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Brenda's Discovery

Brenda heaved into view. She was a bit out of bigger gal, so when she arrived in front of Harvey, she had to bend over on her knees to catch her breath a little. Harvey stood there asking, "What, what? What happened, Brenda?"

Brenda kept putting one index finger in the air and heaving.

"One of the kids," she said, gulping air. "One of the kids ran into the chocolate forest."

"Fuckstick," said Harvey. This never. Ever. Ended well. The forest -- designed to look inviting enough from the ride -- was nevertheless a real headache in these kinds of situations. It was a constant source of drama for the Experience Chocolate History team.

First, the kids got lost in the (rather extensive) set. Then they discovered that it was infested with all of the kinds of animals that little kids tend to be afraid of (and that, speaking honestly, Harvey wasn't too big a fan of either). In an attempt to avoid these little terrors -- rats, millipedes, roaches, sometimes a raccoon or a badger, and so on -- the kids would freak out and run in circles till they almost invariably impaled a lesser appendage on one of the sharp ends, nails, or bottle shards left behind by the younger idiots on the Experience Chocolate History team.

"Double fuckstick," said Brenda. The kid was already having a meltdown in the cart, so he's probably way deep in there already.

"And you need me to go in," said Harvey. He of course knew that he would have to go into the forest. Brenda was too afraid of everything in there. She had soft, sweet eyes. Harvey knew that she wouldn't be able to take it here for too much longer. Maybe Brenda had a nice family back home in town, with a couple of kids and a nice guy to cook dinner for her half the time (she'd cook the other half). And Harvey wanted to recognize this humanity in her, this backstory, this imagined domestic bliss that nourished Brenda and brought her a degree of peace each evening after taking off her own Chocolate Crap Hat.

But Harvey, in this moment, could only (and he knew this was a personal failing, he did) see the part of Brenda's purpose on earth that related to her apparent desire to make all of the parts of work that he -- Harvey -- hated, all the worse.

"Brenda, I hate the millipedes just as much as you do," Harvey said, knowing already that it was a losing argument and that he was going int the chocolate forest to look for little Bobby or Tommy or whoever. So Harvey sighed and decided it was time to get things over with.

He was 27 years old and going bald. His girlfriend Portia lived across town. Her father was the town undertaker, known for offering discount rates to guys who'd worked at Choco-World for ten or more years.

"You won't have to make it that long," she ad told Harvey one night at Tuna Del Mar, the fast-seafood place they went to dinner once every week. "I bet dad would give you a discount even if you don't make it the ten years."

Harvey was touched.

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