Food Additives – Chapter 4
Larry Tittleman lies his way up the corporate ladder of a global biotech conglomerate and back down again into federal prison…
Chapter 4 – Do You Want To Know A Secret
(Vice President of Product Development Larry Tittleman is the last employee to exit HetroChemicals headquarters in Shanghai, MO that evening after falling asleep at his desk. He gets into the elevator on the eighth floor and hits ‘Lobby’. The elevator shudders and drops a few floors before shuddering again and coming to a complete stop. Larry clicks numerous buttons to no avail. He checks his cellphone that reads ‘No Service’ and sighs…)
(At Jackson State Penitentiary, Larry and his cellmate Tyrone Jackson are back in their bunk; Tyrone making a grinding metal noise on the top bunk…)
Larry: (leaning back on the bottom bunk, hands behind head) What’s that racket, Tyrone?
Tyrone: Sharpenin’ my shiv, man. Race riot ’bout to pop off. Keep goin’. You stuck in an elevator.
Larry: Yeah, so I figured I’d be there all night. I didn’t have any bars and the elevator’s emergency phone wasn’t working.
Tyrone: Whew, lucky that wasn’t me. I get claustrophobic.
Larry: Tyrone, you live in a jail cell.
Tyrone: I know. Surprised I haven’t had a wild violent freakout yet.
Larry: Okay, well let’s put a pin in that; ’cause that’s a cause for later concern. Anyway, an hour passed and I was sitting on the elevator floor. Luckily, I had packed a tennis ball in my briefcase along with my sandwich, so I kept my mind occupied by bouncing it against the elevator doors.
Tyrone: You only pack a tennis ball and a sandwich in your briefcase?
Larry: You never know when you’re gonna run into a cool dog, Tyrone.
“It was then that I heard the explosion…”
(The elevator rocks back and forth…)
Larry: What the–!
(A number of footsteps are then heard stomping on the roof of the elevator car…)
Larry: Oh no, it’s the FBI! They know I lied my way to VP! I’m going to prison!
Tyrone: So that’s how you got in here. Well great story, man.
Larry: No no, we’re not quite there yet.
Tyrone: Oh. (goes back to sharpening shiv)
(Larry hears voices overhead…)
Voice #1: There’s somebody down there.
Voice #2: Should we eliminate ’em?
Larry: (looking up at roof shaking head violently)
Voice #1: No! Harmony said no bodies. We can just subdue him.
Larry: (whispering) Yes! Subdue me, please!
Voice #2: I thought the building was supposed to be empty.
Larry: I fell asleep at my desk. I had a big lunch. Please don’t tell my boss.
(The two voices drop down through the roof hatch into the elevator car. A young girl with dreadlocks and a young man with a shaved head and an elaborate tree tattoo on his scalp, both with kerchiefs over their mouths, which they lower. The young man — the second voice — steps forward…)
Olive: I’m Olive. This is Persimmon. We’re with the ELF and we’re here to expose the treacheries of HetroChemical. We don’t want any trouble.
Larry: (hands up and shaking) No trouble here. Let’s go expose some treacheries. I have a key card, if that helps.
Olive: Wow, that was…surprisingly easy.
Larry: (sheepish shrug) I’m kind of a pussy.
(Persimmon puts a hand on Larry’s arm…)
Persimmon: I like pussies.
Olive: Not now, Pers.
Larry: Only problem is I’ve kinda been stuck in this elevator for the past hour, so–
(Olive hits the ‘Open Door’ button and the ELF members exit the elevator…)
(Using Larry’s key card, Olive and Persimmon venture deeper under the HetroChemical headquarters through sub-basement labs…)
Olive: This is where the real shit goes down.
Larry: So do you guys literally hug trees, or is that just a figure of speech? Aren’t they rough and barky?
Persimmon: Your company pollutes the earth and creates abominations of nature. Predatory crops that kill surrounding natural crops. Meats and vegetables racked with cancer-causing chemicals and pesticides.
Larry: Pretty sure I’ve seen a head of lettuce with legs running around this place, too.
Persimmon: Our bodies weren’t made to support such unnatural products.
Larry: You should meet my secretary, Eddie. You’d be amazed what his body can support. I made him eat a Styrofoam peanut once. (leans on wall, raises eyebrow at Persimmon) I’m his boss. I’m kind of a big deal around here.
(Persimmon brushes his arm with her fingers…)
Persimmon: You’d be an even bigger deal if you helped us fight against corporate greed.
Larry: (stammers) I mean…yeah, I could do that. Let’s fight the power. (raises fist) Fight the power that be!
(Persimmon lowers Larry’s fist and puts a finger on his lips. Larry blushes…)
Olive: (peeks head around corner) Guys, in here.
(Larry swipes his key card and the three enter a lab filled with cages and a cacophony of barking dogs…)
Larry: Aww, puppies!
(Larry scampers around the lab, sticking his finger in various cages, letting all the dogs sniff him…)
Olive: Do you know why these dogs are in here, Larry?
Larry: No, but I know where I’m taking my lunch breaks from now on.
Persimmon: Larry, these are unadopted dogs from local pounds and shelters. And this lab is where HetroChemical Inc. produces its Happy Farms-brand Low-Fat Low-Sodium Microwaveable Bacon.
Larry: Oh, I’ve had that. Mrs. Cornball makes that for me and Eddie every morning before wor–
(Larry’s face goes white…)
Larry: Wait…are you saying Happy Farms-brand Low-Fat Low-Sodium Microwaveable Bacon is…dog meat?
(Persimmon nods grimly. Larry keels over and vomits right in the center of the lab…)
Persimmon: Will you help us, Larry? Will us free these poor pups so no one can ever turn them into microwaveable bacon again?
Larry: (wipes mouth with sleeve, eyes narrow)
(Outside on HetroChemical’s campus, Larry is laughing and wrestling with a couple dogs as the rest run off into the nearby woods and neighborhoods. Larry hugs a basset hound…)
Larry: I’m gonna keep this one. I’m gonna name him Barf, ’cause he kept licking my barf after I let him out of his cage.
Persimmon: Thank you for helping us, Larry. (she takes his palm and writes down a phone number) Call me sometime. We hold meetings and we’d love for you to attend. We can teach you about the cruel reality of the corporation that pays for your food and your home.
Larry: Well, I’m kinda living with my secretary’s mom right now, but…uh, yeah. Maybe I’ll come.
Persimmon: (smiles) Please do, Larry. I’d like to see you again. Then maybe after, me and you can go…hug some trees.
Larry: Okay, so should I bring gloves, or–
(Persimmon giggles and squeezes Larry’s arm…)
Larry: Oh, you meant like a sex thing. Yeah, maybe I could…I mean we could, um (voice cracks) So long.
(Barf follows Larry down the municipal road…)
(Back in Jackson State Penitentiary…)
Tyrone: (smiles) So you met another girl. Ain’t that sweet.
Larry: Yeah. So, uh, when is this race riot supposed to, uh, “pop off”?
Tyrone: Ain’t no schedule. It’s a riot. When it happens, it happens.
Larry: So, I hate to state the obvious, but–
Tyrone: Well…it is a race riot.
Larry: Could I maybe get one of those honorary black man cards they give out sometimes?
Tyrone: (frowns) That ain’t a real thing, man.
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