Chapter 2

Things were looking ugly at the Crunch & Barley Breakfast Factory as Lyle LaFarge attempted to slip into his flavor design laboratory quietly and unnoticed. Instead, he slipped quietly and accidentally into the Board of Directors who were having a heated discussion in the corridor.

“Our stockholders are cranky!” screamed Mrs. Pink, ferociously squeezing a jelly-filled donut which gushed jelly at Lyle LaFarge’s name badge.

“We’re losing customers to Major Oats and that ‘Barnyard Morning Mix,’” moaned Mr. Brown, glumly splashing his coffee on the hapless chemist.

Mr. Green nodded savagely. “Everyone loves ‘Barnyard Morning.’ Especially the country fig flavor.” He gave his fist a furious shake, flinging bits of half-eaten cruller at LaFarge’s head.

“No,” said Mrs. Pink. “We’re not losing customers. In fact, sales are skyrocketing since we hired LaFarge, but we might lose customers if we don’t start selling a healthy cereal, like Major Oats!”

“You seem angry,” said LaFarge as he tried to squeeze by, shielding himself with his briefcase.

“Of course we’re angry!” shouted Mrs. Pink. “We’re the Board of Directors! It’s our job to be angry when the company might be on the verge of bankruptcy!”

LaFarge cleared his throat nervously. “According to the profits chart,” he said, peeking over Mr. Green’s shoulder, “the company is doing very well.”

“But what if we’re not?” screeched Mr. Green. “What if it doesn’t keep up? What if the public only wants healthy food?”

“Like Barnyard Morning,” added Mr. Brown.

LaFarge tried to sound reassuring. “All the tasters loved our new Cinnamon Rogers,” he said. “We can hardly make enough of it!”

Mrs. Pink scowled. “Kids’ stuff!” she said with a huff. “We can’t keep Crunch & Barley alive on kids’ stuff!”

“What Crunch & Barley needs,” snarled Mr. Green, “is something healthy!”

“Something grown-up,” added Mrs. Pink.

“Something tasty,” mumbled Mr. Brown.

“LAFAR-R-R-R-R-R-RGE!” bellowed a deep and scratchy voice from around the corner.

Lyle LaFarge flinched at the sound of that bellow. His boss’s bellow. His boss, the man at the helm of Crunch & Barley, made him nervous, but at the moment anything seemed preferable to another round of donuts. Nodding briskly at the Board of Directors, LaFarge ducked around the corner.

It’s hard to say exactly what it was about Mr. Arg that made LaFarge nervous. Certainly it had to do with the way the man’s knee-high leather boots pounded the floor as he stomped about the factory. Or maybe the scruffy straw-yellow hair running into scruffier straw-yellow whiskers which had possibly never seen a comb. It wasn’t the gold tooth; that didn’t bother LaFarge. But there was something about his boss’s right eye, when it fixed on him in an inquisitive glare, that made him feel like a bug on a pin.

“Good morning, sir,” said LaFarge, fiddling with the loose handle on the water cooler so he could look down instead of at Mr. Arg.

Mr. Arg stuck his hand into his coat pocket and jingled some coins.
“Are you ready for this LaFar-r-r-r-ge?” he asked. “Last month it was a plastic spyglass…but guess what we’re puttin’ in this month? A game in every box of Jolly Rogers and Cinnamon Rogers…a game I made up meself! It won’t just be the small fry wantin’ that, will it?” Mr. Arg gave a throaty chuckle, then raised an eyebrow at LaFarge who, in order to show good manners, nodded dumbly.

“Sir,” began LaFarge nervously, “the Board of Directors feels that we need to introduce something new…something that adults will like.”

Mr. Arg’s right eye seemed to gleam with raw intensity. LaFarge winced.

“Let’s take a walk, LaFarge,” said Mr. Arg, doing nothing more than pointing a pen at LaFarge’s belly, but as LaFarge walked through a doorway into the cavernous production room he had a sinking sense that he was walking the plank at dagger-point.

Mr. Arg motioned LaFarge onto a metal platform, with steps leading down to the cereal packaging plant. Below them equipment hummed and workers scuttled here and there checking gauges and flipping switches.

“And what,” began Mr. Arg in a voice too chillingly polite for LaFarge’s comfort, “is wrong, if I may be so nosy, with Jolly Rogers?”

“No offense sir,” replied LaFarge warily, “but the Board feels that adults prefer healthful cereals, such as Barnyard Morning.”

“Goose food!” spat Mr. Arg. “Horse vittles! And who says Jolly Rogers ain’t healthful? It’s even got that vittleman…er…vitterman…er, what’s that stuff they got in limes?”

“Vitamin C, sir,” said LaFarge.

“Rightio!” crowed Mr. Arg. “Viterman Sea! Yer crew won’t be gettin’ scurvy on Jolly Rogers!”

“Perhaps not, sir,” said LaFarge shuddering slightly, “but perhaps you should talk to the Board yourself.”

“Pantywaists and floozies!” shouted Mr. Arg. “Got buttercups for brains, everyone of ’em! If it weren’t fer that law what says I gotta have ’em, they’d all be swimmin with the sharks! Grown-up cereal…bah! Last year when they handed me this ship Jolly Rogers was good enough…so it’s good enough now! Anyways me men thinks your new Jolly Rogers are better than their granny’s Sunday supper.”

“Your men Mr. Arg?” asked LaFarge.

Mr. Arg’s right eye narrowed, and glared all the more fiercely. “Don’t be askin’ me about me men LaFarge.” He began to mutter to himself. “Talk to the Board…I’ll talk to the Board…pantywaists and buttercups…”

Mr. Arg turned, gave his coins a decisive shake, and promptly split a hole in his coat pocket. A jackpot of coins and other objects clattered across the metal catwalk in all directions.

“Fer the love of Neptune!” cried Mr. Arg. “That’s the second time this week me pockets have split!”

LaFarge scrambled to collect the bouncing money and return it to his fuming boss.

“Gots to get me a new jacket…and gots to make me special tunnel…the men’ll be gettin’ restless,” muttered Mr. Arg as he shoveled the treasure into another pocket.

“I beg your pardon sir?” said LaFarge, handing over the last handful of coins.

Mr. Arg narrowed his gaze to a withering glare. “Nothin’ LaFarge. I didn’t say nothin’.”

Trackback URL

No Comments on "Chapter 2"

You must be logged in to post a comment.