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