The Doll Salon (Pt. 2)

Peanut Butter Psychosis

Feldon pedaled his red bicycle to his apartment building at the corner of Third and Park streets. It wasn’t the best building in the area, not by any means, in fact, it was a bit run down and housed a lot of seedy characters. He secured his bike to a rail out front and hopped up three flights of stairs to the long hallway. He looked down and he saw a couple of rough guys hanging around talking loudly and drinking 40s of beer. He sighed and went forward, key in hand.

When the loiters saw him, they clapped and yelled out, “Hey it’s Mr. Fartz!” And then they childishly started replicating bodily function noises with their mouths.

“Knock it off you guys,” Feldon protested as he got closer. “You know that’s not how you say my name. Do you really have to do this every single time I come home? Why don’t you losers get jobs and leave me alone!”

A punky black guy named Lester approached and stepped in front of him. He was stout and muscular and smelled of frustration and failure.

“What did you say to us fairy fart boy?” he angrily wanted to know.

“I said I think you should get jobs instead of hanging around the hall being jerks and harassing other tenants. I pay rent, too.”

Lester suddenly punched him hard in the stomach. Feldon doubled over and gasped for breath. The rough guys laughed at him.

“Yeah, bitch! How do you like that job fairy fart boy?” Lester said, sauntering in a circle around Feldon. “Maybe you should mind your own damn business next time before I go GTA all over your ass.”

Feldon tried to straighten up, and that’s when a bald Hispanic dude named Pinto came over and kicked him in the head. Feldon collapsed to the hallway floor and started crying.

“Oh shit, man,” Lester said to Pinto. “Look what we did. We made fairy fart boy cry.”

Pinto bent down and mockingly laughed at Feldon. “Hey fart boy. You want us to get your mommy for you?”

Feldon got to his knees and managed to slip his key into the lock of his apartment door. He was shaking and weeping. He turned to look up at them. “My mommy’s dead,” he whimpered. The door opened and Feldon scrambled inside and slammed the door shut. He got up slowly and looked through the foggy peep hole. Pinto put his milk-chocolate-pudding face real close on the other side, shook his head, and then moved away.

“Just wait ‘till next time, fairy fart boy, we’ll kill you!” Lester yelled through the door.

Feldon hobbled to the bathroom and started the water in the tub. He poured in some bubble bath and watched the suds blossom. He went to the mirror and tugged off his shirt. He looked at himself. He was so thin and pale, and now there was a big red spot on his skin where Lester had punched him. He peeled off the rest of his clothes and studied his scrawny body. He held his arms up and flexed, but there were barely any muscles.

Feldon was depressed and discouraged when he got into the tub and sank down into the warm, fragrant bubbly water. He scrunched his eyes real tight, held his nose, and went all the way down until he was completely submerged. He felt like drowning himself. He felt like sailing away, forever into the warm recesses of the bath water. The water filled his ears and made his head feel heavy and clotted. He puffed his cheeks out. His heart was pounding. And when he couldn’t hold it anymore, he suddenly shot up and gasped for breath.

“Bubbly, bubbly, bubbly,” he muttered to himself. “I’m so damn bubbly wumbly.” He panted and rested. He used his hands to scoop up the suds and then he’d let them drip down over his body. First there was an eerie and dripping quiet, like the earth suddenly stopped moving, and then, without warning, there came a thundering noise from between his legs that reverberated against the bottom of the tub. Great bubbles rose and burst. Feldon made a face of disgust. “Ugh. I really am nothing but a farter,” he said aloud to the walls. “And my heart is like a broken cup.”

When Feldon finished bathing, he got out of the tub, put on his robe, and went to the kitchen to fix himself a snack. He looked through the cupboards, but money was tight now and he had very little to eat. He reached for a half-empty jar of peanut butter, twisted off the lid, and then stuck his finger inside. He scooped out a big hunk of it and put it into his mouth.

Feldon talked to himself more than usual lately. “Mmmm, that’s good. I’ll have some peanut butter bread and a glass of milk for dinner.”

After he prepared his snack, Feldon brought the plate and glass out to the living room and set them down on the coffee table. He took a seat in the middle of the couch and then turned his head to the right. “Hello, Carl,” he said. And then he looked to his left. “Hello, Eve. How are you both this evening?”

Feldon waited for responses that he knew would never come, but he did not care. The mannequins gave him a sense of comfort.

“Should we watch some television?”

He clicked on the TV with the remote control and a strange light filled the room. Carl was glowing green and white, and he had a strange grin on his face that never went away. Eve was more stoic; her pink lips were tight and slightly chipped. Her eyes were wide and glassy, and the lashes were full and turned upward. She had an air of classy gangster sophistication — like she was someone fresh out of 1930s Los Angeles hiding a machine gun underneath her dress.

Feldon enjoyed Eve’s company more. He really liked her. Sometimes he thought he loved her. He reached out and gently touched her brassy blonde hair. He liked how it felt between his fingers. Then he was uncomfortable because Carl was right there on the other side of the couch.

Carl was more of a nuisance to him now. He felt he interfered with his intentions toward Eve, and several times he had thought about simply setting him out with the trash. But he just couldn’t do it. They used to be the best of friends. Carl came home with him first. He clearly remembers the night he snuck him out of the back room at Sahara’s Department Store and carried him home in the darkness.

But then Eve came along and the whole dynamic of the small apartment changed. It was something Feldon never expected. Feldon often wondered what Carl was up to when he wasn’t around. He was overly suspicious of him. He kept the two separated at night now. Carl was laid out neatly on the couch and covered with a thin blanket. Eve was placed in a chair right beside Feldon’s bed so that he could look at her until he fell asleep. He hadn’t gotten up the nerve yet to lie her in the bed beside him. That would be pushing it, he thought. It would be better to work up to that slowly, Feldon decided.

Feldon leaned forward and began to eat his peanut butter bread. He held it up to the mannequin’s faces in a sign of offering. He hated to be rude. There was no response. “If you don’t eat, Carl, you’ll die,” Feldon said as he chewed. Carl just grinned and stared at the television. He put the sandwich close to Eve’s plastic mouth and pretended she was eating. “That’s a good girl,” he said. “Can’t have you starving now can we.” He put the glass of milk to her lips and made sipping sounds. “Mmmm, yummy. Good for your wax bones, too.”

He finished the rest of the sandwich, drank the remaining milk, and settled back between them. Feldon didn’t really care what was on television. It was mostly damn commercials anyway. He loathed the fact that he could barely afford to pay to watch this shit. He pushed the frustration aside and focused on her now. His heart wobbled faster when he sat next to Eve. He carefully reached out and grasped her hand. Her plastic skin was cool to the touch. He gently squeezed her fingertips and then leaned in to kiss her on the cheek. He suddenly sensed Carl was watching and he snapped his head in his direction and yelled. “Don’t you have something better to do than just sit there and stare at us!”

Carl grinned and watched yet another bullshit commercial about car insurance as it flashed across the screen annoyingly. 

Feldon stood up. “Damn it, Carl! I’m talking to you.” He reached out his hand and slapped the mannequin in the face. Carl oddly tipped over on the couch. Feldon suddenly felt terrible and went to him and set him up right. He looked into Carl’s high eyes and tried to soothe the tension. “Oh, Carl. I’m so sorry I hit you. Please forgive me.”

Carl’s white smile was distant and masking a bucketful of pent-up frustration.


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