“A Shortage of Butterscotch at a Time When Butterscotch is Sorely Needed” by Chris Insana


Exhibit A

TH: We still have some time left.  Is there anything that you’d like to talk about?

DW: We only have two minutes.  Last time we went over, you charged me for another hour.

TH: Doctor, don’t worry about money and time limits.  I’m here for you.  This is to help you.  Now, tell me, is there anything that’s been bothering you?  What about your dream journal?  Is that working?

DW: Sort of.  It hasn’t been as bad, but I’ve been having that one dream again.

TH: What dream?

DW: The usual one.  The one where I’m hurting them.

TH: Hurting whom?

DW: The seals.

TH: What seals?

DW: I don’t know.  Just some seals.  I have a club with me and I go to a beach and bludgeon a couple of seals to death.  Then, a clown brings a black car around and we stuff them into the trunk.  We go to a taxidermist, drop off the seal carcasses, and go have dinner with a bishop.

TH: I see.  What types of seals are they, Doctor?  Harbor seals?  Grey seals?  Hawaiian monk seals?

DW: I don’t know, Dr. Harper.  They just look like seals to me.

TH: Well, it would be very helpful to know what types of seals that we’re dealing with.  Oh, well.  No matter.  Doctor, judging by the dreams that you’ve been telling me, I think that you have a reverse Oedipal complex.

DW: What does that mean?

TH: It’s a condition where you’re overwhelmed with the desire to kill your mother and have sex with your father.

DW: I don’t think that’s the case, Dr. Harper.

TH: Nonsense, Doctor.  I think that’s exactly what’s going on.  Why, you desire incestuous homosexual relations and you don’t even know it.

DW: [Indistinguishable]

TH: Don’t mutter, please, Doctor.  Speak nice and clearly.  Enunciate all of your words.  We need to make sure the recorder picks up everything you say.

DW: I hate how my voice sounds.

TH: As do I.  But there’s not much we can do about it.  I’m not one for taking notes so it’s easier for me to record my appointments.

DW: I don’t want to be on record as someone who wants to have sex with his father.

TH: Yes, well, be that as it may… Why, look at that.  It looks like your time has already expired.  I’ll have to charge you for a full sixty minutes.

DW: But regular sessions are only fifty minutes.

TH: Don’t worry, Doctor.  I’ll just add it to your monthly bill.

Exhibit B

“Bizarre Shortage of Butterscotch Threatens Tri-State Area” – Paul Kiflin

NEW YORK—This week, thousands of New Yorkers may be shocked to learn that one of the luxuries they have become accustomed to is suddenly nowhere to be found.  Anyone looking to add butterscotch to his or her ice cream sundae may be disappointed. Stores throughout the region are reporting that it is becoming increasingly difficult—if not impossible—to stock up on this confectionary delight.  Eduardo Ramirez, manager of a D’Agostino on 56th Street and 1st Avenue, says that he receives complaints from frustrated customers every day.  “They come in and they ask where the butterscotch is.  All I can do is show them the empty space on the shelves where it should be.  The suppliers tell me that they don’t know when they’ll be able to start producing butterscotch again.”

But for how long will butterscotch remain unavailable?  “It’s hard to say how long this will last,” says Arnold Jenkins, a high-ranking executive of Doodle-Dee Candy.  “Truth is, this isn’t going to end soon.  It’s going to be a long time before we are able to provide our loyal customers with the delicious butterscotch products they deserve.”

Economists are baffled as to what caused the shortage of butterscotch.  Explanations, however, are of little consequence for many.  “I don’t care about the why,” Ramirez says.  “It doesn’t matter to me if it’s aliens or the CIA or illegal immigrants.  All I know is that I’m losing business by not being able to supply the good people of New York with butterscotch.”

Exhibit C

Dream Journal, Day 16

I was standing on this boat that looks like the one from Jaws, except we weren’t on the ocean.  We were stranded in this giant pit of sand so I guess it was supposed to be some kind of desert.  Then I saw this weird sort of office building thing so I went inside it.  Turns out, I was in some sort of corporation where the CEO addressed everyone by their middle name.  He gave me a job but when I went into my office, I got a phone call saying that my grandma died.  Then, I started freaking out and I ran home (when I left the building, the desert was gone) and when I got to my house I woke up.  It was weird when I realized I was awake because there were tears in my eyes even though my grandma in real life died four years ago.

Since things are starting to go my way for a change, I figure I’ll start using this as an actual journal rather than just something Dr. Harper can use to diagnose me with weird conditions.

I finally found a match the other day.  We’ve been messaging back and forth and I think this has potential.  I guess I can’t shit on people who use online dating services anymore.  Even though I’m planning on spending most of our first date coming up with a story about how we met.  It has to be something other than online dating.  I’d never hear the end of it if my parents knew that I got a girlfriend from a dating site.

