Franco Dellaronti was lying on his bed in a very dark space, and he was in a state of horrible depression and self-doubt because of his failure as a kudzu pie entrepreneur. He scrunched his eyes and wrapped his arms around his belly because he was in so much pain. The he heard the faint sound of someone slowly opening his bedroom door. He sat up on the edge of the bed while trying to settle his raging heart that was now pumping with fear. “Who’s there!?” he cried out. The door creaked open wider. Franco tore a drawer open in a nightstand near his bed and pulled out a gun. He shakily aimed the revolver toward the invisible menace hovering somewhere in the door frame. Whoever or whatever it was moved closer. He felt it.
“I’ll shoot! I swear I’ll shoot!” Franco yelled out.
“Don’t shoot! It’s me.”
“Cheise Karn Mouise?”
“Yes!” He reached up to a light switch and flipped it. The room became painfully illuminated. “What the hell are you doing? You could have killed me!”
“I’m sorry. I was half awake and very sad and my head wasn’t very clear. I thought you might be an intruder or a rapist.”
“I’m not an intruder or a rapist, but thanks for locking me out of the house you big goof. I think I got sunburned.” Cheise Karn Mouise walked across the floor and hopped up on the bed next to the man.
“I’m sorry about that, too. How did you get in?”
“I broke out a basement window… I didn’t know you were a gun owner.”
Franco was frustrated with himself. “Yes. I don’t know how to use it very well. It’s heavy and makes my wrist hurt.”
“You’re just being a pussy,” Cheise Karn Mouise bemused. “Are you sure you’re not a girl?”
“What? That’s a horrible thing to say. Of course, I’m not a girl… And why are you suddenly being so snotty?”
“I had a pretty rough day and I’m completely sunburned, and it hurts like hell,” the little puppet man complained.
Franco looked at him and felt bad for locking him out of the house. “Would you like me to rub some pain-relieving aloe vera gel all over your body?”
Cheise Karn Mouise was confused. “Um. What did you say? What do you want to rub all over my body?”
“It will help soothe your sunburn. I bought it at a Greenwalls pharmacy in Cortez, Colorado after I went on my hiking sabbatical in the high desert without the proper clothing and sunscreen. It really does help ease the pain, but you may smell like mouthwash for a while.”
“I think I’ll just deal with the pain,” Cheise Karn Mouise said, and he winced as he adjusted himself on the bed.
Franco tried to convince him. “Are you sure? I really want to rub this all over your body.”
“What the hell is wrong with you!?” Cheise Karn Mouise snapped.
“What? I’m just trying to help.”
“You’re acting very gay.”
“Gay?” And Franco thought, then said, “Even though I’m pretty upset about the whole kudzu pie fiasco, I am generally a very happy person.”
“Don’t you know what gay is?”
“Well sure. It’s like how it is when I’m so light on my feet that I could just jump over a rainbow. When I’m completely joyous about life. When I feel gay, gay, gay!”
Cheise Karn Mouise shook his head, looked around the room, and then stared at the floor and mumbled. “Okay… You can rub it on me but do it quick.”
The morning was filled with the smell of coffee and bacon and gross wet eggs as the man and Cheise Karn Mouise sat at the kitchen table and awkwardly ate breakfast together. Franco looked over the rim of his cup at the puppet that had come to life by the power of kudzu pie. He loudly sipped to get his attention.
Cheise Karn Mouise set down his fork and looked at him. “Must you do that?”
“Slurp at your coffee like a dime store hooker.”
“You sure are sorry a lot,” the puppet snapped. “You should probably do some research on that and figure out what is wrong with you.”
“I pay a shrink to do that.”
“Oh, yeah. I forgot.” Cheise Karn Mouise scoffed. “I’m afraid you’re wasting your money.
Franco was hurt by the comment and tried to turn the tides of the conversation. “How’s that burn feeling today?” he asked.
“I think it’s better. That stuff really does work.”
“Good. I really enjoyed rubbing it on you.”
“I um… Enjoyed it too. And you’re pretty good at rubbing.”
Franco was pleased with himself, but bashful enough to change the subject. “I thought today we’d go down to the puppet store and get you a new outfit. That one looks very dirty and gross. Then maybe we could pop over to the mall.”
“Today? Not today. I want to stay home and watch some football games I recorded. I haven’t gotten to yet.”
Franco fluffed his hand in the air. “Football all day? No. We’re going shopping.”
“Why are you being so gay again?”
“What? I’m not very gay at the moment. You’ve upset me. And I think organized sports is just a ginormous waste of time. It’s barbaric and merely weekend fodder for the brain-washed masses.”
