Fiction: MeanEatsGuy

By J. P. Matthew

“Hey, guys! MeanEatsGuy here. So today I’m gonna be trying gravy over pineapple. I have my pineapple here, which I carved into a bowl this morning”—a young, fedora’d man with a jowled, acned face lifts the plate of pineapple up to the camera. He’s dressed in a baggy, plaid suit from the nineties and wears a smile, unmistakably counterfeit—“and I have my pitcher of gravy here—sausage gravy—is what you all voted on. Typically, these bowls are meant for brown gravies only, but it’s whatever. If it ain’t broke, why fix it right?

“Before I chow down, I just want to remind everyone that I’ll be on break these next few weeks, but I—will—be—back. So be sure to like and subscribe, and let me know in the comments what you’d like me to eat next. If you enjoy my content, consider donating. You can find my donations page in the link below. Now, without further ado, let’s dive into today’s mean-eat.” Lumps of coarse, ash-colored gravy slump from the porcelain dish and plop into the carved pineapple below.

“Mmmm. I’m a fan of biscuits and gravy, but not so much pineapple. You guys already knew that though.”

He sets the pitcher down, stuffs a handkerchief into the collar of his dress shirt, and with a spoon smears the gravy along the pineapple’s fleshy walls. He winces, watching as the sludge seeps into the innards of the fruit, cracks and crevices thoroughly slathered. Still he wears that fake smile, albeit now squirming. He scrapes out a hefty, pallid piece dolloped in sausage gravy and hovers it inches away from his mouth.

“Alright. I’m MeanEatsGuy, and remember to like and subscribe.” 

He starts to chew, but not without gagging. His face recoils, smearing into shriveled and contorted shapes over the span of seconds—all of which, when best discerned, formed the dismal visage of anguish or the puckered-likes of someone sucking a corroded car battery. So he’s chewing and he’s gagging, and he’s chewing through his gagging, and he shakes his head regretfully before digging out his next bite.

By the time he had finished the video’s outro, it was coming back up. All of it. Garth hadn’t even the time to shut the camera off, so he sat there at the table, hunched over a mop bucket that stunk of vinegar and rubbing alcohol, a necessity he had learned to keep near him the hard way (Catfish Pancakes, flaky, buttery... bloating). The camera stared him down from across the kitchen table, the recording light blinking red, the lens a sultry yet mocking eye.

One of Garth’s roommates, a tall youth in a tank top, strode through the kitchen and opened a cabinet.

“So, you’re done?” the roommate said.

“Done,” Garth mumbled, his voice reverberating from the bucket.

“Isn’t this like the third time you’ve quit?” The roommate leaned against the countertop and cracked open a ginger ale. “And what was all that crap, all that ‘like and subscribe stuff?’”

“I still need the donations coming in. At least until this new job starts.” “Oh, you got it?”

“No, I have the interview still but I’m feeling pretty confident. Apparently, I was amongst a select group of applicants, which is reassuring.”

The roommate slurped carefully at his drink. “Okay. As long as you can still pay your share of the rent.”

Garth felt queasy as his roommate left the room, though it was no longer from the Pineapple Gravy. He stared into the murky depths of the bucket, the stink of cleaner and vomit searing his nostrils; and, heaving once more, he set the bucket down. The camera loomed over him, its recording light twinkling high and ruddy like a distant crimson star.

He sat at his computer all night watching as the view count went from the hundreds to the thousands and refreshed his donation page every few minutes. First ten dollars, then fifty, then a hundred. The white glare of the monitor enveloped him, a lurid glow that kept the shadows of his room at bay. As he scrolled through the comments, one caught his eye:

@MeanEatsGuy another great vid as always! tho I wonder when you’ll get back to the chocolate milk, becuz that shit with the chicken broth was funny as hell...

Chocolate Milk Chicken Broth. A creamy, salty, pungent brew that had gone up his windpipe and exited his nose. For weeks after, he couldn’t breathe right.

...maybe boil with oysters? love ur content!


Garth shuddered at the thought. The last time he’d eaten shellfish he was a kid, and he’d nearly died. The comment was rising quickly, too. Already it had over three hundred likes.

The next day, he was at his doctor’s office waiting to get his prescriptions refilled.

Fluoxetine, Famotidine, and Meclizine were just a few of the antidepressants and antihistamines he had been put on. Garth stirred uncomfortably on the exam table, the waxy, off-white medical paper rustling beneath him as the doctor scribbled on her pad.

“Did you hear me?” Garth asked. “I said I was quitting.”

The doctor made a sound of acknowledgment, nodded, continued to write. An analog clock ticking above her invaded the silence.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Finally, the doctor tore the script from the pad and handed it to him with an expression that vaguely resembled a smile.