Anyway, she seems pretty cool.  Her name is Kelly Horton and she’s from Rockville Center.  Our first date is tomorrow night.  We’re meeting for dinner and drinks at eight o’clock.  Going by her profile, I think we’re a great match.  She loves Star Wars, The Rolling Stones, and John Steinbeck books.  If things go well, I’m hoping that she’d consider spending the night in the city instead of hopping on a train back to Long Island.  I’m not going to bet on that happening, but I can hope, right?  Anyway, I need to go out and buy a new blazer.


Exhibit D

Dream Journal, Day 18

Okay, so that date didn’t exactly go according to plan.  When I got to the restaurant, I was pretty excited because she was better looking than in her picture.  Her hair was a little longer and she was even a little thinner. When we got to the table, the first thing she asked me about was my name and how I got it and what not.  I gave her the usual spiel and she laughed at all the jokes I have prepared for when anyone asks.

Right after we got over the name thing, I asked her where she was originally from (Ridgewood, NJ) and then she asked me what I thought about physician assisted suicide.  I told her I didn’t really have much of an opinion on the matter since I had no plans to kill myself in the foreseeable future, but she said it’s an issue that everyone needs to seriously consider.   I tried to change the conversation to family.  I told her the story about how my mom once lit our Christmas tree on fire when she got drunk off eggnog and tried to light a cigar from the floor.  She told me that her uncle had Lou Gehrig’s disease and then got offended when I didn’t laugh.

Things got kind of weird when we got back to my apartment.  We were both a little drunk and we started making out on my leather sofa.  Her leg knocked over a glass of wine all over my new rug so we stopped.  She asked me where the bedroom was.  I pointed to the door.  She picked up her purse and walked in.  I followed her.  As soon as I walked in, she was getting undressed.  I wasn’t really sure what to do, so I just watched.  She got completely naked and then pulled out handcuffs from her purse and attached herself to my headboard.  I started to take my shirt off but she told me that first she wanted us to lick butterscotch off of each other’s bodies.  I said I didn’t have any so she told me to run down to the store to get some.

It wasn’t until I reached the lobby of my building that I began to wonder if she was going to rob my apartment while I was gone.  I thought about going back up, but when I pictured her lying there naked, I figured it was worth the risk.  I ran to three separate stores on the blocks by my house, but none of them had any butterscotch.  I picked up some chocolate syrup and hoped it would be an acceptable substitute.

Turns out, it wasn’t.  I got home and found her still on my bed.  I told her that there wasn’t any butterscotch and asked her if she still wanted to have sex.  She said no, and then asked me to get the key out of her purse.  She uncuffed herself and said she had an ingrown hair on her thigh that she wanted to rip out.  So she sat on my bed, naked, trying to break her skin while I lay back and watched Letterman.

Now, to get to my dreams, which were less exciting than my real life for once.  I didn’t sleep too well last night since Kelly kept kicking me in her sleep but I did have a dream. The first thing I remember was being back in high school.  The building wasn’t what my actual high school looked like, but it was supposed to be my high school.  I was in the chemistry lab (it could have been the bio lab, I’m not sure) and then this guy walked in dressed in a Butch Cassidy costume.  Then, he took off his hat and I realized it was my barber (not my actual barber, Enzo, but a guy who was supposed to be my barber).  He took a gun out of his pocket and started shooting out the window.  I don’t remember exactly what he said next, but it had to do with the Superbowl.  Then, Kelly kicked me in the shin and I woke up in pain.


Exhibit E

TH: So keeping a journal is working for you after all?

DW: Yeah, I’ve been sleeping much better.  And since I started the journal, I sometimes have dreams where I know I’m dreaming and I can control it and do whatever I want in it.

TH: Those are called lucid dreams.  I’m glad to hear that you’re doing better.  It doesn’t always work for everyone.

DW: I’m definitely going to continue.

TH: That’s good.  How are you doing in the waking hours of your life? I take it by the look on your face that you have something you’d like to share.

DW: I, uh, well I met a woman on an online dating site.  We went out twice.

TH: And how did that go, Doctor?

DW: Um, she’s a little strange.  She’s fun, but a little weird to talk to.  Sometimes it gets pretty uncomfortable.

TH: Do you plan to see her again?

DW: Yeah.

TH: Why?

DW: Well she’s really cute.  Not like obviously cute, but the kind of cute where it takes a while to notice.  And she’s kind of… liberated?

TH: Ah.  I see. It’s purely sexual, then?

DW: No, not really.  She won’t have sex with me until I get butterscotch.

