Short Fiction / 2019-12-28
Henry Henler was born without a tongue. Because of his differently-abledness people automatically paid extra attention to his mouth. This made Henry self-conscious about his mouth, and so he took extra care of his teeth. He got braces to straighten them as a child, had his wisdom teeth pulled as a young man, and visited the dentist thrice per year throughout the whole of his life. He refused to eat sweets, never had a cavity, brushed and flossed vigorously, and always carried toothpicks just in case. Later in life he was known to carry a dental pick and mirror in his pocket.
Lacking a tongue, his pristine mouth was like a beautifully cared-for palace utterly devoid of occupants. Some un-haunted haunted house, hauntingly un-haunted, as if the mouth were haunting itself.
He was brutally murdered at a carnival when a posse of freaks escaped from their pens. The abuse they’d suffered under the cruel whip and crueler tongue of their master had warped their psyches even worse than genetic abnormalities had warped their hideous bodies. They chewed a hole in the wooden roof to gain their freedom, and became so emotionally overwhelmed by their unrestricted proximity to so many people, and so frightened at the prospect of recapture, that the freaks descended into an animal frenzy and violently assaulted passersby. Henry was just one unlucky man who stood between the freaks and the open plains that lay beyond the carnival grounds. They ripped off his arms, smashed his head against the ground, and threw him into the haunted house to slowly bleed to death in public where people thought he was just part of the display.
We acquired his toothbrush at an auction in South Carolina, and it’s available now for $37.55 CAD.