The Puppets of Kudzu (END)

Karl from the city went to work cleaning the mess he made in the kitchen as Franco and Cheise Karn Mouise looked on. When he finished, he rinsed out the towel and washed his hands in the kitchen sink. “Well, I suppose I should get going now before they wonder if I went AWOL,” he said to them.

“Can I have a hug before you go Karl?” Franco asked with open arms.

The man eyed him, confused, and wondering. He looked around to make sure no one was watching but then again nobody could have been.

“All right,” he said. “Bring it in.”

“Oh yippy!” Franco squealed, and he wrapped his arms tight around Karl’s body and snuggled him lovingly.

“All right, all right, that will do, mister. Thanks for saving my life. You both take care now. And be sure to clean up your yard before they send someone else a lot less understanding.”

Karl limply smiled at them, went to the door, opened it, and walked out into the mean world.

“Well,” Franco said to Cheise Karn Mouise. “Now that that’s over with. Let me ask you one last time. Are you still planning on staying here to watch your stupid football while I go have a sparkly good time shopping?”

Cheise Karn Mouise looked up at him with little expression. “Yes.” Then he turned and disappeared into the other room.

Franco yelled after him. “Fine! I’m going now. You may choose not to be happy, but don’t rain on my parade. I’m going to be so gay they’re going to have to wipe the smile right off my dead body!”

The front door eventually slammed and Cheise Karn Mouise was all alone in the house, nice and snug in a comfortable chair, and he was glad for the peace and quiet.

After a while, Cheise Karn Mouise fixed himself some microwave popcorn and an iced grape soda before getting back to his football. He watched one game, then another, and was then into his third when he realized Franco had not returned home yet. He clicked off the watching devices and the house was eerily silent except for a lonely low hum of electricity throughout. The light of day was beginning to crisp over. He was oddly worried and went to a window and looked at the street. Franco’s car was still gone. Cheise Karn Mouise tried calling him on his cell phone but there was no answer. He began to think something bad had happened, but he decided to just go ahead and take a nap on the living room couch. So what if he wasn’t home yet? he thought to himself. Franco’s a grown man who can take of himself. Besides, they had gotten into a fight, and he was mad, and he had to play the little game of acting like he didn’t care even though he did care. It was a lot of emotions for a small puppet to juggle. Being really alive, he decided, was tough sometimes.

And that’s when he started to cry before he fell into a deep sleep and he dreamt about how he was first created, how he had once been nothing but pieces of a puppet that had to be assembled. He dreamt about how it took the thoughts of some human being in a wood shop down in the snug of Lyon, France to come up with the idea, the design, and to finally carve, shape and birth him into the living world before shipping him off simply for the entertainment of others. He truly was a puppet in a world with countless opinionated hands.

It was later when his phone rang, and it startled him awake. He fumbled in the darkness for his puppet cell phone. “Hello?” he sleepily mumbled.

Franco Dellaronti was crying on the other end.

Cheise Karn Mouise sat up. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

“They beat me up!” Franco said, whimpering.

“What!? Who beat you up?”

“Just come get me. I’m at the First Church of Loving Goodness on 37th Avenue. I’ll be the one bleeding on the steps out front.”

“I should call an ambulance for you.”

“Just come get me!”

Cheise Karn Mouise went to the garage and jumped in his dream car — a Kia Soul specially made for puppets with souls. He activated the garage door with a press of a button on a remote, fired up the car, and tore out of the driveway like a puppet with purpose. “Don’t worry my human friend,” he said aloud to the kaleidoscopic dash. “I’m coming to get you!” and he cranked the volume of his favorite song — Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People — and he drove along to the beat like a ferocious dancing wind to get to Franco before he possibly died.

When his GPS had finally guided him to the church, he saw Franco Dellaronti slumped on the stairs out front, leaning against a silver rail. He worked himself out of the Soul and ran over to him. His master was a bruised and bloody mess, and he carefully shook him a little bit. “Hey man. I’m here. Jesus… What happened?”

Franco looked at him with a dazed expression. “I wanted to say a prayer for you. I wanted to pray that you find true contentment in your puppet life and be gay all the time.” He turned his head and looked at the doorway of the church. “I was in there, giving my prayer and they were going to start a night service and then they told me I had to leave.”

“What on earth for?”

“They said I was a sinner and that I was destined for hell. They said Jesus hates people who are gay. And I wondered, how could Jesus possibly be against someone being happy? Anyways, I didn’t want to leave. I told them I wasn’t finished praying yet. That’s when a group of the church men grabbed me and threw me to the floor. They started punching me in the face, and then the women there and even some of the children started kicking me and spitting on me. I think someone threw a Bible at me. They looked right at me and told me God hated me and that they hated me, too. Then they hustled me outside and dumped me, and I’ve been sitting here all wumbly bumbly and half bleeding to death ever since. Why did they beat me up for just wanting to pray for my beloved puppet friend to be happy?”

