“And Hast Thou Slain the Jabberwock?”

“I’ve never been to Bavaria,” said the specialist. “Is it nice?”

“I wouldn’t know,” said the Bavarian, who was still staring at the barren kernel corpse that the specialist had left on the Formica as a reminder.

“Just so you know, I didn’t enjoy that task.”


“I give the snacks their feelings and I figure that people will respect them.”

“Treat them as pets?”

“Well, hopefully more than that,” said the specialist, who stroked his beard to suggest to the Bavarian that he actually had some authority when he, in fact, didn’t really know what the fuck he was talking about.

“How did you get into this racket?” asked the Bavarian.

“It started when a prominent candy company, which shall remain unnamed, hoped to revive sales of their flagging chocolate candy product. They had put out a series of commercials featuring this candy with thin pipecleaner arms and legs, and injecting a bit of personality. If you saw these commercials stoned, you’d come down bad. Because chances are that one of your pals had a bowl of these candies lying around.”

“You speak from personal experience.”

“Not really. That’s what the candy company had pointed out on the dossier.”

The Bavarian poured herself a shot of Courvoisier.

“Continue,” she said. “I’m interested.”

“It was thought to create a sentient snack. One that would make the eating experience more engaging and interactive. More importantly, this would lead to an increase in sales, with the customer believing that a snack with feelings would bring extra value to his purchase. It was suggested by the candy company that since these commercials featuring anthropomorphic snacks had managed to get their message out, the experiment should start there.”

“And why did they approach you?”

“I was a professional animator. We were just beginning to animate the world around us. You may recall that Pixar was becoming very concerned about how cartoon street theater was cutting into their profits. But then, how many people had $25 to see a movie?”

“I want to assure you,” said the Bavarian, “that this was my first time eating sentient snacks.”

“Why didn’t you listen to my instructions?”

“I was bored! All right! They banned alcohol. They banned cigarettes. They banned coffee. There’s nothing left but the snacks. And most of them are sentient.”

“Is that your Twinkie defense?”


“A well-known case from decades ago. In simpler times.”

“I had to kill something,” said the Bavarian.

But the specialist knew that snack homicide, thankfully not yet on the books, left long-standing effects. He could see the headless kernel twitching. He could see new arms stretching. The machete had taken the lopsided popcorn out for a few hours. But it would resuscitate itself as often as necessary before settling into the intestinal tract of an easily duped consumer.

He Went Galumphing Back

The specialist’s chest heaved waves of homicidal catharsis. And while this troubled him, he nevertheless cleansed himself of that dreaded atonal compunction scaling its way across four vertical ventricles. His musical heart had been categorized by the visceral taxonomists like so: (1) e.g., the part inside that cried for data and hard examples but could not appreciate the warm aroma of a woman or a child’s laughter; (2) g.b., a bona-fide hard drive, an ambition that was capacious in 1995 in danger of being replaced by the cutting-edge t.b.; (3) b.d., that lascivious impulse calling the specialist to impulses that could not be sufficiently described as vanilla; and (4) d.f., a ravenous adventuresome spirit with a stapled sombrero. These heavy boxes dealt with the snack massacre like so: e.g. contemplated the ethics; g.b. casually suggested more data, with the machete applied to peanuts, Kit-Kats, twiglets, and other snack-centric decapitations that involved shrieks; b.d. wondered if it was possible to rape a half-popped popcorn and derive an atavistic pleasure that would surely be censured by the appropriate authorities (this pressing development caused e.g. to work double time on the ethics); and d.f. simply demanded this stiff trio to stop aligning itself with this intellectual wankery. “For fuck’s sake,” said d.f., “the deed is done. Let’s party. Pour me a drink. I’m pretty sure we can keep b.d.’s disturbing vagaries in check. And I’m pretty sure that I’ll stop using stupid fucking ten-cent words like ‘vagaries’ if you ply me with enough cordials.” So the specialist’s heart decided, and it was not easy with all this chatter going on, that the specialist needed to run to the bar, get as inebriated as possible, avoid any eleventh-hour rolls in the hay, and return to the scene of the crime, sprinting if necessary so that the specialist could fit this activity inside ninety minutes. At the other end, he might repine his own savage instincts with that of the sad Bavarian woman who was probably not as dissolute as b.d. (that pesky quasi-id, but essential) had conjectured.

He Left It Dead, and With Its Head

But why pick on Bavaria? It had done nothing wrong, but it had produced a brutal dictator, an interesting film director who had killed himself at 37, and a mysterious teenage boy with a letter. Still, that’s only three people. Bavaria has offered millions of individuals over the years, many of them charming and sanguine. Dutiful pillars of the community. Decent neighbors. Men who might buy a stranger a drink if the stranger tells a good story. Is it fair for us to dwell on the lonely fact? These kernels took time to bloom, and the specialist saw the metaphor contained within the snack massacre. But the specialist could not intervene. He’d seen her live out her dead memories by chomping her way through the bowl’s sentient contents, the telltale bicuspid bite mark indented into the sad blue comforter. She was too taken with murder and the blood she’d leave for the maid. She’d never know all the details pertaining to the Bavaria question until she understand that these kernels, once so bright and yellow and promising, were corpses instead of seeds. Half-popped from the pan, and half-articulate in their screams, they would not grow back. She left the kitchen and she left the specialist to clean up the mess. He unsheathed his machete, which glinted against the flickering fluorescent tube. The half-popped corn, crawling helplessly like a legless Brooklyn roach, pleaded with the specialist. But rules were rules. The machete cracked against the kernel’s head. The specialist would clean up everything else, but would leave it dead. She had to feel something.