Cheise Karn Mouise threw his napkin on the table and crawled down. “So is shopping,” he snipped, and he disappeared into another room.
It was then that the doorbell rang, and Franco Dellaronti huffed, “Oh good big balls who is that!?” He got up from the table and walked toward the door and yanked it open. There was a serious man standing there and he wore a navy-blue suit with a red tie and his hair was clipped short and neat and was the color of vanilla frosting and even had the swirls in it like you might see on cake. He was holding some kind of computerized tablet. “Are you,” he began, and he looked down at the tablet and squinted his eyes a bit. “Franco Dellaronti? And are you the owner of this property?”
“Yes, I am. And this is my house. Who the hell are you?”
“I’m from the city and I’ve come here to control your life. Is that your smashed up lemonade stand littering your front lawn?”
Franco peeked over the official’s shoulder. “Yes. It’s mine. But it’s not a lemonade stand — it was a kudzu pie stand.”
“What the hell is kudzu pie?” the city official wondered out loud.
“It’s a delicious pie made from a sprawling southern vine. Would you like to come in and try some? It would be no trouble at all to plate you a nice fat slice.”
The official hesitated and looked around and sniffed before stepping up and in. “It smells kind of weird in here, but I guess I can get past that for a piece of delicious pie.”
“Oh, that’s my roommate. He has a problem with personal hygiene. My apologies. But please, come sit down.”
Franco led his guest to the kitchen and offered him a seat at the table. “Would you like a big glass of milk to go with that delicious kudzu pie?”
“No. I can’t. I have that lactose intolerant thing. Do you have any beer?”
“Beer? They let you drink beer while you work?”
“Sure. Everyone drinks on the job at the city,” the official teased as he looked up at the man’s confused face. “I’m just kidding. I can’t drink on the job,” he said, and then he winked at Franco. “But I do it anyway.”
Franco fumbled around in the refrigerator. “I’m afraid I don’t have any beer, but would you like a frosty wine cooler?”
The official scrunched his face. “Hell no! I don’t want a wine cooler. That’s gay.”
Franco rolled his eyes and grumbled. “My smelly roommate has been saying that to me all day. I just don’t see what’s so wrong about being happy. Why is everyone so against being happy?”
“I don’t know, but I think you may be a little confused… Anyways, forget the drink and let’s get down to business. Now, the broken stand out in the yard is considered refuse and city code #32-HTBF-43C clearly states that any refuse on personal property must be stored in an approved refuse container which must in turn be stored in a garage or other location which renders it hidden from public sight. So, I’m afraid you are in violation, and I’ll have to fine you.”
“Fine me!? How much?”
“It’s 600 dollars.”
“I’m afraid it’s the law.”
“Fine. Let me go get my purse,” Franco whined.
“What? Now that’s gay.”
“Seriously? Can I not be happy about one damn thing today!?”
“You really carry a purse?” the city official wanted to know.
“Yes. I carry a purse. So what!?”
“But you’re a man for crying out loud! Use a wallet like the rest of us.”
“Purses happen to fit my personal needs better than a wallet. I could wear a dress if I want to. It’s nobody’s choice but mine!” Franco exclaimed; his hands now high in the air.
“Do I what?”
“Do you wear a dress?”
“No, I don’t wear a dress! I just like purses. I have a lot of shit to haul around, and I need a purse. Now, can I just please pay the fine so I can get on with my life!”
The official sighed and printed a piece of paper out of the handheld machine, tore it off and gave it to Franco. “Sorry. I can’t take any payments. That would be too efficient. You must come down to city hall and pay in person, but you can only do it between 10:30 and 3:30 on Mondays and Thursdays, unless of course Monday falls on one of those fake holidays, then you’ll have to wait until Thursday. Also, the office is closed from noon until 2 to accommodate our staff’s completely impractical lunch period. And if you’re late on your payment for any reason, they’re going to tack on an exorbitant fee that no one is willing to explain to you and a warrant for your arrest will be issued. So, yeah. Sorry about that, but I’d suggest you get this taken care of as soon as possible.”
“That’s all so completely ludicrous. So, on Veterans’ Day for example, the government takes the day off to honor the same people they don’t give a shit about when they come home from one of your profit-making wars?”
“I work for the city mister, not the federal government. If you got a problem with war, take it up with President Orangutan Assface.” The official laughed and dragged his rough fingers across his scratchy beard. “Hey. What about that kudzu pie?”
TO BE CONTINUED
Read the previous part of this story HERE.