"Ugly Monster" and "Fry Daddy Justice" by Tree Riesener

Categories: ISSUE 02: Billie

Ugly Monster
There is no comfortable peer group for monster. The etymology of her name is from mono, as in monotone, monopoly, monotheism—one.

Of each monster, there is only one.

When she is little, monster gives herself pet names like honey and sweetheart  but she doesn't tell them to anybody. She does not write her name, monster, nor her pet names using a capital letter, although she knows of the custom. She writes her names on scraps of paper that she uses to clean herself after shitting.

When she is a little monster, she wants to go to camp like the other children. Nobody likes to look at her so she goes to a camp for the blind, but she discovers they can feel her rough skin, her big nose, so she goes to a camp for blind amputees, but she discovers they can hear her gruff, uncertain voice so she goes to a camp for deaf and dumb blind amputees. She is a little bit happy.

When she is grown, monster bathes covered by an ugly coarse bag, leaving her body half-dirty, as she thinks she should. Then she cries. Yes, monster can cry but she knows she looks ugly when she cries so she hides when she chokes and sobs. Then she bathes her face in cool water so she can be brave when she faces the world again.

Monster makes herself a full body mask but she doesn't have any money and the yellow yarn she finds for hair is stained by garbage. She makes a mini-skirt of pretty, shiny, dark green plastic bags but her legs stick out stupidly and she totters on the six-inch heels. She looks for a place to hide where no one can laugh at her.

Men corner her in an alley and tear off her clothes, throw a bag over her head. She'll look blonde and blue-eyed in the dark, they say, but she doesn't. Her tits are not perky. Her legs are not long and lissome. Everything about her is full and slow and placid. Monsterly. She has great beauty for a monster but they throw her out. Phooey, they say, we can rent a bitch for not much money and at least we will be able to talk about it. We can't be proud of fucking a monster.

Monster thinks religion would be a comfort. She thinks she might be a sister if she could find a group that goes entirely veiled, or a Buddhist if she could find a mindfulness group with a leper squint. After many years she may try to sit on the outskirts of a group if the day is dark and smokey. She doesn't feel ready to take any chances now but she often walks past churches in the dark.

Monster watches snow falling. She stands in a secret place until she is covered with snow, fresh and sparkly as lace. No one can see her under the shining flakes. She is barely monster. She feels like a bride. This is a fine memory and she uses it to go to sleep at night.

Monster cultivates a delicate, kindly voice and gets a job on a suicide hot line but somehow they know. Give me someone else, you horrible, ugly piece of shit. Transfer me or I'll do it right now. So she sits alone, tape records her voice asking for help, and then stops the machine so she can help herself. She thinks of more and more advice. She tapes her advice on another machine and stops and starts them until the gentle voice no longer seems to be her own. Who could be speaking to her so kindly?

They come with torches and whip her into a room. Each day they nail up more boards to make the window smaller. What need does a monster have to see, they say when the window is covered? They come with electric prods to force her into a smaller room. She sits in the darkness and remembers blue sky and clouds.

For Christmas they throw in cartons of cigarettes and cut off her water. You stink, they laugh. She grows very thirsty.

They take the cigarettes away, instead throwing a bucket of sodden butts picked out of gutters on the heap of rags where she shivers through cold nights.

She wishes she had the packets of cigarettes back. They were so bright and shiny.

They give her cancer and then zap her with radiation, join hands and dance in a howling mob around her as she turns from side to side in confusion, swinging her ungainly monster head from side to side, turning, turning to try to face them.

The radiation eats holes in her intestines. Blood and shit drip out of her. A fever consumes her. Her stomach boils. Her nails grow in depressed. Her skin peels off. The blood dries sticky on her because she is too confused to wash. They call her disgusting.

Authorities come. You can't treat monster like that, they cry.

Grimacing in disgust, the authorities force someone to let her live in the old car in their backyard. The owners of the car smash the windows. After all, her body is burning and dripping blood. For her own good, they laugh to each other. She has a fever. When the hue and cry die down, they throw her out.

Uglier and uglier, wounded, scarred, she goes to live under a bridge but the bridge provides a roof and trees make it a little house. She calls out to those who go over the bridge. I can make a nice hot drink if you will bring the buttered toast.

All she has is ditch water and a rusty can but she does have a tiny fire she made from some discarded matches and two pretty china cups without handles. She imagines she is speaking sweetly but it is a monster voice coming out from under the bridge and the passers-by shudder and walk faster. Some even run, calling out warnings to those coming in that direction.

Monster is mad by now, of course, and even has the beginnings of early-onset Alzheimer's disease or maybe post-traumatic stress syndrome. Her straggly, bristly mane has turned albino white. She nurses her fire and her can of boiling water and looks contentedly at her reflection in the old hubcap she has found.

She knows she just has to wait faithfully for someone to come along who isn't rushing to work, someone who will sit down with her, speak kindly, inquire how she's doing and tell her she looks pretty today.

Then monster will reciprocate with her dependably good manners and she will never be lonely again.

O Typekey Divider

Fry Daddy Justice
Stupid dietician calls me a yo-yo dieter but I say to myself no, baby, I'm a shape-shifter. We got a long honorable history. Circe's pigs. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Anybody's ever been on Extreme Makeover. Our god, Morpheus and now our saint, Michael.

In the American tradition, shape-shifting. You don't like the way a river runs, move some earth. Need a new highway but some houses in the way? Call in Eminent Domain. We didn't get to be a great country being afraid of change.

Move earth, move fat. Same thing. Combine it with the great American tradition of Do-It-Yourself and that's how I came up with the idea of home liposuction. After all, how hard can it be? You stick a needle into your fat, start the suction, throw the bucket of fat away, unless you want to use it in your Fry Daddy. Hey, there's a whole new profession of people who take your baby's umbilical cord, roast it, grind it and put it in little capsules for a health supplement. Trailblazers are often viewed with shock and horror.

So I'm sitting here hooked up and online. Multi-tasking. I googled home liposuction machines and found a demo on YouTube. Found the equipment on Craig's List and spent a few bucks on antiseptic, stuff like that. Not like it's heart surgery. More like those little gadgets you use to suck away pimples.

Stupid dietician did the math, waved a paper in my face, said I'd gained and lost close to five hundred pounds over the years. Well, now that fat's running down the tube and filling up the Shedd's Country Spread tubs at the rate of a three-pound tub every half hour. I figure that way I can keep them in the freezer because I've got a plan.

I'll let a few weeks go by before I show up at the stupid dietician's office to weigh in. Been eating nothing but doughnuts and still lost weight, I'll tell her. Take her a couple of my special homemade cinnamon doughnuts still warm from the Fry Daddy. Maybe ice a couple with chocolate. She's rail-thin but always makes a point of telling me how she can eat all the junk she wants.

She's sat in judgment on me for years, on all us poor fat people sitting there waiting to be weighed, hoping maybe this time we'll be a pound thinner. Well, for me this is hasta la vista.

Just this one last time, to sit there in some skin-tight jeans looking good and then, after I tell her what she's just eaten, I'll wait till she comes out of the bathroom and say to her, sneering and sarcastic, the way she talks, her famous tough love ("I'm telling you this because I care"), this time I'll say "Getting bulimic, Baby?" before I march out and slam the door.


--Stories by Tree Riesener
--Background photo by Thomas Pitre
--Foreground photo by Misti Rainwater-Lites