The other day they sliced someone’s head open in Plaza Major.
People say that a group of boys were playing near a construction site. They probably had a bet going to see who could throw a brick the farthest. The kind of game that boys play.
Someone saw a brick flying high in the sky. They say it whistled like howitzer, which was the speed at which it was going.
It hit Serafin Mendez in the head.
A clean hit. His head opened up like a box of cigars, with a soft swoosh – no blood. A few girls cried out, a man ran over to help him, but Serafin waved his hand to refuse help and sat down slowly on the ground.
His thoughts began to scatter out in many directions.
It seemed impossible that such a small head could have room for so many thoughts.
They were like glass marbles of all different sizes; some were as large as doorknobs.
They bounced buoyantly across the ground of the paved Plaza.
At first people jumped out of the way to dodge them.
The Plaza was full of them. My friend, I don’t know how to describe to you the chaos that then broke loose.
Sergio, the baker, showing unusual reflexes, reacted so admirably, taking an empty sack of flour and bringing it to poor Serafin.
Serafin, who seemed like he was about to faint, was stronger than expected, nodded his head and stretched his arms out holding the bag wide open.
The same admirable baker began to gather the nearest thoughts, tossing them into the bag.
The whole town was hard at work. La Plaza was like a coop of hungry hens. Everyone was bending over to pick up Sera’s thoughts, putting them in the bag. You could look into the marbles. In each one, there was one of poor Serafin’s thoughts. The time his teacher slapped him for no reason, the time his teacher slapped him for a good reason, his first kiss, a big blowout following a bet he won…
Sera was holding out the bag and thanked everyone who brought him back a marble with a slight tilt of his head, which was still neatly cut open.
Every time he tilted his head, a handful of thoughts came rushing out. Don Augustín, the town’s Doctor, didn’t know what to do. Although he had never seen anything like this in all his fifty years of practice, he was wise enough to sit behind Sera and hold his skull with both hands: applying pressure with both thumbs he tried to keep his head closed as best he could to avoid a further loss of thoughts.
They say that Justy, the most beautiful girl in town, picked up a thought and looked at it before tossing it back in the bag. It was an excruciating memory over lost love, so painful! The girl was so touched by the memory that before she returned the thought to the bag she was already deeply in love with Sera. That’s what they say at least.
Fortunately, Justy finally came to her senses, to a certain extent thanks to advice from friends who reported seeing some of Sera’s other less innocent memories, but also in part due to the ongoing perseverance of Dioni who eventually won her over.
While some looked more than others, almost everyone peeked into Sera’s thoughts. They tried to not to be seen by others; it was obvious that his thoughts were intimate and private. A few people realized that the further away the thought was from the bag, the more time they had to look at it up close.
Good old Nicomedes, who never broke the rules and had the purest reputation in town, peeked into a thought of sinful teenage petting and lost control.
He ran out of the Plaza with the sphere in his hands. A group of young people reached him just before he got to the Arco de la Estrella and guided him back to the Plaza. He cried like a little boy as he threw it back in the bag.
Sergio, the baker, had to go looking for another bag and a third bag was filled up halfway. When there were no more spheres left in the Plaza, they moved poor Sera and his bags of memories in a procession to a nearby clinic. Both the itern and Dr. Don Augustín had never seen anything like this before.
The entire town waited outside the clinic. The nurse came out every now and then to inform the people that everything was proceeding well, that another sphere had been put back in, and each time she was greeted with a sigh of relief and satisfaction.
The operation took the length of three complete Holy Rosaries. All of the spheres fit back inside Sera’s head and there was even room for a pocket calculator, which proved to be quite useful as soon after Sera knew how to solve eight digit division problems by heart.
They were able to close him up using extremely modern plastic surgery techniques that left him with a very small scar that was easily hidden by parting his hair on the other side.
After just eight days good old Serafin was strolling once again in Plaza Major, as always. But things weren’t the same as they used to be. Suddenly everyone had something to talk about with Sera. Everyone has something to say.
But Sera hardly spoke at all. He merely gave one-word answers, while everyone expected a long and intimate conversation.
People began to talk: what happened to Serafin? He’s not better now? Didn’t we bend over backwards when he needed us the most?
Valentin, who had been friends with Sera forever, was put in charge of talking to him. They were real friends, best friends. They sat on the bench talking for three quarters of an hour.
Apparently Sera said that he felt he was missing some of his memories, he didn’t know which ones or how many, and he suspected that someone from town had kept them. He didn’t know why or what they would actually do with his memories.
People were shocked. Sera doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Coveting what belongs to other? Who would dare steal something so intimate, in such an honest town? Surely, Sera had not returned to his senses.
Then something happened that no one expected. 92-year-old Tomas caused quite the commotion when he came to Sera’s house in the middle of the night to give back a sphere.
It was the memory of being drunk in Melilla during his year of national military service.
Serafin thanked him and accepted his apology, yet he continued to be snippy and abrupt. Apparently, he was still missing some memories.
Sera continued his walks around the Plaza. Everyone wanted to talk to him about this memory or that one, but no one dared. Serafin Mendez’s look made people sad, even a bit scared.
Now, my friend, let’s get to me. This is confidential.
I stepped on a sphere, I’m not sure if I did it by accident or on purpose. It was a little sphere that I picked up without being seen by anyone and I kept it in my pocket.
Here’s the truth.
It’s really nothing. It’s the memory of the cheek of a little baby resting on the breast of a woman, a huge breast with a warm pink nipple.
Every now and then I look at it when I’m alone. Little by little I’ve made this memory my own.
I can’t give it back, I just can’t.
If I don’t give it back, I’ve stolen it from Sera. But if I give it back, I’m taking away from myself.
Am I a terrible person? Do I have a choice brother? These are rhetorical questions, you don’t have to answer.
I’ve already made up my mind, I’ll make a keychain out of it.
Over and out. Much love.
Traducción: Brett Lalonde