The Cactus-Eating Farmer, by Matt Tucci

Farmer Breakfast wakes up in the morning to the tune of a rooster. He gets his baby boy and picks him up and puts him in his booster. He rubs his jaws in preparation for some massive stretching and he chugs all of the water that his wife was up all night last night fetching. He needs that water so his throat won’t get scratched up and bloody. He has a medical condition that forces him to eat whole cacti or else his skin turns muddy. And then his skin turns dry and crumples. Like a leper, but not really. His limbs wouldn’t fall off, but he’d be speaking Swahili.

Farmer Breakfast’s baby boy is named James. When people lose their keys, he is the one that everyone blames. But it’s all a joke, of course. How would a baby be able to learn how to steal keys, and what would be the education source? He sees his daddy leave the door every day. Clothes soaked, beard damp, and often chewing on hay. He ponders as to where the man is going; the details of which, he is currently not knowing.

Farmer Breakfast stomps through the sand. He peers about his field of vision and analyzes the land. If he sees a green object; he seeks it out—but if it is not a cactus—he begins to pout. He enjoys speaking English and communicating with the ones he loves. If he ended up having to Speak Swahili, his family and friends would be able to understand him as well as you can correctly estimate the amount of molecules in either one of your gloves.

Once upon a time, Farmer Breakfast went out in search of prickly plants. In preparation, he chugged his water and put on some pants. The rest of his body was bare: you could see his chest hair, but at least not his underwear or what’s under there. He was very cold. It was the month of October, and the cacti were all starting to fold. He went in the desert and couldn’t find many cactuses; he realized that he should have implemented some storing and saving practices! He should have kept a stash of them for the winter like a squirrel, but now he might get muddy and then dry up like Professor Quirrel. Except for one rule: he wouldn’t fall apart, because that wouldn’t be cool. But you get the idea. He doesn’t want to end up only being able to speak Swahili.

An African tribe nearby is scouting around. They’re beating their drums and making lots of sound. Baby James is alone in his chair. At home, by himself, he better beware. This tribe is relentless; they sacrifice small mammals and birds. Their diet consists of almost all meat, with the exception of bean curds. They need to make sacrifices to their god, Yitterblattid. His teeth are gold and his hair is matted. He only accepts dead mammals and birds in the shell of a hollowed-out cactus. But Farmer Breakfast has been eating them all. What will the tribe put their sacrifices in?

Farmer Breakfast is starting to feel sick. His stomach is churning and his heart rate becomes quick. He’s lacking nutrition he cannot suffice, and the temperature out there is colder than ice. His skin starts to thaw and it feels really raw. He screams and he screams until it seems as if there’s no more pain. His skin is now dry, but something is going wrong with his brain. “Orange” is “machungwa” and “prisoners” are “wafungwa”. Umbrella is “mwavuli” and “bowl” is “bakuli”. He’s slowly going from only being able to speak English to only being able to speak Swahili!

Farmer Breakfast comes home with a big lack of power. He takes off his clothes and hops in the shower. The water surrounds his ears and shrouds his ability to hear. He has no idea that the African tribe is near. They spot Baby James, alone in the kitchen. They’re looking for something to sacrifice and they think to themselves in Swahili, “Hey, this is bitchin’!” Farmer Breakfast gets out of the bathroom, wrapped in a towel. He peers downstairs casually, but when he sees what’s in that kitchen, he has to hold back a howl. The tribesmen broke into the house without falter, and they’re kidnapping Baby James to take him to the altar!

Farmer Breakfast rushes into his bedroom to reach for his gun, but when he tried to open the cabinet, it couldn’t be done! He forgot that this cabinet requires a key, yet there’s even more stress in this, the key has gone absentee! He figures that he’ll have to go down himself. He double checks for the key on the dresser and shelf, but he couldn’t find it in either of those places so he just goes downstairs anyway without a weapon.

He knew that his language had been altered and made wild, but that wasn’t going to stop him from saving his child. He yelled at them in Swahili to set Baby James down and leave him alone; that immediately changed the tone. The tribe, coincidentally, could relate to the flicks of his tongue. This is how they spoke ever since they were young. They invited him back to the village for a delightful feast. The entrée was a rotisserie boar with sauce made from cranberries, a mystery ingredient, and yeast.

He follows them to their hometown gate. The boar is almost done cooking, and they offer him a plate. He proceeds through the gate and takes a seat on a log as he receives on his platter a prime chunk of hog. Everyone else starts chatting, eating, and dancing about, here with a burp and there with a shout. Noise fills the village and the scent of food fills the air. It was really quite a party, you should have been there. Farmer Breakfast chomped down on his food like any man would, and responded almost instantly, “Mmm, this is good!” Somehow or another he was able to speak English again. “Uzio” was now “fence” and “kuku” was now “hen”. He considered himself lucky that nobody heard him say that phrase, if one of the tribal members heard him say that he might have no longer been receiving their praise.

His skin retained its regular percentage of water; he was no longer a strange disease’s fodder. He thinks that the mystery ingredient in that sauce, whatever it was, cured his disease that forced him to eat whole cacti with marvelous ease. As soon as he knew that his sickness was through and that he could no longer speak with the rest of the group, he silently finished his boar without going back for more so that he could go home and have some hot soup.

He went back to his ranch and prepared some soup on the stove. He poured chicken broth in the pot and he added a clove. This would be a simplistic, yet tasty meal. It would treat his tongue and give his throat a nice feel. He was staring at the stove, waiting for the soup to boil. It was dark outside by now, the rest of the world was the color of gloom. On top of realizing this, Baby James started crying inside the other room! It was time for Farmer Breakfast to change Baby James’s diaper. He knew if he didn’t attend to that, Baby James would get really hyper. He walks into that room, and takes off Baby James’s prepared to see pee. What does he find instead? The gun cabinet key!!!

-Matt Tucci