Disclaimer: I am not one of the lucky copyright holders of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in its many forms. I don't own anything at all. But I do hope you find this just for fun, not for profit, perhaps elucidating, gentle parody, entertaining.
dionne dance: Yup, Terence is a pretty astute fellow. Thanks for the review!
"The Oompa-Loompas and I had a lot of time to study the winners before the tour, and we decided to show them the rooms we thought they would enjoy the most. The first room on the agenda was the Chocolate Room."
"The Chocolate Room?"
"It's where I mix the chocolate," Willy explained. "I use a 30 meter waterfall to do it! It churns the chocolate; makes it light and frothy! At the base of the falls it becomes a chocolate river."
"A river?" said Terence, in a small voice. "Of chocolate?"
"Yeah, nifty, eh?" Willy puffed up like a peacock. "A river, with pipes in it. Some of the pipes are maneuverable, suspended above the river. The pipes suck up the chocolate, and take it wherever I need it in the factory. It's a neat system, and I'm the only one that has it!"
Terence could easily see that Willy was proud of this system, because he looked positively radiant, just talking about it.
"Everyone, except Mr. Salt, was very impressed with the room." Willy's face morphed from radiant to sour in the time it took Terence to draw in a breath. "Mr. Salt thought I was weird to waste my time…"
"Wait a minute. He thought you were weird to mix chocolate?"
"…with all the candy."
"Candy? What candy?" Terence held up his hands in a gesture of surrender. "Now you've got me confused. I thought you said it was a chocolate river."
Willy sighed. "It is a chocolate river, but everybody knows," he explained patiently, "that rivers run in valleys, so the rest of the room is the valley. It has hills and trees and all manner of other plants, including swudge, and they're all made of candy. It's very beautiful, if I do say so myself, and I did, because none of the others said a word."
"A delectable minty grass I make. I call it swudge because it's such a fun word to say," replied Willy, giggling to himself. "Just start saying it out loud, and you'll see what I mean."
Terence sat back on his stool and closed his eyes, feeling overwhelmed by it all. Willy had lived in the imaginary worlds of the books that he read, when Terence had known him as a child. Apparently, as an adult, Willy had reversed the process. He had taken his own imaginary world and turned it into reality.
Terence tried to imagine the Chocolate Room with its 'chocolate-fall', over 90 feet high, cascading into a chocolate river, in a room that was an entire valley filled with candy landscaping. He found that he could barely do it, and it made him feel sad. There was a time, when he was a child, when he knew Willy, when imagining it all would have been so easy. But now, it took everything he had. The world Terence had spent his life living in was a practical one; one that set low expectations — it only wanted what was sensible — and it discouraged those who thought otherwise. Maybe becoming a recluse wasn't such a strange choice, after all.
"You don't look so hot," he heard Willy say. Terence opened his eyes, surprised to find Willy leaning toward him, studying him intently, as if trying to read his mind. It was a bit disconcerting, but he recovered quickly.
"Imagination," he answered, sadly. "I used to have it. I didn't realize I'd lost it, until now, hearing about your factory. I can hardly imagine what you're telling me."
Willy didn't know what to say. This was serious. The silence lengthened like a shadow.
"I miss it," Terence said, breaking the stillness, and looking at the floor. "I didn't know that until now, either. Somehow, I feel smaller without it. I'd like to get it back." He raised his eyes to Willy's. "Please continue."
Willy made a little noise in his throat, but he didn't continue. He was mulling over what Terence had just said, looking at it in his mind's eye, considering. Life without imagination would be life without a heartbeat. Impossible. Finally, having finished considering his considering, Willy said brightly, his voice very much alive, "Terence, my dear fellow, don't give it another thought. If you had it, then you have it, and I know you had it." Willy looked at Terence confidently. "Imagination is like matter: Indestructible! You're just rusty, that's all."
Terence looked hopeful as Willy continued, "Really. You're fine. It's the people who don't have it, don't want it, and insist on stamping it out in others that worry me. I spent a lot of my childhood with one of them, and I just spent the better part of a day with some more."
Terence felt happier. He figured Willy was a pretty good judge of imagination. If Willy said he still had it, then he probably did. Encouraged, he asked, "Did Mr. Salt really say you were weird?"
"Not in words, no, but his expression spoke volumes," answered Willy, now pleased to continue. "Once I clued everyone in that all the candy in the room was on the menu, they all took off to try things. But Mr. Salt didn't leave. I knew he wanted to ask me why I had taken this 'organic' approach, and I was all set to answer his questions. After all, the entire room is a showcase for what a creative atmosphere can accomplish! A very important concept!" Some of the energy left Willy's voice, and he looked less happy. "I was actually looking forward to talking about it, but in the end, the old Salt never spoke. Instead, he rolled his eyes at the room, looked back at me, curled his lip, raised his eyebrows, and turned away."
