Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Kool-Aid Man

The Kool-Aid man sat slumped in an alleyway, a mix of his own brand of cherry-flavoured drink and vodka sloshed together inside him. Some of it he had vomited it up into a puddle between his splayed stubby legs.You could see the decayed brickwork behind him through his glass smudged with the filthy fingerprints of the all the winos who had drank from him in the alleyway, the same kind of brickwork that he could've easily smashed through in his younger days. But things hadn't been the same since the Jonestown thing, even though it was actually a different poisoned powdered fruit drink everyone drank but no, whenever there was talk of the massacre, people brought up his name. And then it became a catchphrase-"Don't drink the Kool-Aid." Regardless of the fact it was some  half-assed copycat offshoot called Flavor-Aid that did the dirty deed. Truth be told, some empty Kool-Aid packs were found on the compound grounds but it was torn Flavor-Aid envelopes that were scattered like confetti all over the place.
He remembered sitting in front of a Senate House committee, beads of perspiration running down his rotund glass body as they pestered him with questions about the Jonestown tragedy.
"Why, Mr. Kool-Aid, knowing your propensity for breaking through walls, both brick and wood when protecting people from the evil Thirsties, didn't you do anything about the Reverend Jim Jones as he was poisoning his poor followers with the spiked juice from your body?" asked a Senator from Wyoming.
"Mr. Senator," Kool-Aid had coolly answered, although the ice cubes in his body rattled with his unease. "I was traveling overseas at the time doing some promotional work with our European trade partners before continuing on to introduce Kool-Aid to some Third World countries and help those poor, underprivileged children enjoy a nice fruit-flavoured beverage for just pennies a day, when I heard the news. Needless to say, if I had been on this side of the Atlantic at the time I would have hopped right on down to Guyana, broken down the compound walls and whooped Jim Jones' Commie ass."
"Mr. Jones was not a communist but he certainly was a demagogue," corrected the Senator from Nebraska.
"Mr. Senator," Kool-Aid replied. "It behooves me to disagree with someone from my home state-us corn huskers need to stick together after all-but as far as I'm concerned that Jim Jones had some very socialist leanings and anyone who could do what he did was obviously no God-fearing man. Communist more likely using Jesus and his teachings as a cover for his nefarious atheist practices and sexual perversions that would make even the Marquis de Sade blush like an innocent altar boy. Where were our South American allies when all this was taking place and, if I might reiterate to the esteemed members of the committee, where was the Kool-Aid Man hotline that I proposed two years earlier that would summon me at a moment's notice to any fruit-flavoured beverage themed disaster that might threaten the good citizens of our country or citizens of any other Kool-Aid drinking country for that matter?"
This brought some "here here's" from a few of the Senate House committee members but it was too little too late. Jonestown had sealed Kool-Aid Man's fate. Even that Tom Wolfe twit with his Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test book proved to be only a minor setback to Kool-Aid Man's career ten years earlier, though it did take some advertising tap-dancing to separate the book from the brand name but spiking Kool-Aid with LSD instead of cyanide made Tom Wolfe and Ken Kesey look like saints compared to Jim Jones. And truth be told, Kool-Aid Man did do a little experimenting with the hallucinogenic himself, resulting in a few commercials he wrote and insisted on directing and which he'd just as soon forget. He still felt bad that The Monkees didn't know he'd spiked their drinks on the set of three of their commercial shoots.
The final blow came a year after Jonestown. Kool-Aid Man was relaxing in his five-bedroom 10,000 square foot penthouse apartment on Park Avenue playing some Atari Super Pong when the call came in.
"Oh Yeah," Kool-Aid Man answered with his signature trademark phrase.
"Oh no is more like it," answered the voice at the other end. It was his agent, Hal Strombowski and the news wasn't good. "The board of directors wants to see you and I got a bad feeling about this."
"Don't worry about it, Hal, they probably just want me to do some more promotional work. You know, kissing babies, rollerskating, throwing Frisbees, giving good-looking moms a squeeze and breaking down fences and shit. If I say yes let's make sure they cut us a nice big fat royalty cheque."   
But in the boardroom it was business of a different matter.
"Look, Kool-Aid Man," the CEO said. "I respect you too much to pussyfoot around the matter so I'm going to give it to you straight. This Jonestown thing was a massacre on all ends and we're bleeding money like a shotgun victim. We need to revamp our image in the marketplace and, well, we have a replacement for you, a new kid on the block so to speak demonstrating a more youthful and stronger personality to represent our brand name."
"Wait, gentlemen, let's not be so hasty. I've made you a goddamn lot of money. And I've been working out, hitting the gym, I could knock down the Berlin Wall with one hit of my fist. Let's not jump the gun here and besides, people always say I look young for my age."
"Yeah, well, this new kid looks even younger and he can bench press 350. Plus he doesn't have the aura of the Jonestown Massacre hanging over his head. How are you going to argue with that? If you were in my shoes you'd do the same."
"What's this prick look like?"
The CEO showed him a picture and Kool-Aid Man said, "But he looks just like me."
"Well, technically yes but he's in better shape and he's wearing pants, something we could never convince you to do."
'Hey, they're binding. Can't break down walls or fences or ceilings if your legs are all constricted."
But as much as he pleaded his case the decision had been made.
"But it was Flavor-Aid, Flavor-Aid," he kept screaming as security dragged him from the building.
And then, in the blink of an eye, it was all gone. The penthouse apartment, the adoring fans, the money, the traveling to far-off and exotic destinations, the five-star dining, all out the window before the ice had time to melt in his belly.
These days it was just endless alleyways that he called home or the odd stint in a detox centre or some flophouse on skid row. His only fans were the winos who scoured the streets to find him and drink from his vodka-laced Kool-Aid-filled body, that is when he could scrounge up enough change to buy a fifth or a mickey to dump into it. The only legacy left over from his years as the Kool-Aid spokesman was all the Kool-Aid he could drink for free for the rest of his measly life.
Occasionally someone would spot him lying in an alley or slumped on a park bench and yell, "Hey, don't drink the Kool-Aid," as some kind of sinister joke.  
All he could do was show a bitter smile and give his vodka or gin-soaked innards a slosh and mumble, "Hey, it's the only thing keeping me alive right now."


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