Among the Nuts is another one of my favorite stories in the Pork Pony canon. I realize Kornblatt will probably hate me for writing this, but he's among the most comedically-gifted people I know. This is his telling of a nut salesman's story. (CL)
I am a nut salesman and, as such, I know several things. For example, I know that Macadamias, in season, are at once the most over-looked and potent of all nuts. I also suspect, like many of my colleagues, that almonds have been causing obesity ever since the FDA announced to America's over-weight population that they contained oils essential for cutting cholesterol. And, of course, I know that my wife, Glenda, is cheating on me with rival nut salesman, Planters' Peanuts New York representative, Jack Fortier.
That I have figured out this betrayal is nothing, when you realize that I have been around peanuts and cashews my entire life. To some, I might seem like some over-developed Sherlock Holmes, but really I am just a man. Furthermore, I have long known of my wife's distaste for Pistachios. So, when returning home early yesterday with an exciting new job opportunity to share with Glenda, I began to suspect something was afoot when I saw the trail of red shells leading into our master bedroom. Following the trail, I discovered my wife, lying naked among rumpled sheets, the window conspicuously open, pistachio shells everywhere.
Knowing that no normal man would be sloppy enough or cruel enough to leave such an obvious trail of clues, I instantly suspected arch nemesis, Fortier. He has always been jealous of my nuts. That he was also a chubby chaser was well known. He had made it no secret in our frequent dozens sessions that he coveted my wife. "Your wife's so fat," he once razzed me, a glint in his eye, "you have to slap her ass and ride in the waves."
Not funny, but telling.
I should have decked him then and there, but a man is innocent until proven guilty, even Fortier. However, the clues were piling up. Now that I had the trail of nuts, the naked wife and the open window, I felt justified in going over to Planters Peanuts headquarters and beating Fortier's head in with some sort of blunt instrument. This is exactly what I set out to do.
Mounting my Peanut cycle, my son's tee-ball bat tucked in my belt, I motored my way to the ugly, downtown building; the giant peanut statue out front glaring at my approach from behind debonair top hat and monocle. Once there, I rode my bike through the crammed carousel doors and demanded to see Fortier.
Planter's Peanut security tried to stop me, but they were no match for my righteous vengeance. I swung my son's tee-ball bat wildly, keeping them at bay. Racing my bike to the elevator, I emerged at office level. The secretaries screamed upon seeing my awesome form. But Fortier's office was empty. After checking the men's room, I realized there was only one place he could hide. He was in the factory... among the nuts.
Riding my Peanut cycle down the stairs, trying to bite my tongue and send myself into a salty, beserker rage, I made my way to the dark factory floor. Nuts of all kinds lay in mountainous piles, as machines shelled and salted them. The underpaid workers acknowledged my foreboding presence with little more than stares of wonder. For no reason whatsoever, sparks seemed to fly throughout the factory, giving the whole room an ominous feel.
Riding slowly around the massive floor, I circled the mounds of nuts, poking my son's tee-ball bat viciously into each one. And then it hit me; Fortier would only want to taunt me further. So be it, we would end this by the pistachios.
I rode around to the pile of already processed pistachios and dismounted my bike. Approaching the mound, I imagined Fortier was hiding within. "Come out of there, Fortier! Face me like a man!"
But he did not respond. Poking harshly into the giant mound, my son's tee ball bat struck flesh. But there was no cry, no attempt to move. Reaching in a vengeful hand, I grabbed the hidden person and withdrew my game. It was him! Fortier! Only, he wasn't conscious. There was a giant knot on his head, a bit of blood. Could this be some elaborate ruse?
And then, suddenly, I felt a giant crack against my peanut cycle helmet. I went down, landing next to Fortier. The force of the second blow was enough to render me immobile, cracking my helmet. Lying face up in the pistachios, I tried to regain my focus.
Eventually, I realized I was staring into the face of Clarence La Rue; next to Fortier, my greatest rival - East Coast regional salesman for Finast Nuts. His company had been farming inferior nuts for years and selling them at low, low prices to a public who didn't realize that quality was king in this industry. Among nut-selling circles, it was with contempt when we joked that, with Finast, you were likely to find an odd cashew, hiding among a bag of Almonds.
One must imagine that suffering years of such snubbing would be enough to drive some men insane. It was with a singular anger that La Rue walked over to my peanut cycle and smashed it repeatedly with what might have been his son's hockey stick. Though dented, the trusty bike held firm against his maniacal onslaught. Growing tired, La Rue turned to me.
"Peterson," he snarled. "So nice of you to join us. Not that you had a choice, of course. I lured you here, didn't I? Made you think it was Fortier who seduced your wife. But it was me, Peterson. It was me! Clarence La Rue; your greatest foe! You didn't think I was going to let you field that offer from General Mills, did you? One of the greatest companies in the world is opening a nut division and they wanted YOU! Ha! You, who rides around in a cycle shaped like a peanut, besmirching the greatest nut salesman of our times!"
"I don't get it, Clarence." I said, "why here? Why not have killed me when you broke into my home and screwed my wife?"
"Too obvious, Peterson. Amateurish. That way, I would be a suspect. But here, I will have fooled the cops into thinking that you and Fortier have killed each other over a domestic dispute, leaving me the clear choice to begin General Mill's reign over the nut eating world."
With that, La Rue whipped out a pistol and attached his silencer. I could see no means of escape. It looked like this was the end of Francis Peterson.
"Don't worry," La Rue said, pointing the barrel of the gun directly at my temple, "I'll console your wife."
When I closed my eyes, I heard a loud, mechanical click. Looking up, not dead, I saw that Fortier had regained consciousness and was pointing a large, Mr. Peanut remote control at the wall behind La Rue.
"Get down!" Fortier shouted. And as he did, the heavens opened. As La Rue looked toward the factory ceiling in horror, he had only the time to scream as a pile of walnuts, twice as large as the pile we were thrown against, thundered down on top of him, burying him fatally beneath the stale, salted shells. Fortier and I used our arms to protect each other from the stray, stinging nuts.
"Quick work, Fortier," I said, opening one of the pistachios and eating it as Planters Peanut security arrived in mass, just in time to miss the party.
"Thanks," he said. "So, General Mills, huh?"
"Yeah, well, I thought about it. But... You ever think about a partnership?"
"Keep talking, Peterson. Keep talking."