“I’m glad to hear you’re quitting,” she said. “Please don’t be afraid to contact us if you need anything.”

As the doctor left the room, he gazed over the script. It was for another ninety-day supply.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

His anxieties had completely vanished the day before his interview, and even his acne was clearing. He’d spent all week preparing, rising each morning with newfound confidence and conducting mock interviews in the mirror, focusing on his posture, what he’d say, and how he’d say it. He’d researched acronyms like SEAT or SOART to help him with his answers; he’d insert power phrases here and there like “problem-solver” and “result-oriented”; and he had developed thoughtful questions to ask at the end of the interview.

The position was for data entry at an insurance firm. A nine-to-five, five days a week, sometimes six. The pay was practically nothing compared to making videos, but it was his way out: a clean slate with which he could restart.

The morning of, he awoke early and excited, put on his best dress shirt and tie, then proceeded to stare at the baggy, plaid suit in his closet like a specter he yearned to exorcise. Pulling it from the rack, he gazed over it, running his fingers across cashmere and wool. It was a vintage two-piece he’d found in a thrift store when he first started making videos; and it was his only suit. Should he wear it? Reclaim it? No. There’d be time enough for that, he thought. Time enough.

Garth arrived at the firm fifteen minutes early, though had failed to anticipate the time it would take to find parking. The lot, a sea of vehicles, extended from a seven-story building, and when he’d catch a glimpse or a sliver of what he thought was an empty space, he’d pull forward to find a bike or two-door electric car there. His steering wheel had taken many a beating until he’d finally given up and parked a couple of blocks down.

Straightening his tie, Garth charged breathless towards a row of glass doors on one side of the building. He lunged at them. Pulled. Pushed. Tugged them this way and that.

“Come on, come on!” he cried. Minutes late now, he could feel his head starting to spin when suddenly a sharp and electric whistle twittered from behind.

A young man stood there looking like he’d just come from the New York Stock Exchange: greased hair slicked back, a wireless headset in one ear, and a fine, navy-blue suit. He was pointing a Boston cream donut at Garth. “That’s for employees only, pal,” he said. “You lookin’ for the visitor’s entrance? Well, it’s around... Wait. Hold on. Aren’t you... aren’t you MeanEatsGuy?”

“The visitor’s entrance—where is it?”

“You are! Holy shit. Oh man, I’m such a big fan. That pizza with the fried tarantula and bull testicles was the nastiest thing ever.”

Rocky Mountain Oysters and Fried Tarantula Pizza. Crispy, soft, gamey flavors bursting against itching teeth—

Where is the visitor’s entrance?”

“Here, eat this”—the man in the navy-blue suit stabbed the partially eaten donut into Garth’s face—“and I’ll tell you.”

Stupefied, Garth stared at the donut, then at the man’s shit-eating grin. Then, with one agitated, careless swipe, Garth slapped the Boston cream from his hand and sent it splattering onto the man’s navy-blue suit. Garth fled from him  then, scurrying south along the building.

“What the hell?” the man in the navy-blue suit shouted, then after a few moments called, “Could I at least get a picture?”

After checking in, Garth sat in the waiting area thoroughly rattled. His legs trembled like the hinds of an anxious dog. The fact that the interviewer was running late was nothing short of a blessing as he tried to put that unpleasant experience from the parking lot behind. He went over his acronyms, his power phrases, and genuinely tried to amp himself up. But just as soon as he forgot about that unpleasant experience, an all too familiar whistle twittered across the lobby.

“No way! I’m interviewin’ MeanEatsGuy?”

It was him. Though he no longer wore his donut-stained jacket. The man leaned against a doorway, his grin full of teeth. He snapped his fingers like one might call a dog. “Alright, come on, get over here—let’s do this!”

Garth swallowed a dry, needle-like breath and dug his fingers into the arms of the chair. He couldn’t move. His chest tightened. An overwhelming panic seized him, and as he meandered from the chair with lead feet, his brain had gone to mush. The dark portal the man leaned against beckoned him and, disheartened and obedient, Garth shuffled forth...

He sat at his kitchen table watching a black screen day and night, waiting. For a call, an email, a text—some kind of a follow-up. But weeks passed; rent approached; and Garth never heard back.

“Hey, guys. MeanEatsGuy here. Back again. Today I’ll be trying oysters boiled in chocolate milk.”

The camera loomed over him, its light twinkling high and ruddy like a distant crimson star.

J. P. Matthew lives in the hinterlands of Kansas, where he writes speculative and literary fiction. He has been previously published in Every Day Fiction and Lovecraftiana, and he occasionally posts on Instagram @jasonpatrickmatthew.