Once again, reality has beat me to the punch when it comes to making up strange stories. Last week, a man who bought a smoker at a self storage auction found that it came complete with an amputated leg (some people have all the luck). Personally, I think this line is my favorite:
The mother, Peg Steele, explained her son had his leg amputated after a plane crash and kept the leg following the surgery "for religious reasons" she doesn’t know much about.
Today, a follow up story has emerged. It turns out that the man who bought the smoker, Shannon Whisnant, is now in a custody battle over the leg with John Wood, the man who originally owned it. I’m fascinated by Wood’s story; he sounds like he’s either really down on his luck and suffering serious depression, or simply isn’t the sharpest toenail on the foot. After the leg was amputated, he had it shipped to him (so that he could be buried with it when he died), and stuck it in a freezer. When his power was cut off, he hung the leg in the smoker to dry. When he was evicted from his home, his mother offered to pay rent on a self storage unit for his belongings for two months; after that time, however, it would be John’s responsibility to pay for the storage. He failed to make the payments, so his belongings were put up for auction, as is usually the case with these things. And one of the items was the smoker with the leg in it.
Whisnant is making money off the leg, by charging people a couple of bucks each to take a look inside the smoker and see the leg, so he naturally doesn’t want to give it back, claiming that he bought it so its his. Wood’s livid, however. I have to say I’m on Wood’s side with this one, though; Whisnant sounds like kind of a schmuck. Sure, it may be irresponsible to lose a limb in the first place, and losing it again when your belongings are auctioned off after you failed to pay the rent on your storage unit may be more irresponsible. But, dammit, it’s your leg. You should be allowed to retain custody over your own body parts.
It will be interesting to see how this case resolves.
And it only now occurs to me that it’s a strange coincidence that this story emerges on the day after I just finished a short story which involved a mad scientist doing something very similar to this. Who would have thought?