by Jody Callahan
The new me is stuck in the old me’s head.
How did this happen? I was walking when a car
drove over the sidewalk and launched me (I like
the sound of that—launched me) like I was a
spacecraft going into orbit, but I did not go into
orbit. I was launched into the middle of the
street onto my head. Landing on my head gave
me brain damage so now although I have the
same head, it is squished on one side and it gave
me new thoughts and took away old ones.

I can no longer study at Georgetown University
to become a lawyer. My brain won’t let me. I
can’t remember things you need to remember to
learn to become a lawyer at Georgetown Univer-
sity. It is strange though how I can remember
that there are things that I cannot remember.

The man who launched me with his car felt
terrible about it, my mother said. He visited me
in the hospital when I was in my coma. I was in
my coma for two months. There was a lady who
was in a coma for two years and now won a gold
or silver or something medal in the Paralympics,
the Olympics for people with not perfect bodies
but Amazingly Positive Attitudes for overcoming
what they really can’t overcome.

“Well la-dee-da!” my mother said to the nurse
who told us about the two year coma
victim/Olympic medalist. “Sheesh,” she said
when the nurse huffed and left my room. “It’s
like you being in a coma for two months isn’t
good enough! You lost the coma race! Someone
else did two years and got a medal; what are you
going to do?” She held up her hand to silence
me. “Don’t answer that. It was a rhetorical
question. Do you remember what rhetorical
means or did the meaning of that word get
erased in this new brain of yours?”

“What if I didn’t know what rhetorical meant with
my previously undamaged brain?” I asked my
mother, starting to panic. “How do I know what I
never knew and what I knew but got erased?”

“Hmmmmmm,” my mother said, enjoying the
conundrum of my situation. “We’ll only know for
sure what you knew by what I know you knew.
Unfortunately for both of us, but mainly you,”
she admitted, “you were a bit of a liar before
your brain damage so I can’t be one hundred
percent sure of what you said you knew since
you could have been lying.”

My brain was able to connect the fact that I was
a liar, known to be so by at least my mother,
with the fact that I was studying to be a lawyer.
How boring, I thought—even with brain damage I
knew that everyone was tired of lawyer/liar jokes.

Let’s get back to the scene of the crime, the
moment of brain on pavement impact. I had been
struck by a Secret Service Agent’s car. “How cool
is that?” my mother asked me. “President
Reagan was shot and the call went out to all CIA
and Secret Service Agents to swarm the area you
were walking. When the agent tried to turn
around on Connecticut Avenue to get to the
Hilton Washington where Reagan was shot, he
drove over the sidewalk and launched you into
the street. At least he brought you flowers.”

“What did he look like?”

“President Reagan? He looks like that actor,
Ronald Reagan.”

“No not him. The Secret Service Agent. When he
visited me in the hospital was he wearing a

“Now that you mention it,” my mother said,
pushing me over in my bed so she could hog
more of the covers, “his face did look kind of
waxy, his hair too brown, his mustache too
mustachey. He also had perfectly adorable
wrinkles at the side of his eyes—not too deep
and not too many but enough to make him very
manly, very Secret Service Agent-worthy.”

“He sounds like Magnum P.I., that actor, Tom
Selleck,” I said.

“You know, I think it
was Tom Selleck who
brought you the flowers!”

“Damn,” I said. “The one time I’m in bed and
Tom Selleck comes to visit me, I’m in a coma.”

“Don’t you get it, stupid?” My mother poked the
bandages on my head with her pointiest of
fingers. “The government hired Tom Selleck to
play the part of the Secret Service Agent visiting
you in the hospital. They’re not going to send the
real Secret Service Agent. He’s got to work
undercover and can’t be going around to the
hospital bed of every shithead he hits with his

“He’s the shithead,” I pointed out. “He’s the one
who drove on the sidewalk.” Even those of us
with brain damage know basic traffic laws.

“Well la-dee-da,” my mother said and stuck her
tongue out at me. “So do you remember Rover?”

“Who’s Rover?”

“You don’t remember Rover? I can’t believe you
don’t remember him!”

“Who is he?” I begged.

“It’s a she and she’s your dog. No your cat. No I
mean your snake.”

“I have a snake?” I honestly didn’t remember
even liking snakes, let alone wanting to have one
as a pet.

“You think I’d let you have a pet snake?” she
said, opening her eyes wide at me. “Well I’ll tell
you one thing—you being brain damaged has
made you a lot more fun to play with. You’re
terribly gullible. I suppose you don’t know what
gullible means, do you?”

“I know what gullible means,” I said, and rolled
my eyes at her to cover up my lie.

“Open your eyes.”

“They are open.”

“Can you hear me? It’s Mom. I’m right here.”

“I hear you! Can’t you see me moving my mouth
answering you?” And that’s when I know that if I
wake up soon enough I still may get the chance
to meet Magnum P.I./Tom Selleck when he
comes to my bed.
Wake up, wake up! I tell my
eyes. Open! Open!
I stretch them with my mind
but can’t make them work. I scream.

“She’s whispering something,” my mother says.
“What are you saying? Can you hear me? Open
your eyes. Please. Open your eyes.”

A native of Massachusetts, Jody Callahan lives on the Caribbean
island of St. Lucia. Her comedic pieces have been used by Liars'
League London, Liars' League Hong Kong and at the Wilderness
Festival in Oxfordshire. Her work appears online at The Story Shack
and in print in the upcoming anthology, Far Flung and Foreign by
Writers Abroad.
Short Story