Once upon a time, Mattress Man caught a toad.
The toad was an old ghost, returning life by life.
Next time, he would be a wolf, a butterfly, a human being.
The toad begged for his life, as he had just emerged from the muck; had just discovered ground.
But Mattress Man hung the animal by one kicking, broken leg and turned him over a spit. When the toad could stand no more, he wept:
Do not eat me, please let me die and begin again.
When I am a wolf, I will spare you.
Mattress Man cut the weeping toad open – mouth to belly – and scooped the jeweled insides.
Mattress Man did not believe in ghosts or toads. It was wartime and he was hungry.
He returned home full. He undressed for his wife and she screamed at the sight.
From then on, when Mattress Man touched his wife, he browned. Boils appeared and erupted. Each time, she bore him frogs, and he consumed them violently.
One day she bore him two beautiful daughters.
But Mattress Man didn’t want daughters.
In America, Mattress Man ate well.