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[audio:https://killauthor.com/audio/issuefourteen/josh_collins.mp3|titles=I Am a Man With a Fractured Skull|artists=Josh Collins]

Above me a window shatters. Glass falls on my head and shoulders. People on the street whispering. There is glass in my scalp. I can feel it. Thundering. Stinging. My skull is fractured. I am a man with a fractured skull.

Now I’m at the hospital. Glass shards in my scalp. Fractured skull. When you come into the room, you’re wearing a red coat, holding flowers, lilies. You are not my sister. Who are you?

I remember some bad ideas I had. The Sacrificial Axes of Ancient Greece and How I Saved Them, being one.

For example, the fracture in Jim’s skull when a window glass falls three stories onto his head. On the sidewalk I’m knocked out clean and bloody. I am he, and he is me.

The axes glow in the orange torchlight. They are nervous about their duties. They are new axes, two of them, wielded by shirtless slaves whose heads probably itch beneath those black cloth sacks. The axes look shaky. They don’t want to screw up the ritual. They remain quiet, focused, alert.

A scrawny gray priest wearing a rancid exomis (tunic) and broken cork sandals emerges from a hole in the ground and hurls handfuls of pulverized goat bone into the night air. (Nonmusical drumming. Orgy of grunts. Writhing.) “Here we go,” says one ax. “I hope this works,” says the other. The slaves draw near the victims. The priest flaps about in the dust. Zealous men of the horde lift their garments and wag their swarthy erections.

And here I come out of the dark, holding my rifle. I blast away the executioners then fire on the citizens. As the crowd disperses, I slip the axes into the ax holders around my hips. “Now you’re safe,” I tell them. “I will spirit you home and raise you.”

“We don’t want to go home,” says one. “We want to split something open.”

“Shush now,” I say. “You’ll change your minds when you see the white silk pillows I’ve sewn for you.”

And we ride through the Grecian night in my Honda, the curving dark line of our trail vibrating like the fissure in my skull.

There is also the mirrorball in my stomach, shining out. I will raise my head from the papery pillow at the hospital, and the twirling light will color my eyes.

A constellation on the wall. No lines but outlines. Who are you? I am your bedpan.

For example, my mirth. Your mirth. The unforeseeable mirth of injury.

My head: now a busted watermelon with a miniature house inside. I lie facedown on the sidewalk where people pass without looking. Inside the house, which is wood and brown and wet with watermelon, there is a man sitting in a chair by a fireplace. The man’s name is Jim. He stares into the unlit black fireplace. The fireplace reminds him of an eyeball, his own pupil. Jim says to himself, “Well, I’m blind again,” but he is not blind. He is abysmally bored. There is little difference in this case, thinks Jim. As he falls asleep, he hears gobs of watermelon meat splashing outside on the pavement. I am a man with a fractured skull, he thinks. Drifting away into the unreckonable dark, he heads for a place where family, fruit, and flowers flourish.