William heard giggling. He saw them when he came in the coffee shop but paid no attention.
He knew he looked silly. He had not shaved in four days, his shirt was wrinkled, and his work boots were dirty. On top of that he was drinking with his eyes closed and was swishing his coffee from cheek to cheek as if tasting wine.
He didn’t care about the giggling. All he could think about was the head.
He had finally seen it, held it, even looked into its blind eyes. The woman who found the head thought it was a giant piece of soap. It had brown and beige veins and it smelled like the sea. It was only after she tried to clean it that she saw dead eyes and understood. She was holding a small statue’s head in her hands.
William thought back to the many days of carefully cleaning the head making sure he preserved everything that came out of the cracks in separate containers. After many hours of gentle cleaning, he saw that the cracks were only in the layer of dirt that had formed close to the head. The head itself was not damaged.
The head was made of white marble with beige-brown veins. He wondered about the place of origin of both the marble and the sculptor. He felt disappointed that he had to wait for his colleagues to help identify the head.
But why wait?
William opened his eyes just in time to see four giggling girls leave the coffee shop. He shook his head, grabbed his backpack, took out his laptop, and connected to the coffee shop’s WiFi.
Someone somewhere in the world must be missing a statue’s head.
Wow, that’s naïf, dude. And you think you’ll solve this ID issue if you Google “found a head, need an ID?”
There has to be a way to find out which known statues of white marble with beige-brown veins are missing a head. Local museums?
Really, dude? Just because the head was found here doesn’t mean it came from around here! How long has it traveled? Do you know how old this head is?
During World War II art was looted and displaced so if…
And thieves stole art from other thieves, dude! Seriously, wait for Dr. Edwards to analyze the marble and the sculpting style so there is a date range.
I can do this. I do not have to wait for the white coats.
You really are full of yourself, aren’t you?
William closed his eyes again.
Deep breaths, deep breaths.
Yeah! Go all yoga on me, dude.
William opened his eyes and then his browser. He searched under “marble.” He found several sites. One explained where some historic marble pieces and stone colors come from. He scanned the list for white marble with beige-brown colored veins but did not find an exact match.
His fingers hovered over the keyboard.
Give up reading already? The article continues with stone hardness and other characteristics, dude. Not interested or is it too difficult for you? You’re such a loser.
William look at his screen and his fingers typed the keywords “famous damaged marble statues.”
Various sites popped up from Michelangelo’s David to Buddha statues. And then he saw it. The Parthenon Marbles also known as the Elgin Marbles. There was a picture of a centaur missing its head.
You. Are. A. Moron. The centaurs are usually bearded, dude. I bet the head you got is from a girl. Fitting you should be the one cleaning it!
William looked at the photography of Lapith Metope & Centaur and grabbed his notebook. Tomorrow, he would ask Dr. Edwards if the head was old enough to be part of the Elgin Marbles.
A smile formed on his face. He took his last sip of coffee and looked up when he felt his cell phone vibrate.
“Hi, this is Mandy from Dr. Jamison’s office. I just wanted to remind you of your appointment with us tomorrow at 835am.”
“Yes, thank you.”
“OK, have a great day!”
William closed his phone. He reached into his breast pocket, took out a small prescription bottle, and popped a pill.
Loser, as if that’s gonna shut me up.
Reminder: I write flash fiction posts usually within one to two hours after inspiration hits me. I do use the spell checker but then I post it on my blog so yes, you will always find grammar mistakes.
Perfection is not the goal here. This is about showing you where my imagination takes me when I read or see something.
This piece was inspired after reading this line “Her skin looked like brown-marbled stone over which water has worked for so long that it is as smooth and blind as soap.” on page 215 from James Agee‘s book “A Death in the Family.”