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July 15, 2024

Food for Thought

By Frederick Foote

I was sitting on my stoop mindin' my business, drinkin' my beer when Flip and Boone come up and start going on about the Raiders. They got their own beer, so it's all right with me.

And then Flip starts some mess. "Hey, Jerome, man, you ain't worked in over a year. What's up with that?"

Boone play follow the leader like always. "Yeah, what's up with that?"

I'm about to tell these fools to step off when Boone pulls out a bag of those N&N chocolates. You know, the chocolates with the candy coating.

I leap up and slap the bag from his hand. I stomp on that candy and grind it into the sidewalk.

Those two Negroes jump back like they seein' a rabid dog.

Boone shouts out like I stompin' on him. "My candy! My fucking candy! Awww shit."

I keep grindin' until even the bag's gone.

"Jesus, Jerome you sweatin' like a waterfall. What in the hell's wrong with you, Negro?" Flip's eyes done got big. He's steppin' back from me as he talks.

"It hurts me, man, to even remember that shit. I been tryin' to forget. Lord knows I have. And here you Negroes come shovin' that shit in my face."

Boone swallows hard and chokes out a question, "Jerome, man, what did we do? What did we do?"

I calm down, slow down, work my way back to an even keel.

I go in and get them cold beers. I guess I should tell them the story. I need to tell it to somebody. I need to get this shit out in the open. It's fuckin' eatin' me up. Besides, the Negroes already think I'm a little short of a full load.

We sit on the stoop. I tell my story.

Listen, listen to me. This is for real shit. They got a secret assembly line down in the Stars' Candy plant you would not believe.

And they got that shit locked up tighter than a nun's you know what.

They got armed guards at the gates and on the assembly line inside the plant. Inside the plant! Ain't that some shit?

They got this big ass brother in charge of security make Shaq look like Chris Rock, a real serious brother.

But I was determined to see what was up behind those locked doors. I mean, I know curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought his ass back. I figured the worst they could do was fire me. Right? Man, I was never so wrong in my life.

So, it turns out Big Man, the security brother, from Baton Rouge just like me. Shit! We got kinfolk in common.

One night, Big Man takes me up to the assembly line. First, I got to put on some white paper pants over my pants and a white lab coat. I got to take off my shoes and put on some paper slippers. I put a paper cap over all my hair. I even put a mask over my nose and mouth, and I put on some of them latex gloves.

Big Man keep asking me if I really want to do this. I'm determined to see what they guardin' so hard.

Man, we step into the assembly line and it as quiet as the grave. You could hear a rat piss on cotton, a scary kinda quiet, just a hum in the background like distant traffic on the freeway. Now, I been on the Campbell Soup and Del Monte cannery lines, and the Hewlett Packard and Ford assembly lines, but I never seen anything this quiet or clean. That place is as clean as a hound's tooth, cleaner than an operating room.

I mean, it's like way beyond high tech. This is science fiction shit. One person sits in a booth and runs the whole assembly line. They got cameras, sensors, computers, x-rays, robots all that shit running that line.

And the other thing is it was warm. I mean, like in the mid-eighties, like the AC was busted or something.

Big Man show me the N&N line. Bags filled, sealed, x-rayed get stamped with a sell-by date, and boxed. Quiet as a mouse.

But, I step up to the line and see a big problem right away. Stars' got a retarded computer filling the bags. That sucker must be from the ghetto. It's only puttin' two N&Ns in a bag and sealing the bag. Man, you know that there be about twenty N&Ns in a bag.

I call Big Man on that. He just smiles and picks a bag off the line and tells me to listen to it. Listen to what? Why would I want to listen to a bag with two N&Ns in it?

I put the bag to my ear just like the fool I am. I don't hear shit. And then, very faint, I hear it Oooh, awwa, oooh awwa. And then there's a little pop sound. And the ooohs awwws starts again and there is another pop.

And the bag feels different, I mean; it feels like there are more than two N&Ns in there now. I shake the bag. Shit, there are more than two N&Ns in there. Sounds like four or five in there now.

Man, I started sweatin like a hog eatin' chili peppers. My knees was knockin' like, like shakin' dice. My mouth went dry as Death Valley in July.

I wanted to throw them, them damn things away, but the ooohs and awwas and the pops ...

I mean, I was like in a trance or somethin.'

Big Man finally took the bag from me. He helped me out of the assembly line.

I don't remember much else. I don't know how I got home. But, I know I never went back.

"Hey, hey you don't have to believe me, but I swear to God its true every word of it."

They both winkin' and blinkin' and acting like I done lost my last few marbles. But, I got an answer for that.

I take a twenty out of my wallet. I slap it down on the stoop.

"See that twenty. That's yours, all you got to do is bring an unopened package of N&Ns down here and eat just one. You eat just one and the twenty's yours."

That was six months ago. I still got that twenty.

Article © Frederick Foote. All rights reserved.
Published on 2017-12-04
Image(s) are public domain.
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