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Executive sweet

Act I: In the attic

(Enter gaggle of sweet tooths: wife; son, 13; daughter, 20.)

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''Mom, why did you call me up here? I'm watching a 3-D horror movie on TV with Dad,'' my son complained.

''Look what I've just found in your father's toolbox.''

''A pound of maple leaf candies!'' exclaimed my daughter. ''Dad said he was cutting down on sweets and if we should catch him indulging he's promised to buy us a pound of whatever he was eating.''

''What a find, Mom. Let's divide the spoils.'' This was my eager son.

''Oh no,'' countered my wife, returning the maple cache to its hiding place. ''Your clever father made quite a fuss at supper about some missing tools, knowing I'd check the toolbox.''

''He wanted you to find these maples? Why?'' my son asked.

''This smells like a smoke screen,'' deduced my daughter.

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''Exactly,'' her mother agreed. ''I'd say there's bigger game hidden somewhere else.''

''I'll inspect all the closets and cabinets for any evidence'' - my daughter's offer.

''Leave the wastebaskets to me,'' added my son.

''I'll cover the basement area and meet you in the laundry room in half an hour,'' said my wife. ''Be discreet.''

(Exeunt search party.)

Act II: In the laundry room

(Enter son, who joins mother and sister.)

''Where have you been?'' mother asks son.

''Sorry, Mom. I was watching this giant squid in San Francisco Bay eating the Golden Gate - ''

''Never mind that,'' interrupted his mother, going through the pockets of a pair of slacks I'd worn yesterday. ''Did you uncover anything?''

''When Dad left the room during a commercial I found a bunch of these goldfoil wrappers in his wastebasket.''

''They were probably packed in this butter cream empty I found under his typewriter cover,'' said his sister.

''Ah, the plot sweetens,'' my spouse remarked ''Lookee here - a sales slip from the House of Chocolate. Let's pay your father and his squiggly friend a visit.''

''Man, I can taste those butter creams already,'' drooled my son.

(Exeunt smiling watchdog committee.)

Act III: In the TV den

(Enter judge and jury.)

''You're nibbling on a raw carrot,'' observed my wife. ''I thought you hated them.''

''Got hungry watching this squid consume San Francisco,'' I replied. ''I told you I was a reformed chocoholic.''

''Wouldn't you agree this sales slip and carton from the Chocolate House say otherwise?''

''Oh, that. There was a surprise retirement party yesterday for one of the submanagers. I was delegated to purchase those for the affair. I brought the box home to store some typing paper in.''

''Then I guess we misjudged you, Dad,'' admitted my daughter.

''Thanks for the acquittal. By the way, I found the missing ratchet set. It's on my desk.''

''I'll put that in your toolbox,'' my son chimed in.

''We'll help you, Glenn, won't we, Karen?'' but my wife had something else in mind.

''Of course we will,'' my daugher said, brightening.

(Exeunt expectant bon bon bounty hunters.)

I dropped the carrot into the wastebasket and reached into my shirt pocket for the last of the maple leaves, savoring one of the finest moments of duplicity ever perpetrated by a chocoholic. To reveal my sweet side I had left three leaves behind in the toolbox.

I always did like maple sugar with my squid.

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