It was all bad news: stories about the factory closing down, countless murders, war, and so on. As I read, I found myself going through a series of mixed emotions. At first, the fact that I was reading all of these things on a man’s face intrigued me. But, after the third or fourth story, the novelty wore off and I became depressed. The world was not in the best shape, and I found the endless obituaries tedious and discouraging.
I didn’t handle depression very well in those days. More often than not, rather than dealing with the unpleasant emotions as I should have, I defaulted immediately to rage. It had something to do with me externalizing what I should have kept internalized. I am much better now, of course. Anger Management has worked wonders in my life. But, back then, I was a bit of an asshole.
So, seeing read, I grabbed him by the ears and yanked. I felt the stories were all somehow his fault, as though he were to blame for not only the condition of his face, but the condition of the world I read about.
The skin around his jawbone came loose and his face sagged. I felt his cheek muscles rip. He tried to scream but I grabbed his tongue and pulled it from his head before he could articulate any sounds. His eyes burst and a white substance leaked out, pooling in his lap like tapioca.
Bending over, he began vomiting words and blood onto the pavement. It formed a viscous puddle at our feet. With a final tug, the flesh tore away from his skull and I stumbled back with his face in my hands. His body slumped down against the bench, bloodless, wordless, and dead.
For a few moments, I didn’t do anything. A light breeze picked up and the face was plucked gingerly from my grasp. I watched as it was tossed about on the wind, lifting over the factories and smokestacks towards the city beyond. His body yellowed, mildew poured over its surface and soon it was nothing more than a brittle husk on the bench. I reached out for it but it crumbled under the weight of my fingers.
The face disappeared over the city. A light rain began to fall and the bus pulled up, splashing its front tire through the bloody mess at my feet. The doors opened and I climbed aboard, suddenly struck by the pungent aroma of coffee breath and urine, all the foulest smells of the human organism.
I sat down beside a withered old woman in a natty shawl. The wrinkles in her face were like cracks in the pavement. She had that morning’s paper resting in her lap.
“Wanna read it?” she offered.
I shook my head.
“No thanks, I already have.”