Cheise Karn Mouise sadly sighed and then said, “Because they’re hypocritical assholes.”

“I just don’t understand, Cheise Karn Mouise. I just don’t understand.”

“I know. Neither do I, but don’t worry about that now… Let’s get you home. Where’s your car?”

“They set it on fire.”

“What!?”

“Yes. They wanted me to witness the burning. They told me it was a preview to my own personal hell.”

“What horrible people.”

“Yes. I’m going to see a lawyer about all this,” Franco said.

“Good. Can you walk?”

“I’ll manage. Thanks for coming to get me.”

“I should have come with you in the first place. I’m sorry for acting like a dick.”

“Oooooh,” Franco managed to happily squeak through his pain.

“Zip it,” Cheise Karn Mouise said, then he laughed. “Let’s just get out of here.”

They rode in silence for a while until Cheise Karn Mouise suggested they get a late-night treat. He thought it would help cheer Franco up a bit. “How about some ice cream? And not that yogurt crap. I mean real ice cream. Are you in the mood for some 24-hour Cream King goodness?”

Franco Dellaronti brightened through the pain. “Cream King? Absolutely. I want to get something super swirly.”

Cheise Karn Mouise shook his head. “God that’s gay.”

Then the puppet with soul gripped the steering wheel of his ultra-cool Kia Soul as he plowed the night streets, and he was glad to be in a fairly decent mood, his good friend and master at his side, badly beaten, but still alive. Then something in the sky caught both their eyes, and they saw magical electric Jesus riding a bicycle, and he gave them a friendly wave and smile before rising and flying off across the face of the blue-white moon — like an E.T. kid — on his way to space Heaven.

END


The Puppets of Kudzu (3)

Author’s Note: Mature Content. The following story contains language that some readers may find offensive. Skip this one if you don’t like that sort of thing.

“I don’t think I want to give you kudzu pie anymore. You’re horrible to people,” Franco angrily ranted.

“Oh, come on. You can’t come down on a guy for just doing his job. I don’t make up the rules. I got bills to pay just like everyone else,” the city man said.

Franco pondered that and then reconsidered. “Okay. I’m sorry. Would you like some lactose-free egg nog to go with that pie? There’s nothing more refreshing than a cold glass of lactose-free egg nog.”

“Sure. That would be great. Thanks for considering my dietary needs.”

“No problem. I’m magical like that.”

 “Say, do you mind if I smoke? I could really use one right about now.”

“Nah, go ahead and suck on your fag all you want,” Franco told him.

“What did you just say?”

“Suck on your fag…”

“I know, I know. That is so gay, mister.”

“Jiminy Effin Cricket! What is it with everyone!? A fag happens to be a colloquial British term for a cigarette!”

Franco plopped down an emerald-green ashtray in the middle of the table followed by a plate with a chilled and wobbly piece of green kudzu pie. He went and yanked a plastic jug of lactose-free egg nog from the refrigerator and filled a tall glass and sat that before the man as well.

“Would you like me to squirt some cream on it for you?” Franco asked him.

“Excuse me?”

“Whipped topping. On your pie.”

“Yes, some cream would be, um, very nice.”

“Here you go. Enjoy.”

“Thanks.”

Franco watched with bizarre fascination as the city official opened his mouth and filled it with a piece of the cream-covered kudzu pie. He chewed. Then he stopped chewing. His face morphed into a horrifying grimace and then a huge and sloppy spew of mashed kudzu pie and cream shot out of his face and splattered all over the table. He made a horrible gurgling, gasping, groaning, grunting noise and clamped both his hands around the glass of lactose-free egg nog and tipped it to his mouth and started to suck and gulp ferociously, wheezing and whining and spitting as he did so. He paused briefly and then suddenly the egg nog came shooting out of his mouth as well and he cried out, “Spoiled! It’s spoiled!” 

The official suddenly stood up, grasped his throat, and then just as suddenly, collapsed onto the floor.

“Holy shit!” Franco Dellaronti exclaimed. “I think I just killed him with kudzu pie and lactose-free egg nog!”

 Cheise Karn Mouise rushed into the kitchen. “What the hell is going on in here!? What’s all the noise? Just look at this disgusting mess! And who the hell is that?!”

Franco frowned. “It was a guy from the city. He gave me a 600-dollar ticket because I left my smashed-up kudzu pie stand in the yard. I’m considered a public nuisance now by the entire neighborhood.”

“That’s totally gay.”

“No, it’s not! I’m not happy at all. In fact, this is all really pissing me off! And just look at this mess and this body! What the hell am I supposed to do?”

