“Romancing Mr. Puffycheeks”

by Brian E. Tull

A slender beam of syrupy sunlight flicks at her curly copper locks. There she is in all her archetypal glory – young Miss Sip Sip. It would seem I’ve known her since my conception; at least I know that she’s been here as long as I have, and all the while smiling. That smile with those chubby cheeks and petite pursed lips awakens in me a hatred that is so rank and festering that puss itself would gag and vomit. But let me start by saying that I once loved her.

* * *

October 1984: the earliest memory I possess. Signs around me say “Oktoberfest Uber Sale.” I am in a bright open space. Everything smells of clean plastic and that odor of a fan that has been left running too long. I’m falling. When I open my eyes again, the room is warmer and quite dim. Some story is being read aloud by someone who is very careful to make voices for different characters. I hear the voices, but not the words, and I become aware of someone beside me: a girl. She is adorned in a kind of one piece green suit with a yellow trim. Her hands are fat with fingers that should have been toes. And then I see her hair. That’s where I rest my gaze. Tight little reddish brown curls. Light glints off them the way it would off shredded rhinestones. I think to myself, “If only…” when without warning she hugs me. Looking back, maybe it was a forced hug. I revel in it. I am stupid with merriment. I could dance the finest jig. And as fast as it started, it ends. But the feeling spirals. I would shout out my glee, but my mouth won’t move, even to smile.

The next day we play together. I sit while she spins and dances; she sits while I roll and jump. We enhance each other’s excitement. Midday we rest for lunch – peanut butter crackers and tea in tiny cups. Today life is enthusiastic. We are two puppies feeding off each other’s yelps. The grass is soft and itchy, and each time one of us falls we must be dusted off for fear of bringing grassy brown shrapnel back home. We begin to tire, and are escorted home for diner. The smell of garlic and rosemary hit my snout and incur the illusory feeling of saliva in my hungry jowls. But I don’t eat. Instead I find my place next to her in that dim room, and again we embrace as if to say, “I dream that everyday is this sensual.”

Days string along as so many beads of a rosary that pass by gentle fingers, until one day comes along that is more special than the others. Today Sip Sip and I make love. I don’t recall how it all begins. For a moment we gaze into each other’s eyes, hers are a bright painted blue. And then we embrace like so many times before, but something changes. The rhythm of our bodies is different. We are no longer in control, maybe we never were. We press hard to each other and shake. With no clothing between us, we both dance some tribal dance – staccato and turbulent. We bump parts and hump vigorously. It lasts mere moments before we stop—we’re late for lunch with friends—but I want so badly to cry for a while because the act itself is such a beautiful and elemental thing. Being folded into her I feel distinctly satisfied. All the longings I feel are washed away in that one moment, and I am content, as no mortal man could ever know.

The following months contain finite days of infinite fulfillment. We make love regularly now, every day almost. I am as exhilarated each time as much as the last. We share a soul suture that words cannot express, in fact I don’t think we’ve ever said a word to each other, and it doesn’t matter in the least. What could we say to enhance our ecstasy? Words would foul it. How could I describe to her that she is my riddle’s answer? I would sound foolish. No, words are useless here.

Today is Christmas. I’ve spent several days like today with my beloved, but today feels off. There is a shadow over the back left part of my mind, and it permits a cold breeze. I feel more awake, is that possible? I outwardly ignore it. I don’t even really know what it means. And then it makes sense. There’s another boy in her life now. I even get to meet him and shake his hand. That’s the last motion I ever make. That afternoon I go and sit by myself in the dim room, while she goes out and plays with that thing. He and I are nothing alike, but he’s more like her. And the boiling begins.

The next few days I lament over my loss. Life is empty now, devoid of all that once made it electric and shiny—like her hair, and those little yellow booties. He’s doing the same things with her that I did, I absolutely know it. They’re probably making love right now. He’s being jammed into her, she’s pressing her face into his, and here I sit collecting dust. At first my anger is directed at him. He just arrives one day and steals my satisfaction for himself! I’ll kill him. I’ll tear him to shreds and spread his threaded insides on a hot sidewalk and watch them dry to twigs. I’ll pleasure her on top of his corpse. His fluffy remains will be our honeymoon bed. But I secretly just wish I were him. After all, his tag says “Cabbage Patch”, and so does hers. He’s obviously the better match for her – and there’s the rub! It’s not him, it’s her. He desires the same thing I do, and if he is like me in that way, then I cannot blame him for taking every step in his power—which are few if any to begin with—to attain the feelings that I so morbidly miss. Therefore the treachery lies in Sip Sip herself. She, after all, left me when she met him. She led him on with her open arms and rouged chubby cheeks. She’s an opportunistic slut. That’s the only logical conclusion.

