EPISTAXIS by Salvatore Difalco

The two uniformed cops standing at my door told me I was in trouble, big trouble. One of them, uncannily clean-shaven, looked like a young John Goodman. The other, a short swarthy man, wore a bandito moustache so predominant the rest of his face escaped me. Explain, I said. And they told me stories about my past that could not have been true. They told stories that put me in places I had never been, and with people I had never met. This is all nonsense, I said. How would I have accomplished all this mayhem? Look at me. Look at where I am living. Do these look like the quarters of a criminal mastermind? We’re nonjudgmental, John Goodman intoned. Despite my appeals, they strong-armed me and cuffed my wrists. They threw me in back of the cruiser and with John Goodman at the wheel sped off to a wooded area just outside of town. I asked them what they planned to do to me. What we do to all punks like you, the mustachioed one said. You have the wrong guy, I told him. You’re making a big mistake. Are you telling us how to do our jobs? he shouted, banging the Plexiglass separating us. I needed air. I asked them to roll down a window or to switch on the air conditioner. Do we look like your servants? John Goodman said with a little side smirk. To serve and protect, I said. Those are just words, his partner said, threadbare, shorn of meaning. Slogans keep the people from revolting, he added. I mean clever, well-crafted slogans. Like just say no? I ventured. Both cops turned and glared at me. I had a feeling if not for the Plexiglass one of them would have punched me in the face. They did one better, though. They came to an abrupt stop without warning and my torso flew forward and mashed my nose into the Plexiglass. It smarted like a bastard and my nose began bleeding. With my cuffs on I couldn’t get out the wad of Kleenex I typically carried around in my pocket. I wiped my bleeding nose with the back of my right hand. It was really flowing. I’m bleeding, I said. John Goodman glanced in his rearview and said something quietly to his partner who then turned to me and said it was my own fault. How is this my own fault? I said in my most aggrieved voice. You’re annoying, he said. Annoying? I said. That the best you can do? Anyway, John Goodman said, you may not be a criminal mastermind, but what are supposed to do with you now? Let me go! I cried. We can’t do that, he said. Nuh-uh, said his partner. You’re fucking insane! I cried. Want me to hit brakes again? John Goodman said, shooting me a hard look in his rearview. Please don’t do that, I said, I’m really bleeding here. I mean, guy, I’m hemorrhaging. He’s hemorrhaging, said the mustachioed cop with a chuckle. Good word, said John Goodman. Really paints a picture. Meanwhile, I tipped back my head and pinched the bridge of my nose. It reminded me of a childhood visit to my father’s hometown on the outskirts of Palermo, in Sicily, when I developed severe nosebleeds, real gushers, possibly because of the extreme heat. Uncle Toto drove me to a medico in Palermo who prescribed these little red pills for me—I don’t recall what they were—and the nosebleeds eventually stopped. That’s a poignant story, John Goodman said, glancing sympathetically in his rearview. Well told, said his partner, turning and stroking his moustache. So you’re not going to let me go? I asked. Nah, he said. This made me so tired I just wanted to close my eyes and go to sleep. I didn’t care anymore. We drove over a small wooden bridge then deeper and deeper into the bush, my eyes lidded, warm thick blood pooling in my hands.

Salvatore Difalco lives in Toronto, Canada. Recent appearances in Cafe Irreal and Everyday Fiction.