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.


The Puppets of Kudzu (1)

Franco Dellaronti dreamily looked out the window while scrubbing and rinsing dishes. He whistled while he worked, but then suddenly stopped when the clouds went away, and the sky bloomed with sun like a fat piñata giving birth to a glimmering candy store, and the damaged Earth greened with slithering kudzu right before his very eyes. The end of time had ended, and somehow prosperity had returned.

He rushed to his bedroom and grabbed his favorite puppet, a beloved remnant from his days at puppetry school down in New Orleans. The puppet’s name was Cheise Karn Mouise (pronounced SHAYSS CAIRN MOOSAY), and he was an old-time French bastard with a very pale and gloopy face that looked like he had been whitewashed in grease paint. He had thin white doll hair atop his head and Kia Soul taupe-colored eyes that never blinked. Franco impaled the puppet on his arm like rough sex and they rushed outside together to see the new, green world.

“Would you look at all that kudzu,” Franco said. “I have a great idea that’s going to make us filthy rich.”

He worked the puppet’s mouth to make him mumble something in a strange high-pitched voice. “What’s that? I hope it’s safe.”

“Of course, it’s safe. I would never endanger your life. You’re Cheise Karn Mouise, and you’re my best friend and I love you.”

He rotated the puppet’s head, so it was looking right at him. Franco tried so hard not to move his lips when he made the puppet talk, and it made him sound stuffed up, restrained, unable to completely annunciate the words.

“You’re my best friend and I love you too. So, what’s this grand idea of yours have to do with all that kudzu?”

“We’re going into business,” Franco said with asserted determination. Then he made the puppet explode with excitement — like an ice cream truck that swallowed dynamite.

“Awesome! I’ve never been in business before. What are we going to do?”

“I’m glad you asked, Cheise Karn Mouise. Now get this. What does one do with such an abundance of kudzu?”

“I have no idea.”

“One makes kudzu pie!”

Franco Dellaronti moved his hand slowly toward himself and soon the puppet was so close to his face they almost bumped noses. “That’s a terrible idea. Who ever heard of kudzu pie?” the puppet said.

“It’s a fabulous idea. I’m going to be rich!”

He worked the puppet to make him show a troubled concern for his master.

“Now hold on there, Martha Stewart. Do you even know how to make kudzu pie?”

Franco became flustered. “Of course, I do. I mean — how hard can it be?”

He made the puppet hit him in the side of the head.

“You better get down to the library right away and do some research before you make a total ass of yourself!”

Then Cheise Karn Mouise hit him again.

“Would you stop hitting me,” Franco scolded. “Okay, I’ll go to the library. Do you want to go with me?”

He made the puppet tip his head in a gesture of judgmental parenting. “Are you going to be embarrassed this time?”

Franco thought about it far too long. “I’ll be okay. I think the psychiatrist is really beginning to help me see things on a deeper level.”

He made the puppet grow tense and serious. “I don’t trust him.”

“What? You’re the one who suggested I go see him. I don’t understand.”

“I haven’t seen any improvement in you at all. And now you’ve got some crazy idea about selling kudzu pie!”

“I think you need a time out Cheise Karn Mouise,” Franco said, and he popped the puppet off his arm and let him fall to the ground before going back inside to take a shower.


It was an aluminum-colored day with a blinding sun stinging the yard where he had set up his kudzu pie stand. Franco Dellaronti made his very own sign and set it out and it read in big green letters: KUDZU PIE – $5 per slice. Whipped cream extra. A car came down his street about every 10 minutes, but no one ever stopped. He sighed and took a bite of pie for himself, then chased it with a big squirt of the canned whipped cream until it ran out of his mouth. He looked down to the ground and saw that Cheise Karn Mouise had suddenly come to life, real life, and the puppet jumped up onto his feet and swayed a bit before getting the hang of standing on his own.

“Whoa, that’s fun. But why so glum, my friend?” Cheise Karn Mouise asked.

“I haven’t sold a single piece of pie. I might as well just shut down. I’m nothing but a failure.”

Cheise Karn Mouise shook his once wooden head, now real flesh and bone. He was disappointed in his master. “You can’t give up already. Have you done any marketing?”

Franco looked at the little lively puppet that stood no more than three feet tall. “Marketing? What’s that?”

 “You have to let people know about your product! You big goof.”

Franco looked around the yard and pointed. “I have a big sign out front.”

The puppet shook its head in frustration. “You have to think a lot bigger than that if you want to sell enough kudzu pie to generate sustainable income.”

It was then that a car slowed and stopped in front of the house and the driver activated the window. “Hi there!” said a woman full of perfumed perk. “I’ve never had any kudzu pie, but I’d be willing to give it a try. Do you give out free samples?”

Franco turned to the tray where he had laid out small servings of his kudzu pie for people to try before they buy. “Yes mam. Give this a taste,” and he went to the car, and he handed her a small cupcake cup with a piece of the pie inside it.

The woman sniffed at it and then gingerly pushed it into her mouth and began chewing. Then her face scrunched, and she gagged a little bit, and then spit the half-macerated sample at Franco’s shoes. “That’s horrible, mister. You should be arrested for trying to sell that shit! You’re going to poison someone!” The woman gave him the finger and sped off.

He looked to Cheise Karn Mouise for comfort. “See. I’m a failure!” Franco went to his pie stand and kicked it to pieces and scattered them all over the yard in a disturbing fury as the puppet looked on in disbelief. “Fuck kudzu pie!” Franco bellowed, and then he huffed his way back into the house and slammed the door.

TO BE CONTINUED