And here is the 2nd installment of a 3 part series. These are the stories I wrote at a recent writing competition I participated in. Part one was Mountain High, which you can read here. The prompt for this story was “write a narrative that unfolds at the drive through window of a fast food restaurant…”
It was a warm, sunny afternoon. Clean July air filtered through that window I sit by. Like the only portal to the outside within a musty prison cell. That transparent block of sliding plexiglass kept me grounded in reality and sometimes was the only thing that kept the grease fumes from overtaking my sanity. “Hey Richard!” and suddenly I’m brought back from my daydream. “You gonna stare out that freaking window all day?” “No-I uh…I just-” “Good! You’ve got fry duty. Get to it!” Shoot. I hate fry duty. Jerry knows that and yet, he goes out of his way to assign it to me. The nerve. Whatever. At least I don’t have to pretend to enjoy this stink-hole. Fry Duty is not hard, but sometimes that grease jumps up and bites you like a vat of angry mosquitoes. I guess annoying is the word for it…So I’m standing there, dipping potatoes, pulling out fries. Stuffing them in bags-Ow!- (stupid grease) and handing the bag off to Raul, who’s working the register. Occasionally I feel a cool breeze. The window is opening. Jerry is working the drive through. Greeting customers and breathing in that refreshing outside world. Say. Where’s my name tag? I just had it. Oh god I must have dropped it into the fryer! No, it can’t be. Well it’s not under the fryer, it’s not on the floor…I know I had it on…”Richard we’ve got a code red! Level 5!” Oh no, Raul called for a code red! “Are you serious Raul?? A Level 5?” I called out. “They’re walking in the door now! Get ready! Man your battle stations!!!” Panic ensued. A code red meant a family. A rowdy, loud and out of control family. Level 5 meant there were 5 potentially 5 bratty kids. The whole world seemed to move in slow motion as they approached the register. “Hello, may I take your order?” chimed Raul with his signature charm. “Look I need 3 McChickens, 4 medium frys, 3 large…” The woman, clearly leader of the pack, had a booming voice much too loud to be natural. As if she were perpetually infuriated. Children swung from the rafters, jumped on tables, threw ice and made it rain with napkins. I think I just saw one of them pee their pants. I watched the order screen filling. 5 fries, now 6, make it 8. I gotta get rolling. But before I can even start, something pelts me in the back of the neck. Cold. Creamy. What the-“THE ICE CREAM MACHINE!” Oh god. “SHE’S GOING UNDER!!!” Jerry was being swallowed. The ice cream machine had him up to his elbow. Chocolate sauce sprinkled across his face like blood on a battlefield. The machine was lurching, spazzing, making a strange whirring sound like a Japanese Zero plane coming in hot. Jerry was screaming. I came over to help but he started screaming louder. “The drive through, Richard! They’re waiting! 2 cokes and a big mac!!” The order was sitting on the table, mere feet from the window. Those kids screaming, still ringing throughout the kitchen. I ran over and grabbed the drinks and sandwich. I handed them over, but as I was making my way over I was hit. Searing hot grease jumped from the fryer and covered me like shotgun spray. I shouted in pain as my body convulsed. Trying to complete my duty, I fell towards the window with the order. I couldn’t hold on. The cokes were thrown across, into that patient man’s car. Splattering across the fine leather like the guts of a slain soldier. He was irate. “I’m coming in and I expect to speak to your manager. I am not paying for this!” I could barely hear his threats over that Level 5 in the lobby. “Richard where are those fries? Jerry I need ice cream stat!” Raul came flying back into the kitchen like an angry general. He had battle scars. A missing button, his shirt, stained and untucked. “They’re getting angry out there! Ican’t hold them off much longer!” He looked around, panicked. “JERRY! Get your goddamn hand out of the ice cream machine!! I need 5 scoops of vanilla!!!” We all looked back as we heard a pounding in the lobby. “Hey! One of you idiots spilled coke all over my car! Get out here!” The enemy was at the gate. Jerry and Raul were both frantically pulling on Jerry’s arm. I had to take action. The order screen was full. Those kids were hungry. I fired up the grill and got to work. My hands blazing. Flipping burgers and dishing out fries. Truly I was amazed with myself. The rest of that day was a blur. I don’t know how I got out of there, but the next day I woke up, in my bed. My phone was ringing. “Hello?” “Yeah this is the local hospital. Some kid choked on a name tag from your workplace. Do you know anything about that?”
So there you have it. Far from perfect. But I’ll bet you didn’t know that right about where it says “He was irate”, I had about 5 minutes left. Pretty neat, huh? Let me know what you think. Thank you for reading.