Dead Dogs Don't Roll Over
Written by: Alex Sandell

Chapter 10
The Incredible Human Peanut

I meet up with The Incredible Human Peanut, also known as Jenny Barnes, on the way into the slot office (the place where change-dealers go to punch in). Rumor has it that, at one time, Jenny was the most lusted after girl working in slots, before "the tragedy."

According to legend, Jenny had an uncommonly close relationship with her great aunt "Peanut." Jenny has never revealed her aunt's real name to the slot "crew," she only says she preferred "Peanut." I think the way Jenny sees it is, if "Peanut" was a good enough name for her great aunt, it damn well better be good enough for us petty change-dealers.

The way the story goes is, Jenny’s great aunt Peanut supposedly had an abnormal fear of food poisoning ever since the age of 38, when her husband had a fatal accident involving rotten egg whites. It got to the point where she wouldn't eat at a restaurant and wouldn't touch food that wasn't properly packaged. She ran a faucet over every package of food, before eating it, and, if any of the liquid got inside, she considered it improperly packaged and threw it away. She wouldn’t even feed it to her dogs.

By the time Peanut reached her mid-fifties, all she would eat was food that contained no egg-product whatsoever and was packaged inside of aluminum cans. Her daily diet consisted of things like canned peas for breakfast, soup for lunch and Spam for dinner.

By the time she was sixty, Peanut's food-phobia became so bad that she wouldn't eat anything outside of canned peanuts, hence her nickname. No one knows why Jenny picked peanuts but, some people guessed it was because the word "nuts" reminded her of her long-lost husband, Bob.

Peanut would eat half a can of peanuts for breakfast. For lunch, she would chop another half a can worth of peanuts up into little pieces and eat them by the handful. (She had convinced herself that, if you chop peanuts into small enough bits, they become a different variety of food, offering three square meals a day.) Peanut would usually pig-out at dinner, eating an entire can of honey-roasted peanuts. If people told Jenny's great aunt that there wasn't enough variety in her diet, she'd go buy an alternate brand of peanuts.

This went on for three years. Then, on Peanut’s 63rd birthday, she broke out of her egg-white inspired, taste-bud impairing shell. "I've decided to live a little," she told Jenny, her only birthday guest. (Most of Peanut’s other companions had moved on to newer friends that served better dinners.)

An enthusiastic Peanut invited a curious Jenny to look at what was cooking in her oven. Jenny wasn’t shocked to see the oven turned on. On special occasions, her great aunt would bake a few peanuts five minutes, at 400 degrees, to create the illusion of cooking an actual meal. "Keeps the oven is shape," she'd declare, toothy grin lighting up her pale, wrinkled face.

Out of all of Peanut’s uncanny eating habits, this struck Jenny as the most bizarre. More than once she had to hold back a laugh when she saw three dinky peanuts cooking in a gigantic oven fit for a Thanksgiving turkey.

Jenny looked into the oven, getting ready to stifle her inevitable desire to laugh. What Jenny ended up seeing was a miracle. Her great aunt Peanut was baking genuine food, meat even. "What is it, auntie? Whatcha cookin’?" Jenny nearly screamed, bouncing up and down like a child in a candy-store. "Why," Peanut answered, "it’s stuffed pork-chops, my dear. They were my specialty before I became obsessed with peanuts." Jenny smiled at her great aunt and her great aunt smiled back, prouder than Jenny had ever seen the old lady smile.

After a joyous two minutes of exchanging elated grins Peanut spoke, "go grab the canned yam, dear, and we can sit down to my birthday feast." Jenny skipped over to the cupboard, forgetting herself for a moment, and reached for the canned yam.

In the process of reaching, Jenny noticed the empty pork-chop package. She saw the expiration date from the corner of her eye. The pork-chops had already expired. She did her best to hide her distress while determining whether or not she should tell her great aunt this horrible news.

It wasn't until the couple sat down that Jenny decided to notify her aunt of this dire observation. "Auntie, before you eat, I thought you should know . . . those chops are one day past expiration." Peanut turned white for an instant and then quickly composed herself and proclaimed "I made these pork-chops to eat and, with God as my witness, I'm going to eat them." Jenny saw tears welling up in her great aunt's eyes. "I haven't allowed myself to live for at least 15 years, Jenny. Today it's my birthday and I want to live."

Peanut seemed to glow as she took the first bite of her wonderful chop. Ten seconds later, she was dead. Due to it happening so fast, no one could diagnose the exact cause of her death, but the tag on her toe read "Food Poisoning."

So, Peanut’s ironic pork-chop catastrophe is what caused Jenny to go from the most desired employee at "Broken Arrow" to "that weird overweight girl who talks to her change-bank." During the three months following Peanut’s death, Jenny went from a slender 110 pounds to a rather chunky 205. Her long, silky blonde hair had now been shorn into a freakish buzz-cut. Her soft skin had turned into rawhide, causing this once vibrant 24-year-old to look 45. The most sought after girl at "Broken Arrow" had completely lost it.

"Hi, Jenny" I say, trying to avoid the chocolate smudges that are staring at each other from opposite sides of her lips. Jenny giggles like a retarded teenager, in response. As I walk into the office to punch in, something is whipped at my head. "Polly want a peanut?" Jenny asks me, arm poised to fling another chocolate covered concoction my way. "One is enough," I answer, trying to keep from sounding annoyed.

I jump as I hear someone yell my name. "WAYNE!!!" I turn to see Richard, the most despised manager in the change trade, "you're LATE!!!" Although I have only seconds to come up with a really good explanation, I can't help but get hung up on the sheer stupidity of my name and how much worse it sounds when it comes from the mouth of the most nefarious man living today.

I swallow the lump of resentment that's growing inside of my throat and say "sorry, Richard, I ran out of gas and had to walk to the station. I really thought I'd be on time today." I look at Richard's furrowed brow and the snaky, triumphant grin that hides below his black mustache, as he notes my tardiness on the attendance sheet. I realize that telling him about the dead dog would have been just as viable a reason for being tardy.

Any other manager would have let my lateness slide. Richard isn't any other manager. Richard despised me from the first day I walked in the door and, ever since, he has taken it upon himself to make my life a living Hell. I hear The Incredible Human Peanut giggle as another chocolate-covered peanut rebounds off of my head. "Well," I think to myself, "at least it couldn't get any worse."

I wait for Richard to assign me a change-bank and location. There's over a hundred banks and 7 possible areas to work in. Each area has its own manager, I desperately hope Richard puts me with Beth. He hands me the key to my change-bank. "I put you with me," he hisses, "I'm going to keep a close eye on you today." I guess I got my hopes up too soon. It just got worse. I look down and see that I'm working with Richard in Nickel-Hell.

Go to: Chapter 11

1997 Alex Sandell but, if you're a book publisher and, you wanna get this puppy out, please get in touch with me, hand me a nice, big contract and, of course, a 12 pack of Grape Soda and maybe we can do lunch.

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