They said it was the hole in his head that made Marcel dance. Before the accident he was a perfectly normal, hard-working young man, but after a steel rod fell and bored a tunnel into his brain he began to dance. Anywhere and everywhere. Of course, he lost his job, for what use is a dancing postman? Madame Lapierre, a widow, gave him a room and fed him, but all day he’d be out in the streets, in the village square, the shops, dancing. In church, on a Sunday, the priest allowed him space behind the crowded pews where he could dance away during mass. He didn’t even stop for the Lord's Prayer.
The village children loved Marcel. They’d run laughing from school to join him in his dance, and he’d wink and grin and pull funny faces for them, and they’d laugh all the more. The children grew up, become adults and stopped dancing, but Marcel danced on and more children were born to join him. He lived for another twenty-five years and not a day went by when he didn’t dance.
His last dance was on a level-crossing. In front of the cog-train that went up and down the mountain twenty-eight times a day. It was snowing hard, the ground was iced over, and he must have slipped. Madame Lapierre couldn’t understand why he never came back, and the children remained glum for the rest of the winter, always searching the quiet streets for Marcel the dancer. The train driver wouldn’t have seen him and his body emerged beside the train-track when the snow melted in the spring... a smile still frozen onto his face.
Madame Lapierre was the only one who knew the true reason for that smile and all that dancing. Hidden away in an envelope under Marcel’s mattress were two hundred thousand Swiss francs and a letter from the construction company whose steel rod made the hole in Marcel’s head. He’d not spent any of it for she’d taken care of all his needs and the villagers were always stuffing money into his pockets when he danced. He had no family, so she saw no need to mention the money to anyone else. The only change the other villagers saw was in her face. She always smiled.
“She no longer has to put up with the noise of Marcel dancing all night long,” they joked. And the smile never left Madame Lapierre. From: Marcel's Head, Lost Whispers, 2013