Chris Versus the Succulent Pear

Chris Versus the Succulent Pear
Illustrated by Cyrus Hunter

(Excerpt from “Chris Versus the Succulent Pear“)

Chris, a fifth-year senior at Arizona State University, is passed out on his bed; his body splayed across his mattress like roadkill spread out across a barren expanse of pavement. The hot Arizona sun cuts through the holes in Chris’s blinds, piercing his exposed skin, and triggering his sweat glands to form pools of liquid on his slumbering body.

Slowly spiraling out of a deep dream, he abruptly comes to and is initially aware of a slight ache in his head. Opening his eyelids is a struggle. With each nanometer of eyelid lifted, the pain in his noggin intensifies ten-fold.

“Eeeeyeowharghugh!” he squeals in agony.

Fighting to throw the bed covers off his sticky body and sit up, he teeters on the edge of his bed, looks at the clock on his desk, and rolls his eyes.

“2:00pm!” he says in frustration. “Shit, I wanted to get up early today.”

Suddenly becoming dizzy and disoriented, he rests his arms on his knees and focuses on his breathing. When the cobwebs in his mind have cleared, he stands up, only to fall back on his bed.

Jerking himself up and trying to steady his swaying body, he steps over a pile of clothes and nearly slips on a notebook jutting out of his open backpack. Carefully making his way down the narrow hallway of the two-bedroom apartment, he slides his hands along the walls for support. Dick fully erect and sticking out of his boxers, it guides him to the toilet like a divining rod directing a farmer to water.

“Ahhhhh,” he groans, after flicking on the lights.

Shading his eyes with one hand and steadying himself against the wall with the other, he takes a long, relieving piss, which mostly hits the mark.

Forgetting to flush the toilet, he walks to the sink, turns on the tap, and puts his head under the lukewarm water; his hair absorbs it like a sponge.

His reflection in the mirror is a bit shocking.

“Gawd, I look like a trauma patient,” he complains.

Chunks of an unidentifiable substance are stuck to his long brown hair and his face is swollen with a blueish-green tint to it. His eyes are completely bloodshot and surrounded by a darkish hue.

Walking into the kitchen, he searches for a morsel of sustenance. The sink is overflowing with old dishes and the kitchen hasn’t been cleaned in months. Lifting a few pans up from the kitchen counter, he hopes to find a crumb here or there, or a half-eaten burger with which he can squelch his hunger.

A large roach runs for cover. It’s been in the apartment so long that Chris views it as a pet.

“Rufus, you start hanging out here much longer,” says Chris to the roach, “I’m gunna start charging you rent!”

Seeing nothing edible, Chris opens the cabinets, hunting for any sign of food. An unopened bottle of Tequila stands alone in the corner, beckoning him.

Shaking his head, Chris continues his search.

Finding not one iota of nourishment in the cabinets—not even any canned products—he desperately opens the refrigerator: nothing in it except beer and sour milk. However, a small packet of ketchup has mysteriously adhered itself to the back inside wall. He contemplates opening the packet and oozing the contents down his neck, but decides against it.

He opens the small freezer door on top of the refrigerator; a gust of cold air slaps his face. Gazing across the frozen landscape like an arctic hunter in search of food, he only finds two ice trays, a pair of dirty socks, and a rusty crescent wrench.

“Denied, but wait, what’s this mound of chunky ice in the corner?”

A frozen container of Margarita mix is locked in an icy tomb. After being pried free with the crescent wrench and inspected, the object is tossed back into the freezer without much consideration.

Chris roams into the living room which is sparsely decorated with old, mismatched furniture; but heavily littered with ancient pizza boxes, empty soda cans, and beer bottles full of spent cigarettes and chewing tobacco spittle. Spotting a box of crackers under the couch, he makes a beeline for it, then opens the container and squints deep inside.

“Not one damn cracker!”

He turns the box upside down and drops the measly portion of crumbs lollygagging at the bottom into his mouth. A minuscule amount of cracker dust rests on his dry tongue and latches on unwilling to hop off and descend down his arid throat.

Swallowing hard, Chris returns to the kitchen and luckily finds a used green teabag in the trashcan and dusts it off. A not-so-dirty cup is grabbed from the sink and briefly cleaned. Hoping to wash down the cracker bits and mute the chorus of growls emitting from his stomach, he heats up a kettle of water to make some green tea.

After quieting the screaming kettle, he sits down and slowly sips his tea while gazing curiously at the afternoon sun forcing its way through his kitchen window. The sun’s rays spread out across the kitchen like a fan. Each individual ray produces different shades of white and yellow.

