Bewildering Stories

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It Can Play Dead, Too!

by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson

Alfons Krüppel, owner of Krüppel holdings, was going over the list of his current holdings to see how much they were worth. As he ran his eyes across the long list of companies and their prospective values, both negative and positive, his eyes caught a name he did not remember.

Minx toys. He didn’t remember having bought that company. Its estimated worth was about $500,000 in liquid assets, had less than 50 people on payroll, and returned a profit of around $50 each year.

Krüppel tried to remember when he’d bought it, but he couldn’t. He had never, to his knowledge, bought a toy-production company. So somebody else had bought it, behind his back, he thought. It must have been Dorling, his secretary. He was the only one with the access needed.

He called Dorling to his office, and asked him what was the meaning of this weird acquisition. Dorling stared at Krüppel.

“Can’t you remember?” asked Dorling.

“Remember what?” asked Krüppel.

“You bought it yourself, in a way” said Dorling.

“I do not remember it. Tell the truth, and I’ll consider not firing you,” said Krüppel.

“Minx toys was owned by Hallwag holdings, which you bought six months ago,” said Dorling.

Mr. Krüppel was silent for a while. After thinking it through, and reminding himself that he company at least made some money, he asked Dorling to give him an account of the company, especially its products, so he could maybe make it a bit more profitable before he sold it.

The next day Dorling appeared in Krüppel’s office with the Minx Toys catalogue.

“You’re not going to believe this,” said Dorling.

“What is it?” asked Krüppel.

“Minx toys was founded three years after the Mattel company introduced their Barbie doll, expressly to cash in on its success. It doesn’t seem to have worked. But they are still manufacturing the original product: the Cherry doll.”

Dorling looked at Krüppel. Krüppel wrinkled his forehead and shrugged as he asked, “Why is this company not making more? Are they too expensive or something? Or is it marketing? That’s easy, we can fix that...”

“It’s not that. I have their catalogue. I guess they can’t afford advertising, but their products have a certain appeal to a loyal core of buyers,” said Dorling; and he continued, describing the Minx product line:

“There’s basic Cherry. The same since the beginning. She’s more anatomically correct than Barbie, and she’s more... uhm... conservatively dressed.”

“She looks more like a spinster you mean?” commented Krüppel.

“Yes,” admitted Dorling. And he continued:

“The plain Cherry didn’t sell well. It sells, but only one every two years. They originally made 2,000 of them, and that’s what they are selling, I gather. The next version was a bit more of a success: Typist Cherry. She came with a typewriter, a chair and a desk.”

“Just what every little girl wants,” commented Krüppel.

“It didn’t sell well either. They also made Teacher Cherry. It came complete with ten pupils. It almost covered production costs. I guess people were after the sheer quantity of small dolls. Then, in the late eighties, the product design took a turn toward the surreal.”

“It wasn’t surreal enough before?” asked Krüppel, and grinned.

“No. In ’88 they started making Bitter Cherry. She came with fake chocolate and a wine bottle. In ’91 they introduced Suicidal Cherry. She had a noose, a bottle of painkillers and a shotgun; and she came in a set complete with fake blood, vomit and a coffin. This item still enjoys some mysterious following. Later on they started making Sam, Cherry’s lesbian lover. It’s fairly popular.”

Krüppel snickered.

“The last model is probably the most insane though. It’s a lot like Teacher Cherry; only, this version has a strange smile and a wild-eyed gaze. She comes with a shotgun, like Suicidal Cherry. And she’s carrying a mail bag. They call it ‘Postal Cherry’.”

“I still wonder why I haven’t heard about this company. Their products alone are worthy of notice,” said Krüppel, and asked, “this is all clearly some sort of sick joke. How can they afford it?”

“They also produce a generic stuffed bear, available in four colours.”

“Does it come with a coffin, too?”

Mr. Krüppel decided not to sell the Minx toy company. Instead he kept it, as a joke. But he never went to see it personally. He had this funny feeling about the design crew...

Copyright © 2004 by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson

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