Will Hug For Food
By Crowerd Robinson

Kevin was ashamed. It was his interest in all things odd and grotesque that had made him live with the swamp people. He had taken this same walk for the past three years, muddying his sneakers and counting the cars that went by on one hand. He should be relishing such a macabre interaction, not shying away from it.
The alligator stood on the opposite side of the street, some fifty yards ahead. Fluffs of cotton were being vomited from its snout, swirling into the mushy ground. Black opal eyes and a lime green underbelly would have given the reptile a very traditional appearance if not for the many rips and tears in its fabric. Instead it looked naked and vulnerable. Kevin wondered if the human flesh inside was naked too, if there was a sweaty man beast staring out at him.
He kept walking and saw the alligator hold up a cardboard sign.
The words had been scrawled sideways in black crayon. Kevin choked on his own laughter. This was part of someone’s undergraduate thesis on social interaction. Some kid was hiding in the grass right now, camera in hand and snot dribbling from his nostrils. His eyes peered into the forest but all he could see was trees and shitty swamp water.
. The mascot walked into the middle of the road, a paw on each side of its yellow scribble. Kevin’s feet had become entranced and refused to stop until the creature was in front of him. He inhaled the reptile’s breath; the odor made endorphins bloody his brain, creating visions of being anal raped by a giant alligator.
“Will you let me pass?” Kevin asked. He traced his tongue over his lips. His mouth was as dry as the animal’s scales were (not scales, he reminded himself – just fabric only fabric!) and he wanted to reach down and fill his palms with shit water but he was too timid to avert his eyes.
“You want something to eat?”
The gator nodded. Kevin tried peering down into its snout but he couldn’t see anything. There were no soft gray eyes or a tuft of curly orange hair, just an empty void.
Kevin fished around in his pockets. He pulled out the mess of gummy worms he kept with him in case his sugar was low and held the peace offering out in front of him.
The gator reached out a webbed paw and tossed the worms into his mouth, along with the lint and moth balls they were infested with. Then the creature opened its arms as wide as it could, inviting Kevin to wrap himself around its midsection.
Might as well, Kevin thought. I don’t have my phone and my Internet friends will just think I’m making something else up but this has been kind of fun. At least it’s been better than listening to the crickets chirpfuck one another.
He hugged the reptile, resting the side of his face on its belly. It was soft and reminded him of bedtime stories and the stuffed animals he would sometimes hump when he was a kid. He tightened his arms around the animal, relishing the embrace and forgetting that they were in a sickly suburban swamp.
That was when the gator snapped his jaws around him and fell on all fours, cracking his bones into calcium dust and taking him back to his fort made of blankets and dolls and aluminum cans.

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Crowerd Robinson sleeps in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. His tales of horror and the fantastique have appeared in several online and print magazines, including Dark Fire, Mirror Dance, and Visionary Tongue. He has also been featured in the anthologies CorpseGrinder (bizzarEbooks) and Evil Dragons (Static Movement Press).

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