TH: Butterscotch?  There’s a shortage of that, you know.

DW: I know.

TH: I think that I should warn you, Doctor, that women such as the one you are describing might not be safe to get involved with.  Many people with bizarre fetishes like the one you described are unable to engage in meaningful relationships.

DW: She just has a sweet tooth.

TH: Has she shown interest in any other unusual behavior?  Something violent or sadomasochistic, perhaps?

DW: Well…  she likes to try new things.

TH: You’re avoiding my question.

DW: She’s brought handcuffs over.

TH: I know you don’t want to hear this, but as your therapist, I would advise you to consider terminating the relationship.  It’s not good for someone like you.

DW: Like me?

TH: Yes.  You’re a very fragile man.

DW: Fragile?

TH: Of course.  I’ve never seen someone with dreams as concerning as yours.

DW: Oh… Dr. Harper?

TH: Yes?

DW: Do you have any butterscotch you’d be willing to part with?

TH: No, Doctor. I need all of my butterscotch. Every last drop of it.  And even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t give it to you.  Under no circumstances should you do anything to promote or condone using sweets as an aphrodisiac.

DW: Yes, Dr. Harper.

Exhibit F

Granny’s Homemade Sweets by Eileen Carroll

“Hazelnut Butterscotch”

½ cup butter    1 cup brown sugar    1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt    1 tablespoon vanilla extract    ¾ cup hazelnuts

  1. Put hazelnuts in a bowl and mash until it becomes a fine spread.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.  Add sugar, cream, and salt and stir until well blended.  Bring to a boil then reduce the heat.  Let simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat.  Mix in vanilla extract and hazelnut paste.  The sauce will thicken as it cools.  Best when served warm.

Exhibit G

“First Victim of Butterscotch Shortage Found Dead in Kinky Sticky Sex Act”—Paul Kiflin

NEW YORK—It’s been a long time coming, but early this morning, police discovered the first victim of the butterscotch shortage that has been plaguing New York for the past few weeks.  Kelly Horton, age twenty-six, was discovered dead in the apartment of Doctor Wilby.  Sources report that the two were participating in some sort of sex act that first responders described as “perverse, disgusting… an absolute affront to humanity.”  Then, things began to go wrong.  Horton was discovered handcuffed to the bed, her body covered in what was later determined to be homemade butterscotch. The first EMTs on the scene discovered that her throat had closed up, due to an allergic reaction, likely the hazelnuts that Wilby put in the butterscotch.  Due to the gag that he had placed in her mouth, Wilby failed to notice that she was unable to breathe.  According to his statement to police who arrived at the scene, Wilby stopped having sex with Horton immediately after he realized that she was no longer alive and called an ambulance.  Wilby maintains that he was ignorant of her medical condition and that the sodomy was done at Horton’s request.  Following the incident, Wilby was taken into police custody for questioning and has since been charged with first degree murder.

Exhibit H

I have been seeing the defendant, Mr. Doctor Chris Wilby, the alleged “Candy Killer,” on a weekly basis for the past eighteen months.  Although I am unable to go into specifics of what was said by Mr. Wilby during those sessions, I can still provide the court with my own professional diagnosis.  Since Mr. Wilby started seeing me, I have been deeply concerned about his mental state.  The nature of his dreams has been particularly disturbing.  They have led me to conclude that my patient may have antisocial personality disorder.  At various points in my attempts at treating him, Mr. Wilby has shown symptoms of other destructive mental conditions, such as a reverse Oedipal complex, singular personality disorder, and severe erectile dysfunction.

There is no doubt in my mind that the accusations that have been brought against Mr. Wilby are accurate.  Even though he does not have a history of violence, I always had the gut feeling that he was a violent, dangerous individual.  From what I have observed over the past year and a half, it does not surprise me that he is capable of both sexual deviance and the unjustifiable slaughter of an innocent woman.  Mr. Wilby is not fit to remain a member of this society.  However, due to his mental history, I would have to say that Mr. Wilby is not sane, nor was he sane at the time of his crime.  Instead of prison, he should be taken to a mental hospital and locked in solitary confinement, pending a full frontal lobotomy.  Once this procedure has been completed, it is fitting to put him in prison.

Dr. Timothy Harper, M.D.

Exhibit I

“Candy Killer Escapes from Police Custody”—Paul Kiflin

NEW YORK—On Monday, thirty-eight year old Doctor Chris Wilby, the “Candy Killer,” was found not guilty by reason of insanity of the murder of Kelly Horton. Wilby was being transported from New York to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, a psychiatric hospital operated by the District of Columbia. At approximately one fifteen in the morning, the driver of the truck stopped to use the restroom at a rest stop outside of Baltimore.  When he emerged from the rest stop five minutes later, both the truck and Wilby were missing.  His current whereabouts remain unknown.

