Liz is at the corporate Sexual Harassment and Anti-Terrorism Retreat, and Jenna is considering whether to give Pete her meltdown or if she should just wait for Liz to get back--when Kenneth walks by with his hands cupped around something like it's a candle or a cupcake, staring down and muttering under his breath. She only makes out a few words like "lies" and "recrimination" and "sometimes things die" and "not my fault" and "probably," but nothing about buttercream. She decides to ask, anyway.
"Kenneth, is that a cupcake, and if so, may I eat it?"
"Oh, no, Miss Maroney, it's a dead hamster, not a cupcake. And Mr. Jordan has called dibs on eating it, though I told him he has to wait until after I returned from the pet store with its identical replacement, and I'm in a hurry because Mr. Donaghy is real mad, because it's supposed to be a gift for--"
"Oh, don't worry about explaining it, Kenneth. I don't actually care. Hey, on your way back, from the dead hamster store, could you bring me a cupcake?"
"I'll do my best," Kenneth says, scurrying away. Jenna wonders if he lied about what he had in his hands not being edible.
Jenna wanders listlessly towards Pete's office, and when she finds him in, she sinks into his guest chair and says, "Pete. I think I want to have a baby."
She watches with a sense of despair as his eyes glaze over. It's so hard to keep Pete's attention when there's a crisis. She takes another tack. "Or maybe," she says brightly, "I'll open a cupcake store!"
"A cupcake store? Why not just a cake store?"
"What a silly question. Cupcakes are the lingerie of the bakery world, Pete. Specialization is important." She thinks maybe she heard Jack say something like that to Geiss once, when they were talking about toasters. Or the news. "And cupcakes are the new sexy. Like log flumes and clowns."
"Jenna, do you have any idea what you're saying?"
"Why, does it sound like I do?"
"Not really, n--"
"Do you think Jack would be interested in investing?"
Pete leans back in his chair, steepling his fingers. "I think you should definitely go pitch it to him."
"Oh, Pete, you're the bomb-ziggity! I think I'll go talk to Jack right now!" Jenna leaps to her feet and rushes for the elevators. She even remembers where she's going long enough to get there, and more importantly, why. And she explains everything to Jonathan well enough that he gives her an appointment with Jack. In three weeks. At 3:15 AM.
"Only time he has available," Jonathan says when she protests the hour.
"Jonathan, I'm talent. Don't you think Jack can make some time for me earlier in the day? Aren't I at least worth a midnight snack?"
"Fine." Jonathan consults his book. "12:22 AM, on the thirteenth?"
Awesome. The world will soon feel the birth pangs of one Jenna Maroney, Business Entrepreneuress. Things are looking up!
As long as Kenneth remembers her cupcake.
That's three dead hamsters now, at $1000 a pop.
Kenneth clearly has no eye for livestock. Jonathan wonders when Jack is going to wise up and stop sending a boy to do a man's job.
He dials the page station. Kenneth answers with a chirp in his voice.
Jonathan smiles an evil smile to himself. "Another one's dead, Kenneth." He listens to the keening from the other end of the line for only a moment before hanging up.
The evil smile is still there, on his lips, warming his heart.
If Jenna opens a cupcake store, Frank might have to quit. Doesn't matter that he has the right hat for the occasion (CUPCAKE HATER). It's just, Jenna with a cupcake store probably means the return of Fat Jenna. And Jenna with the extra weight was really starting to turn him on. Fat Jenna equals Hot Jenna. And it is so not right to be into Jenna. Jenna is certifiable. (CERTIFIABLY INANE.)
He stares at Cerie and breathes deeply. Cleansing his aura with pure lust, so to speak. (LUST CAPACITY? Would that work? Too much of a stretch?) Kind of a tantric thing, the breathing and the horniness. Frank zones out, thinking about tantric sex and Cerie. But suddenly, he thinks about Cerie's plan to become a hot mom soon, and somehow that makes him think about what Pete said, that Jenna showed up in his office and wanted to talk about babies and cupcake franchises.
He's so uncool with Jenna having a baby (I EAT BABIES) because babies make women puffy, particularly in the breastal and stomachal areas. Damn. His penis is thinking about Fat Jenna again, with no investment from his brain at all.
Frank wonders how to make this ridiculous Jenna boner (RIDICULOUS BONER!) go away. He might have to go rub one out in the bathroom stall, and he would, except that he promised Toofer to stop doing that, and also, he's a little afraid it will be Jenna in his head and not Cerie.
Kenneth walks past the door of the writer's room with a shoebox.
