The Children Don’t Want Snacks

By Casey Hall

Casey Hall is secretly 71 corn dogs in a trench coat pretending to be a
person. And every day he puts on that trench coat and goes to work, having
one long conversation about what cookies represent to the children.

The numbers were down.

The guys at the company talked to the men in the stores and they couldn’t explain it. Children walked out of the jungle and into their convenience marts all day long. The men in the stores watched, hushed, as if observing rare birds. The children looked over the pea snacks, the corn bits, the salt triangles. And then the children moved on. The men at the stores swallow hard knots of regret as they inform the guys at the company.

“The children don’t care.”

The guys at the company wring sweat out of their collars as they call the guys above them, and the guys above them.

The guy at the top, with no one left to call, calls Amado.

Amado pulls up in a Cadillac, air conditioner roaring, not a hair out of place.

In the elevator, a young secretary eyes Amado’s snakeskin boots. He tells her he made them himself, from a python he caught in the jungles. The secretary is both afraid of and attracted to Amado.

In the board room Amado doesn’t bother with pleasantries, and it’s just as well since the guy at the top has no time to waste.

Amado opens his briefcase, filled with stacks of silvery snack bags. He throws a fistful of Muncher across the table.

“What are these,” he sneers, “but pea shaped orbs made of peas.”

The guy at the top stress chews on his cigar, winding his fingers around an imaginary crank to signify, get on with it.

“The children sweat and stagger through the jungles all day, when they snack, they do not want to be reminded of the existence of peas. What do the children want when coming out of the jungles? What is that hope in their eyes?”

The guy at the top leans forward, tenting his fingers into a temple of curiosity.

“Freedom. And power. That is what all children want.”

Amado unrolls of a mockup of a new silvery bag of Muncher, featuring a brave Superman type, riding a rocket ship, his cape flutters in the wind of space.

“This terrible pea snack is not Muncher, this is Muncher,” Amado says as he points to a big green M emblazoned on the superhero’s chest.

“Muncher is the hero of the children. He is the enemy of the peas. He is at war with these orbs, for these orbs invaded his home planet and pushed around women, these peas spat on dogs!”

Several board members spit out their water in rage, pounding their fists on the jungle wood conference table.

“The children will see Muncher, Muncher Man, Mr. Muncher, they will see this and they will think, yes freedom, yes power! The children will buy the orbs and crush them in their tiny powerful jaws, as Muncher would. They will defend galaxies. They will save those women, they will clean those dogs.”

The board members erupt into furious applause.

“Wait!” Amado levels a palm and drags it left to right, pulling a curtain on the applause as the board members fall silent.

Amado throws a fistful of Corn Bits on the table.

“Children do not want corn! They want authority! They want violence!”

And now Amado produces a poster of a cowboy corncob, the ideal of a Clint Eastwood anti-hero. Tall hat, fine boots, and a loaded gun strapped to his cartoon hip.

“The children will not see corn, a plant that rises above their heads, that tortures them with silken floss trapped between their teeth! The children will see American exceptionalism! They will take this snack in their tiny not yet worn hands and feel the grit and opportunity of a man determined. They will ride fast horses with these Corn Bits, they will catch barehanded snakes off of cinematic bluffs, they will turn away the undertaker for one more day, they will shine up shining sheriff badges with rough burlap. The children will sit on fell logs in the jungle, extending their thumbs and pointer fingers and imagining that they possess both the temerity and the firepower to kill a man, to strike him dead at a high noon showdown. Pew pew, they say, their lips sputtering flecks of Corn Bits, their deputy in imagination, their fuel for this beautiful daydream.”

The board members are wiping tears from their eyes. One reaches for a bag of Corn Bits to dry his eyes. He doesn’t even realize he’s eating them by the fistful, his smile spreading out cartoonishly.

The guy at the top stands and offers Amado his eldest daughter, and Amado humbly accepts.

New packages are made immediately, they arrive in stores by the end of the week. And then children walk out of the jungles, their shorts pockets heavy with small change. They lift up bags of Muncher, bags of Corn Bits, they hold them aloft, reverently. Finally, hope. Finally, permission to hope.

The men in the stores breathe a sigh of relief.