Police warn that anyone who sees Wilby should call and report it immediately.  They say that it is unwise to approach Wilby, who is reportedly mentally unstable and possibly very dangerous.  There are monetary rewards for any information leading to Wilby’s apprehension.

Exhibit J

He Was Such a Quiet Boy: Life of the Candy Killer: The Story of Doctor Chris Wilby by Dennis Thurber

Chapter 1

Doctor Chris Wilby has led an entire life based on lies and deception.  He was born in Massapequa, New York, to Karen and Michael Wilby on February 12, 1987.  Michael Wilby, who worked as an accountant for Doodle-Dee Candy, failed out of medical school at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.  Desperate to receive the title “doctor,” he began a graduate program in philosophy at New York University, studying Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology.  Two months into the program, Michael Wilby failed out.  However, he was determined to make sure that his first son did not suffer the same failures as he did.  Michael and Karen decided to name their son Doctor (Chris being his middle name, after his maternal grandfather), so that he would be able to spend his life being addressed as Doctor Chris Wilby, despite the fact that, at least at the time of his arrest, he would only have a bachelor’s degree.  Little did his parents know that by bringing their son into this world on a lie, they would be creating the worst confectionery murderer in the early years of the 21st century, based in the tri-state area (excluding, of course, Bruce Mackell, who murdered half a dozen children between the ages of four and eight and mailed their fingers back to their parents with lollipops).  It is uncertain when the infant Doctor Chris Wilby received his first piece of candy, pushing him down the slippery slope to murder.

Exhibit K

The Candy Killer (2014)

Opening weekend gross: $34.5 million

Total domestic gross: $112.4 million

Total worldwide gross: $166.8 million

Exhibit L

This is Doctor Chris Wilby STOP I am sending this from a gas station somewhere in the Midwest STOP I have never used a telegraph before so I hope Im doing this right STOP The instruction manual isnt very clear STOP The owner is sitting in a rocking chair with his shotgun and giving me weird looks STOP I dont think he recognizes me STOP He probably doesnt own a TV STOP Anyway I dont have much time STOP To Mom and Dad Im not a crazy sex fiend murderer STOP I tried to make homemade butterscotch and she turned out to be allergic but everything was an accident I swear and all of the weird sex stuff was her idea and she made me do it STOP To Mr and Mrs Horton your daughter was a lovely girl and you should be very proud of her STOP I escaped at a rest stop in Maryland and took the highway out west STOP I was living in Nebraska for a while STOP Some guy who owned his own hardware store let me work for him for a while STOP I left when I found out that his hobby was taxidermy STOP Seeing his wife propped on the couch freaked me out STOP I spent I dont know how long going from town to town doing odd jobs STOP I wanted to contact you but I was afraid that theyd trace it back to me STOP Also I saw the movie that they made about me and I didnt really like the guy who played me STOP I heard he was from some Disney Channel show STOP I want to come back home but I dont think Ill ever be able to STOP I also want to mention that Im not crazy STOP At least I dont think that Im crazy STOP If I can Im going to get out of the country and go somewhere where no one knows who I am STOP Apparently my movie didnt do so well at the box office in Japan so Im thinking of trying to go there and hide out STOP I hope this message reaches someone somewhere STOP Can the recipient give it to someone who can get it to my family STOP To be honest Im not sure what or who Im even sending this to STOP The who in the last sentence should be whom STOP I realized that once I finished the sentence but theres no way to go back and change it STOP Also for what its worth both the book and movie about me were wrong STOP I never robbed a bank to pay for butterscotch and I never hijacked a truck filled with butterscotch murdered the driver and threw his chopped up corpse into Lake Erie STOP Ive never been to Lake Erie STOP And I dont really like butterscotch all that much STOP

Chris Insana is an aspiring writer living in his native New York.  He currently works at Regis High School, which he attended before going to Georgetown University for his bachelor’s degree.  One of his screenplays was a finalist at the Ivy Film Festival, an international annual film festival run by Brown University.  He is currently in the process of applying for his MFA in fiction writing.  His short fiction has appeared in such places as his desktop computer and USB drive.

Read Chris Insana’s comments on Alan Bray’s “The Temporary Assistant Postman.”

Notes from K. Anne Unger, Editor

I enjoyed the offbeat humor and unique structure of this piece. It captivated me from the beginning and carried me to its very end. The author did a wonderful job sustaining the suspense and escalating the humor throughout, while still making us ask the serious questions in the end. This tragic story is definitely supported with the right dose of comedic relief, which is an art in and of itself.

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