Soda and Popcorn¹

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1 an artifact of its time, relying on the “Mr. Fandango” commercials for the Fandango movie ticket service and certain dancing and singing mascots used in pre-movie shows.

The buzzer sounds. The guard comes to the White House gate. He pauses. His mouth drops open in shock.

“You’re … you’re the animated soda and popcorn from the movies, ” he says.

“We introduce the movies, ” Soda corrects. “We are not ‘from’ the movies.”

“Oh.” The guard stares at them. Then he shakes himself. “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry… . you’re here … is there a movie? Am I in it? Am I really an actor, rather than a guard?”

Popcorn sneers. “Snap out of it, man.”

“Yes, sir!”

“We’re here,” Soda enunciates, “to see the President.”

“Oh.”

The guard backs away. He waves them in. Then he pauses. “Um, the candy …”

“If Candy shows up,” Popcorn says, “let her in.”

“Of course. Of course.”

Popcorn and Soda float down the hall. Everywhere they go, people salute. They proceed unhindered to the conference room antechamber. There, a secretary’s secretary holds up a hand to stop them.

“I know you’re celebrities,” he says. “But … it’s a private meeting.”

Soda and Popcorn look at one another. Then they look back at the secretary. “Tell the President that we’re here,” Soda says. “I’m sure he’ll want to see us.”

“The President isn’t here,” the secretary asserts.

“Then call him,” Soda says. “Call him and tell him.”

The secretary hesitates. Then he reaches a hand out to the phone next to him. He mumbles into the speaker. There’s a pause. Then the door to the conference room opens. The Chief of Staff looks out. He steps back. He gestures. Popcorn and Soda float in.

“Popcorn and Soda,” says the Chief of the Staff, “… the President of the United States.”

“Charmed,” Soda says.

“Honored,” Popcorn says.

The President is all business. “We’re discussing countermeasures against current terrorist threats,” he says.

“That’s why we’re here,” Soda says smoothly. “We want to lend you the benefit of our advice.”

The President looks around. There are generals in the room. They nod their heads. There are admirals. They nod, too. There are important policy makers. They nod, curtly. One of them absently reaches out a hand for the popcorn. Soda slaps it away.

“The plans are on the table,” the President says. “Have a look for yourself.”

“Mm,” says Popcorn, looking over the plans.

“Ah,” says Soda.

“Oh,” says the President. “And … may I?”

Popcorn hesitates. Then he shrugs. The President takes a bite.

“Mm,” says the President. “Your buttery goodness exceeds even that of less sentient popcorn.”

“It’s the brains, sir,” says Popcorn.

There’s a buzz. The President presses a button on the intercom.

“We’ve got a lead, sir,” says a voice. “We think we know the name of the head Al Qaeda operative in the western states.”

“Speak.”

Soda looks at Popcorn. Popcorn looks at Soda. They are tense.

“It’s a Mr. Fandango, sir.”

All heads turn towards Soda and Popcorn, as one.

“Spill me,” Soda whispers. Popcorn pushes. Soda bubbles over the plans. They begin to dissolve.

A dozen guns come out, pointing at Popcorn.

“American dogs!” Popcorn cries. “My artificial butter flavor will slightly increase your cholesterol and fat count!”

Guns fire. Popcorn scatters. A kernel rolls to the stop at the President’s feet.

“Who would have thought,” the President says, as if in wonder, “that dancing and singing popcorn and soda could ever turn against us?”

“We eat their families,” a general points out, her voice hushed. “And we force them to watch.”

“Oh,” says the President. After a moment, he says, “That is a point.”

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Categories: Hitherby, Legends