Fat from feasting on corpuscles and pus, the maggots exit from various orifices of the decaying head. A group crawls out from the ear canal, gummy from their travel through the waxy tunnel. They worm themselves through the tangled strands atop of what formerly held the gray mass that spills out of a gash. Drying blood completes the colorful little world of the legless larvae.
“I want that head on a stick!” demands Palok.
“It just came in, so it’s fresh,” says the storekeeper to both mother and son.
“You don’t have to sell me,” Palok’s mother sighs, as she prepares to pay the storekeeper.
“Would you like me to bag it for you, son?” the storekeeper looks down at the seven-year-old, who continues to look at the head in awe.
“I want to carry it just like a warrior.”
His mother gently chides him, “Manners, Palok.”
“I mean . . . no, thank you . . . I want to carry it . . . please.”
The storekeeper chuckles, as he hands the stick with the head propped on it to the child. “Here you go. Be careful now.”
The boy eagerly takes the stick. Excitedly, he turns around and stumbles, tipping the stick down. The head rolls off.
“Oh, dear,” says his mother, while the storekeeper quickly scoops up the head with another stick.
“Here you go.” The storekeeper hands the head back to the boy, and assures the mother, “It should still be good . . . going by the five-second rule*.”
*In folklore, the five-second rule states that food (or sometimes cutlery) dropped on the ground will not be significantly contaminated with bacteria if it is picked up within five seconds of being dropped.
©2015 Karina Pinella