Biscuit appeared in the third issue of Pork Pony. I'd consider it the best of my stories from the early PP days and one of my favorite stories I've written. It's the story of a sentient plastic donkey head trying to fit in among humans. -CL
A bunch of odd years ago, Samantha Ernst gave birth to a plastic donkey head filled with confetti. At first, those who knew her were a bit skeptical of the donkey head's origin, thinking that Samantha may have jammed it up there herself. She was a very curious and playful lass, after all. But upon seeing the plastic donkey head grow in the same manner a human baby grows the skeptics and cynics gave up their gossiping and speculating, admitting that the birth had been authentic.
Samantha named the plastic donkey head Biscuit. She adored Biscuit and snuggled with him in bed every night - even on muggy summer nights. She'd hold him tight and her sweat would ooze onto Biscuit's watertight plastic skin.
In spite of his plastic donkey head status, Biscuit was mentally as able as any human child was. He could speak a good deal of English by 12 months and was walking - actually gliding, more or less - by the same age. By age three Biscuit could read simple children's books. He also took up drawing, a hobby he would eventually hone first into a craft and then, later in life, into an art. He spent most of his carefree toddler days drawing pictures of Samantha and eating rice pudding, his favorite food.
Biscuit began kindergarten at age five and by that time he was as tall as an average five-year old child was. His size and weight, however, greatly differed from that of a human child. Because he was just a head, he was nearly as wide and deep as he was tall and his plastic composition rendered him half the weight of his human counterparts. When he coughed or laughed, confetti flew from his mouth. He kind of stuck out.
Biscuit was as mesmerized by the children in his class as they were frightened of him. Their fear eventually gave way to an ostracision that remained constant throughout Biscuit's entire grammar school career. Anything he said was labeled "sucky" and everything he liked was figured to be the same. Since Biscuit adored art so much, the other children loathed it. If a child dared to pick up a crayon, he or she would be deemed infected with the cooties and rightfully exiled to the unused rusty swing set during recess in order to keep the balance of the children in good health. During these recesses Biscuit did naught but stand alone atop the highest hill on the playground and eat rice pudding while he sketched pictures of the children playing.
As he entered adolescence, Biscuit, like human children, became awkward both physically and emotionally. Whereas pubescent humans got acne, Biscuit grew a visible seam down the exact center of himself. Little pieces of excess plastic flaked off of it as if he was formed in a mold and a little extra molten plastic had been poured. Abstract thinking clouded his mind and he became hyper-vigilant, noticing every mocking glance and whispered comment. He tried to fit in, realizing that if he accepted others, they might accept him. During lunch, while the boys would talk about girls and football, Biscuit would quietly sit with them, in essence invisible to the other students (as invisible as a five-foot six-inch plastic donkey head could be). Their sophomoric quips and silly observations would sometimes make Biscuit laugh so hard that he would spit onto his piers bits of the confetti that composed his guts. He was often mocked, but his active mind coped via vigorous daydreaming. For this reason, Biscuit rarely remembered a thing that was said.
Biscuit's drawing skills had improved greatly with age, but his yen to create had become clandestine. He would still draw pictures of his mother, the ever-compassionate Samantha, at home, but he refrained from drawing at school, remembering the isolation it brought him. He would, however, study potential portrait models during school, scrutinizing their every bump, freckle, and hair. He fantasized about being a beloved portrait artist, accepted and adored by both the critic and the common man. Daily he came home and virtually erupted, spewing drawings onto the pages of his sketchbook like a volcano spitting lava and hot ash on the helpless small towns surrounding its base.
Just like most adolescent boys, Biscuit liked girls. He adored them all, the tall ones, the plump ones, the meek ones, and the teases, but one in particular stood out. She was a bit of a bookworm, her name Sharon Tremane, her glasses horn-rimmed, her build petite, and her manner subtly geeky. She had no constant friends to sit with at lunch, just her copy of "David Copperfield" and her curly red hair. By January of his ninth grade year, Biscuit was able to draw with photographic exactitude a depiction of Sharon from nearly any angle. In his bedroom at home, he began to take down some of the pictures he had drawn of his mother and replace them with sketches of his new love.
Samantha, upon seeing this, smiled and asked Biscuit to invite Sharon to the house for some rice pudding. Cowering at the thought, Biscuit hacked up some confetti, snuggled with his mother, and began sobbing about how he wished to be a boy and not a plastic donkey head. His tears gushed onto the floor and Samantha added to the storm with her own weeping. They wept together, holding each other tightly, their tears raining on the floor and confetti fluttering in the air.
Let it be known that in the time period where plastic donkey head births were known to occur, the waterproofing of bedrooms was very chic. Samantha, for fear of being out of style, had properly sealed the bedrooms in her home and therefore, as the pair cried, mother and plastic donkey head began to fill the room with their tears. Concerned more with the unhappiness of each other, Samantha and Biscuit soon found themselves completely submerged in an indoor saline sea. Noting that they were about to drown, Biscuit bucked away from his now unconscious mother and pounded on one of the room's windows until both it and his own consciousness gave way. Woman, plastic donkey head, and thousands of drawings were washed into the streets as the room full of tears crashed through the new opening.
Samantha and Biscuit lied on separate beds in a room at the Saint Finbar Medical Center. Machines beeped and whirred around them. Soft yellow light shined through the gauze of a gentle cloudy mist, which, for some reason, occupied the room. A few whispers slowly rose to a din in the hallway. Amongst the noise angry voices could be heard. Biscuit raised his head a bit to see what was happening. He saw blue clad orderlies pushing with all their might in order to suppress the mob that was causing the ruckus. Were they after him and his mother? Had the flash flood of teardrops caused structural damage to the neighborhood, lowering the property value and angering the residents? Biscuit started to shake nervously as he watched the ebb and flow of the crowd and the hospital workers. Suddenly someone broke through. It was Sharon Tremane and she was smiling. Half of her body stuck out between the orderlies and she waved a soggy piece of acid-free drawing paper with a perfect rendition of herself reading Gertrude Stein's "The Making of Americans" sketched upon it. "It's beautiful Bis-" Sharon was squished back into the crowd, which, after hearing Sharon's affirmation of Biscuit's presence, surged past the guards.
They flooded the room, nearly every person carrying an articulately drawn (yet salty and soggy) portrait of either Sharon or Samantha. Anger transformed into joyful awe as the crowd stared upon giant face of Biscuit. Critics and common men praised the beauty and emotional depth of Biscuit's drawings as they mashed themselves into the room, critics saying, "the construct of the lines is beautiful," and common men hailing, "there is such a richness to the emotion portrayed here." Everyone in the crowd uttered one of these two phrases. In fact, aside from Sharon's initial exclamation, these exact quotes were the only words audible for the entire duration of the mob's stay in Biscuit's room. Four smiling fat women walked in carrying a giant vat of rice pudding. Cameras flashed, people stood in silent appreciation, hospital security rushed in, Samantha awoke from unconsciousness, and, like a firecracker on the fourth of July, Biscuit exploded, leaving behind not ash, but a mushroom cloud of plastic bits and confetti.