Food Additives – Chapter 1
Chapter 1 – Love Me Don’t
(Thirty-year-old Larry Tittleman is imprisoned in Jackson State Federal Penitentiary on the southern border of Missouri, laying on the bottom bunk with cellmate Tyrone Jackberg swinging his legs over the end of the top bunk…)
Tyrone: So what’s your story, blood? How you get in here, dun? You kill somebody?
Larry: Well, not exactly. Not directly, at least. It’s a long story.
Tyrone: I got nothin’ but time, Tittleman.
Larry: (sighs) Have you ever heard of HetroChemical?
Tyrone: Yeah, they those global worldwide mufuckas that make the super tomatoes and shit.
Larry: Well, it all started in the town where they’re headquartered: Shanghai, Missouri.
“My longtime live-in girlfriend Rebecca wanted to meet at a local coffee shop to discuss some things…”
Rebecca: We’re breaking up.
Rebecca: You don’t have any drive, Larry. You’ve stagnated. You’re unemployed. You’re broke. You’re lazy. You don’t have any thrust in your life.
Larry: I have thrust. (shouts) I got thrust!
(The coffee shop turns to stare at Larry and his shoulders sink…)
Rebecca: I’ve been carrying you for too long, Larry. I need to focus on myself, now. I need someone with a direction in life.
Larry: Oh, I’ve got a direction. And it’s up, baby! Look, I’ll get a job right now. (grabs a nearby newspaper and flips to the classifieds) See? Human guinea pig trials. Twenty dollars a day. I can do that.
Rebecca: I need you to move out tonight.
Larry: Bu-but where will I sleep?
“The next morning I woke up in my car parked outside the headquarters of HetroChemical Corp….”
Guard: (knocking on window) Excuse me, sir. You can’t park here.
(Larry stumbles out of his backseat, straightening a cowlick and fastening his belt…)
Larry: It’s okay. I’m here for the human guinea pig trials?
Guard: (smirks) Right this way, sir.
(Larry is led across the sprawling campus of the global corporate headquarters to a large glass building where he signs in at the front desk. Out of the corner of his eye he spots a small green blob sprinting by, followed by three white lab coated scientists, muttering “Crap crap crap crap”…)
Larry: (frowns) Was that a head of lettuce?
Krysten: That was nothing.
(A tall brunette in a lab coat with her hair tightened back in a ponytail and pursed lips holds out her hand…)
Krysten: I’m Krysten Ratking. I’ll be leading the human guinea pig trials. I assume you’ve fasted for twenty-four hours and passed all urine and blood tests?
(Krysten leads Larry to a small room with a mirror on the back wall and he sits next to a chubby thirty-something in a checkered shirt who holds out his hand…)
Eddie: Eddie Cornball.
Larry: Larry Tittleman.
Eddie: Pleasure to meet ya, Larry. Welcome to the killing fields.
Krysten: Eddie’s just joking. Here, eat this carrot.
(Larry stares down at a glowing bright orange carrot…)
Larry: This is neon.
Krysten: Technically, it’s fluorescent. Carrots are supposed to give you better eyesight; but what if they could give you the best eyesight?
Larry: I’m not eating this.
Eddie: (pops the neon carrot in his mouth) (muffled) It’s not so bad.
Krysten: Look, do you want the twenty dollars or not?
Larry: (sighs, tentatively takes a tiny bite of the carrot and winces) Ugh.
Krysten: Mmhmm and how would you describe the flavor?
Krysten: And would you recommend it to friends and family?
Larry: I wouldn’t recommend it to rabbits.
Krysten: Let’s take a break.
(Minutes later in a bathroom down the hall from the testing labs, Larry and Eddie are in adjoining stalls shooting liquid diarrhea out of their asses…)
Eddie: (grunting) So what brought you to HetroChemical, Larry? Money troubles?
Larry: (flop-sweating) My girlfriend and I are…taking a break. And since HetroChemical is the largest employer in the state, I figure I could find a job here. Prove to Rebecca that I’m not just a screw-up, so she’ll take me back.
Eddie: (grips handicap railing) Mmhmm. So you’re livin’ out of your car, huh?
Larry: (doubles over) How’d you know?
Eddie: You had a McDonald’s receipt stuck to the back of your pants. I’ve been there, man. Times is tough. You know if you want, you could always crash with me and my mom. We have a roll-out couch.
Larry: You still live with your mom?
Eddie: I told you, times are tough. Hoo boy, think I’m done in here. It’s all just water now.
(Krysten pokes her head into the men’s room, nose pinched…)
Krysten: Come get your paychecks, guinea pigs.
(Out in the hallway, Krysten hands Larry and Eddie crisp twenty dollar bills…)
Larry: I thought you said ‘paychecks’.
Krysten: We like to keep some things off the books here at HetroChemical.
Eddie: (pockets twenty) Looks like daddy’s eatin’ KFC tonight.
Larry: You’re not going to let anybody else eat those carrots, are you?
Krysten: (smiles) We’re looking into it. See you here tomorrow morning bright and early, pigs.
(Larry and Eddie head down the hallway back toward the lobby…)
Larry: You don’t mind her calling you ‘pig’?
Eddie: (shrugs) Job’s a job.
Larry: Well I don’t think I can take another day of that.
Eddie: Not a whole heckuva lot of options these days. C’mon, let’s go get some fried chicken and forget our worries.
Larry: How can you even think about eating again already? We just crapped our lungs out. I am severely dehydrated.
(Two young college-aged kids pile out of a side-office and one turns back to holler at an older man following them…)
Clerk: This company is evil, man! We quit!
(The older man throws his hands up…)
Bernie: (to himself) Just great, where am I going to find two data entry clerks on such short notice?
Larry: I think fate just cast us a line, Eddie. You ready to move up in the corporate world?
Eddie: And leave the fast-paced life of genetically-modified food testing?
Larry: The pay will be better and you won’t be shitting water on your lunch break.
Eddie: Point made, new friend.
(Larry steps toward the older man…)
Larry: Sir, my name is Larry Tittleman and this is my associate, Eddie Cornball. We have years of experience in the data entry field and would gladly take those two open positions.
Eddie: (whispering) Larry, that’s a lie. We don’t have any experience.
Larry: It’s a little white lie, Eddie.
Bernie: Fine, whatever. See you here tomorrow morning bright and early, pigs.
Larry: (frowns) Well, now they’re just being mean.
“That night, I moved in with Eddie and his mom. In one day I’d moved up from a food-tester sleeping in a car to a data entry clerk sleeping on a couch…”
Larry: (tugs at couch) I thought you said this was a roll-out.
Eddie: (grins) Guess that makes us both white liars.
Larry: You can just say ‘liars’.
Eddie: Night, Larry.
Larry: Night, Eddie.
(Back in Jackson State Penitentiary…)
Tyrone: Man, get to the killin’. Get to the bloodbath. Get to the crimes!
Larry: I told you it was a long story.
Guard: Lights out, cons!
(Larry rolls over and pulls a scratchy blanket up to his chin…)
Larry: I’ll tell you more tomorrow. So what are you in for anyway, Tyrone?
Tyrone: I went on a stabbing rampage at an orphanage.
Larry: Jesus Christ.
Tyrone: Yup. It is not a funny story at all. There are no humorous remarks you can make about stabbing a bunch of orphaned children to death.
Larry: No, that is very terrifying and horrible.
Tyrone: It sure is. Goodnight, Tittleman.
(Larry did not blink even once that night…)
Send all hate mail to email@example.com