Chapter 25

Things were really messy at the Crunch & Barley Breakfast Factory. In Lyle LaFarge’s flavor lab a scrawny man stirred the contents of a beaker with sloppy enthusiasm.

“Um…Mr. Twicky,” said LaFarge wiping orange batter from his labcoat, “there’ll be more for us to taste if you can keep it in the beaker.”

“Won’t taste right if it ain’t mixed right,” replied Twicky. He wiped a claw-like finger across a blob of batter on his name badge which said, “Mr. Twicky–Flavor Lab,” stuck it in his mouth, and licked his lips appreciatively. “Never thought about that afore.”

“Thought about what?” asked LaFarge.

“Injun squash in Pappy’s hardtack,” replied Twicky. “Who thunk it up?”

“We’re not quite sure who put squash in the cereal dough,” answered LaFarge.

“Good thinkin’,” continued Twicky, “but lousy batter–cain’t make decent hardtack outa’ gruel. Lucky thing ya’ shanghaied me.”


That familiar voice from the hallway snapped LaFarge’s attention away from Twicky and the batter-splattered lab.
“Mr. Arg,” said LaFarge, nodding to his boss.

Mr. Arg looked like he knew a secret. “So,” he said with a nudge and a wink, “how’s me new Crunch & Barley spesh-ee-ality shaping up?”

“Oh,” replied LaFarge, “Squashy-Tack. We think we’ll have it ready for distribution in a week or two.”

“And will them fancy grown-ups like it?”

LaFarge felt an unusual surge of confidence. “Squashy-tack fuses old-fashioned sustenance with a modern flavor twist–I, for one, anticipate strong sales.”

“Strong sales,” repeated Mr. Arg with a sly smile. “Oughta keep the Board of Dee-rectors outa my hair.”

“Have you met the new Board yet sir?” asked LaFarge.

Mr. Arg blew through his lips like a horse and shook his head. “No tellin’ what kinda porridge-suckers and tea-sippers the stockholders will have picked out,” he said. “But I got me ace in the hole. That rule what says I gets to pick one of ‘em out meself. Someone who thinks a little like me, maybe.”

“That’s terrific sir,” said LaFarge, wondering if it was, in fact, at all terrific. “So who did you pick?”

“That’s fer me ta’ know LaFar-r-r-ge,” replied his boss. “Cain’t discuss it right now. Gots ta’ git home and comb me whiskers…Going to a fancy-britches dinner at Chez Crispette.”

Twicky stopped stirring and cackled. “The cap’n’s dallying with ladies, eh? Who’s the muffet?”

Arg growled through a tightlipped smile. “That,” he said, “is fer me ta’ know too.”


At breakfast the next morning, Skipper got the spyglass, and Lynette got the Flippin’ Eights. Tilly got a glimpse of the hot United Delivery guy who brought an urgent letter to the kitchen door.

But it was Fay LaFarge who got the urgent letter. An opportunity. An invitation. A position as the “kid consultant” on the Crunch & Barley Breakfast Factory Board of Directors. Fay shoveled a large spoonful of Cinnamon Rogers into her mouth, and considered. Maybe it was time to stop looking out only for herself. She’d just saved her family from being shish-kebabed after all. Maybe now she could look out for everyone who ever ate Jolly Rogers cereal.

“Yep,” she said. “I’ll take it.”


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