FRED’S NEW RAVENOUS INTEREST
By Jonny DeStefano
Art By Kristen Michael
By Best of Birdy Issue 027, March 2016
As Greg Sampson awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself in his bed transformed into an enormous peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He was lying on his soft, bready back and when he lifted his head a little he could see his vast white belly which extended into a perfect Home Pride butter-crusted square. He still had two legs and two arms but they extended only from the knees and elbows down, respectively. It was as if Greg was wearing an adult-sized sandwich suit made with real ingredients. It goes without saying peanut butter and jelly was dripping out his sides and his room was becoming impossibly sticky.
“What the hell happened to me?” he thought. It wasn’t a dream. Everything lay in his bedroom as he had left it the night before. The new day was calm. Raindrops beating on the windowsill and an overcast sky made Greg melancholic. “I’m going to fall asleep and forget this nonsense,” Greg concluded, but it could not be done, for he was accustomed to sleep on his left side and in his current condition he could not turn himself over. However violently he forced himself toward the left, his utter lack of leverage prevented him from actualizing his goal. He tried numerous times, shutting his eyes to keep from seeing the grape jelly fall out of his side, and only desisted when a dull ache he had never felt before overcame him.
“What an exhausting job I’ve picked out for myself,” mused Greg. “My wages are so low I can hardly afford rent and electricity, and need I mention a hell of a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Surely I would be eating lobster if I could afford it, but one seventy-nine cent loaf of bread with a few extra dollars to cover the cost of the peanut butter and the jelly, is at least a week’s worth of sandwiches. Still, there is no explanation why eating hundreds upon hundreds of sandwiches would have lead me to such a cruel fate. This could only be a dream,” he reasoned.
Greg felt a slight itching on his flat belly and slowly inched himself nearer to the top of the bed so that he could lift his head more easily. He identified the itching place which was surrounded by peanut butter stains in his lower left quadrant. While attempting to scratch his itch, Greg was suddenly struck hard with a sharp pain that shot around his buttered-crust at least fifty times.
He looked at the alarm clock ticking on his dresser. “Damnit!,” he thought. “I’m already two hours late! Had the alarm clock not gone off? The next bus leaves at ten and to catch it I would have to hurry like a nutcase. And there is never a good excuse for being late to work. Especially, ‘Sorry I’m late, as you can see, I am a damned peanut butter and jelly sandwich.’”
As this was running through his mind there was a cautious tap at the door near the head of his bed. “Greg,” said the gentle voice of his landlady, “it’s a quarter to ten. Don’t you have a bus to catch?” Greg was startled as he heard his own voice answering hers. Unmistakably his own voice, it was true, but mixed with a thick gurgling undertone. “Greg, are you alright?” she asked with concern. He tried to answer, “Well yes, of course I am! I’ll be up in a minute,” but his indecipherable words merely sounded like shit and bubbles. The wooden door between them must have kept the change in his voice from being noticeable outside, for his landlady contented herself with the strange sounds and wobbled away.
Greg sat in silence for a moment before noticing a glimmer of sunshine dancing on his bedroom walls. He became optimistic. In fact, he looked forward to seeing this morning’s hallucinations gradually evaporate; that the change in his voice was nothing but the onset of a bad cold, a regular ailment in his profession, he had not the slightest doubt. He would go to
work and explain himself without problem.
His first goal was to get his blanket off of him, then get out of bed, shower,
shave, get dressed, feed Fred, his dog, who was probably awake now in the kitchen, and catch the next possible bus. Greg tried twisting his body to move the blanket. But it was stuck to a major deposit of peanut butter, which most likely spilled from the sandwich he made last night.
Gradually, he pulled the blanket off his body using his right hand to inch it along. It came off though he inadvertently dragged jelly across his person. Greg was, admittedly still looking very similar to a PB&J–head, stub hands and feet, and a vast torso made of two slices of fluffy, white bread glued together by an obscene amount of peanut butter and jelly. Of course, he thought, this is still an illusion. But on the other hand, if he could only flip this illusion over closer to his dresser to grab a towel for showering, it would be a better illusion. He figured taking a shower was the key to ending this dreamlike state. True, the shower would initially make him soggy, but eventually, it would make him feel more alive.
With his right hand he slowly reached to the side of his bed, groping for the thin rope that was attached to his chess cabinet. After much effort and much unfamiliar pain, he finally caught hold of the rope. With it, he managed to hoist himself inch by inch, closer and closer, until finally he slid off his bed, but not to any special avail. Greg discovered his body to be less flimsy than he thought but not sturdy enough to prevent him from sliding into the shape of a soft taco, head up, trapped between the wall and his bed. At this point he was convinced he would not make it to work. This bothered him because he, without question, needed his job to maintain his meager existence.
Fred began sniffing beneath the wood sliding door connecting the kitchen to Greg’s room. The dog was anxious for the morning to begin but all Greg could think about was a damned ocean of peanut butter and jelly.
Nearly two hours later, Fred, fed up, put his nose between the end of the sliding door and the wall and managed to push it open. He was excited to see his master but became quickly disappointed and admittedly confused at the sight of the huge peanut butter and jelly sandwich all bunched up in the corner with Greg’s head at the top. Greg’s trance-like stare into the abyss was abruptly cut short at the sight of his dog. “My dog,” he thought. “Here Fred, here, say hello to your daddy.” But the look Fred gave in return indicated not only that the sounds emanating from Greg’s head were indiscernible but also revealed Fred’s new ravenous interest in the big, fat sandwich before him. Greg understood this and began to panic. The dog had already waited an extra four hours for his master to feed him. He was hungry. It wasn’t long before minor doggy calculation was performed. Fred concluded that this thing with Greg’s head at the top was explicitly to be devoured. Greg stared at Fred, frozen, sweating, pale, fluffy, terrified.
The first bite Fred took was unbearably painful for Greg. It was a cautious bite, but a very ambitious bite all the same. Greg tried to shout, “No Fred! Don’t! It’s me. Your master. Quit eating me!” It was hopeless, Greg’s utterances only made Fred more disturbingly impatient to devour this pathetic thing.
Within two hours Greg was completely eaten. Incidentally, Fred enjoyed gnawing on Greg’s head the most. The head of his once best friend was the closest to a piece of wild prey, thought Fred. A sick, domesticated, no longer hungry dog was Fred.
Jonny DeStefano is the co-owner and co-founder of Birdy Magazine. He is also the founder of the comedy activist space Deer Pile. His favorite color is red, he loves shark attacks, hockey and upright bass.
Kristen Michael, also known as Kaiten, is an artist from Yakima, Washington. She specializes in ink wash painting and illustration artist.