THE FINANCIAL INSTITUTION
(Don’t take Candy from Strangers)
Vasilika Vanya Marinkovic
“This is delicious” Mabel said to her husband Norman.
“Yes, Mabel, it most certainly is. I don’t think I’ve had one of these candies since 1975.”
The old couple was on the Santa Monica Pier where a street fair was taking place. The free candy was some banking institutions gimmick in bringing in potential customers. The Financial Institution had three tents set up alongside their display of brochures and tables of candy. Inside the largest tent a couple men in white and a squat grim faced woman were handling candy from a large plastic vat.
“Fill it up. I’ve got some very wealthy potentials looking for more candy.”
The taller man in white reached for a large vat of candy that was labelled in big font, 1975 Sweets Sugar Brand Candy, R, D and C color #4, 2 & 5. Back outside, Mabel continued to chew on the hard yet chewy delights.
“Sir, thank you so much for the free candies” said Norman to the staunch man that stood by.
“Call me Pennyworth Snowbaker or just call me Snow.” He wore a white business suit, almost wreaked of a wedding. It was quite the sunny day as well. Snowbaker was up there in years, just like Norm and Mabel.
“Oh sure, Snow!” said Norman. “That sounds nice and casual. Well, what’s with the free candy? I know you’re with a financial institution.”
“We are The Financial Institute” said Snowbaker jovially.
“Well, that’s a simple name” retorted Mabel gently, “Perhaps you can liven it up with something on the end of it, like the financial Institute fun n’ funds.” She laughed.
“Yes, Ma’am, we are working on that” said Snowbaker.
“Right-O,” said Norman. So, what’s with all this free candy? Ha! Are you giving money away too?”
“Just about Norman, just about.”
“Norm” said Mabel, mouth full of candy. “Tell the nice man thank you, but we already have all our investments placed in wise portfolios, stocks and our retirement of course.”
“Now, now” chided Mr. Snowbaker. “We merely want your opinions and a survey done. It’ll be okay, only take five minutes in that nice air conditioned van over there.”
The old couple was sweating and Mabel looked drawn and tired. “Go ahead. Get in” Snowbaker urged.
“Oh Norm” said Mabel. “I could use some cool air.”
“That’s fine, as long as they’ve got more of that candy.” Norman was definitely hooked on the stuff.
Thus, the old couple proceeded to get into the van, as Snowbaker snapped his fingers and one of the other men in white business suits headed up the rear with a big bowl of the candy.
On another corner of the Financial Institutions’ kiosk, stood a young couple who were grazing at yet another damnable candy bowl. The husband, one Mr. Glenn Wilson stared at his wife pointedly, her triple size belly.
“Careful, Breanne, you’re going to teach our fourth child to love sweets.”
“Oh, you behave yourself” scolded Breanne Wilson. But she was giggling and her husband’s remark was all in good stride.
“That’s right. Your investments will pay off” said the squat woman to her wealthy potentials on the pier, as they munched on the interesting candy. Their garments were obviously extremely expensive. Further, Breanne’s mother was in tow and held a handbag that was up there in the range of $6,000.
“You see” said Snowbaker who suddenly joined the small group, looking lustily at the mother’s handbag. “You two are young and have a growing family. You want to diversify your portfolio, become more aggressive in your investments and have a retirement fund while also growing college funds for your three children and fourth on the way.”
“He’s right honey” said Breanne, rubbing her belly.
The white van with the old couple drove away in quite the hurry. Inside, the old couple appeared to be strangely sluggish. Regardless, they were being prodded into signing paperwork. One of the men in white sat right in between them, dictating exactly where to sign. The van had the logo on it, plus a bit more, “The Financial Institute Funny Farm.”
Back at the pier, the young couple and Breanne’s mother were being gently coerced.
“But Breanne” argued Glenn Wilson. “Our bank is doing a good job for us and that banker, what’s his name-Edward, is going to help get those other things started.”
“Tell you what” said Snowbaker. “There is no minimum required to get started with us. And you’ll be helping to shape our format and ensure we’re the best banking institution in the world.”
“Huh? How do we do that?” asked Glenn Wilson.
“You’ll be one of the founders, helping to ensure our policy is exact and unfaltering. Come this way” he pointed at the van. It’ll just take five minutes” assured Snowbaker. “Give us your opinions on banking experiences you’ve had-
“But honey” put in Breanne. “I need to eat and sit down.” She groped at her belly.
“Oh my” urged the mother, yes, we need to get her seated right away.”
“No problem” Mr. Snowbaker waved over another white van with the same strange logo. “There’s air conditioning in there, water, more candy and the forms for you to sign-I mean the surveys where you can give opinions and feedback to us. Sound like a deal! Let’s go!”
“You got me” said Breanne, as her husband helped her into the van, then her mother. “Thanks. I definitely need to sit down in some air conditioning. “But I think I’ll need something more than candy to sustain me.”
“Not to worry” said Snowbaker, “We will get you some more sustaining refreshments soon enough.”
The Financial Institution’s set up was interesting, what with being a series of tents-like they had needed to build them in a damn hurry for some strange reason. Inside, cheap gold and copper cheap metal had been laid on to the overdone Grecian looking columns on the buildings sides. The top portion looked like a ridiculously overdone courthouse wannabe.
