Food Additives – Chapter 2
Larry Tittleman lies his way up the corporate ladder of a global biotech conglomerate and back down again into federal prison…
Chapter 2 – What’s Eating HetroChemical Grapes?
(Inmates Larry Tittleman and Tyrone Jackson are having breakfast in the cafeteria of Jackson State Federal Penitentiary…)
Tyrone: (mouthful of eggs) So tell me more about how you got in here, dun.
Larry: Where did we leave off last night?
Tyrone: You lied your way into a data entry job at HetroChemical and were crashin’ on the couch at your boy’s mom’s place.
Larry: Right. So Eddie and I had been working there a week, just punching in numbers. The only other guys in the office were an old guy, Tedgar Cosmo, who had been slowly phased out from an upper management job for youth and our young tyrant of a boss, Nap Gilbertsonian.
Tedgar: I used to be somebody here, you know. I used to have ten of you under me at any given time.
Larry: We know, Tedgar.
Tedgar: It’s Edgar.
Larry: Yes, but we already have an Edgar.
Eddie: (waves) Hi.
Larry: It would just be confusing to have two.
Tedgar: But he goes by ‘Eddie’.
Larry: Don’t be difficult, Tedgar.
Nap: (storms by) Back to work, pigs.
(The short-statured Nap stomps into his office and slams the door…)
Eddie: Man, that is one angry little guy.
Larry: So Rebecca agreed to have lunch with me today.
Eddie: That’s awesome, dude!
Larry: Yeah, only problem is…I sorta stretched the truth.
Eddie: (sighs) Again?
Larry: I kinda told her I was an Assistant to the VP.
Larry: I just want her to be impressed with how much progress I’ve made and take me back.
Eddie: Lying is no way to go about winning back your ex-girlfriend, Larry.
Larry: I know. But it’s just another little white lie. She doesn’t ever have to know. What’s the worst that could happen?
(Tyrone sets down his fork and leans back in his seat, rubbing his belly…)
Tyrone: Uh oh. Whenever somebody says “What’s the worst that could happen?” something worse usually happens shortly thereafter.
“That afternoon, Rebecca met me at the HetroChemical company cafeteria for lunch…”
Rebecca: Lawrence, you’re looking well.
Larry: Yeah, you’re looking well as…well, Rebecca.
Rebecca: It’s good to see you finally taking some initiative and making something of your life.
Larry: Yeah. So you’ll take me back?
Larry: I’ve done everything you asked. I got a job. I got a place to live.
(A green blur with legs sprints by followed by three panicky men in lab coats…)
Rebecca: Was that a head of lettuce?
Larry: It was nothing.
Rebecca: I’m not ready for a relationship right now, Larry. I was hoping we could just remain friends.
Rebecca: I’m really proud of all the progress you’ve made, Lawrence. I’ve got to get back to the bank. It was nice seeing you.
(Larry stands up and watches his ex-girlfriend hurry out of the cafeteria…)
Eddie: (chewing) Well, that was awkward. Maybe I should have sat at another table.
Larry: (slumps back into seat) Yeah, maybe.
Eddie: At least she didn’t find out you’re not really the Assistant to the VP.
(A harried young assistant grabs Larry by the shirt sleeve…)
Assistant: Did you say you’re the Assistant to the VP?
Larry: Well, I–
Assistant: What are you doing, man? You’ve got to get up to the thirteenth floor, there’s an emergency executive meeting.
Larry: Um. (turns to Eddie, who shrugs)
Assistant: Go, man! Go!
(Larry is rushed into the executive boardroom and plunked down next to VP Eli Carnegie…)
Carnegie: Who the hell are you?
Larry: Uh…I’m your assistant?
Carnegie: Christ, a new one every week.
Ulysses: We’ve got a crisis here, people.
(HetroChemical CEO Campbell Ulysses stands at the head of the boardroom table…)
Ulysses: We’re facing lawsuits over our new Happy Farms-brand vegan meatloaf. People are claiming to suffer from temporary blindness and Kuru Disease after consuming our product.
(Grumbles circle the room of executives. Larry leans over to VP Carnegie…)
Larry: What’s Kuru Disease?
Carnegie: It’s nothing. Just something you can catch after eating human brains and spinal cords.
Ulysses: But more importantly than that, there’s the case of our Grapemelons. Ratking!
(Head of human testing trials Krysten Ratking enters with a giant grape and Larry slinks down in his seat. Krysten gives Larry an odd look, but says nothing…)
Ulysses: The boys in R&D though watermelon-sized grapes would be the wave of the fruit future, but watch this.
(A test subject takes a bite of the human head-sized grape and the spray soaks half the board of directors…)
Ulysses: Look at that. What a mess. Now does anybody have any bright ideas?
(Larry Tittleman looks around at the boardroom table, half of them wringing grape juice out of their suits…)
Ulysses: Carnegie, you headed this project. You’ve got nothing?
Carnegie: Maybe some sort of poncho?
(Larry tentatively raises his hand and Krysten gives him the stink-eye…)
Ulysses: You there. Eli’s assistant. This isn’t grade school, boy. Speak your part.
Larry: Uh…maybe instead of watermelon-sized grapes we could make…grape-sized watermelons?
(Murmurs circulate the boardroom table and Campbell Ulysses’ eyes widen…)
Ulysses: By George, that’s it! What did you say your name was, boy? George?
Larry: No you said that, sir. It’s Larr–
Ulysses: Eli, you’re fired. George here is our new VP in charge of product development.
(The boardroom applauds as VP Carnegie storms out, swearing up a storm…)
Ulysses: Ratking, you work for George now.
(Krysten walks over to Larry as the boardroom empties and smiles through gritted teeth…)
Krysten: Hello, George.
Larry: (meekly) Hehe, hello Ratking.
(Krysten takes a bite of the giant grape and Larry gets drenched…)
(Back in the Jackson State Penitentiary cafeteria…)
Tyrone: Damn, son! Two promotions in a week! Look at you climbin’ up that corporate ladder.
Larry: Yeah but that’s the thing about ladders, Tyrone. The higher you climb, the farther you fall.
Guard: Chow time’s over, cons! Line up for chain gang duty.
Tyrone: Want me to tell boss you the Assistant VP of the chain gang?
Larry: (playfully shoves his orphan-murdering bunkmate) Shut up, Tyrone!
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