I consider what I could do to make her understand how much she hurt me. My physical limitations her nature dismiss outright the possibility for any brand of diplomacy. And so I must hurt her in return, but how? I contemplate some physical revenge, however impossible it may be. I think about her body in depth. I wonder which parts could hurt her the most. She would make do with one leg or one eye. Her nose and ears are so small that they are all but irrelevant. But her hair! Without her hair she’s just a baby, innocent and helpless, frightened and cold, and that’s precisely where I want her.

I often imagine her reaction when I cut it off. She’d keep her smile, but inside she’d whither and cry. No one would ever play with her again. Her clothes are already out-dated, and the only thing keeping her from the garbage heap is her gorgeous hair. I would cut it off by the lock, draping each one over her lap as I go. I hear the multifaceted snipping sound of hard shiny shears—scrrrip, scrrrrrip. Ha! How ironic that she’d die with that smile, unable to change her expression in the face of such a pervasive offense. Then I could undress her and put her on display. Even her new boy would weep, and she’d sit there smiling that enviable smile, as if all that matters is smiling itself. I wish I could move.

* * *

It’s odd how readily love becomes hate. At one time I would never have admitted that I could think these things about her. Now all that puppy love bullshit seems so transparent. Sure it’s fun, but only because we willingly blind ourselves to make it feel sincere, and Sip Sip had me ready to gouge my own eyes out. No matter – today is the day. And I mean it… the day. I will put all I have rehearsed into practice if only I can shake off this dust and finally move!

She’s here, as usual. She doesn’t sit beside me anymore, obviously, but she still stays in this dim old room that we share with her other boy and several others. Mostly we stare at one another. The others are vegetables. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of them get off their fuzzy asses. Except for Friskers – he’d get up to dance every other week, usually while that voice told stories. Not to worry, I think Friskers hates her too; although, there’s no way to tell really.

A door opens. I get another feeling, like a shadow over a different part of my mind, the front right I think.

This is it! I exclaim almost out loud.

I lose myself in the commotion. Living black streaks blur the precise excitement of the moment. It feels like a dance; I fall and am caught; I dip and sway. Two steps forward, one step right. I’m not sure if I am tearing her open or if something else is, but I don’t care. Whatever it is I intended it. Every so often I catch a glimpse of green—the fabric from her suit. I smile because it’s shredded. I smile, at least I intend to smile, but I guess this frown is permanent, and always has been. A fire is lit in me that grows with every growl and rip. Then I see the first one. Amongst all the action this little copper streak flies past me and lands on the carpet. Blow upon vicious blow land about her plastic skull leaving gaping holes—permanent scars. Each mark is deserved; each hair lost is a penance. Her torn body pays tribute to a burn victim; deep craters melt the features of her once flawless complexion. Her left leg comes loose and I cheer! Her left arm leaves its seam and I would weep with joy if I could summon the tears.

Blacky! NO!” someone shouts. It must be Bunn Bunn, she’s the only one I’ve ever seen associating with Sip Sip. But somehow this voice sounds serious, thundering if you will. I recognize the voice – It’s the one that tells stories – but it sounds so angry.

That bitch is getting exactly what she deserves! I picture Friskers agreeing with me. I guess it helps to imagine someone on your side. Especially when you’re covered in the fluffy entrails of someone you once loved.

The way her severed body is strewn about makes it look as though a parade has been through the room, tossing streamers as they went. What a rush. As I come down off my high, I realize that I could not have done this myself. Powers beyond my realm instigated what I have dreamt about for months, but I don’t care. All that matters is that she’s gone now, and her hair lies around me as a trophy of this victorious day! If I could dance, now would be the time. If I could sing I would belt out the finest melody—but all I can do is lie here and think. Think about her and how she must now regret leaving me; how she must now realize how much she hurt me. And in that moment I feel shame.

A prickle of tiny acid needles crests my neck; the taste of copper pennies coats what must be my toungue. What have I done? I conjured this phenomenon. I wished that she would suffer this fate and now she has, but to what avail? I still don’t have the satisfaction back; the satisfaction I thought she must have stolen. No one acknowledges my triumph, not even Friskers. It all seems so empty now. I wish she was still here even so that I could go on hating her. I am the worst kind of thing. Each step I have taken has been solely for my own prosperity. My god, I’m as selfish as she was.

For as long as I live I will sit here and collect dust. My plastic eyes will not blink, my cotton blood will not flow, and my face will remain a permanent grimace. I am Mr. Pufycheeks and I am guilty of murder most foul! Wait. No. This can’t be. She’s—Sip Sip is alive; she’s all stitched up! The number of stitches, the effort; someone cares for her, cares a great deal.

My god she looks wonderful. Each hair is back in place…

I can’t… oh my… So pretty. I’m so sorry my dear. I never meant… Well actually I meant to, but… well… If I had tears they’d be for you.

As hard as I try, I can’t throw myself off this ledge, and my limbs won’t aid me in my demise. Oh, Blacky, won’t you come for me!

For generations I’ll be a disturbed, neurotic rabbit.


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