Bug eyes are the sick opposite of googly. They fix on you. They freeze your movement. A judgement that could. Yes, it doesn’t actually cast. But it has the potential to examine your shame. And just that it may open the door, walk right in, absorb your shit and walk out with it all deeply ingrained in memory banks is enough to ice away any good feelings accumulated from the day.

Your friend thinks he’s cheering you up, though you don’t need the indicated brightening. Your day was okay. He’s drunk, turns a dirty sock, grayed from non-athletic sweat, into a character his hand can flail life into. He’s taken out tubes of brown, black, red acrylic paint from a junk drawer, designed old buttons into eyes. And these are the eyes that stretch your gut down until it grazes the sinking feeling, the unhappy zone. And then you do need cheering up, though you don’t know why.

You look over and a pool of barf has spread and now drips down the side of the kitchen’s island. A rosy tanned mash of stomach butter, and the puppet has this formed frown at its lips, and you suspend disbelief. You’re ready to express concern to this puppet you haven’t been introduced to by a name yet. It’s a character, it deserves an appellation, the barf steam screams “this is human!” and you realize you might like the puppet more than your friend, until the frown relaxes. A puff of dirty cloth and limp eyes still lock a stare onto the old, un-purged guilt behind your stiff, dormant, tear ducts. You picture your friend hunched over on the other side of the kitchen island, backstage, wiping his mouth with his forearm, the hairs help with a curled scrape, and the sympathy shifts, for a moment.

A defensive pebble has been kicked up by the unsettling look from the sock’s scrapped together personality. It reminds you of someone. Ah, throw that sick puppet away! You want to say. Yes, you feel like it’s a caricature of the worst of you. The puppet will be thrown away, even if it has to be wrestled and tugged off the arm of your horseplay inclined friend. The puppet. Will. Be. Thrown. Away. You hesitate though, because it’s a reminder of what you feel like sometimes. A barf soaked puppet.

A washed up high school varsity cross country skier and storefront theatre method actor, Jeff Phillips now writes stories and scripts. His short fiction has appeared in Seeding Meat, This Zine Will Change Your Life and is forthcoming at Metazen. He’s dabbled in self publishing with two novellas; Whiskey Pike: A Bedtime Story for the Drinking Mankind, and Turban Tan, as well as the novel Votary Nerves. He is a member of Wood Sugars Comedy and keeps a blog at TheIglooOven.com.

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