The Loveables

by Mike Sweeney 

Should I start with him or with them?

Them, I guess. You know them. Maybe you even have one.

The Loveables.

Build-a-Bear meets Jurassic Park. You saw the Time magazine cover right?

Somewhere between a stuffed animal and a pet, but more than both.

Four body templates: bunny, panda, loris, penguin.

Four colors: aqua, ecru, eggshell, and cherry blossom.

Four digits on each hand for hugging and playing.

Special deer DNA in each one for the big eyes.

Special goose DNA for that downy fur.

Eighteen inches tall and they won’t grow.

Don’t need to eat. Don’t need to shit.

Miracle of genetic engineering.

Cute as hell.

Take your kid down to the geno-factory at the mall and make your own.

By Christmas, they’ll have a glow-in-the-dark option. (Special jellyfish DNA.)

Of course, not everyone likes them.

The ASPCA says they’re not quite right.

The Catholic Church called them an affront to God.

But as near as I can tell everyone in town owns one.

Some more than one.

As for him, my cousin, he’s a monster.

I haven’t spent much time with him since we were nine and he tried to get me to blow up ant hills with firecrackers.

My aunt deserved so much better. She’s in one room crying. He’s in this one staring into space.

There are only three rooms in this little shit bungalow of his and in the third one is a pile of wet bodies.

Each eighteen inches long.

“I wanted to see,” he starts saying. “See how long it would take.”

I’m trying hard not to throw up.

“See if you snapped the spine, how long it would take for them to die.”

I’m starting to think something I’ve never thought in my nineteen years with the Sheriff’s department: could I kill someone in cold blood and make it look like a justified shooting?

He’s still talking: “Most of them took too long. That’s when I moved to putting them in the toilet. They don’t need to eat, you see, but they need air.”

I need to get him out of here.

I need to get him somewhere I can’t kill him.

“Eventually, I maxed out my credit card,” he finishes.

“Get up,” I say. My voice isn’t more than a whisper but somehow I’m shouting.

He’s too far gone to resist. He stands. Without me asking, he puts his hands behind his back.

In the other room, my aunt has gone from weeping to groaning.

I shouldn’t leave her here, not with the bodies, but I can only focus on him now. Get him to the station. Get him somewhere he can never hurt anything ever again. Get him there before I hurt him.

I put the cuffs on like I’ve done a thousand times and steer him by the shoulder to the door.

He shuffles like a zombie out onto the little porch.

At first, he’s blocking my view.

It’s not until I’ve closed the door and started him moving again that I see it.


A sea of aqua, ecru, eggshell, and cherry blossom.

Four digits on each hand for hugging and playing.

Steak knives. Ice picks. Screw Drivers. Awls.

Everyone in town owned one.

Five thousand pairs of doe eyes stare up at us and every one of them is empty.

Mike Sweeney is a figment of the internet’s imagination. In rare moments of corporeality, he can be found in Jersey.
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