It was a brisk autumn night in Newburgh, New York. Neon polluted the night sky like a typical morning in Mexico City and Broadway was lined with cars, lights, and the people of the darkness. The girls were trying to get his attention by jiggling their assets and hollering at him. The night played the music of the police sirens and the ever fading feeling of hope. Marching ahead, Tony had forgotten what an evening chill felt like, for he had just left his loft for the first time in almost a week. How could I have fucked up this bad, he wondered. “I used to be someone, I was The One.” his memory rising yet again. His mind drifted back to days of wonder, fame, and success.
Every day he went to work, he smiled for the camera, and repeated the same line for over 40 years. For over 40 years, he had to endure the embarrassment of his trademark. For over 40 years, he had to put on a mask for the kids. For over 40 years, he had to lie to the world, lie about the contents of his product, lie about its actual benefits. Frosted Flakes, “They’re Grrrrreat!”. Instantly, he snapped back to reality, sweat rolling down into his bandanna. “How did I get here?” was his first thought. “I had everything a man could want: women, drugs, cars, money…. I had it all.” he told himself. “Granted, I hated my job, but who knew how HUGE the commercial would become. From coast to coast, everyone knew me, wanted to be me, or wanted to do me!” he exclaimed. “I threw it all away at the casino table, and now look at me.” He thought as he pondered his body. Tony the Tiger had seen better days, better months, and better years. Where once his fur was bright as a rose on a warm summer day, gray and hints of orange covered his body. Where once his fangs were as sharp as a razor’s edge, now they have either fallen out or become dulled with cavities. Where once his face was smooth and teeming with happiness, now wrinkles and misery lined his face. Once again, he returned to the present and continued to walk into the night.
Tony reached into the pocket of his hoodie and pulled out the paper his contact gave him. “DOCKS: USUAL SPOT – CC”, the paper read. It was not unusual for Tony to meet his friend this late, considering that Tony is the best dealer of crack in the city, and its biggest fan. “Crack is the latest, greatest narcotic to come out of the underworld” Tony rehearsed everyday. “The taste is nothing special, and in fact quite bland and boring, but the effects are what really counts”, talking to his imaginary customers. “The kick with crack is that it is much cheaper than regular china white, meaning you can get high for less;” Tony imagines as he nears the hi-rise hotel where his man is waiting for him. Despite being successful at peddling his merchandise, Tony nonetheless lost his most recent supply at a game of craps behind Billy Joe’s Ribworks. “I needed to put something up for collateral, it wasn’t much anyway”, he declared. “Only 3 kilos, that’s pocket change for these guys and I can make it up in a couple of days.” Immediately, the story of Snap, Crackle, and Pop came to mind, but Tony quickly changed his thoughts to the meeting, preferring not to think about such horrid details, and also because he was at the entrance.
The lobby was dimly lit and yet somehow bright at the same time. The wallpaper, curtains and paintings sang songs of hope. The lights sang the song of fate and the emptiness of the lobby told tales of loneliness, something Tony was accustomed to. Pacing towards the elevator, he rushed inside and pressed the button for the roof. The elevator smelled of piss and sounded awfully like Kenny G. “Almost there,” Tony told himself anxiously. “It can’t be that serious of a matter, if we’re meeting in the usual spot. Any dealer worth his weight in gold wouldn’t meet in the same, consecutive spot,” Tony assured himself. At that thought, the doors opened and darkness poured into the lift.
Tony stepped out into the darkness of the rooftop and gazed around him looking in vain for his contact. That is, until a single light emerged: a Zippo lighter. “Tony”, said the lighter, the flame extinguishing as soon as the words are spoken. “Chester, what gives with the theatrics and why are you wearing those fuckin’ sunglasses at eleven o’clock?”, replied Tony. “It ain’t easy, being cheesy.”, said Chester as he approached Tony. Unlike Tony, Chester was wise to avoid using his product. His fur was as orange as the Sun, his voice smooth, and his strut still contained a swagger to it. “If this is about the game, I just wanna let you know that I’m good for the money. I’ll repay you in a week.”, said Tony. “It’s not about the stash, I know you’re good for it.”, Chester said assuredly to Tony. “It’s WHO you lost it to, Tony”. “What are you talking about?”, Tony said confusedly. “That guy you lost the stash to got picked up by the cops for a DUI, and guess what was in the car?”, Chester’s voice had taken a harsher tone. Whatever color was left on Tony’s face faded away. “The stash had your prints all over it, and word on the street is that the 5-O are looking for you. They got surveillance on your place and everything.”. “That’s bullshit man, I wiped everything down. They don’t got shit on me man!”, Tony rebutted. “Tony, I can tell you been hitting the pipe hard”, Chester said as he scanned Tony with his glasses. “You’ve been slumping over the months, ever since you started sucking on that glass dick.”. Any positive emotions Chester had were not to be found in his voice. “I told you that smoking that shit would make you a liability.”. “Is that it, you’re just going to cut me off from my saving grace?!”, Tony roared. “It’s not my decision, I’m like you Tony, a bit player in the game. I want to help you, but…”, at that moment, another figure emerged to the right of Chester.
“You have said too much, I told you to handle this quickly and efficiently”, said the voice which coincidentally sounded like Jeremy Irons. Tony was not a small individual by any means, in fact his physique and stature are what helped him attain his legendary role. In fact, he never met anyone larger than him…until tonight. The voice soon became a shape, and the shape became a body. Tony shrank down, once he gazed the mane of the beast and the rippling musculature of his vessel. The only thing he was wearing was a black t-shirt. In bright red was the word “D.A.R.E.”, the only emblem on the shirt. “I have this under control Daren, let me handle it.”, hissed Chester. “You are grossly incompetent, Chester, I will take care of this imbecile.” said the lion. As soon as the last breath of air left the lion’s mouth, Tony pounced on him. With images of his glorious past flashing through his head, Tony had never felt more alive since his heyday. Remembering the lessons his father taught him as a child and how often said lessons helped Tony survive on the streets as a cub, he cracked a smile for the first time in years. For the first time since he was an icon, Tony was happy. That is, until the lion grabbed Tony’s throat with his massive paw. The beast lifted Tony to the edge of the roof single-handedly and said to the tiger, “Can you fly Tony?”. As Tony the Tiger flew for the first and last time, the concrete in front of him came closer, and closer, and closer.