Inside, Norm’s face was full of rage, as he stared incredulously from Mae in her wheelchair to his own. And to make matters all the worse, he felt completely drugged, a feeling he hadn’t experienced since the 1960’s. In his hands, he held some crumpled paperwork, trying desperately to make any kind of sense of it.
“What do you mean, we made you guys our beneficiaries? What the hell is going on here?” he demanded of Snowbaker, who stood in front of the old couple along with three men in white business suits.
“Who the hell are these guys?” he pointed to the men in white, finger beginning to shake. Norm didn’t know if it was fear or Parkinson’s.
“Oh Norm, don’t be stressed out” put in Mabel. “They’re feeding us.”
“I don’t care about food!” protested Norm. “I’m still full of that God damned candy!”
The old couple was wheeled to a cafeteria, where a few dozen people of varying ages and backgrounds all congregated towards their tables and chairs to go along with. Wait staff, several men and women in white smocks began to make the rounds with steaming soups, pasta and what looked like Chicken Primavera.
“No!” continued Norman, on a mission. “We did not agree to this!” And then he attempted to rise out of his chair. Two men in white helped him settle back into his chair.
“What the hell did you give us!?”
“Hey! Hey, what is going on here?” yelled Glen Wilson. His face was flustered and red and his eyes threatened to unleash tears. Obviously and apparently, all the financial institution’s abductees had had their cell phones confiscated.
Suddenly, three little kids clustered toward their parents, the Wilsons. Two were girls, with the eldest at age eleven. The middle girl was perhaps seven and the youngest a boy, was merely five years old.
“Mommy, Daddy!” yelled the little boy. “Are we going to live here now?”
“They picked us up from school” said the oldest girl, appearing somewhat alarmed.
“They gave us candy!” yelled the little boy, excitedly. And he appeared to be on Ritalin.
“You people can’t do this!” shouted Glenn Wilson, as he rose out of his wheelchair, very sluggishly. Two men in white approached, but the guy continued on in his righteous litany.
“Are you crazy? We are drugged. This is illegal” yelled Glenn Wilson, as he motioned for his children to come to him and his wife. This couple were sitting in wheelchairs too and evidently quite a bit drugged.
“You’re holding us here against our will and have kidnapped our children!”
“They’re not kidnapped, since they are here with you” informed a financial orderly, holding a tray of yucky looking tomato soups, curdling and everything.
“This is illegal!” yelled Mr. Wilson once again.
“Incorrect” Snowbaker took center stage between the mille of tables, as more banking customers/patients were being served.
“You’ve relinquished all your worldly possessions to us and made us the benefactor of all your monies and investments.”
“We did no such thing!” yelled Mr. Wilson, as Mae screamed seeing her husband being injected by a needle from a man in white.
Snowbaker now aimed his glare at Norman. “And your families have all been informed about your sudden mental decline and onset of irreconcilable psychosis.”
Many people screamed as suddenly the drugged up Mr. Wilson lunged at Snowbaker. Duly, three men in white quickly restrained and subdued him down to the ground, as his children shrieked and cried with Mae grabbing her belly in despair and little boy ran into her arms crying.
“Oh!” shrieked a woman who apparently was commencing a one woman food fight army. “You’ll get used to it here! Come on you little runts” she encouraged the Wilson’s children over to where she was carelessly tossing food at any random table. The little Wilson boy and youngest daughter actually followed the crazed woman’s directions and began experimentally picking up food items and tossing them about.
“Children!” cried Breanne. “Get away from those tables. “Don’t listen to these crazy people.”
Many a banking customer/patient tried catching the bits with their mouths, while others yelled in disapproval of the oncoming muck of flying food. The deranged woman poured a large pot of tomato soup all over the floor.
“Kids always enjoy food fights. Other banking customers/patients have gotten their kids into it as well!” encouraged the old timer with the institution. And suddenly this woman was hit with hot split pea soup and screamed loudly. The thrower was a boy about thirteen. The eldest Wilson girl suddenly looked intrigued. She joined in the strange merriment lamely throwing lettuce all about.
“Kids do not play with them. This is a stupid food fight and we have been abducted illegally!” snapped Breanne.
More food was flung all about and many a banking customer/patient were now running around mindlessly growling, drooling, yelling and grabbing at food and tossing it. A big guy knocked a food table over, loud crash and smash of glasses and serving bowls, food and muck all over the floor. A woman lost no time slipping into the mess. She screamed loudly and obnoxiously.
“Help!” shouted Mabel, coming out of her haze a bit, yet she could not stand up. Mae cried as she saw that her husband just lay on the floor drooling in a haze. Those stupid men in white suits hadn’t even bothered to pick him up and put him back in his wheelchair.
“See!” bellowed Snowbaker. “You’ll all fit right in!” and the man expertly ducked shrapnel from the now raucous food fight. The banking inhabitants/patients were apparently lopsided once they’d been in the institution long enough. Yes indeed, the Funny Farm Financial Institution.
“Thank you for doing business with us!” And with that, Snowbaker got hit in the face with a coconut crème pie.
“See Norm” complained Mabel, who suddenly wore red sauce all over her blouse. “I told you not to take candy from strangers.”
“What?” barked Norm. “You took it first!”
“No, you saw the candy and guided us over!” countered Mae.
“Oh, what the hell does it matter anyway” said Norm, feeling defeated. “Here take this honey” and he landed his wife with a chocolate pie across her face.