Cyril has lost his head. His awareness of such convinces him that he is missing not his head but his body, a body now flailing about, unburdened by consciousness, uninhibited, free from the manacles of reason; a body whose liberation Cyril’s head has come to envy in the nanoseconds since its separation.
The moment of detachment is an evaporating illusion, a miasma of cold breath. Only the echo of ripping metal remains after the world slipped from its axis and a rainbow-colored stream of mercury swirled down an earthen drain, the finalization of the divorce of Cyril’s head from his body, cleaner somehow, more permanent than his other divorce. Cyril’s head is now an empty room, so cold the room, a stove bereft of coal. Wife, children, dog, car, words curling away from their definitions like Cyril’s body from his head, have dissipated, leaving a single cogent thought—a thunderhead, and then thoughts rain from the sky in yellow sheets.
Forever falling, a base-jump without a parachute, repeatedly crashing through the ground, Cyril’s head drains down its pierless mooring lines into pools of aspic eaten by crows with the faces of children, his children, or maybe the children he never had but should have. His eyes slide behind a rice paper screen of bluing vacuous arteries, aching for darkness, a basketball hitting the rim, bouncing off the backboard, so close to slipping into the net, needing only a nudge, a breath of air to tip it into the hole. But it teeters on the edge instead, flirting with the net, playing hard to get in an endless seduction.
Lips shaking, Cyril draws a phantom breath as a velvet purse cinches him up in purple silence. White fluttering birds, like the ones released at his wedding, blast out of a blunderbuss, their wings tapering into flapping knives as they perch on his ears, their motors humming, roaring, the smell of gasoline on their breath.
Cyril gets no replay of his finer moments. His life does not flash before his eyes as he so gullibly expected; there is only a woman who might be his wife, or perhaps the woman he wanted to be his wife, holding a baby, his baby, or a bowling ball inscribed with his name, endless gutter balls, baby crying. She is also sobbing, the woman, yelling, swinging a golf club at a troop of marching mollusks wearing tennis shoes and Cyril’s equations, the ones that tirelessly failed him, finally solved, a jumble of hands and legs and breasts where the Greek alphabet should be.
Orbiting eddies of red and green, Cyril’s head, now free for the first time in years from the cancer in his body, floats on a gasoline breeze, relief, a sharp break from the mutated cells that have kept his head on a raceway made of chocolate mud. The bright light finally giving way to the midnight blackness of a crescent-moon Sunday at the lake where he learned to fish with his grandfather. The reflections of the marina lights along the pier, oblong yellow corpses of light, twinkle into the shape of faces he recognizes.
Cyril is a lone gear moved beyond the reach of the teeth in the surrounding gears, spinning slower, doing no work, waiting for rotation to finally stop. Beneath the ebb of the last heartbeat his body gave him before the split, a rumble, a boat horn or a bus, builds, humming ever louder, noise as white light so thunderous it blinds him. Cyril’s head yearns to clasp his hands over his ears. The noise grows louder still, eyes trembling until they pop open. Thought blindness. Starfield.