"Hey, Kenneth!" Frank shouts. Kenneth is the magic cure-all, the killer of all boners, ridiculous or otherwise. "C'mere!"
Kenneth comes back, poking his head around the door. "Yes, Mr. Rossitano?"
"Hey, Kenneth, what's up, Kenneth, why don't you come in here and talk to me a minute, Kenneth?"
"Well, I would, except I have to get to the pet store and get another replacement hamster for Mr. Donaghy."
"Another replacement hamster?" (ANOTHER REPLACEMENT HAMSTER? Nope. Way too long.) "What's going on? Why are you killing hamsters?"
"I did not kill anything. Rodent life is sacred, just like Jesus' or a baby cow's. It's these designer hamsters!" (DESIGNER HAMSTER.) "They're real skittish, and they just have heart attacks whenever Mr. Donaghy yells! And he yells a lot."
"Jack keeps hamsters?"
"Oh, no, Mr. Rossitano, he's just holding onto one until he can give it to Mr. Geiss's grand-niece for her eighth birthday."
Frank puffs out his cheeks. "Lemme see that hamster." Reluctant but obliging, Kenneth opens the box. Frank stares. "Looks like a $3.99 WalMart teddy bear hamster to me. Only dead. In triplicate."
"They are not from WalMart," Kenneth says. "They are Versace hamsters, genetically engineered not to pee."
"Well, there's your problem," Toofer says from behind his newspaper, but he doesn't seem otherwise interested in the conversation.
"So, if you're going to buy another one, why do you have three in this box?"
"Well, Versace wants to see the dead hamster before they'll issue a replacement, but they don't have any interest in keeping them, so I'm gonna have a funeral service later on, once I'm sure that Mr. Donaghy is... done." A single tear slides down Kenneth's nose.
"HAMSTER FUNERAL," Frank says softly, almost to himself.
Cerie thinks she'd like a designer hamster, maybe one in argyle, right up until Kenneth shows her one and she finds out that they don't come in argyle. Or Burberry, either.
James thinks about investing in Jenna's cupcake venture for about two minutes before discarding the idea entirely. Cupcakes are lovely, and he learned some great decorating techniques on Martha recently, but sinking a chunk of his 401(k) into a venture with Jenna isn't even stupid, it's monumentally asinine.
He considers convincing Lutz to invest.
But that would involve talking to Lutz.
It's like Sophie's choice.
Pete removes the lid of the shoebox and stares at the six identical dead hamsters inside, each swaddled individually in a Kleenex. There's a faint aura of serial killer precision to the way they're arranged in the box. Pete thinks about asking how Kenneth managed to annihilate six hamsters in ten hours, but wonders if the question might be too narrow in scope. He asks anyway.
At the end of Kenneth's story, Pete says, "My advice to you? Go to PetCo and buy any hamster that looks like one of these, and give up entirely on fulfilling the letter of Mr. Donaghy's request. Fulfill the spirit. He wants to give a hamster to Geiss's niece. Great. Let him."
"No buts!" Pete says. "This is insanity, Kenneth. You have to stop the killing."
That gets through to Kenneth, Pete can see that. Kenneth nods solemnly, then whihspers. "Mr. Hornberger, I need your help. Mr. Jordan wants to eat one of these hamsters, which strikes me as a little bit immoral, but he wouldn't take no for an answer..."
"Does he intend to eat it raw? Or, maybe, bite its head off on live television?"
"Uh, no. He's got a hibachi in his dressing room, and he's going to grill it."
"Well, he probably won't catch any diseases if he cooks it, but I don't know how Liz is going to feel about open flame in the dressing rooms..."
Jenna swings around the doorjamb, head cocked coyly to the side. "Hey, Kenneth, have you gotten my cupcake yet?"
Kenneth smacks his forehead with the palm of his hand. "Oh, no, Miss Maroney, I'm so sorry, I've been so busy with these designer hamsters..."
Pete explains. At the end, he says, "Maybe you should take Kenneth to the pet store and make sure he gets a hamster that is only the normal amount of inbred."
Jenna sniffs. "Frankly, that sounds like a B-plot. I'd rather go where the action is." She flounces off.
Kenneth stares after her. "I don't know what that means, Mr. Hornberger."
"No one does," Pete assures him. "But Jenna's whole life is a B-plot, so I wouldn't worry about it."
Grizz is on Tracy-Watch, which mostly means looking up from his DS now and again while he trails Tracy around the building. He's been getting really good at playing WarioWare while walking, and he's on a roll with that pink puffy-haired dude. He doesn't really notice anything is up until Tracy starts shouting at the blonde chick, Jenna. Something 'bout cake and Napster.
