(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

This skewed and brief fable begins with a man, father, galloping into the kitchen of his house on an imaginary white horse. He is beating himself with a horsewhip and screaming joyfully at his wife to look at what he has done: He has invented for himself a new head that is a horse’s head, he roars. His wife, mother, acknowledges that he has indeed done something, but that she is not at all pleased with whatever that something might be. Father goes on to explain with delight that this new horse’s head that he has created is a heroic head. It has taken the place of his intrinsic head—the man-head with which he was born—which is now in his left buttock. The inversion of the usual man/animal hierarchy is here apparent: Father’s posterior seems a natural location for his man-head, as the horse’s head is clearly more majestic. Also, now that father has two heads, he is compelled to repeat every phrase as though two separate mouths were speaking. Rather than serving to reinforce what he is saying, however, this repetitiveness serves only further to confuse and muddle his already muddled attempts at communicating to his wife the essential importance of his deed.

In frustration mother finally yells, “Why is what is what?” Father replies in apparent justification—though in a detached manner, as if his head were not a part of himself—that his head had simply to think of a horse and it became one. That, he says, would seem to be the only explanation of how such things happen. This implication of existential ambiguity and randomness does not sit well with mother as she grows increasingly agitated. To her frenzied cries of why this has happened at all, father ends the story with the rejoinder, “Because of all things that might have happened this is the very thing that happens.”