The Old Man at Nightfall

Dan Canon
5 min readMar 30

The old man, at the end of an expensive dinner attended by campaign donors, foreign dignitaries, and policy engineers, fell and cracked his head open.

That would normally be the end of an old man. But this old man had fallen in such a way that the back of his skull had split neatly in two, right down the middle, and the resulting fissure was not wide enough for any brains to leak out so long as he lay face down.

Since the old man was powerful, the other dinner guests decided they had better do everything they could to help him, so that if he lived (which seemed unlikely) he would be pleased with them, or at least not angry. The Chief Interrogator held the left side of his head, while the Special Ambassador held the right, both careful not to get blood on their hands. To give the appearance of being helpful, generic executives held his legs in place until the ambulance arrived.

At the hospital, the old man was suspended from the ceiling by seven long straps so that he could breathe, and so none of his gelatinous psyche would be lost. The greatest medical minds in the country came together to discuss what to do with him, and all agreed that it was much too early to sew him back together, so he was left to hang in the air while nurses administered more medications than one would commonly expect, through more tubes than most old men are ever connected to.

One of these medicines (there is no consensus as to which one) caused a tiny, neon-green shoot to peek out of the crack in the old man’s head. After two days, the shoot had curled itself into something resembling a pale pink coin purse. On the morning of the third day, the purse burst into a bright, flamingo-colored lily, the base of which glowed ghostly yellow.

The old man regained consciousness that same day. After accounting for his faculties and being assured of his whereabouts, and after some discussion with the hospital staff concerning the flower growing out of his head, he discovered that he could move objects without touching them. He began concentrating on his tubes, making them swing back and forth, twisting them into loops, even disconnecting one line from its bag after a few days’ practice.

Having already exceeded the power normally allotted to old men, the old man, though immobile, was giddy…

Dan Canon

Civil rights lawyer, law professor, and high school dropout. Writes about the Midwest, class struggle, and the untold horrors of the legal system.