Flies From An Open Neck

I’m obsessed with pez dispensers. You add the little candies to the plastic thing and when it’s full you snatch an individual candy from the top. I have a variety of different styles, with neat cartoonish heads, a rainbow of colors. I love them intensely, perhaps too much. My tongue itches for a candy to suck on from the moment I wake up to the moment I fall into kaleidescopic sleep.

I was given my first pez dispenser by my sadistic and delusional great-grandmother when I was five. I used to visit her on the weekends so my hippie parents could go off to their LSD parties or whatever, and she would always tell me scary stories. One was about a seven foot black man with a stovepipe hat who came a-knocking on unsuspecting women’s doors while they were at home alone waiting for their husbands or whomever to return from those agonizingly long ‘business trips’. For some reason the women could never resist letting the massive black man inside for a late night supper or a cup of rhubarb tea (he always asked for rhubarb tea, a slice of lemon, a pinch of sugar). The woman of course never had a prayer, for the man was an evil spirit and did unspeakable things to her, summarily ending in her demise. My great-grandmother would make a slicing motion across her neck at the decisive moment in the tale. When he left, he would turn into a wild cat and slink off behind the rock outcrop on the edge of the wood, or so the ‘legend’ went. My great-grandmother took enormous amounts of pleasure telling me these stories, all of which were spun from her disturbed imagination, knowing full well they would terrify a five year old– but that was how it went with this woman; she had a screw loose for sure. 

So, it got to the point I became so terrified of her stories I refused to go stay with her. My mother finally gave in to my pleadings and told me it was okay, I never had to go back and stay the night with her crazy grandmother again. One weekend not long after, my parents had a party at our shabby, pot-smoky apartment, and I somehow came across a blotter with daffy duck printed on it and put it into my mouth. 

All I can recall of that night was how I turned into a tiny greenish lizard and scurried across the walls looking for flies to eat, filling up on flies as the night transpired, holding them alive but captive in my belly like little pez candies. My parents quit their partying ways soon after this and got a divorce. My great-grandmother died later that year too, and in her will left me a green pez-dispenser, with a lizard head,and a black top hat (perhaps the very one that had inspired her allegorical yarn). What were the chances? Turned out as well she had nearly a half-million in assets and willed it all to a millinery for the homeless in Brussels. Her surviving family was of course not too happy about this development. She had always said, “No one should go hatless in this world.” Even now, sitting in my room filled with nearly ten thousand pez dispensers, some haphazardly piled to the ceiling, while others are neatly stacked on shelves, or in specially made glass showcases, I tend to agree.

I always eat candy from my lizard head pez dispenser with lightning-quick tongue. I wear that same black hat too when I go visit my girlfriends at night. They always think it’s funny.


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