Sit back children and hear a magical tale of friendships discovered and of great triumph over the plague that is procreation. This is the tale of the Cane of Abortion and Nancy Severedhead, which I agree, does not sound like such a magical tale now that I think about it. In fact, the story itself isn’t magical at all really, it’s actually just a story about a few teenagers at the edge of adulthood behaving as if adulthood was something alien and light years distant.
The night began with my fellow musician and I wandering aimlessly through the downtown streets and alleyways, something we were prone to do when nothing else appealed to us, or even when there were a multitude of things that we could otherwise be doing with our time…but at least we were active, so there’s that. This specific night we found ourselves in possession of a number of wire clothes hangers for whatever reason, I honestly can’t begin to recall where the fuck they came from or how we’d decided to carry them around with us. On a whim we straightened the wire hangers and twisted them around one another until we found ourselves creating something that approximately resembled the shape and size of a cane.
It was while we were walking through the downtown streets that night when we encountered another young man of similar disposition. He appeared to fall into the same gothic subcultural category that my fellow musician and I did (which was an unusual thing for the area). This young man would rapidly become my closest friend for a good many years to come, and he is still, to this day, among the dearest friends I will ever have…a number that can be counted on the fingers of one hand, but that’s neither here nor there.
The three of us became quick companions that night, walking up and down streets gradually being flooded with the drunks exiting the various local bars. One unfortunate inebriated woman made the mistake of asking us what the thing was that we were carrying with us, referring (of course) to the wire cane…and it was only a moment that passed in reflection before we informed her that it was The Cane of Abortion (a proper title merits capitalization, and this was a well and proper title), it was then lifted just slightly and pressed against her abdomen as we announced that she was cursed to miscarry her next pregnancy.
We continued walking around through the milling clusters of drunks, arbitrarily blessing random women with our special cane. Looking back, I realize that this was perhaps done in exceptionally poor taste on our parts, but I have always had a bit of a dark sense of humor. Even now, when I look back on that night (fully aware of how truly awful it was, what we were doing), it still makes me smile and almost chuckle. Knowing how sensitive the subjects of miscarriage and abortion are, even to me, I still can’t help but find some small amount of pleasure in the reminiscence. I’ve always insisted that it’s important to find humor in everything, even the worst things in life…perhaps especially those things. I wasn’t alone in that way of thinking by any stretch of the imagination, as my two companions were similarly inclined to treat everything as a joke, both the sacred and the profane…something that has become almost a litmus test as far as determining who will become my friends ever since.
It may have been that same night, the next part of the story I wish to tell you, though the more I think about it I believe it was indeed another night altogether…it’s too damn long ago to recall with any certainty, and there were so many nights spent wandering through those same streets and alleyways at night that it all begins to run together aside from certain specific episodes. It doesn’t matter what specific night this was, but it is the night when Nancy Severedhead was born of great tragedy.
My fellow musician and I had stumbled upon a veritable gold mine when a friend who worked at a local beauty college showed up at my apartment with a bag of mannequin heads that were to be thrown out after being used to the point of being no longer viable. He and I laboriously decorated them and subsequently used them as props during our first live performance as a band, but that is a tale for another time.
We got into the habit, after that, of dumpster diving at the beauty colleges in order to get our hands on more of these wonderful little treats. It was one of these heads that we carried with us downtown one night, a lovely lady we’d decided to name Nancy. She joined us during our walk that night, a trophy that we carried along with pride, startling numerous people when they came upon us in our meanderings.
It was when a train began making its way through town that the sudden, random impulse came upon us to toss Nancy towards the rail wheels carrying the train along. After it had passed, we collected what was left of her. Nancy’s head had been almost neatly sliced through, removing the upper portion of the skull, including one of the eyes. This was when her name became Nancy Severedhead, even though the severed head aspect was in place well before having that severed head more severely damaged. We continued carrying her along with us, destroyed as she might have been.
It was later that my fellow musician and I proceeded to rebuild her. Bits of wire, fragments of circuitry, and assorted screws were affixed to what remained. She was our little miracle, the product of our Frankenstein impulse to meld plastic fake flesh with machine…which, I accept, sounds a little bit crazy. I’m making all of that up, by the way, about there being any objective in mind beyond the aesthetic pleasure of turning this destroyed thing into something else entirely.
I still had Nancy Severedhead for a solid decade or more after she was born. I may still have her somewhere, stored away in the garage. It would be a shame if she were to have disappeared somewhere along the line, because I have always taken pleasure in knowing that she was still one of my possessions. We were an odd sort of people, the three of us, but we were damn lucky to have discovered one another…and I was the luckiest of all to have had such friends (including Nancy).