It was as though Van Gogh, or whichever of those crazy artist types had shot through his ear – Floyd could not quite remember – had been at work incessantly and with much gusto with his gun. The mystery was that guns had long since become extinct. Everywhere he looked there were men with single ears; some big, oval ones, others crumpled and hooded like a vagina, still others so small that you needed to look hard to make sure there was even a single ear there. But look as he might, Floyd could only see men with single ears.
The really shocking occurrence, though, was that the women all seemed to have two perfectly intact ears; as you would presume to be normal on a human head. This shook Floyd somewhat, although he did not want to be accused of being narrow-minded. That was the last thing he wanted on his first day in a new country, a new life. In the history books there were all the stories of the narrow-minded people who had blown up the towers in New York, the narrow-minded people who had gone to Iraq and started a war there, and also in another country which Floyd could not remember the name of now. He had never been particularly good at history.
But now he did wonder if this country of one-eared men was normal. Then again, normal was a highly subjective term, and he did remember the one history lesson about the quite lengthy era when humans had been greedy and intent on collecting silly amounts of money in futile attempts at immortality. How times changed; nowadays suicide was fashionable. Flecks of life were enjoyed and then you made a quick and quiet exit, relishing your very own immortality for the second it took to head off.
But back then, shortly after the time when humans kept other humans as slaves and thought it perfectly acceptable, it had been normal to be greedy. It was even welcomed and praised: the greediest human beings were apparently published in magazines listing their fortunes and hailed as heroes. Floyd laughed loudly at the absurdity of this. Later this problem had been gracefully solved through a simple injection that cured greed.
But now Floyd could not quite explain to himself why all these men had but single ears on their otherwise ‘normal’ heads. He had moved there knowing only that the inhabitants of that land would think much like he did. Only he had not expected men with single ears. Overcoming his fear of seeming narrow-minded, he decided to ask about how this had come about. First he asked a rare elderly man on the streaming beach, but received no response. He assumed that the rare elderly man was deaf, but moments later realised that it was because he had asked it to the side of his head without an ear.
Without getting discouraged, Floyd walked over to the orange river, and found a young man sitting there with a dish-washer on his lap. Not wanting to seem narrow-minded, Floyd held back the question about what the man was doing with the dish-washer, and asked: ‘Would you explain to me why all the men seem to have single ears?’
‘We are just asymmetrical, we are artistic impressions of life,’ the man with the dish-washer said. Then he continued to stroke the machine, as if that was normal. It seemed to give him a fair amount of affection in return.
‘But then why all of you?’ Floyd asked, disbelieving, ‘surely that reduces the artistic effect of it all. You all look the same to me.’
The man got up and took the washing-machine by a lead. He was evidently insulted and trudged off, self-consciously stroking the side of his head where an ear was missing.
He asked someone else. This time it was a girl, her ears splendidly shaped and intact, both. She wore no earrings; just plain ears. Because he was so fascinated by her ears, Floyd did not look at her vagina, which was not covered by anything at all. She regarded him for a moment, fascinated. The small of her back arched deliciously in anticipation of something forbidden.
‘Tell you what, I will tell you what happened. All these men, you see them, they won’t tell you, because they are secretly self-conscious about their lost ear.’
‘Alright, tell me,’ Floyd said, noticing now that her vagina was exposed. It looked like one of the ears he had seen on the purple street just a few hours previously. Despite this, he was excited to hear the truth about the ears and shifted his focus away from her vagina and to her eyes. They melted into small and large brown eternities.
‘When men and women lived together in the past, there was something funny called marriage, and then there were always problems because we females said something and it went in one ear and out of the other,’ the beautiful woman told Floyd. ‘Now we have found the solution. All our men have simply one ear, and thus it stays inside their heads and we are always heard.’
‘Always?’ Floyd asked, remembering his incident with the rare old man.
‘Well, sometimes our men turn us their ear-less side, but then we know that they don’t want to listen.’
‘Doesn’t this work the other way around as well?’ Floyd asked.
‘No, because when men talk we generally always listen. And because we rule now, there is no protest at all.’
‘And if I want to stay here,’ Floyd asked, gripped suddenly by a rush of tender panic, ‘do I have to have my ear removed too?’
‘No, honey,’ the beautiful woman whispered, and Floyd now realised that she was leaning dangerously close to his left ear, ‘that takes care of itself.’
As she said it, she bit off his left ear with her bare teeth. Floyd felt no pain, and there was no blood: just a tiny stab of remorse and then a sudden warmth at finding his very own space-bitch.