“The Snake-Oil Salesman and the Prophet’s Head” by Shannon Peavey
Card picked: Q♣
From: Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue 172
They’d preserved his brother’s head in grain alcohol and floated it in a dirty glass jar. Leo peered through the glass and his own face looked back at him, slack-jawed and cloudy-eyed.
“Don’t know him,” Leo said.
“Some people say that thing talks at night,” he said. “Haven’t heard it, myself.”
Leo said nothing.
Leo and his twin brother Cary are kind of like the “one man who can speak no truth and the other man who can tell no lies” puzzle. Cary, who has become a head in a jar in Colonel Klee’s WORLD’S MOST DEPRAVED TREASURES, can hear what people mean when they speak. Leo, who is a roadie with Klee’s travelling show (and snake oil pitch), can only speak what people want to hear. It had been more convenience than brotherly love that had kept Cary and Leo together. Who else could know what Leo meant to say? Unfortunately, Cary told Leo something Leo didn’t want to hear, which lead to the head-in-a-jar situation. Leo thought that he was done with his brother. Leo was wrong.
Great little Weird West tale. Weird West is usually a genre that I want to like more than I do. It’s probably because I am fond of Westerns and too much “weird” can sully the things I enjoy about that genre. This story has the right weird:west ratio.
I read Shannon Peavey’s “A Beautiful Memory” last year during #24in48 and was looking for more by her. And now I’ll still be looking for more by her.