Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Thom watched the two men approach him across the alleyway, leaving the crumpled figure they’d been beating to crawl moaning in amongst the piles of garbage.

“I told you to get the fuck out of here,” the taller man yelled, waving his hands, “are you deaf or stupid?”

“Either deaf or stupid,” Thom repeated, at first loud enough for the men to hear and then to himself “neither deaf nor stupid?”

“Not smart asshole!” The shorter, wider man reached him first, stepping into a wind up and letting a punch fly at Thom’s face. When the fist entered the place where Thom’s face had been, it simply was no longer there. Thom watched the fist streaking by, and pausing, first gently fractured the ulna and then with deliberate care shattered the humerus as they passed. He noted with interest the sudden shortening of the upper arm as the muscles contracted without resistance. “Humerus, but not funny,” again voicing the observation more to himself, but still out loud. Momentum carried the stocky man screaming into a heap on the pavement behind him.

“I’ll show you not funny.” The taller man was within striking distance, having brought both hands up shoulder high to swing them down hammer-like towards Thom’s ears. At the moment the two hands collided with each other, Thom studied from below with fascination the effect of the impact on their individual bones. “Carpals come and carpals go,” he whispered, plucking several out, moving to observe from the side. “Met a carpal, couldn’t stay,” he almost sang, extracting one of the longer bones with apparent care and adding it to the smaller two. “Phalanges, phalanges, one two three.” Smiling, he pocketed all six pieces before allowing the remaining bones to shatter amongst the pulpy mess of the resected hand.

There was barely any screaming from the tall one, rather he simply teared up silently as he fell to his knees, holding his ruined hands before him.

“Bits and pieces, again with me.” Thom continued humming the tune, enjoying the way the sounds displaced things in the air around him, continuing along the alley, until again he and his observations were no longer there.

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