imagePacifist Felled
Jason Hambrecht

When you're a ten-foot tall man with tastes in orange jumpsuits like Sal Meldon, it's hard to get out. Nothing says "freaks" like an anti-war protest, so he shows up at one. Others there have problems looking at him—not because he's enormous or balding—but because his head is shrinking.

On this biting day of winter, the gathered are clothed in catalog-fresh parkas and discount beanies. But Sal thinks something else. He sports an Easter motif umbrella. Why? It can't be to fend the innocuous low-angle rays of standard time sunshine in the northern latitudes where the skies are grey. There's something deeper, what the crowd cannot know. He has a phobia—ombrophobia—fear of being rained on. His therapist is a busy woman. Sal's secure gaiety is not going to last.

* * *

A man behind heavy glasses looms. The glasses predate lightweight lenses, at least affordable lightweight lenses, which embitters this man, Uncle Mike. Uncle Mike showed up at the rally to ruin someone's day. Look out Sal. Uncle Mike looks right, scans to his left. There's Sal. Spittle eases from Uncle Mike's lips into his beard. He's found something wrong with Sal. He recognizes that Sal does not fit in. His legs are way, way too long. Uncle Mike is a zealot for equality and conformity. Who is he to strut his stuff? Uncle Mike is quiet, careful, and utilizes his military training to sneak behind the towering Sal. He reaches to his own ankle from a crawl. There's a keyhole saw tucked in his spangled wool sock. His other sock is a plain cotton crew with three holes: one for his ankle, one for his toes, and one for his heel. It's his magic sock.

Uncle Mike saws away at calf height on Sal's leg. Sal is unaware. Sal is aware when his lower leg snaps. He plummets to the ground yelling "GRAVITY!" which makes for the loudest protest of the day. Everyone gathers around Sal and they are appalled. Uncle Mike has fled. He's already inside an indescribable windowless van on its way to Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The crowd around Sal is aghast. Some have never seen such horror. Some turn away. The strong watch with dropped jaws at the sight. There is a sawdust puddle surrounding a short piece of stilt. The sawdust eddies, is airborne, and is carried away by a wind, a wind that will bring flurries tonight.

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