FRIED CHICKEN AND THE NIGHT WATCHMAN
APEX SECURITY GUARDS,Inc
509 Hammicker Blvd, Piscataway NJ
“WE NEVER LET OUR GUARD DOWN!”
The night watchman at the First Bank of Parsimony & Thrift is a peculiar sort of man. He works the midnight shift to avoid being bombarded with meaningless conversations with people he cares little for. That’s not because he’s awkward or shy. Fletcher Potts long ago came to the decision that his thoughts and ideas were wasted on the trivial lives of ordinary people. They can stick to their small talk, gossip, catching up and boring stories. His mind churns out snippets of brilliance, gems of unparalleled wisdom, insights into the grand scheme of things that are unappreciated and misunderstood by the common man mired in quotidian minutiae.
Fletcher Potts sits at the guard’s desk in silence throughout the night, only getting up every thirty minutes to make a security check. It’s at this desk, every night for the past year and a half, that he writes his Manifesto — a long, rambling philosophical treatise on the nature of mankind’s intrinsic relationship with fast food. He had dissociated himself from the spiritual mumbo-jumbo tropes of Kierkegaard’s toaster breakfasts, adopting Hegel’s absolute idealism of late night snacks as the framework for his philosophy. Fletcher’s ideas were being developed and solidified as he wrote this manifesto, imbued with philosophical concepts he absorbed from The Cookbook of Western Philosophy — a book he stole from a yard sale.
By concentrating so diligently on his writing, Fletcher paid little attention to what might be going on in the darkened, empty lobby of the First Bank of Parsimony & Thrift. And one night, as he was pontificating on the metaphysical nature of beef patties vis-à-vis the dialectical nature of chicken nuggets, something big happened.
Within the academic study of alimentary dogma there existed a formidable rival to Fletcher and his Manifesto. The Mirthful Sophists was an association of three philosophers who applied Cartesian Dualism to the metaphysical properties of take-out restaurant fare. Their philosophy holds that although the burger and fries are ontologically distinct substances, they in fact interact with acute causality.
The gang had a running joke that they pulled out and dusted off every once in a while: Reneé Descartes is at a restaurant and orders a side dish of brussels sprouts. The waiter informs him that they ran out of brussels sprouts and can only offer him either a side of asparagus or a baked yam. Descartes considers this within the context of didactic duality and responds thoughtfully, “I think therefore a yam.” No matter how many times this was repeated among the Mirthful Sophists, it brought endless rounds of knee-slapping laughter.
The Sophists were aware that Fletcher was very involved with his manifesto and that he paid no attention to the bank, so they planned to take advantage of this. They had prepared to break into the building and rob Fletcher at gunpoint. It was his manifesto they were after, for it could give them deeper insights into the Freudian concept of Empty Calorie Disjunctivism, while at the same time putting an end to Fletcher’s magnum opus. They were producing their own manifesto, The Fundamental Dimensions of Junk Food, and they wanted to eliminate any and all competition.
Soon the opportunity presented itself to the Mirthful Sophists. Fletcher started out on his 3:00 am rounds, flashlight and whiskey flask in hand, first going to check the service entrance. As soon as he turned a corner the gang went into action. All of the three Sophists always used an alias. There was Wittgenstein (Joe), Spinoza (Paul, the leader) and Nietzsche (Shivansh). They came equipped with a gun, crowbars, ropes, duct tape, flashlights and a family size Bucket-O’-Chicken.
Once inside the bank, Spinoza gave the signal to Nietzsche to get ready. “Get out the gun,” he ordered. Nietzsche did as he was told but neglected to put in the bullets. As a nihilist, he maintained that nothing has a real existence anyway. Not even the gun, though he made an exception for the bucket of fried chicken.
Wittgenstein was not surprised. “The world is what we make of it,” he said, quoting the real Wittgenstein.
“What the HELL is that supposed to mean?” whispered Spinoza, accenting the word “hell” to reference religion’s nadir of the cosmos, as it was called in Kant’s Transcendental Idealism of Single Portion Snack Foods.
Fletcher Potts was once again at the desk. He arranged his papers and placed the empty flask into his coat pocket. Whiskey always aided his analytical ability to expound on scientific reductionism, which figured prominently in the third chapter of his manifesto — the one comparing the ontological methodology of thick shakes to smoothies. As he finished that chapter, he wrote a note to himself to revisit Schopenhauer’s treatise “Are You Going To Eat Those Fries?”
He was all set to start the next chapter when suddenly there was a gun to his head. Unloaded of course, but how would he know that.
“What the hell?” he said, making his own reference to the nadir of the cosmos. “What are you doing?” he shouted to the Sophists.
“We’re here to steal your manifesto!” replied Spinoza. “We want to see what’s in it.”
“You can’t have it!” Fletcher angrily responded. The whiskey imparted in him an unwise bravado in the face of a gun.
“Shoot him!!!” shouted Spinoza. Nietzsche did nothing, which of course made sense on a nihilistic level. They all stood silently for a minute, not knowing what should be done next.
“You have chicken,” Fletcher eventually said . He could smell the Bucket-O’-Chicken.
Wittgenstein took a drumstick out of the bucket and, waving it in Fletcher’s face, said, “Yeah, we have chicken. You want some?… Give us the manifesto!”
Fletcher considered fighting Nietzsche for the gun and Wittgenstein for the chicken, but at this point the story includes a bit of geometry, for the sizable girth of Fletcher Potts would have seriously limited his ability to throw a jab followed by an uppercut punch. He recognized this as a philosophical paradox — Locke’s theory of applied ethics posits that one should fight for his dinner, but Lucretius teaches us that man’s innate fear of being shot in the head should be the thought that guides his moral compass far more than his corporeal desire for greasy fried chicken.
Fletcher being who he was, he fell prey to the siren song of fried chicken with eleven herbs and spices. The exchange was made — the chicken for the manifesto. As Fletcher eagerly tore into a thigh, Spinoza and his gang just as eagerly read the chapter on Empty Calorie Disjunctivism.
“This is brilliant!” exclaimed Nietzsche.
“Praiseworthy!” said Wittgenstein.
“Our philosophical vocabulary is too impoverished to speak of its invaluable… uh, I don’t know… value, I guess,” blundered Spinoza sheepishly.
Fletcher acknowledged this with a mouthful of mashed potatoes. He was particularly susceptible to praise, but even more susceptible to food.
The Mirthful Sophists got what they came for (except that there was no fried chicken left.) But in the grand scheme of the cosmos, that was okay.
“The world is what we make of it,” repeated Wittgenstein, again quoting the real Wittgenstein. “And I submit, apropos of nothing, that we join forces with this here night watchman. For he’s a giant in the subdomain of epicureanism.” He looked at Fletcher, who was cleaning up the crumbs on his desk. “Wouldn’t you agree, Mr. Potts?”
“What?” Fletcher had not been listening.
“Would you not agree, Fletcher,” said Spinoza, “that Wittgenstein’s proposal that we labor together to further the Weltanschauung of convenience food would be a boon to our efforts?”
Fletcher agreed wholeheartedly that under different circumstances, this would have produced a measurable advancement in the inchoate field of alimentary dogma. But under different circumstances, he would not have already pressed the emergency button under the desk that silently summoned the police. Within minutes, the Mirthful Sophists were read their rights and stood accused of crimes related to the violation of the Ethics of Foodstuff, as loosely defined by Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century.
Fletcher Potts went on to complete his manifesto. It lingers unread in the desk drawer at the First Bank of Parsimony & Thrift. He is now at work writing a crime novel about a take-out chicken franchise and the theft of its formula of eleven herbs and spices.