By Lincoln Michel
The mouth on the top of Franz’s head has a diameter of six inches. His address is 606 Hinton Ave. The electricity tower next to his house is sixty feet
tall. Franz is an accountant; he immerses himself in numbers and yet
he has, so far, failed to figure out the significance
of these repetitions.
The mouth can speak, but only German. The mouth is rude and gets Franz
into trouble. After a grueling day of accounting, Franz steps into the elevator holding his briefcase neatly in front of his
crotch. In the elevator is a shapely young woman in a blue power suit.
“Du hast einen
leistungsfähig arsch,” says the mouth.
The red handprint stays there for twenty minutes.
Franz wears a black bowler hat on the top of his head, to
cover the anomaly. It was his grandfather’s. Franz sits on a park bench musing over his fate. It is mid-May and Franz is the only person wearing a bowler hat. Franz is an accountant, but if he were an artist perhaps
he would be more optimistic about his fate, given the history of famous faces
obscured by apples and white birds. Perhaps he would view himself as walking
A small squirrel, not
cautious due to years of hand-feeding in the park,
crawls along Franz’s shoulder and wanders under his hat. It does not
re-emerge. Franz weeps silently.
Franz sits nervously crinkling the thin white paper of the
doctor’s table. The doctor prods with his tongue depressor.
“It’s a tumor,” he says definitively.
“Yes, probably benign.”
“Benign?! It just ate a squirrel.”
“I meant it’s not cancerous.”
The mouth is learning some manners. Eating some particularly peppery salami, Franz sneezes.
“Gesundheit,” says the mouth.
Still, to Franz, the situation is becoming unbearable. He lies in bed
at night asking god, “why?” But god does not answer him. If only
there were someone for him, some kindred soul. Some woman with an eight-inch
ear fixed to her dainty head who would hold him in her
arms and listen, listen.
Copyright © 2004 Lincoln Michel
Lincoln Michel is a young
writer and fiction editor of GW Review who fluctuates between small
towns and big cities and writes whatever burrows into his head and asks to be let out. He has only recently begun submitting writing
for publication but his work can be found in Wooden Teeth, Le Cult de Moi
and McSweeney’s Internet Tenedency (forthcoming).