Egyptian Splenda by Eric Beeny



It can all be as simple as a coffee stain that bloomed when Dr. Coffin fell asleep donating blood in a sugar-free cookie factory.

First, Dr. Coffin called to schedule a tour, then he called his office to say he was taking the day off because he wanted to be a good, caring and admirable human being who donates blood, but really it’s just him and his mummy wanted to have at least one really fun, enjoyable day in their pointless, miserable little lives.

Dr. Coffin and his mummy got coffee at a convenient store on the way.

The store was being robbed and the coffee was cold because the clerk had turned the pot off since no one was drinking it, but he forgot to dump the coffee out.

The styrofoam cup, Dr. Coffin’s mummy really liked how it sounded squeaking between her bandaged fingers, and Dr. Coffin wanted to foster that kind of wonderment, so he smiled when his mummy lifted the cup to her ear like a seashell.

Dr. Coffin did the same thing to sympathetically communicate that he could do that, too, that he understood what it was to feel amazed, and they both laughed.

A crime-scene sketch artist arrived and asked them questions about what the guy who robbed the store looked like.

Later, at the sugar-free cookie factory, Dr. Coffin and his mummy sat in chairs that moved on tracks through the factory.

The factory’s tour guide strapped Dr. Coffin to his chair, and had only to use his mummy’s bandages to tie her down to hers.

She struggled to get free, then stopped and smiled.

The blood people put needles in Dr. Coffin’s and his mummy’s arms after putting their coffees in the break-room microwave, assuring them they’d get their coffees back when the tour was over.

They connected tubes to the needles, tubes like strings tied to rectangular balloons hung from stainless steel coat racks.

Dr. Coffin’s blood slurped through the tube like a silly straw, his balloon filling with blood.

Black dust thick as volcanic ash coughed out from Dr. Coffin’s mummy’s arm and into her tube.

Dr. Coffin began nodding off and his mummy woke him up, and they both laughed.

Near the end of the tour, as Dr. Coffin and his mummy approached the break room where their coffees waited for them in the microwave like watching a television commercial with the television turned off, Dr. Coffin noticed the crime scene sketch artist from the convenient store crouching on the factory’s main floor painting a mural based on a sketch he drew in chalk on the sidewalk with his kids outside his house earlier that morning.

Dr. Coffin and his mummy smiled and waved, and they noticed he looked just like the drawing he did of the guy who robbed the store, and, startled, Dr. Coffin’s mummy spilled some of her coffee onto Dr. Coffin’s lab coat.

Dr. Coffin looked down at his lab coat, and there was a light brown circle growing on its left hip pocket, blooming upward across his chest, branching toward his arms and spreading down his legs, colonizing his crotch and thighs.

Dr. Coffin let the brown circle grow all over his body.

Dr. Coffin’s mummy thought that was really sweet of him.

***

Eric Beeny (b. 1981) is the author of THE DYING BLOOM (Pangur Ban Party, 2009), SNOWING FIREFLIES (Folded Word Press, 2010), OF CREATURES (Gold Wake Press, 2010), MILK LIKE A MELTED GHOST (Thumbscrews Press, 2011), PSEUDO-MASOCHISM (Anonymosity Press, 2011), HOW MUCH THE JAW WEIGHS (Anonymosity Press, 2011), LEPERS AND MANNEQUINS (Eraserhead Press, 2011) and some other as-yet-unpublished things. He lives in Buffalo, NY.

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