Wednesday, January 31, 2007


On a bustling, well-lit stretch of cobblestoned street in one of the nicer parts of Nougat City, a prominent candy factory owner, his wife and their 11-year-old son emerge from an all-night bakery and candy shop. To call the man and his wife portly would be to redefine the parameters of the word “portly.” The child was well on his way – a chubby lad with a nice orange tuxedo and a short blond Mohawk.

Clearly, they have all come from a night at the theater, or perhaps an elegant, all-you-can-eat formal banquet. The man wears a dapper, if overstuffed, tuxedo. His top hat and pointed, swirled mustache give him the appearance of the Monopoly guy after he really let himself go. The wife’s appearance was a grotesque reinterpretation of formal elegance. For her outward appearance, the only reaction she ever provoked among those to lay eyes on her for the first time was the concept that the human male can be remarkably inventive and flexible when procreation is at hand.

In any event, the trio spills down the steps, smiling at each other. The father carries a grocery bag stuffed full of pastries, doughnuts, doughnut holes, doughnut perimeters, bricks of chocolate, etc. The boy happily lumbers along, taking the occasional bite out of his cotton candy in the left hand, and his three corn dogs in the right. They all exude total happiness.

The man, checking his watch, motions for the family to take a short cut down the dark alley immediately to their left. Through the gap in the alley, way down on the next brightly lit avenue, a single neon sign can be seen flashing: Chuck’s All-Nite Deep Fried Food Bucket. The family all gazes at each other, smiles, and lurches down the alley.

A pair of shiny shoes begins to echo on the slab of the alley floor. The father turns slightly, noticing. He turns back, shoulders his bag, and tries to hurry his family along. The footsteps gain speed and intensity. The father hands a box of doughnuts to the mother, in the hope of lightening the load. The footsteps grow ever closer and ever quicker.

Finally, a hand reaches out from behind the mother. Reaching out, it grabs the mother’s necklace, one of those candy-necklaces-on-a-string. The mother cries out, the father begins to turn; all while candies that popped loose are crashing into puddles at their feet. All of this is looked on in growing fear and horror by the boy. The struggle continues, the father getting jostled, pastries flying every which way, and the mother slowly screaming as she tries to keep the assailant away from the box of donuts. Mounting horror. Finally, a SHOT rings out, but it’s actually not a gunshot, it’s just the sound of the man’s hand plunging swiftly into the brown paper bag that the father is holding. More shot-like crumple sounds ensue, as the hand reaches deep into the bag.

The mother cries out in pain and faints dead away. The father lets out a prolonged scream of “Nooooo!” The child’s horror and shock are now all-consuming.

The hand emerges from the bag with a tube, clearly labeled “Ron Chestnut’s Good-Time Raw Cookie Dough (Now With Bacon!).” The father tries to hang on to the tube for dear life. Eventually, both his hands slip off and he drops with an anguished, drawn out primal noise to the pavement.

The child is struck numb with fear and panic; looking first at his downed parents and then back to the shadowy assailant. The dark figure seems to regard the child for a moment, and then raises the tube of cookie dough like a pistol.

“Hey kid,” he says, stepping forward into less shadow to reveal a pudgy face hidden under a hat brim, “You ever dance with the Devil Dogs by the pale moonlight?”

The figure runs off, leaving the child staring wide-eyed into the night, scarred forever by his parents’ screams.