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