"A Native California newspaper rooted with words and blooming with news"
~ The Editor
The guy at the next table over from Bryan scowled at him. Dance music was blaring, and
several couples got up to dance. Bryan quietly sipped his drink and watched them. He had
noticed the man looking at him but tried to ignore him. The man, a biker type wearing a shirt
with no sleeves and sporting tattoos all over both arms, rose from his table and staggered over to
"Hey, bud," he slurred. "Why don't you take that stupid looking hat off? There are ladies
around here, and they don't appreciate you wearing a hat at a dance." Bryan glanced at him and
took a swig
"What's it to you? It's none of your business what I wear." Biker pulled the chair next to
Bryan away violently, leaned over and got in Bryan's face.
"I'll tell you what about it," he replied. "I don't like your looks." Bryan set his drink down
and eyed the drunk.
"Look, mister, I don't want any trouble, but I don't take my hat off for anybody. It stays
on my head and that is it."
"Oh, izzat so?" answered the drunk, spittle flying onto Bryan' face. "How about we settle
this right now!"
"Is there a problem here?" a voice behind Biker inquired. Biker turned to look. A slow
smile spread over his ugly features as he recognized Juanita, Bryan's girlfriend.
"Juanita!" he exclaimd. "Where have you been hiding, baby?" I haven't seen you in
"I've been around," she replied, "not that you'd notice." Biker grabbed her hand. Ignoring
Bryan, he pulled her onto the dance floor.
"Let's boogie, baby, like we used to." Juanita rolled her eyes. This is all I need, she
thought, an ex- boyfriend, drunk and belligerent trying to get friendly. The jukebox was playing
Staying Alive. Several couples were dancing to the frenzied beat. Biker began raising Juanita's
hands and arms up and down, trying to get in synch.
He swung her left and right, then pulled her close and pushed her back, holding her
hands. He began a jittery, off balance dance, tried to twirl Juanita beneath his beefy arm which
hit the side of her head and knocked her long, blond wig to the floor.
His feet became entangled with the wig. He lost his balance and fell with a WHUMP that
could be heard over the music. Juanita was mortified. She had not washed her hair in weeks. It
was dirty and stringy. She saw several patrons laughing. Biker grabbed his leg which was lying
at an odd angle.
"OMIGOD! MY LEG IS BROKE!" he howled. He looked at Juanita accusingly.
"You caused this! If you hadn't worn that wig, this would never have happened!"
"Oh, be quiet," she exclaimed. She grabbed her wig, turned and walked away. She
replaced the wig and made her way to Bryan where he sat halfway amused at the situation.
"Let's get out of here," Juanita said. Biker was writhing on the dance floor, but he
watched as the two departed.
"That's right!" he shouted over the music, leave a poor, crippled man like this. You were
always no good! You hussy," he yelled for an added insult. Bryan and Juanita hurried to Bryan's
car and left. They began to giggle at the ridiculous situation.
"Your wig fixed his wagon," he told her. He explained what the drunk had been saying
while Juanita was in the lady's room. Not many people knew the truth about Bryan's hat, that he
had been born with it attached to his head, as were all male members of the Hatt family. When
Bryan was a baby, his hat was a tiny, brown umbrella that curved over the top of his head. As he
grew, so did the hat. It now fit his head perfectly. It folded up on the sides when he slept and
turned down when he showered. If anyone ever knew why only Hatt males had this strange
occurrence, it was lost in antiquity.
Bryan only had hair around the bottom of the hat. He felt that he should never be charged
full price for a haircut, but his barber thought otherwise. If the barber had any thoughts about
Bryan's hat, he kept them to himself. Of course, Juanita knew about it. One time she tried her
best to remove the hat while Bryan slept. It pulled at the sides of his head and woke him. He
admonished her to leave his hat alone.
"No one messes with my hat," he told her. She loved him in spite of knowing that his hat
was part of his body. No one knew what was inside the hat, not even Bryan. He realized he had a
brain somewhere, not necessarily under his hat. He was willing to let things be.
His life continued normally even though each time he changed employment he was
forced to tell his employer that his hat was a package deal, no hat, no Bryan. He was very
intelligent and always in demand as a computer programmer.
Then one day Bryan had a seizure. He ended up in ER. He was addled and did not
remember who he was. The only thing he remembered was that his hat was permanent. He tried
to tell the doctors and nurses that, but they continued to poke at his hat, trying to remove it.
Bryan raised such a ruckus that a big nurse gave him a hypo in his rear. He went from a
confused man to an unconscious one. The doctors worked on his hat with their scalpels. When
they cut into the top of it, it bled. Bryan awoke from a stupor long enough to shout,
"DON'T MESS WITH MY HAT!" Unconsciousness overtook him once again. Dr. Snow
prodded into the top of Bryan's hat. He had two nurses sit Bryan up and hold his head while he
shone a flashlight into the hole he had made in the hat.
"There is nothing there!" he exclaimed. "The top of this guy's head is missing!" He was
staring intently when a streak of fire shot through the hole with a WHOOSH. Dr. Snow jumped
back, his eyebrows and eye lashes singed. Another streak of fire went straight to the ceiling. It
began to burn.
A lava-like substance began pouring through the opening of Bryan's hat. It cascaded
down his shoulders and arms, awakening him to fierce pain. He leapt from the ER gurney and
began a wild dance around the room. Fire continud to shoot in all directions, sending Dr. Snow
and the nurses scrambling.
There were shouts of "FIRE!" as the hospital wing began to burn. Soon Bryan was the
only one remaining. He collapsed from the heat and pain, but just before he died he screamed, "I
TOLD YOU NOT TO MESS WITH MY HAT!"
Published on August 1st, 2022
©TheCaliforniaPoppyTimesNews. All rights reserved.