people have perfectly similar trigger fingers, so if you’re cautious, you can double dip. If you’re really adventurous, a normal company guy isn’t going to notice the difference between pointers and middle fingers; some of the dumber ones you can sneak past a ring- but if you’re going to do that, you take both hands to make it look like someone was hiding his identity, so they don’t get suspicious. But you know the great thing is they fight so hard to keep accurate casualty figures from making it into the papers that no one has any idea how many corpses there actually are, so they pretty much just have to pay us.” Scott paused a minute. “You don’t think you could, I don’t know, get me a job over there, do you?”
Tom smiled. “You’d have to quit where you’re working. I mean, the two of us, moonlighting, reselling dead body parts- twice- that’d be wrong.” Scott laughed. “You friggin kill me, man.” Tom deadpanned, “Only if there’s profit in it,” before smiling again.