by Cassie J. Sneider

Dan suggested I pick up the goat's head, but touching an actual dead goat's head with my bare hands seemed like the sort of thing that might ruin the rest of my night. There were a lot of people gathered backstage watching the show from the wings, so I asked a stranger to get gloves. He was a friend of Salt Peter, the old bassist, and the bartender had to pull the latex gloves from a first-aid kit, which made me wonder how sanitary the process of cutting lemons and limes could be if there weren't any gloves to be found outside of dire medical emergencies.

When I got onstage, I danced around a little before I picked up the goathead. Someone from the crowd had smuggled it in and thrown it onstage at the singer, but missed and it ended up at the feet of the guitarist, who took a step back, but kept playing. The smell was terrible. When I finally picked it up, my fingers sank in like touching an old cantaloupe. Something about it reminded me of that Candy Snatchers show Doug had told me about, the one that made The Continental smell like dead fish for a year, but I had missed it because I was in high school and wasn't allowed to do anything cool, like go to seedy rock clubs where people brought in bags of garbage from Chinatown and threw the contents at each other. I could see through the mask I was wearing that Doug was in the audience that night, so I pretended like I was gonna throw it underhanded at him, but hesitated for a second, and the crowd screamed and parted. I saw that Doug was standing in front of Chris, my old best friend, the one who had stopped hanging out when he got an internet girlfriend. I couldn't tell if she was there, because the lights onstage were so bright, but I hoped that maybe she was standing with her hands folded in the back, wearing a Matchbox 20 t-shirt from high school that was worn soft with wear and sentimental value and that maybe I could hit her.

I took a breath, kissed the goatlips, and threw it like a football.

It was pretty much done after that, and when the band got offstage, they asked where I got the goathead from, like I had planned it all along, bringing it with me in my bag with the mask and the cowboy boots, riding the subway, whispering, “Tonight's gonna be a good night.”

Instead I said, “It wasn’t mine. I just knew what to do with it,” and I helped them load out.

This piece originally ran in Mutant #4.

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