Chapter 1: Wedding Anniversary
Author's Note: Part 2 of Chocolateen can be read as a standalone story. I suggest that Chocolateen Part 1 be read to gain a better understanding of the founding of the Chocolateen Corporation and of the story's characters to include how they came to form their relationships. However, some of that information is included in this story.
My friend Frank Toliver and I, James Schneider, had arranged a special party to celebrate our 10-Year Wedding Anniversary. It was actually the anniversary of our Commitment Ceremonies, but we think of it as wedding ceremonies. Frank and I also had a very special announcement to make.
Frank and I enjoy our pizza and beer so much that we bought our favorite pizza parlor. The former owner, Bill Wagner, had been caught in the last major economic downturn and his business was about to go bankrupt. We gave him a very good price for the business, its name, and his recipes. He wasn't ready to retire, so we hired and paid him a good salary to manage our new business for us.
Every month, Frank and I have Bill close the pizza parlor's backroom, so we can use it for the Chocolateen Corporation's monthly board meeting. Tonight is a special celebration, so we had Bill close the entire pizza parlor to the public for the night. Although, I did okay Bill's idea of selling pizzas to our regular customers out the back door.
Our guests this evening included our immediate families and our extended family plus three special guests. We consider our extended family to consist of our security personnel, key members of the Chocolateen Corporation, and our personal friends. Of course, that also includes their immediate families, and in a few cases their relatives.
We had a little over 90 adults in the backroom seating area. The front area and game room was wall-to-wall kids. We were undoubtedly exceeding the maximum seating capacity of the pizza parlor, but no one was counting heads.
The closed for the night sign was on the pizza parlor's front door along with a sign that told customers to come to the back door to place and pick up a carryout order, and the front door was locked. Our wives, Frank, and I were seated at the head table in the backroom. It was actually three picnic tables placed end-to-end, which were covered by checkered table clothes. The adult members of our extended family and our three special guests sat at other picnic tables, which were scattered about the room. All of our kids were seated at tables in the main dining area along with a couple of our security personnel to ride herd on them. From what I could see, the kids were moving back and forth between the dining area and the game room. Bill had bypassed the coin mechanisms on the games, and the kids had been turned loose to have fun in the game room.
The pizzas came pouring out of the kitchen piping hot and pitchers arrived brimming full of ice-cold beer. Of course, the kids got pitchers of soft drinks. We all dug in munching on pizza and washing it down with cold beer. Actually, a few of us were drinking ice tea, water, or some other non-alcoholic beverage.
The pizzas had been devoured and everyone was talking and sipping on their beverage. It was time for Frank to begin his speech. I said, "It's about time for us to get this show on the road Frank."
"Yeah, I guess so. You do realize that after tonight, nothing will ever be the same," Frank replied in a somewhat somber tone.
Frank stood and tapped his beer mug with a fork. When the talk quieted, he said, "Has everyone had enough to eat?"
A loud chorus of 'Yes' echoed through the room. It was apparent everyone was enjoying themselves. Frank began our presentation with a short history of our personal relationships and the corporation's creation and growth.
"Ten years ago this evening, Jim, our ladies, and I held a private Commitment Ceremony, and if I remember right, some of you were there. Barbara, Dana, and Michelle became my wives, and each other's sister wife. Sara, Sandy, and Helen became Jim's wives, and each other's sister wives.
"Before I meander on in my rambling reminiscences, I would like to pay tribute to the six ladies who have put up with Jim and me for the past twelve years and given us so many wonderful children. Ladies and gentlemen, please stand and join Jim and me in a toast of appreciation to our life partners."
Everyone in the room stood and raised their glass in tribute to our ladies. Our ladies remained seated and blushed in embarrassment. It wasn't often that they were honored in such a public fashion.
When everyone had returned to their seats, Frank continued, "I'm not sure how many of you recall, but the polyamorous life style that Jim and I established with our ladies got us arrested. During our Commitment Ceremony, we exchanged rings and afterward started referring to each other as husband, wife, and sister-wife.
"One day, a local Baptist minister heard that Jim and I were each married to multiple partners. This minister was one of those fire and brimstone spouters that mesmerized their congregations into believing whatever he wanted them to believe.
"He believed our lifestyle was wrong, so he started a campaign to end what he called sinful relationships. After riling his congregation up to a fever pitch, the minister and his congregation carpooled to our home. They formed a picket line and marched in front of our home carrying signs proclaiming us to be bigamists, the devil's spawn, and similar terms. We just ignored him and his congregation. We figured they would eventually just go away.
"One of his parishioners was our local DA, and the DA's wife was a stanch supporter of the minister. The minister and the DA's wife pressured the DA into bringing Frank and I up on bigamy charges.
"We were arrested and charged with bigamy. Kirk represented us in court. Now in this state, the crime of bigamy only applies to a person who marries two or more people in accordance with the state's laws. During the initial hearing, Kirk argued that Frank and I were in a polyamorous relationship and we couldn't be found guilty of bigamy for we were not legally married. The judge agreed and threw the case out of court.
"That didn't stop the minister. At least once a year, the minister and his congregation picket our home. We have fun serving them coffee and donuts, until they get tired and leave. I have noticed that their group gets smaller each year. Last year, one of them told me the only reason he came to demonstrate was to visit with us and have some of our coffee and donuts.
"Our lives have changed in many ways since the night of our Commitment Ceremony. My ladies and I now have seven children, while Jim and his ladies have eight kids.