Cheise Karn Mouise shuffled over to the coffee pot that sat on the counter and struggled to reach it. “I don’t know. Did you check to see if he’s dead?”

Franco turned to him. “You want me to touch his body? Gross.”

“Maybe you should give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. I bet you’d like that.”

 “What the hell does that mean?”

“I thought you were gay,” the puppet said, still struggling for the coffee pot.

“I’m usually very gay, but not today! Aren’t you my friend? Don’t you care about me at all and my need for overflowing happiness?”

“Of course, I care. I’m just not really all that interested in feelings… It’s gay.”

“I think you fear giddiness,” Franco sternly pointed out. “You fear your own emotions.”

“What? I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”

“You’re afraid to be happy with who you truly are.”

“God! Quit talking so damn gay… And I know what I am. I’m a puppet who has been blessed with life.”

“Why are you afraid to express your true inner thoughts?” Franco said as he went to him and helped him with the coffee pot. He poured some into a cup and handed it down to him. Cheise Karn Mouise sipped at it, looked up, and tried to smile but couldn’t.

“Do you feel guilty about something? Do you experience inner turmoil?” Franco asked, trying to dig a little deeper into the soul of his friend.

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore. It’s weird. Let me just drink my coffee and go back to my football in peace.”

“It’s not good to hold your feelings in,” Franco told him. “You may explode like an ice cream truck one day.”

Cheise Karn Mouise took another sip of his coffee. “Just drop it I said!”

“All right. All right. I just think it would be a benefit to you if occasionally you tried to get in touch with your feminine side.”

“That has to be the absolute gayest thing you have ever said to me,” Cheise Karn Mouise said.

Franco finally gave up. “Fine. Be unhappy for the rest of your life… So, I guess I am going shopping by myself after all?”

“I don’t feel like leaving the house. I told you that.”

“Are you sure? There’s a new frozen yogurt shop at the mall.”

“Yogurt is gay.”

“Well, I’d be gay too if I was full of fun and fruity flavors with a cornucopia of yummy toppings.”

Cheise Karn Mouise shook his head at him. “Your psychiatrist really needs to get to work on you. Jesus.”

“I’m looking forward to it. Therapy is all about finding your happy place no matter how screwed up you are.”

Then there came a sludgy groaning from the floor as the man from the city stirred. “Oh god, I feel horrible. What happened?”

Cheise Karn Mouise threw his coffee cup in the sink before rushing over to check on the man from the city. He had an idea how to save his friend some cash. “You were choking on a delicious piece of kudzu pie and my friend here performed the Heimlich maneuver on you and saved your life. You should thank him, not give him an outrageous ticket for just trying to bring a little edible joy to the world.”

“He licked my hiney? That’s so gay,” the man from the city frightfully moaned.

“No, you brute! The Heimlich maneuver,” Cheise Karn Mouise explained. “It’s a very helpful medically endorsed physical action used to dislodge food or foreign objects from a choking person’s airway. It saves lives. Just like it did here today in this very house, in this very room mind you. Are you dumb or what?”

The man struggled to get to his feet.

“Oh, good heavens, you’re gross,” Cheise Karn Mouise said with a scrunched puppet face of disgust. “Franco, fetch this poor fella a warm wet towel to clean himself with.”

“Of course, of course.”

“What’s your name friend?” Cheise Karn Mouise asked. “I don’t believe you supplied us with any official identification.”

“My name is… Karl, I think. Hey, wait, are you a fucking French puppet? Am I talking to a puppet? Whose hand you got up your ass?”

“I suppose you wish it was your hand up my ass, don’t you,” Cheise Karn Mouise teased. “And yes, Karl, you are talking to a French puppet. I am Cheise Karn Mouise of Lyon. And I am truly alive on my own. No hand up my ass required. This world of ours is a very strange and horrible place, isn’t it?”

“And yet so beautiful and delightful,” Franco sing-songed as he returned and handed Karl the warm, wet towel.

Karl wiped down his face and the front of his suit jacket and shirt. He looked at the huge mess splattered on the table. “Did I do that? Gosh, I’m so sorry.”

“Well Karl, why don’t you make it up to us. First, by cleaning up this nastiness, and second, by tearing up that ungodly citation,” Cheise Karn Mouise pleaded.

Karl flickered his eyes and said, “Yes, yes. Of course. I was never here. I saw nothing. Everything is in order.” He chuckled a bit. “Do you have any Bounty paper towels?”

“Oooooh,” Franco beamed. “The quicker picker upper. Right away, Karl.”

Karl leaned over and whispered to Cheise Karn Mouise. “Does he always act this gay?”

“Yes, he does. He’s a very happy and positive person and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

“Right, I didn’t mean anything by it. I was just wondering.”

TO BE CONTINUED

Read the previous part of this story HERE.