The Woes of the Zombie Man – Chapter III
Which tells of a time Boris and Bugger experienced a bout of “food” poisoning.
For many days they reminisced on the good eatin’ they had done and been punished severely for, wondering if they would ever again enjoy such luxuries. They would, of course, just not for some time. Quite a while, really. After a spell of dreadful hunger they found themselves devastatingly starving. Suffering from such a perilous case of the munchies for so long left them both weak and utterly hopeless. Succumbing to extreme caloric deficit, they had begun unenthusiastically scouring dumpsters. After chewing on something he mistook to be edible, Boris, on the verge of tears, fell to the pavement and screamed:
“We can’t live like this, boy!”
He groaned for a few seconds, wailed for a few more still, and carried on with a series of unintelligible, depressing noises. Soon actual words escaped from his mouth, and he whiningly said, “There’s nothing any good for us in these damn dumpsters. It’s all trash. All of it! Why don’t people ever toss out a pizza or two?”
He then threw up his hands in incredulity.
“Are you trying to tell me nobody ever has too many quesadillas? I call bullshit! There’s gotta be at least a couple little pieces of prime rib somebody could do without and just place real nicely in this here dumpster. I know it. But no! Nothing. I don’t know about you, boy, but I can’t do it. I just can’t! If somebody doesn’t throw away a rotisserie chicken or somethin’ like real soon, I don’t know what I’m gonna do.”
His anger dissipating, he paused and became calm. Looking down and shaking his head, he picked at his fingernails and said, “Maybe I’m just putting on airs. Maybe this is the way it’s gotta be. We’ve had it worse than this before, I know. But how much can we take, boy? I guess we just been pampered by all those fancy snacks. Thought we was rich folk, didn’t we, boy? Well, we ain’t. Maybe we deserve this. Maybe we’s spose’ta live like this. Are you even listenin’ to me?”
Bugger, whose nose had grown an itchy fungus of sorts, continued licking a rash on one of his mangy hind legs, paying little attention to the long-winded spew of complaints being directed at him.
Boris grumbled for a while longer about his lack of nachos and similar subjects, then the moderately one-sided discussion came to an end. Night passed, and the two friends woke up hungrier than usual. Joints cracking as he rose from his concrete bed, Boris rubbed his knobby knees and noticed how strangely gaunt he had become. Looking down at his legs, he saw two misshapen, spindly poles, like laminated twigs. An emaciated boogeyman, he was thinner than most supermodels and inversely as arousing, aesthetically speaking. Bugger looked to have drastically dropped a few pounds as well. The mutt’s belly discovered itself to be shockingly close to the underside of his spine, and his ribs, both broken and not, jutted out at disturbing angles, stretching his deplorable skin. Boris saw the sad state his friend was in and pitied him. Even though he was no better off, he placed Bugger’s wellbeing before his own, if only by a smidgen. He had to help.
Finding a new sense of purpose, with a surge of determination, Boris decided he was going to find a way, somehow, for them to do some good eatin’ yet again. At that or any other moment a storm of brilliant ideas did not overflow or even trickle into his mind. His thoughts were few. Not knowing what else to do, he began foraging in every dumpster he knew of, searching garbage cans large and small, until he finally scrounged up a brownish, questionable substance they could eat. Very questionable indeed. It was meat, Boris thought. Or an old salad, perhaps. A poorly executed quiche? It very well could’ve been something other than food, but Boris was optimistic. He gestured to Bugger to smell it. Bugger did so, but was unsure as to how he felt about it. They looked at it. They looked at each other, then looked back at the possibly food in unison, looked one more time into each other’s hungry eyes, and pounced on it.
Whatever it was was gone within seconds.
Boris got up off of his knees and brushed himself off. Bugger tried wagging his tail, but it didn’t feel right. Embarrassed and regretful, they avoided making eye contact as they walked to where their home wasn’t. After taking less than ten steps, Boris felt a tingling sensation in his stomach he knew meant nothing good. He looked down at Bugger, who was dry heaving violently, and braced himself as the tingling quickly grew into a rolling wave of sickness wrenching his gut. Bugger had already begun to spasm wildly, defenseless against the throes that were throwing him about. Overtaken by convulsions, abdomens seized and knotted, the unfortunate pair clutched at the ground and scrambled, as if trying to leave the pain behind. Their howls and screams of agony soon dwindled into soft cries and before long all was silent. Whatever the stuff had been it had really given their innards a good thrashing. Boris was as sick as a dog; the one that lay next to him trembling in particular. After five hours of lying in the hot sun and allowing it to dry out their oft-wet open sores, they still didn’t feel well at all. Both of them laid on the concrete until nightfall, looking especially cadaverous, with their insides in ruins. It just goes to show the misstep it can be to chow down on a mysterious blob of unidentified stuff – specifically if the mysterious blob of unidentified stuff being chowed down upon is a few heavily deteriorated washcloths tangled together.
previous: The Woes of the Zombie Man – Chapter II
more by S.P. REILLY
photograph by Kacper Rogala