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Head Trauma

 Salvatore Difalco 



Tito rubbed his hands together. He wanted the numbness in his fingers to stop. He couldn’t get any work done. He sat on his hands for a few minutes and this helped, but not enough. He went to the bathroom and ran hot water over his hands. Much better.


In the living room he looked at all the junk on his coffee table. It had accumulated so quickly. He’d only lived in the unit for a month, and already it resembled a sty. He needed air.


He put on his runners and a light jacket. It had been warm for September, but windy.


As he walked from his tenement to the nearby plaza, he tripped on a sidewalk crack and fell down, striking his head on the concrete pavement. He blacked out for a second.


When he came to, a man in black with a long nose and strange eyes stood over him.


“That was some fall. You damn near cracked your noggin.”


“I’m okay, I think.”


The man’s teeth were set so far back in his mouth, at first glance he appeared not to have any. Also, he wore shoes with no socks.


“Do you need help standing?”


“Give me a sec.”


“You’re bleeding.”


“I am?” Tito touched his head and sure enough felt the blood. He looked at his gooey fingers. Blood dried quickly.


The man handed him a paper tissue. The man was wearing a loose black suit with no shirt underneath. His wrists were so thin they looked like sticks emerging from his sleeves, attached to clown hands, for his hands were bizarrely red and swollen.


“You’re an unusual-looking man.”


“People say that, yes.”


“I mean, you look pieced together.”


“Don’t we all?”


The man’s eyes weren’t quite aligned on his face. The right sat at least an inch lower than the left.


“You better get that looked at,” he said. “You might need stitches.”


Speaking of stitches, only as the strange man walked away did Tito notice that the back of his head was shaved and bore a purple scar a half-foot long that resembled a zipper.



I couldn’t feel my fingers. It made my forehead crease. Behind my eyes, unfathomable machinations took in all the information and processed it. The information was incomplete, as in Texas Hold Em, a card game I play when I can. Occasionally I get lucky and start thinking I am a very good player. Then I go on a bad run and feel that I’ve been selected for special punishment by the gods or whoever is viewing my life on a big screen. I believe someone or something is. My life, like any life, represents its own film, its own paintings, its own music and words. Even its architecture is unique. Yet, it exists, it only truly exists, so long as it’s being perceived.

“So, I don’t exist when you close your eyes?”

“If you’re not near me, that is a possibility.”

“And if I don’t exist, why do you?”

“Perhaps, from your point of view, given distance, I also don’t exist. You have no proof of it unless we are in contact.”

I confuse myself sometimes when I think of paradoxes suggested by quantum theory. Then again, I don’t really understand quantum theory, and judging from the day to day fluctuations and revisions by quantum theorists, neither do they. But maybe that’s the point. We can never know everything. We’re not meant to know everything. We can’t process it all.

“We’re too stupid?”

“Stupid is a strong word. Maybe not evolved enough is better.”

“That makes us sound apish.”

“We’re not apish?”

“I know you are sometimes.”

“Smell yourself.”

In my part of the world abundant water exists—as evidenced by our many lakes, rivers and cataracts—and sundry products of every conceivable manifestation, purchased cheaply at any pharmacy, supermarket or convenience store, that when combined with this abundant water, more often than not, will cleanse and deodorize even the rankest among us.


At the pier some people were casting lines and trying to catch the fish swimming the polluted canal waters.

“Should we wait?”

“Wait for what?”

“There’s too many of them.”

“We’re not gonna fight.”

“Thought you wanted to fight.”

“When the fuck did I say that?”

“You always wanna fight.”

“Just shut the fuck up and keep quiet.”

If he was suggesting that I had a violent mind, well, I would agree. I think of violence continuously. Can’t help it. This person was a friend. I trusted him. I forget his name now, but I am, in general, very bad with names. Faces I remember forever, names not so much.

“Told my girlfriend I was going out with you tonight.”

“Why would you do that?”

“We believe in complete honesty.”

“Good luck with that.”

“Anyway, you know what she said? She said you were the biggest loser she’d ever met and couldn’t understand why I spent any time with you.”

“Wow, she said that?”

“Yeah, boss. She said that.”

Two men were skirmishing over a large catfish. One of the men slapped the other. He fell into the canal with a splash. The other hurried off with the catfish.

“Fuck sake.”

“Anyway, you know what I told her?”

“Can that dude swim?”

“I told her I felt sorry for you.”


Salvatore Difalco's short stories have appeared in many print and
online journals. He splits his time between Toronto and Sicily.

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