10:44 - Saturday, Dec. 10, 2005
Dr. Tommy Bumpyhead
The mountains surrounding the track were dark green and steep, with mist curling in from around the bends and down from the sky, obscuring slowly the soft eyes and curved horns of the mountain cows who stood at the edges of her vision, staring. The girl led her horse just off the tracks, alongside the train, who crept up the incline at walking pace. The girls eyes were half-closed; she thought herself majestic and fairy-tale-like, to be leading a train.
“Don’t forget to stay next to me,” said the train. “They are offended when we don’t come together. When someone comes in ahead.”
“Okay,” said the girl, and backed up until the clacking of the horse’s shooes matched the clacking of the train’s front end on the tracks.
“Want to hold hands, just to make sure?” asked the train.
“No, I’m okay.”
The passengers on the train had varying views. There was one old man who had his own floor-to-ceiling window, but had it covered with a curtain and was snoring. Others had to crowd around a porthole the size of that of a jet-plane, and still could see nothing because the mist had frosted over. No matter how close anyone got to a window, something would prevent their seeing out. The man with the curtain, for example, would bite your hand if you attempted to move his curtain out of the way.
Every two minutes, the occupants would jump out, most of them… and the passengers on the platform would take their places. Most of them. Some were too scared to get on. The girl with the horse had been too scared for fifty passes of the train, and on the fifty-first jumped in on impulse. Her parents, on the platform, petrified, wiped their eyes with handkerchiefs, murmuring last goodbyes.
As the train crept higher and higher, she became nauseous from the lack of view, and asked to lead on horseback. The train had agreed.
They were going to a commune on the top of a hill. The girl broke away and ran, got there first. Nothing happened. Nobody was displeased. When she walked through the door, there was a girl waiting there, and her mother, and the other girl’s mother, and the other girl was waiting at a drawing table to make a crayon sketch of the girl on horseback. The girl on horseback was now not on horseback; she had left her horse outside, disappearing from mist.
The drawing girl sketched the horseback girl’s head, an apricot circle. She drew a rainbow of blonde crayon stretching to the size of at least twenty of the horseback girl’s heads. It fanned out all the way to the apricot circle’s shoulders.
“Aww, she drew you a rainbow!” one of the mothers exclaimed, motherly.
“It’s my hair,” the horseback girl argued.
The drawing girl looked annoyed. “You’re supposed to have closed at least ONE of the doors you’re looking at me through.”
The drawing was a secret. Somebody was going to pull the drawing out of a hat later and guess who it was.
“Okay, I’m not looking,” said the horseback girl. She could still see.
When Dr. Tommy Bumpyhead burst in, everyone reacted the wrong way. Dr. Tommy Bumpyhead was a serial killer. He had unmistakable bumpy cornrows that tended to evade vision. He stayed in densely populated homes for a long weekend, killing two people per day. If you were chosen to be killed, you were killed. If you were not chosen, you lived. Dr. Tommy Bumpyhead was somehow never caught, even though he left multitudes of witnesses alive.
Dr. Tommy Bumpyhead was in the house. People appeared from nowhere, literally out of the walls. The horseback girl’s brother stepped out of the fridge. “You all know who I am, right?” he asked everyone, waving a gun.
Everybody knew, and they were all terrified, but nobody screamed. Everybody was terrified inside their heads. Outwardly, only a vague murmur, similar to that of a crowd when someone says something provocative, was heard.
Everybody also knew what to do. The twenty or so of them formed a circle around Dr. Tommy Bumpyhead and each, in turn, showed him their hands. Palms up, palms down. Dr. Tommy Bumpyhead nodded. Then everybody put their hands on their head.
The interesting thing about Dr. Tommy Bumpyhead was that no matter where he was looking, he was looking at you. No matter how many people he had to intensely study, he was studying you. You were always alone with Dr. Tommy Bumpyhead, and when he chose someone else to kill, you were always shocked to find that there were other people he could have chosen. When Dr. Tommy Bumpyhead looked at you, you knew that you were going to die.
Dr. Tommy Bumpyhead chose two people that were not the horseback girl, for which the horseback girl was shocked, shaking. She and her two cousins retreated to their bunk, shocked and shaking together, and she beckoned her cat to come sit on her stomach. Five purring minutes passed before a young cousin knocked the cat in the head, and the cat jumped off, rolling its eyes.
“You can never give me a calm, undisturbed place to rest,” the cat said to the girl as it walked away. “It’s never happened. This is why I don’t sit on your lap.”
“You ruined everything AGAIN!!” the horseback girl screamed at her cousins, and burst into frantic tears.
Three days passed without getting chosen by Dr. Tommy Bumpyhead, and on the fourth and final day, the horseback girl was chosen. Usually, Dr. Tommy Bumpyhead took his victims into the back room before he killed them in whatever interesting way he saw fit. That day, he gave one warning. “Today I am feeling hasty, for the police are upon me. When I point my gun at you, you will not come with me, as per usual. Today when I point my gun at you, I will pull the trigger and you will be dead.” He aimed the gun, swung it around in a wide arc, took enough time cocking it that the horseback girl had time to turn her back before the bullet hit her in the back of the heart. She collapsed, and her tongue grew thick. She was amazed.
“I only had to survive one more day,” she lisped through her tongue and her amazement.
“Your mother is not going to be happy about this,” said her father. Where was her mother? In bed. How did she manage this? She had to watch her baby, who she kept in the refrigerator. The strangest things keep you from being murdered.
Because she was dying, she understood death. Every time she died, she woke up in your bed thinking it was a dream. It wasn’t. Every time she woke up she was waking up somewhere new. She had never woken up in your body before, but your body had memories and now, so did she. The dream people were grieving. Dr. Tommy Bumpyhead had gone there, and they were screaming. Her cat felt bad for its last words being in anger, but only for a second, and then it resumed cleaning itself.
The dream people were grieving and she was somewhere else, with another house in the mountains and other parents who were divorced, and another boyfriend who couldn’t tell that she had just melted into this body and had never seen him before in her life.
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