Chris glances at the beer calendar hanging on the wall to his right displaying a gorgeous, sparsely clad woman holding up a large mug of brew and smiling lovingly. She seems to truly want him to consume the amber-colored beverage.

“Sorry honey, I’m too hungover to start drinking again,” he says to the model.

His mind wanders as the wind blows gently outside. Meanwhile, loud rumblings continue to emit from his stomach and sharp pains continue to pulsate from his forehead. Too hungry and too hungover to think clearly, he stares back at the sun’s rays which have become more intense.

His attention turns back to the calendar, it’s on the wrong month. Slowly rising, he flips the calendar pages forward two months to April where a different girl in equally scantily clad clothing is promoting the same brand of beer. She’s pouting and seems to be thinking sexual thoughts as she bends over the product which is creatively displayed on an oak barrel. Her bulging bosom is threatening to break out of her tight blue blouse at any second while her tight, bare torso invitingly entices him.

“Sorry honey, I’ll tell you what I told Ms. February, I’m too damn hungover to start drinking again. And I’m starving like Marvin!”  

Chris re-contemplates what he’ll do for food while staring intensely at the calendar model.

Leaves rustle on the trees outside.

He sluggishly arises and flips the calendar pages back to February.

“Sorry Ms. April, but Ms. February has you beat,” he says.

Wishing his hunger pangs and hangover would suddenly disappear, a thought drifts across his mind.

“Didn’t I buy a pear a few days back and not eat it?”

Awkwardly running to his bedroom, he locates his backpack and digs around to find the fruit.

“A pear!” he yells.

After kissing the fruit, he carries it carefully into the kitchen. Slowly dancing, he washes a dirty plate and a knife, then dries both of them on his underwear. He washes the pear as well for good measure. All clean, the multi-orbed fruit is dried on Chris’s boxers and then polished with Chris’s breath and his hairy forearms to give it a good shine.

Chris walks over to the table and places the oblong greenish pear upright on the plate and lays the long, shiny knife close by. The knife is arranged so it’s perfectly perpendicular to a point exactly tangent to the plate at 3 o’clock. The pear’s light green skin, only slightly bruised, seems to glisten. It’s almost begging to be eaten.

Sliding the plate forward so that it’s bathing in sunlight, Chris notices that the sun’s rays slicing through the window are striking the pear in such a way that it looks like it’s glowing.

Knife in hand, he eyes the plump fruit hungrily.

“Wait a second, this would make a great still life picture, if I only had some apples, grapes, and kumquats to adorn it with.”

With his stomach rumbling even louder, he decides to skip the still life and instead slice the juicy fruit into small pieces and chew each one slowly while enjoying his warm cup of green tea.

“Eating this delectable pear and sipping this refreshing brew would be the most perfect start to this most glorious afternoon!”

Chris raises the moist knife above his head and pauses to consider the best angle in which to slash the defenseless fruit.

“What are you doing?” a voice says clearly from inside his head.

“What do you mean, ‘What am I doing’?” Chris replies to the voice. “I’m going to eat a pear, isn’t it obvious?”

“You can’t eat me, I’m not a pear,” says the voice.

“What? You, the Pear, are talking to me right now?”

“Yes, I’m using mental telepathy.”

“Hey, that’s pretty cool! Okay, quick, what am I thinking about right now?”

“You’re thinking about having sex with Jenny in a Jacuzzi,” says the Pear.

Jenny is the hot girlfriend of Chris’s roommate, Kyle.

“Hey, you’re pretty good,” says Chris, lowering the knife. “Let’s do it again. What am I thinking about now?”

“You’re thinking about scoring the winning touchdown at the Rose Bowl and then having sex with the entire cheerleading squad on the football field while the fans in the packed stadium cheer you on.”

“Holy shit!” thinks Chris, shaking the knife at the Pear. “You’re really good! So wait, who are you and why are you inside my pear?”

“I’m not inside it; I’m actually a pear-shaped being from outer space.”

“No way!” says Chris.

“It’s completely true; and the story of how I arrived here on your table is very long and drawn out.”

“Go ahead, out with it. I’d really like to hear it,” he says, slurping his tea. “Okay, but I’ll try to be brief.”

End of excerpt.

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Chris Versus the Succulent Pear” is a short story in Hillel Groovatti’s book of short fiction entitled Totally Losing Face and Other Stories. It’s also available as an individual short story.