Calming Tracy down is what Grizz does best, but he doesn't even get a chance, 'cause Tracy switched Grizz's shoes again while he was napping. One stomp on Grizz's toes, and out pop the wheels tucked up in these crazy-ass Heely knock-offs. Grizz flails his arms for balance, but he rolls halfway down the hall before he comes down with a big meaty thud. He's eating linoleum and trying to remember how you get your wind back after it's knocked out of you, when he hears Tracy bellowing, "Damn right, Jenna, we gonna get our rightful snacks from Kenneth, like we deserve!"
They run off together. It might be the first time they ever really looked like they get along.
Grizz finally manages to sucks in a breath, but can't quite bring himself to stand up yet.
Man, Dot Com is gonna be so pissed.
Kenneth is not too keen on lying to Mr. Donaghy, and he knows later he'll have to perform an act of contrition that involves pop rocks, tonic water, and an enema bag just to make things right with Jesus again. The way his hand shakes as he puts the PetCo hamster down in its little cage makes him think that Mr. Donaghy is going to smell the lies on him, and maybe he does, because Mr. Donaghy's head is up, his nostrils are flaring, and he's staring at Kenneth.
"Versace replaced the hamster?"
"Yes, Mr. Donaghy." (True. Actually, true, true, true, true, and true. They had replaced the hamster five times.)
Mr. Donaghy sniffs the air two or three more times, before nodding. "Very good, Kenneth. I don't think I'll need you anymore. I don't plan on yelling at anyone between now and Shalaley Geiss's party."
Kenneth swallows. "I hope you have a good time at the party, sir."
"Oh, I will," Mr. Donaghy says. "There'll be clowns and face-painting and pony rides, and, oh! A log flume... I don't know what they're doing for the children, though."
Kenneth swallows, then swallows again. His mouth seems to be filling with saliva. Lie saliva. He swallows some more. He backs out of the room, swallowing for his life. He runs past Jonathan and downstairs to Mr. Hornberger's office, swallowing and swallowing and swallowing.
It takes Mr. Hornberger forever to figure out what's wrong, 'cause Kenneth can't risk explaining it without spilling saliva down over his chin. Mr. Hornberger even has most of the writers come in and look at him--and they finally diagnose it as "flop spit."
"Sorry, man, I don't know what to do for you," Mr. Hornberger says, sitting on the edge of his desk and looking perplexed.
"I've never actually seen flop spit before," Mr. Rossitano says.
"It's amazing. And awful," Mr. Spurlock says.
"There you are, Kenneth!" Miss Maroney shouts from the doorway. "Where is my cupcake?"
Kenneth swallows a big ol' gob of saliva, but it's still not safe to open his mouth.
"Answer me, Kenneth!"
"Yeah, answer her, Kenneth!" Mr. Jordan hollers. He's hopping around like a funny frog, looking madder and madder with each passing second, and he and Miss Maroney are shouting over each other about snacks, and Kenneth can't even apologize without saliva slopping out of his mouth. He just stares at them and shrugs, hands out apologetically.
Mr. Jordan screams a real scary cougar scream then and shoves Miss Maroney out of the way and tackles Kenneth! "I want my hamster snacks!"
Kenneth thinks maybe he blacks out a little, because the next thing he knows, Mr. Spurlock is helping him up, brushing off his jacket, and Mr. Rossitano and Mr. Hornberger are helping up Miss Maroney, while Mr. Grizz and Mr. Dot Com usher Mr. Jordan from the room. But the horrid, endless saliva has ceased, and he's not swallowing anymore. Which is good, 'cause he'd gotten real full. But maybe now he won't have to eat dinner.
"What was that?" Mr. Spurlock asks Miss Maroney.
"Me want cupcakes?" Miss Maroney says hopefully, as they walk out of the room together.
Mr. Rossitano laughs real loud, but then pops his hand over his mouth like he just said the S word, though Mr. Rossitano says the S word all the time and never puts his hand over his mouth. "Gotta go," he mumbles, and runs away, head tucked down and not looking at Miss Maroney.
Mr. Hornberger looks at Kenneth. "Come on. I'll buy you a cup of coffee before the hamster funeral. I hope you learned a valuable lesson today."
"Uhm... never to lie?"
"God, no. That's ridiculous."
"Never to leave small animals in Mr. Donaghy's care?"
"That's a start."
"Never to promise snacks and not deliver them?"
"Now that's a very important lesson, but not the one I'm thinking of."
"Never mind, Kenneth. Never mind."