I went shopping. I needed a purse. A new purse. Something that could
hold a severed head. I had dreamt the night before that I had a severed
head in my big purse. The face was facing me. Whenever I peeked inside
the purse the eyes would open and the mouth would smile. It was a man’s
face. He looked familiar. Who wouldn’t want to lug around a face like
I found the exact purse I dreamt about at TJ Maxx.
I ripped off the tags and went looking for heads. Perhaps there’d be
heads rolling down sidewalks? Perhaps there’d be heads propped on the
bleachers at the stadium? You never know where you might find the things
you’re looking for.
But the only heads I spotted were attached to bodies.
I went home and took a nap. I dreamt about my late husband. His funeral
was last weekend. Only five people showed. If more folks got to know him
(beyond his face) there’d have been more people at his funeral.
I woke from my happy nap and ate three Saltines.
My neighbor was out mowing his lawn. He never spoke to my husband. He
never waved to me, either. But he had a nice face, especially if it was
separated from his soul.
There I was, walking across the street. Inside my new purse was a
machete, the handle sticking out.
“Hello there!” I called.
Since he was mowing the lawn, and his back was turned to me, he didn’t
acknowledge my presence.
Or he was ignoring me.
I stood there smiling and gripping the handle of the machete. It was a
nice comfortable machete. I bought it at a flea market. My husband asked
why I chose a machete. Why not throwing stars or a bow staff? I told
him, Since I was a little girl, I had always wanted a machete. My
husband smiled at me and then we French kissed. We always chose tongue
over not-tongue. Some decisions are so easy.
My neighbor killed the lawn mower’s engine.
I said, “Hi.”
He said nothing, just staring.
“I think your face is better than you.”
“What does that mean?” he asked.
I walked toward him, silent little steps in petit flats. I barely made a
sound. The day was sunny and quiet.
I pulled up my skirt and revealed my thigh.
“Can you tell me if I have a tick on me?” I said. He was a doctor and
doctors are responsible for our health and well-being.
“A tick? I haven’t seen many ticks this year.”
“I was on a hike and then I spotted a tick on my arm. I think this might
be a tick on my leg, too. Oh, I really hope it’s not a tick!”
To get a closer look, he bent over, his face real close to my thigh.
And then I slid the machete out of my purse and chopped off his head. It
plopped on the lawn. His body didn’t fall at first. It gave an
Elvis-tremble, a little shake of the hip, until it finally slunk down.
After cleaning the head off with my neighbor’s hose, I dried it with a
towel hanging from his clothesline.
The head fit perfectly in my purse.
Whenever I peered in, the face opened his eyes and smiled. But it wasn’t
my neighbor anymore. It was someone special. Someone who wanted me to
look at him. Someone who wanted to look back at me.
Evelyn Winters lives in the north country with her cats and books. Some of her work will soon be found at Bending Genres, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, and Bear Creek Gazette.