A Sombrero fell out of the sky and landed on the Main Street of town in front of the mayor, his cousin, and a person out of work. The day was scrubbed clean by the desert air. The sky was blue. It was the blue of human eyes, waiting for something to happen. There was no reason for a sombrero to fall out of the sky. No airplane or helicopter was passing overhead and it was not a religious holiday.
Yukiko rolled over.
That plain, that simple.
Her body was small in its moving.
And her hair followed, dreaming her as she moved.
A cat, her cat, in bed with her was awakened by her moving, and watched her turn slowly over in bed. When she stopped moving, the cat went back to sleep.
It was a black cat and could have been a suburb of her hair.
He picked up the many torn pieces of paper about the sombrero and dropped them into an empty waste-paper basket which was totally bottomless, but the pieces of white paper miraculously found a bottom and lay upon it glowing faintly upward like a reverse origami cradled on the abyss.
He did not know that she slept alone.
Both men just stood there crying.
They had lost the power of speech.
Their minds had been overpowered by despair.
They had been turned into a shadow of themselves.
The human mind can only handle so much.
Then it stops.
‘Speak up,’ said the mayor. ‘Stop crying and tell me what the problem is. Why are you acting this way? I know it has something to do with picking up the sombrero but you have to tell me what it is. I am not a mind reader.’ When the mayor said that he was not a mind reader his voice suddenly grew loud and had an angry tone to it. This did not help the situation at all.
The two men only cried louder.
‘I am your mayor!’ the mayor shouted at the bawling men.
The mayor was totally berserk.
He was no longer shouting at the two men to stop crying or threatening them with the police.
He was shouting things that had no meaning like the license plate number of a car he had owned in 1947.
‘AZ 1492!’ he shouted.
‘AZ 1492! AZ 1492! AZ1492!’ he kept shouting over and over again.
His license plate number was inciting a crowd to riot…
Half a dozen fights were now in progress in the crowd which had grown to several hundred with dozens joining every minute. The newcomers responded to the mayor’s continued shouting of his license plate number by shoving other people and starting to shout things themselves.
‘I hate you!’ a seventy–one–year–old woman shouted at a total stranger, somebody she had never seen before in her life, and then she punched the person, who was an elderly man, right in the balls. He dropped like a stone to the street but was able to open the package he was carrying and take out a lemon cream pie that he had just purchased at the bakery and shove it into the old woman’s knee.
‘Pervert!’ she shouted down at him as he lay there grinding the pie into her knee.
The American humourist sat on his couch suffering thoughts of her, trying to figure out how to win back her affections, wondering what had happened between them or just tumbling head over heels down into romantic oblivion where the image of a remembered kiss provokes bottomless despair and makes death seem like the right idea.
He experienced the basics of love ended.
Of course in his case these emotions were being played through a kaleidoscope of goofiness and insanity. But still he suffered genuinely and realistically as any other person. After all, he was still human. It was just that his mind translated this into a twelve – ring circus with most of the acts not worth watching a second time. After a while non – stop brilliance has the same effect as non-stop boredom.
It was now 10.45 in the evening.
The night would be long for him.
He had been suffering from insomnia, so that when he tried to sleep it was like having a brain full of barbed wire.
Phantoms and fantasies of love raced back and forth across his mind, galloping as if on horses frenzied by snakes with no place else to go
He went into the bathroom to get a glass of water and found a long black hair in the sink. When he saw the hair his heart sank like a rock. He carefully picked it up and looked at it. He looked at the hair very slowly. It was hard for him to believe that the hair was in his hand.
After he finished examining it, he took the hair back into the living room with him and he sat down on the couch and continued looking at the hair.
He turned it over very slowly in his hand and then he rubbed it together between his fingers. The hair had totally captured his concentration.
He was still sitting there on the couch staring at the strand of long black hair in his hand. His imagination remained immobile. Not even so much as a mouse ran across it. His whole life was now just Japanese hair. He had no other perception of the world and it was as if nothing else had ever happened to him except Japanese hair.
He turned the strand of hair over in his fingers and lost control of it and it fell away, disappearing on the floor. Panic- stricken he fell on his knees, looking desperately for it, but it did not allow itself to be found easily.
He was turning into a madman scrambling around on the floor, looking for a strand of Japanese hair.
He was on the edge of screaming as he looked for the hair. He thought that he would go mad if he didn’t find that strand of hair right now.
Then his whole life flashed in front of him like a drowning man, all for the loss of Japanese hair.
Just when the American humorist’s mind was about to sink to the bottom of the ocean, logic like a life–jacket was thrown to him and he stopped drowning.
His mind was suddenly very clear and coherent.
He got up of the floor and went into the kitchen.
He opened the drawer and took out a flashlight.
Then he went into the room where he did his writing and got a magnifying glass.
Yes, logic now ruled his existence.
He very carefully got down on his knees again and held the magnifying glass to the floor and shined the flashlight through it.
He slowly analyzed the floor inch by inch.
He was like a child astronomer scanning the skies with a Sears and Roebuck telescope looking for a new comet that would be given his name because it accidentally crossed his telescope and nobody had ever seen it before or bothered to mention it, if they had seen it, thinking that somebody else had already discovered it. The only difference between him and the astronomer was that instead of looking for fame in the sky, he was looking for a Japanese hair on the floor but a moment later he had the same feeling of discovery when he saw the hair lying there.
It was so simple and alone in it’s existence.
Original press photo of Gerd Muller the footballer with Sombreros, dated 1970.