Positive Cynicism – The long night of Twinkie the Kid

Aaron Davis

Aaron R. Davis

The night is cold and dark as Twinkie the Kid walks into his office and closes the door behind him. He uncaps his brandy, pours himself a generous helping and sits down in his contoured office chair. Removing his cowboy hat, he heaves a long, deep sigh, exhaling all he can before downing his drink and feeling the burn of the alcohol and his own shame.

“Two bankruptcies in the same decade,” he muses, pouring himself another glass. “Christ almighty, how much longer can we keep this up?”

Wearily, straining, he lifts himself to his feet again and paces the room, looking at a lifetime of decorations on the wall. He is almost amused by how long he’s had this office, the shelf life of a Twinkie being disturbingly long. He was certainly a survivor, and only a little dried out for wear and the financial stress of the Hostess Corporation.

Twinkie the Kid steps over to a dimly-lit corner and opens his humidor, about to reach in for a cigar, when, almost as a reflex, his eyes dart up to the painted portrait of King Ding Dong. The chocolate majesty’s eyes almost seem to stare back at the Kid, piercing into him. And the Kid’s shame and guilt finally come to the surface, moistening his cakey brow.

“It can’t be helped,” the Kid mumbles to the portrait. He tries to avert his eyes, feeling small and naked under King Ding Dong’s stare, and tries to concentrate on the smooth, flowing brush strokes of the King’s frosting mustache. But almost instantly his eyes are drawn upwards to the almost accusing gaze of the glazed ruler.

“What else was I going to do? Profits are down, demand is down. People finally noticed that their kids looked like sausages bursting out of their casings. You know all parents care about is the self-esteem of their little chunklets. It was only a matter of time before we suffered for it. It’s so easy to blame the little rack at the end of the cereal aisle.”

Still, the painted stare of King Ding Dong made the Kid feel withered and impotent.

“I’ll be the first to admit our products don’t really taste as good as they used to,” he reasoned. “Why do you think those assholes in Texas started deep frying Twinkies? I mean, come on, those people were deep frying Twinkies and somehow childhood obesity is our fault? Twinkies have been around since 1930, god damn it! I’m 82 years old, and kids in the seventies didn’t look like McNuggets with legs! Everyone knew Hostess products were full of sugar and fat back then, too, but there were parents to stop their little drones from sitting in front of the TV and inhaling Ho-Ho’s every night of the week! What happened to actual parenting?!”

The Kid gives another sigh, this one deflating him to the core. He sips his brandy, then puts down his glass and finally closes the humidor, defeated. “It’s not our fault parents can’t be responsible about their children’s health anymore,” he mumbles. “Why are we the ones to suffer?”

He starts pacing again, thinking about all that’s gone wrong in this still young century. “Bad enough those Wonder Bread geniuses can’t find a way to cash in on this whole grain craze, as if wheat is going to magically make their little piglets skinny and muscular and perfect. Try not slathering it with hazelnut sludge for a change! Maybe stop pretending that McDonald’s is healthy just because they started putting skinny hipsters in their commercials!”

The Kid sits down in his chair and, at last, voices what he’s been holding in all day. “What was I going to do? Pay out all of those employee pensions? Keep propping up those damn health benefits? How can we show a profit with all of those union costs? There was no other way to save our profits but to file for Chapter 11 and try to roll back all of those union benefits. Those damn workers, always trying to chip away at our profits, always with their demands and their blathering on about dignity and rights … what about our rights?

“Corporations are people, damn it! Corporations are people! What country do those unions think this is?! We’re in danger every second. Fuck, have you seen how the Vachon market share is growing with those May West Twinkie rip-offs? How are we supposed to fight these things? Well I’ll tell you what, it’s not going to be with damn Transformers endorsements! No one eats Sno Balls, anyway. What, you think Fruit Pie the Magician is going to wave his little wand and make our problems go away? Do you think Little Debbie has to deal with this union overhead?! Bad enough their food still tastes good! Have you ever eaten a Nutty Bar?! It’s delicious!!!

Suddenly, a knock at the door pierces the Kid’s reverie. Shaking with his fervor, he tries in vain to calm himself down, patting down his kerchief before walking over to the door and opening.

“Is everything okay in here?” asks Chauncey Chocodile, straightening his straw hat. “I heard yelling. I know the bankruptcy announcement has you down, Kid.”

“Chauncey? You still exist?”

“Mostly on the West Coast these days,” Chauncey shrugs. “I guess people in the East don’t want to eat a chocolate-covered Twinkie.”

“And people in the fat states want to deep fry it and blame us when their arteries close off,” the Kid snaps. “Sorry, Chauncey. I am on edge. It’s all falling apart. It’s workers and their damn rights. People are in another one of those snits where they want to be treated like people again.”

“Well, what can you do?” Chauncey shrugs. “I mean, why not be one of those rare businesses that makes its employees comfortable, proud to work here? Aren’t happy workers more productive? And in today’s economy …”

“Today’s economy is slaughtering us!” the Kid yells, past his breaking point. “We can’t afford to deal with unions and still turn a profit, and with this health fad in full swing, we’re not just seen as non-essential, but completely detrimental! Jesus, ‘Twinkie’ is practically shorthand for harmful junk food. Since when do parents not want their kids to eat delicious, crème-flavored chemicals!”

“Sorry, boss,” Chauncey mutters, worried that he’s witnessing the mental collapse of the legendary Twinkie the Kid.

“Will you pray with me, Chauncey?” the Kid asks, now broken.

Chauncey, now seriously concerned, backs away a little bit. “Kid?”

“Pray with me,” the Kid repeats. “Pray with me to Mitt Romney to reassert corporate personhood and institute work-for-hire so we don’t have to deal with these unions.”

“Kid, you’re kind of freaking me out here. Maybe you should go home, get a good night’s sleep and come back on Monday nice and refreshed.”

“You don’t want to pray?” the Kid asks, his suspicious eyes searching Chauncey’s face for signs of betrayal. “Why not? You seem awfully sympathetic to these unions.”

“It’s market reality, Kid,” Chauncey tries to explain. “Who’s going to even buy our products if the workforce can’t afford those kinds of luxuries? I mean, no one really needs to buy a Twinkie, right? Why not give our employees a stake in the company and give them incentive to focus on creating a better product?”

“What are you blathering about, Chauncey? What do you mean ‘better product’?”

And it’s then that the Kid spies the wrapper hanging out of Chauncey’s vest pocket. Twinkie the Kid’s eyes widen, and then narrow again in anger.

“A Little Debbie Nutty Bar, Chauncey?” the Kid seethes. “You dare bring that in here? In this building? In my office!

“Kid, I … I just …”

“You reptilian bastard.” It’s a cold whisper, but it blares in Chauncey’s ear canals like the report of a pistol.

And that’s when Chauncey sees crème smearing his crappy vest. Suddenly, his legs seem to lose all their strength, and Chauncey collapses to the ground. As he looks up, his vision blurring, all the sound in the world seems to vanish, until all he can hear is Twinkie the Kid, all he can see is Twinkie, looking down at him with utter hatred, his mouth twisted in a scowl, his six-shooter smoking in his hand. And Twinkie the Kid speaks to him one more time: “We’ll be sure to chocolate-coat your coffin, you traitorous redneck lizard.”

And then the darkness.

Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at samuraifrog@yahoo.com

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