(HELEN, a healthy-looking young woman, is shopping. She reaches for a jar of instant coffee. Suddenly, EVERMINT MAN appears, his eyes glowing with purpose.)

EVERMINT MAN: Shopping, Helen?

HELEN: Oh, hi, Evermint Man.

EVERMINT MAN: You know, if you drink that stuff, you can kiss fresh breath goodbye.

(HELEN eyes the coffee as if noticing it for the first time, then returns it to the shelf.)

HELEN: You’re right. I do like coffee in the morning, but I guess it’s a small price to pay for fresh breath. Thanks, Evermint Man.

EVERMINT MAN: (To camera.) And remember: Evermint leaves your breath ever-minty.

- - -


(HELEN is shopping again, pushing a cart already half full. She looks a little under the weather: her lips are dry and maybe cracked, and she moves a little sluggishly, as if having trouble adjusting to the lack of caffeine, but she still exudes the confidence of a young woman with her whole life ahead of her. Suddenly, EVERMINT MAN appears.)

EVERMINT MAN: Shopping again, Helen?

HELEN: Evermint Man? Wow, you keep busy, don’t you? I guess—hey, what are you doing?

(EVERMINT MAN starts rummaging through HELEN’s cart.)

EVERMINT MAN: Olives? Sweet garlic pickles? Havarti? Are you kidding me?

HELEN: It’s for an afternoon social. Nothing fancy, really, just me and the girls from the book club. We do it every Wednesday.

EVERMINT MAN: And you want to stink the place up with your putrid cheese breath, is that it?

HELEN: Of course not, but—

EVERMINT MAN: Bad breath is out there, Helen, just waiting for the chance to strike. If you’re not strong enough to make sacrifices, then you may as well give bad breath your car keys and credit cards and send it off to Mexico with your daughter bound and gagged in the trunk. Is that what you want, Helen? Is it? Damn it, I won’t let you do it!

(EVERMINT MAN tips HELEN’s cart over, sending the rest of its contents spilling across the floor, and then stomps a bag of croutons beneath his heel for good measure.)

EVERMINT MAN: There, Helen, now you’re good to go.

HELEN: But … but there’s nothing left … and I’m so hungry.

EVERMINT MAN: Here, try one of these.

(EVERMINT MAN produces a package of Evermint Reddi-Strips with the word “NEW” prominently displayed.)

EVERMINT MAN: New Evermint Reddi-Strips. Not only do they freshen your breath when you don’t have time to brush or swish but they’re delicious, too. Bad breath is no match for an Evermint Reddi-Strip.

(HELEN tries one and her face lights up a little, just a little.)

HELEN: Wow, that is refreshing. Not very filling, but refreshing. Can I have another one?

EVERMINT MAN: (To camera, ignoring HELEN.) And remember: Evermint leaves your breath ever-minty.

- - -


(HELEN is shopping again. She looks very sick, and she moves very slowly. Again and again, she reaches for an item and then stops herself at the last second. Finally, she looks about furtively, then grabs a bag of peanuts and clutches it to her chest. Suddenly, EVERMINT MAN appears behind her and she nearly jumps out of her skin.)

EVERMINT MAN: Peanuts? What the fuck do you think you’re doing, Helen?

HELEN: But they’re just peanuts. How bad—

EVERMINT MAN: Elephants eat peanuts. Have you ever smelled an elephant’s breath, Helen? IT’S RANCID!

(Stifling a sob, HELEN returns the peanuts to the shelf.)

EVERMINT MAN: (To camera.) And remember: Evermint—hey!

(HELEN bolts away, desperately grabbing one item after another. EVERMINT MAN follows, roughly knocking each item out of her hands with ease. Finally, HELEN sags to the floor and starts to sob uncontrollably.)

EVERMINT MAN: Fight it, Helen! Fight it!

HELEN: I just want something to eat! I’m so hungry!

EVERMINT MAN: Suck it up, soldier. This is war, and I refuse to lose one more mouth to bad breath. NOT ONE MORE! Now pull yourself together. Here, have another Reddi-Strip.

(HELEN fumbles blindly for the Reddi-Strip, but by now she’s too weak to take it.)

EVERMINT MAN: (To camera.) And remember: Evermint leaves your mouth ever-minty.

- - -


(TWO DOCTORS are examining a body on a gurney. It’s HELEN, cold and dead, looking like a famine victim. The FIRST DOCTOR consults a clipboard and shakes his head.)

FIRST DOCTOR: I don’t understand it. She was a healthy young woman with no history of eating disorders, but somehow she starved to death in the middle of a supermarket surrounded by shelves and shelves of food. It doesn’t make any sense.

SECOND DOCTOR: I know, but her breath—

(The SECOND DOCTOR leans down and takes a deep sniff.)

SECOND DOCTOR: —is it ever minty.