"Snubbed in your own factory," stated Terence, gravely.
"Yeah," said Willy, turning the word into a sort of lilting laugh. "Can you believe it?" Willy sounded dazed as he said this, but his tone quickly turned to disdain. "That man! The way he looks at it, if the production line doesn't connect directly to the bottom line, it's out of line. He thinks creativity cuts profits, but he's wrong; it expands them." Willy was shaking his head with continued disbelief. "I can't escape the irony here, either. He runs some little nut company, while I run the most successful candy factory in the world, and he's dissing my methods?"
"You were miffed," said Terence, with a grin.
"Miffed I was, alright," agreed Willy, grinning back.
The two looked at each other for a long moment, before spontaneously bursting into peals of laughter.
Still laughing, Willy said, "It gets even better!"
His laughter subsiding, Willy said, "I thought the Gloop boy wouldn't be able to concentrate in a chocolate factory, but I was wrong. He was able to concentrate 100% — on the chocolate. Now, the only thing I retail in that room is the chocolate, so it has to stay pure. That means no touching! But, what is the Gloop boy doing? He's scooping handfuls of chocolate from the river, and sucking them down like a pipe himself. His minder told him to stop, and I did, too, but he ignored us both, and proceeded to FALL IN! Yikes! Ghastly! All those germs in my chocolate! Yuck!" Willy's eyes were wide, and he looked nothing short of horrified. "I'm talking serious cooties going on here!" His voice had become a whisper. "I had to destroy the entire batch."
Willy lapsed into a pained silence remembering the unfortunate fate of that batch of chocolate.
Terence decided it might be best to interrupt Willy's thoughts. They didn't look pleasant. "I read Augustus got sucked up a pipe," he said.
"He was," replied Willy. "I had to destroy the entire batch of strawberry-flavored chocolate-coated fudge, too," Willy continued, still with a long face. Then he brightened a bit. "Fortunately, I didn't have to destroy the pipe. I sterilized the pipe, along with the chocolate mixing barrel."
"It must have been traumatic."
"Oh, it was," breathed Willy, doing his best to look traumatized, and succeeding nicely. "I've never had to destroy so much chocolate, or fudge!"
Terence sighed. "I meant for Augustus, being sucked up a pipe."
"Nonsense," answered Willy smugly, picking at some imaginary lint on his coat. "That pipe probably saved his life. Mrs. Gloop said herself that he couldn't swim, and chocolate is very heavy. None of us could have gotten to him faster than that pipe did. He's just lucky I had it nearby. Oh, and by the way, fat floats, so he had that going for him."
"Well, okay. What about the other kids?" asked Terence.
"Oh no, we're not done with the Gloops yet!" exclaimed Willy, holding up his right index finger in a point toward the ceiling and then putting it down again. "Eshle, my chief Oompa-Loompa, told me later that those two managed to cut a swath of destruction through the Chocolate Room. Tearing up the swudge, hoarding bon-bons, greedy and wasteful the both of them! And," the hand was back up, "when that not so little boy saw all the Chocolate Room had to offer, he dropped the bar of chocolate he had brought in with him on the spot! So his first contribution to my beautiful room was to litter it!" The hand came down and Willy crossed his arms in front of his chest, a frown on his face. "That boy was definitely not suitable."
Terence found himself amused by this last comment. "Not suitable? Not suitable for what?"
"Not suitable for a tour, of course," replied Willy with a pout. "He managed to remove himself from it in no time, didn't he?"
Terence couldn't deny that.
Willy got up from his stool and began to poke around in the self under the counter.
"Okey-dokey. You asked me about the other kids. Violet Beauregarde ate a toffee apple and was otherwise unremarkable. Veruca Salt ate a lollipop and was heard to say, in a whiny voice, 'Pater'…" Here Willy paused in what he was saying, stopped poking around, and straightened up. "Well, that's not the word she used…"
"Daddy," filled in Terence.
"…that's the word, 'I want one of those' fill-in-whatever-she-was-looking-at here, 'get me one of those...' blah, blah, blah, you get the drift. All I heard were mealy-mouthed placating remarks from her already annoying pater, but she was really starting to bug me when she spied the Oompa-Loompas, and wanted one of them."
Terence's eyebrows climbed skyward.
"Teavee the younger spent his time destroying a jelly filled pumpkin, while his pater followed him around quite happily telling him all the things he shouldn't do." Willy's tone went from exasperated to thoughtful. "Seeing that went a long way toward explaining that boy's anger. I can sympathize, I think I've already said I've been there, but I'm looking for creativity, and destruction is the opposite of that."
"I'm still thinking this is not just a tour," said Terence, while Willy roamed out into the store.
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