A flash of light takes John and I from the executive offices of the Morris Phillips Tower in Midtown Manhattan to the streets of his old South Bronx neighborhood. As we pass by his old elementary school on Washington Avenue, the husky handsome golden brown skinned man cracks a smile. Looking around at all the rundown buildings and housing projects on the street, I’m curious to find out how he found happiness in all this urban blight.
“You look happy.” I say catching John’s friendly brown eyes.
“Just thinking about back in the day when I was a kid.” John replies.
“I thought you hated school-”
“I didn’t mind afterschool.” John continues. “Especially Fridays. Back then Ma would get us a slice of pizza and a soda and I’d be able to start my weekend-”
That’s probably how he found love with his favorite comfort food. “At that shop across the street?” I inquire looking over at the series of stores below the rundown buildings across the street.
“Yeah, I bought many a slice there back in the day.”
I wonder if he’d be eager to participate in his old childhood routine with me for old times’ sake. “How about we get one now?”
“What do you want on your slice?”
“I’m feeling like pepperoni today.”
John and I dart across the street and down the block. Once we get across the street we step into a pizza shop that’s crowded with junior high school kids. As John and I approach the counter the kids are in awe at the sight of us dressed in our tailored business clothes. When the pizza chef catches our eyes he’s taken aback by John’s presence as he places our order.
“Two pepperoni slices.” John requests.
“Two minutes boss.” The chef replies.
On hearing the reply John rushes out of the store. “John, aren’t you going to wait for your slice?” I ask following him out onto the sidewalk.
John gives me a playful smile before answering my question. “Don’t you want to get a soda to go with your slice?”
“Er…they have sodas in the pizza shop-”
“That’s not how Mom used to do it back when I was a kid.”
Well, I wouldn’t want to break the family tradition. John leads me from the pizza shop a few steps down the block and into the grocery store on the corner. As we walk towards the refrigerated cases in the back, I’m surprised at how limited the selection is on the shelves. There’s more beer and junk food here than actual groceries. “This definitely isn’t the Morris Market.”
“Yeah, people here don’t get half the shopping options we have downtown.”
“Is that why you’re working so hard to diversify the selection of products in our retail spaces here?”
“Yeah. I want the people here to have the healthy eating options we have at those downtown delis.” John says opening up the sliding refrigerator case. “Diet Coke?”
“Nah, I think I’ll have a regular.”
“I thought you were watching your weight-”
Thanks to my Katian physiology I can eat virtually anything and still keep my sexy hourglass figure. But since he’s comfortable enough to take the time to share one of his childhood pastimes with me I can share one of my present day favorite comfort foods with him. “We have a busy schedule to get back to. And I’m gonna need the caffeine to keep up with you.”
John takes a regular coke off the shelf for me and a Sprite for himself. As we turn around and look at the selection of snacks on the shelf I notice a product that’s usually not sold in stores like this. “One of these things just doesn’t belong here...” I sing taking the box of Nabiskit Marshmallow cookies off the shelf.
“…One of these things just isn’t the same.” John sings back taking the box from me. “I thought these were Morris Market exclusive.”
“I thought they were too.” I reply. “Maybe they’re remainders-”
“I doubt our territory reps would distribute remaindered product here with factory firsts.” John continues.
“Is that what you know from your personal experience growing up here?”
“That’s what I learned from reading the monthly sales reports from the Nabiskit Territory reps.”
I had no idea he was that aware of what transpired in all of Morris Phillips’ businesses. “So how would Morris Market exclusive Marshmallow cookies wind up on a Bronx bodega shelf?”
“Maybe we could ask the store owner where they came from-”
“I doubt you’d get any answers from anyone here.”
“How do you know that?”
He’s got a point. The owners of this store are probably tied up in a dozen other illegal operations. Stolen Marshmallow cookies are probably the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the rackets they’re involved in. “I take the only answer we’d get is No Habla Ingles if we asked any questions.”
“Pretty much.” John continues. “The only way we’re going to find out what’s going on is to run the batch number at our computers downtown. If there’s theft going on we have to stop it at the source.”
“So you’re buying a box of Marshmallow cookies to snack on with your Sprite?”
“We’ll need the box for evidence.”