"When our ladies first became pregnant, it was obvious that our home in Van Nuys would be too small for our expanding family. Jim and I purchased a large tract of land just outside of Porter Ranch and we had a 14-bedroom home designed and built for our families to live in.
"Around that time, it also became apparent that our wealth made us a target for those who would use violence to gain a share of our wealth. That realization led to our employing a security staff, and installing various security features in and around our home.
"A little over thirteen years ago, my close friend, Doctor William Smith, passed away and left me the secret of Chocolateen.
"Around that time, Barbara, Dana, Michelle, and Sara were giving Jim a hard time at work. I decided to help Jim with his problem. In a joint effort, Jim and I allowed the ladies to eat some chocolate chip cookies that we had doctored with Chocolateen. A week later, the ladies accepted our generous offer of assisting them in kicking their Chocolateen addiction, and they agreed to pay the price of our assistance."
Our wives gave Frank dirty looks, while the rest of the room got a good laugh at Frank's innocent way of describing our setting up and blackmailing the four ladies into becoming our caretakers and sex slaves.
"As they went through the withdrawal phase, Jim and I learned the true nature of Chocolateen. It is a personality-altering drug. It changed our ladies into wonderful companions who were totally dedicated to us. While this was not our original intent, we were all happy with our changed relationships. Helen and Sandy joined us a short time later, and since then the eight of us have lived together as a single family.
"Jim and I formed a partnership and created the Chocolateen Corporation. With Kirk Jonas' assistance, the corporation formed a partnership with a medical research center. That partnership led to the FDA approving Chocolateen's use as a controlled drug for medicinal purposes. With that approval under our belts, we created the Chocolateen Weight Control program, and it took off like wildfire. A year later, we formed a second partnership with a smoking cessation program, and the rest as they say is history.
"While Jim and Kirk were busy setting up and managing the business side of our corporation, I and my assistants were busy setting up a production plant in Simi Valley to make Chocolateen. Once the plant was operational, we returned to our Van Nuys' laboratory and developed Chocolateen II. Chocolateen II worked the same as the original, but without all of the negative side effects.
"We obtained FDA approval for Chocolateen II and phased out the original version of Chocolateen. Jim and I set up a production and distribution network for Chocolateen II, and it became an even more profitable product for the corporation than the first version of Chocolateen.
"Since then, my assistants and I have been working on the development of another product. I would like to announce the release of the new product this evening, but unfortunately, we are still a long way from perfecting its formula. Due to reasons of industrial secrecy, I will forgo describing the nature of the product. However, I will say that our initial assessment of the product is that it will be as beneficial to mankind as Chocolateen, and it will probably more profitable to the corporation than Chocolateen II.
"Since today is the 10-year anniversary of our Commitment Ceremony, Jim and I have decided to declare a special bonus that will be given to all of Chocolateen Corporation's employees to commemorate the 10 years we have shared with our ladies. The bonus will be $20,000 multiplied by each employee's service period in years or portion thereof. That means an employee that has been with us for five years and at least one day will be given credit for six years of service and they will receive a bonus of $120,000. The bonus will be announced tomorrow morning and paid at the end of the month.
"At this time, I will turn the floor over to Jim, so he can introduce our special guests and make an announcement regarding a special project we have been working on with them for close to a year."
Frank took his seat to the applause of our friends. I stood and waited for the applause to die down.
"Thank you Frank.
"Today, the Chocolateen Corporation is in an enviable position financially.
"Thanks to Frank's decision to not patent Chocolateen and the security protocols at our production plant, the secret of how to make Chocolateen remains the Corporation's trade secret. Other drug companies have tried to reverse engineer the formula and production process, but they have failed. We have also been infiltrated by industrial spies, and they have failed.
"If you ever visit our production plant, you may notice that the building is structured to mask the sequence in which chemicals are added and that the process is totally automated. Only our most trusted employees are in a position to understand the overall manufacturing process, and individually, they only know a part of the process.
"Frank and I believe the Chocolateen Corporation and its secrets are as secure as we can make them. Over the past couple of years, Frank and I have been asking each other, 'What's Next?' We wanted a new challenge, and we found one.
"At this time, I would like to introduce our special guests, James Conrad and his wives Samantha and Mary Conrad. Unfortunately, James' wife Karen couldn't be with us this evening for she is at home taking care of their kids.
"Since James and I both go by Jim, we decided you should refer to us as 'Jim C' and 'Jim S' to prevent confusion.
"Jim, I would appreciate it if you, Sam, and Mary will stand so everyone can see you. It will help our family to be able to recognize you, if they see you around the Corporation."
Jim, Sam, and Mary stood, waved, and then sat down after a brief moment of applause.
"I met Jim almost a year ago. He confided in me that he had an idea for several unique products. Apparently, Jim likes to design products, but is bored by manufacturing what he designs.
"We reached an agreement. He would establish a company to do the design work; Frank and I would form a company to manufacture his products. Since then, we have met Jim's three wives and the five of us have had several meetings to discuss how our two companies will interface. We also talked about where we should locate the new companies.
"With that in mind, I would like to announce that Frank and I will found a new corporation. This corporation will manufacture and sell the high tech products that Jim C's corporation designs.
"However, ... due to tax rates, environmental factors, new government regulations that regulate manufacturing, and other things that I am not at liberty to discuss at this time, our new corporation and manufacturing location will be outside of the United States.
"During the coming year, Frank and his associates will pursue their research and hopefully finalize their new product. Frank's wives will run the Chocolateen Corporation. Jim C, his wives, my wives, and I will locate and purchase land for the new corporation and production facilities. Then we will start building the new production plant and corporate headquarters."