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THE INDIAN HEAD

Xavier Perez-Pons

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Mr. Landgroom, director of The NYSM (New York State Museum), had contacted ENIGMA CONSULTANTS S.L. on the occasion of the donation of an extremely strange artifact. Although it was supposed to be over a thousand years old, this artifact did not look more than twenty. It had been found by a certain Jonas “Birdbrain” Kalgary in the basement of his house in the neighborhood of Canarsie, in Brooklyn.

According to his testimony, Birdbrain was digging a grave to bury an enemy of his whom he had just killed (this naive confession caused him to end up in jail) when his shovel stumbled over a head. He cursed his luck because he thought the grave was already occupied, but then the head opened one eye and then the other. Birdbrain felt a great relief because if the head was alive he could get it out of the hole without desecrating any grave. (Desecrating tombs was, for Birdbrain, the greatest sin a man could commit.) So he took out the head and deposited it on the table. Its features were Indian and its dark skin seemed leather to the touch. He thought it would have belonged to one of the Canarsie Indians who had populated that place before the arrival of the Europeans. The Canarsie Indians were known for the ease with which they lost their heads.

After these disquisitions, he continued to dig the grave for his enemy, then buried it and replaced the tiles. He ended up so tired that he went straight to bed without remembering the Indian head. But in the middle of the night, he was awakened by a kind of howl coming from the basement. He picked up a flashlight, charged his pistol and sneaked down the stairs. The beam of light ran through the basement and stopped on the Indian head that was on the table. Then he remembered and thought that he had to get rid of that head that howled at night. He had to get up early in the morning to clock in at “Murder, Inc.” and the work was hard: he could not afford to spend sleepless nights because of a howling head. He would not have dared to shoot it (killing a head was, for Birdbrain, the second greatest sin a man could commit), so he decided to get rid of the head by donating it to the NYSM.

This is the story that Mr. Landgroom told Michael and Jacob when they showed up at the museum the day after his call.

While the two researchers examined the strange head, which continuously opened and closed the eyes alternately, as well as the tongue, the director explained that, apart from the howls that issued at night, the head did not speak a single word. The scientists of the museum had ruled that it was not a mechanical device but an authentic Indian head from about a thousand years ago. But when asked about the possible explanation for this strange phenomenon, they played dumb or made excuses to run out. That's why Mr. Landgroom had resorted to ENIGMA CONSULTANTS. 

After assuring the museum’s director that he had made the right decision since they were accustomed to this seemingly unsolvables enigmas, Michael and Jacob asked him to leave them alone with the head. When they were alone, both began to lament and to curse the enigmas that the big city posed to them. They even considered moving to a smaller city, where the mysteries were also proportionally smaller and easier to solve. But at that precise moment the head called them with a "Psst, psst".

After the first logical fright, both approached the head, and then it began to whisper something in their ears. As they listened, Michael and Jacob looked more astonished, until Michael exclaimed: "Woebegone?!”. And the head started to nod its head ( if you'll pardon the redundancy).

“Maybe we should take it to a psychologist”, Jacob said.

“Cut the crap. Don’t you see that what we have to do is free his soul? It is clear that when the head was cut off, the soul got stuck there.”

“In the head?”

“In the head”

“And how are we going to release it?”

Michael turned to the head and asked it: “Do you see the Light?”

Again the head nodded its head... if you'll pardon again the redundancy. Then, before the astonished glance of Jacob, Michael took the head and began to shake it up and down as if it were a cocktail or a smoothie:

“Okay, now go towards the light! Go! Go!”, he screamed.

And then the two friends watched how from the top of the head emerged a kind of whitish steam that rose and rose until it disappeared from sight.

“He is free”, Michael said.

And when the director returned, he was in front of a thousand-year-old Indian head ready to be displayed in a museum showcase without the possibility of generating frights or fainting among the visitors. Namely, an inert, lifeless head, just as the heads must be when they are separated from their body.

 



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