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Ate A Bug © 2009 Bryan Costales, All Rights Reserved
by Bryan Costales
Ate A Bug by Bryan Costales
Sally crossed her arms and stared at Tony, just returned from his Amazon Cruise and mute. Normally Tony talked too much. Too much for his friends who claimed they were used to his endless babbling. And too much for Sally, his girlfriend. But here he was, returned from vacation still smelling of travel and sitting on their sofa with his mouth shut. “Was it something you ate?” Sally asked. She was dressed for bed wearing her usual sky blue pajamas and pink robe. Tony had come in late rolling his squeaky suitcase over their hardwood ﬂoor and woken her up. Tony shook his head. He looked at the ceiling, cute and boy-like as if he was thinking. He smiled and made a crawly movement with his tan hand and pantomimed swallowing it. “You ate a bug?” Tony smiled and nodded. His face was tanned too from his trip. His Amazon voyage made him appear healthy, trimmer, maybe even svelte. Even his thinning blond hair looked darker and more lush, and seemed to almost cover his bald spot.
Ate A Bug
© 2009 Bryan Costales, All Rights Reserved
. “How about using the computer. Tony crossed out the “k” and wrote a “g.” Sally laughed.Tony appeared to think about her question and shrugged. Her feet hung over the edge like a child’s not meeting the ground. she noted.” she read from the yellow pad as he wrote. But he wasn’t drawing. All Rights Reserved Page 2 . not little people like Sally. then you can draw too?” Tony paused with a yellow legal tablet in one hand and a pencil in the other. Then he slapped the tablet onto the glass-top coffee table with a satisfying ﬂap and sat hunched over it. Sally got up and moved to sit on the sofa near Tony. Something stunk the inside. “I swallowed a bug while I was sleeping and it woke me up.” Ate A Bug © 2009 Bryan Costales.. he was writing.. He was wearing a cotton shirt he’d purchased on the trip. It hung loose and large on his frame. He frowned at her with that I-don’t-need-no-stinking-computer look. but not too near. She peered at Tony’s tablet and tapped her heels together. “I woke up. “You swallowed a bug but forgot what kind of bug it was?” She asked and watched him fumble for a pencil and paper. The hunter-green leather sofa was made for big people like Tony. It looked like it had been made from a coffee bag with pale Spanish logos all over it.
not because you’re tan like I thought. picked up the pencil and wrote again. All Rights Reserved Page 3 . She watched Tony write. Tony looked at her with doubt in his eyes. just not swallow.” Sally looked at him. “The next morning I couldn’t swallow. The odor of sun screen and bug juice lingered on him. She pointed at the tablet on the coffee table.” she said.” Sally kept reading.” Ate A Bug © 2009 Bryan Costales. Because you couldn’t swallow. Then he tried to kiss her on the cheek but she pulled away. like congratulations. “Write it. but the gesture felt too weak to be sincere.” Sally looked at him again. It was like something swelled up inside my throat. Tony tried to pantomime something that Sally didn’t get. Tony bent over. “You swallowed the bug without seeing it!” Tony patted Sally on the back.“Something stung the inside of my throat. “That must be why you look thinner. This time he was more careful and made softer scratching sounds with the pencil and corrected his mistakes before Sally could comment on them. “I woke up and swallowed it and felt something wiggling down when I swallowed. She wrinkled her nose and frowned. She read along out loud. He held his throat like he was trying to strangle himself. Sally sniffed. I could breathe okay.
“Simone. Sally looked around the room. but Sally scooted away. but that only made it worse.Tony tried to pat her back again. the guide.” she said. The cruise boat pulled into a town and brought a doctor aboard. “Oh. and oh yes the other painting in the bedroom. sure. its fruit diamonds. I would have been better off with a witch doctor. He thought it was a spider bite and recommended I gargle with salt water.” Sally tapped his arm to interrupt and remembered the feel of his strength. Sally understood. They’d gone in 50/50 on that one at the Sausalito Art Festival. Tony wrote. One painting. Nothing helped. had been a joint purchase. an oil painting of a tree set in a colorful mythical forest. “Just write. the one over the bed. tried ice packs on my neck. The table had been a gift from Sally’s dad. Ate A Bug © 2009 Bryan Costales. clearly pleased she had understood. a wide-screen model. What other things might belong to both of them? Some books.” Tony smiled. And the DVDs of course. “Should I call Kaiser for you?” Tony shook his head and pointed at their communal computer on the table they used as a desk in the corner. You already made an appointment on-line. Tony tapped the yellow paper with his pencil —an impatient sounding beat. All Rights Reserved Page 4 . The computer. Stupid third world doctor.
and continued to write.” Sally said. But the news from Jack and your other travel buddies gave me hope. she realized. That’s all. “I know you love me.Sally looked. But you never seem to listen to yourself. He still had a paunch. A Tony who couldn’t talk. “Just this big old apartment I came home to every night while you were cruising the Amazon.” Tony sat up straight and glared at her. He’d written more: “What are you looking at?” Sally looked at Tony. What an odd and special thought. And not good yacks either.” Tony used both hands to pantomime his heart beating. “If you had your voice. Or say you do. mostly complaints and rumors and unﬂattering news about friends. “But you can still be a jerk. Come home from a job that wouldn’t give me the vacation time.” Tony picked up the tablet and wrote so hard he ripped the paper in one corner. I might be packing right now instead of listening to you.” Sally said. “Not my fault.” Tony spread his arms as if to say.” “You may have lost your voice. Come home to alone and bored. Something to be witnessed to be appreciated. “You know. He hadn’t lost all that much weight after all. He shifted so she couldn’t see. All Rights Reserved Page 5 . Sally glared back. Ate A Bug © 2009 Bryan Costales. Never listen to how much you yack.
He’d written one sentence and surrounded it with a hundred or so tiny hearts. “Can you really change?” Tony crossed his heart with one ﬁnger.” “Which cure?” Sally laughed.” Sally said and pointed at the tablet.” Tony nodded. Sally read the one sentence. “One day? Oh. He picked up the tablet again. “And hope to die. You hear something you don’t like and you want to rant about it. Then he looked up in thought. “The cure for your gift of gab or the cure for your throat?” Ate A Bug © 2009 Bryan Costales. you mean tomorrow?” Tony nodded again. “I can change!” She looked at him. Sally scooted closer to him. First I have to get the cure. at his usual crooked smile. “Two days. this time snug next to him.” Tony turned the tablet to face her. She read as he wrote. All Rights Reserved Page 6 . I mean look at that pencil move! You’re dying to say something.“There. “When’s your appointment?” Tony held up one ﬁnger. Sally scooted closer. “That’s just what I mean. He looked guilty.
END Ate A Bug © 2009 Bryan Costales.Tony wrote. But Rome wasn’t built in two days was it?” Sally felt Tony’s hand on her leg. And we’ll be two days closer to the end of the Mayan calendar. “Both. Sure. She looked at Tony and he looked back. his arm sliding up her back.” Sally kissed him on his cheek still scratchy with stubble from the trip.” “We’ll see. She said. After that they didn’t talk much again until the next morning. “Two days isn’t all that long in the whole scope of things. She stopped rambling. All Rights Reserved Page 7 . Sally wondered if she should ask him to shower. I mean the world population will grow by half a million in two days. Then he kissed her again this time with warm passion.” Then he smiled and wrote. “Kaiser and you. “This talking stuff is contagious isn’t it?” Tony kissed her face-ﬁrst on her lips.
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