Have It Your Way
"Jerry's got a girlfriend, Jerry's got a girlfriend," Terrance whispered to Jerry as he walked by with a tray of Whoppers and fries.
"Do not," he whispered back.
He wished he did, but he and Suzie were only coworkers and juniors at the same high school. Nothing more. Actually, the two had barely spoken more than a few words to each other since they'd both been hired to work at Burger King that summer. Jerry got all tongue-tied whenever he was around her, so he simply chose to ignore her altogether. Of course, he managed to stare at her whenever he thought she wasn't looking. His friend Terrance spotted this right away.
"She's out of your league, dude," he told Jerry during one of their breaks. "The bench warmer and the cheerleader never get it on. It's like fries with mustard. Blech."
"That was last year. This year will be different."
"Dream on, dude, dream on."
But dreams were all he had. That and his very first job. Granted it was a McJob, if you could call a job at Burger King that. The term seemed at odds with his new employer. Still, when it came down to it, the work was mind-numbingly boring. And the pay barely made it worth his while. Plus, all those fries and burgers weren't helping much with his recurring acne problem. All in all, the summer was turning out to be a major disaster.
And things were about to go from bad to worse.
"Take a look at the schedule, Romeo," Terrance said to Jerry the next day.
Fuck, he thought. Why me?
It took two people to close the place down at night. So far, Jerry and Suzie had never made it onto the schedule together. That is, until that week. Jerry was terrified of being alone with her. Now I'll have to talk to her. Damn. Maybe I'll quit before Wednesday.
But Wednesday rolled around and there he was, serving the masses their slabs of meat. After all he'd seen during his brief stint at Burger King he vowed to turn vegetarian once the summer was over, even though the new BK Veggie had about as much taste as a wad of cardboard. The thought, sadly, only momentarily distracted him from the inevitable.
Alone with Suzie. Fuck. He was fairly terrified.
And then it was time to close up shop. Everyone else had already left and only the two of them were there cleaning up. It didn't take more than a half an hour to get it done, but that was thirty minutes longer than he'd ever been alone with a girl.
"You, um, can mop out here and I'll clean up in back," he managed to say to her before quickly scampering to the nether regions of the place. Barley ten little words and he was already shaking in his boots.
Please don't come back here. Please don't come back here. Please don't come back here.
He assumed that God had better things to do than to hang out at the local BK because she was back there in about two minutes flat.
"There's some weird looking guy outside in the parking lot," she said, looking nervously at Jerry. Man she's hot, he thought, completely ignoring her anxiety.
"Oh. Well.um.the door's locked and we can wait until he leaves, if you like." Fuck. Did I just ask her to stay longer with me? Oh man, I think I just felt another zit pop up.
"Yeah, well, okay. Thanks. I don't think he saw me, anyway. I ran back here when I noticed him checking the place out. But he looked weird."
"Weirder than the normal bunch we get in here." Next summer he intended on applying at the Olive Garden. They attracted a better clientele.
"Yep. He walked around the front a few times. Like he was checking the place out."
Damn. "Okay, let's just sit back here and wait a few minutes and then I'll go have a look."
But just then they heard someone rattling the front door.
"G.go see," she whispered, nudging him. Man, she touched me. Suzie touched me!
Jerry inched himself up to see if he could see to the front of the store, but it was too dark and too far to make out what was happening.
"Here, try these," Suzie said, handing him a Spidey Vision Scope she grabbed from a box to her left.
Jerry held up the Spiderman binoculars that has just arrived in time for the summer movie tie-in and spotted the strange man outside. Uh oh, it looks like he's trying to jimmy the lock. And I haven't set the alarm yet. Fuck.
"He's trying to break in," he whispered to her.
"What do we do?" Now he noticed the terror in her lovely blue eyes.
The phone was in the manager's office, which was already locked for the night. And the only other way out was through the side exit. He'd get them for sure if they made a run for it. "Go get on that end of the counter and pull when I say so," he whispered. She slid over and grabbed for the table, which was on wheels so someone could mop underneath it. "Okay, pull." The two of them pulled the fixing table back towards the wall so that they were safely behind it and the bad guy couldn't get at them if he made it inside; which he did about a minute later. They both heard the door open just before they slid down to the floor.
"I know you kids are in here," the guy shouted. "I been checking this place out all night. Just come out and I won't hurt you." No fucking way.
The guy walked around the restaurant until he was only a few inches in front of the table that Jerry and Suzie were hiding behind. It would only be a matter of seconds before they were discovered. That's when Jerry noticed Suzie pulling something out from a different box. She handed him a Web Glider Spidey and grabbed one for herself as well. Then she motioned for him to hurl it over the counter.
They both tossed the miniature Spiderman plastic action figure with the gliders on their backs high over the counter. The toys sailed over the thief and glided to the other side of the store, bouncing off a table by the window with a slight ping.
"Okay, so now I know where you kids are at," the thief said with a menacing laugh, and went walking in that direction.
Jerry turned to Suzie and grabbed the legs of the counter. He nodded for her to do the same on her side, and then he mouthed, "Three.two.one." And they both pushed with all their might, sending the counter flying right into the thief's back. He fell to the ground with a hard thud. A split second later a black object came sliding by and rested at Jerry's feet.
"It's a gun. Pick it up," Suzie cried out.
"You pick it up," Jerry said as he inched back away from the thing.
"No, you." She was looking right into his eyes, which did indeed bolster his confidence. Man she has pretty eyes. Jerry reached down and gingerly picked the gun up. Then the two of then stood up and walked around the counter that now stood in the middle of the floor.
"Hold it right there," Jerry barely managed to creak out.
"Or what? You gonna shoot me, kid?" the thief said, as he rubbed his back. He eased himself up off the ground and stared Jerry down. "Now give me the gun back."
"Don't give it to him," Suzie said.
"Give it to me, kid." The thief inched closer.
"Don't give it to him, Jerry!" Ah, she said my name.
Jerry knew he couldn't shoot the guy, even for Suzie. So he did the only thing he could think of and threw it into the fryer. Luckily, the thing was still on, as they had yet to clean it. The gun sank to the bottom and made a distinctly loud sizzling noise. He prayed that the deep fried gun was no longer in working order.
The thief looked pissed. "Fucking kids," he said. He ran over and turned the fryer off, but it was clearly too late. Instead, he grabbed for a knife that was sitting on the counter. Suzie grabbed Jerry's hand. She's holding my hand. She's holding my hand. She's holding my hand. And then the thief told them to go stand over in the corner. "Or else". He trapped them with the sliding counter and warned them to stay put, flashing them the knife that he gripped in his hand.
"Now what?" Suzie asked, still holding tightly onto Jerry's hand. The one he planned on never washing again, even if Burger King said he had to.
Jerry looked around but the only things within reach were more Spiderman Kids Meal toys and the fryer.
"I've got an idea," he whispered to her. The thief had managed to pick the lock to the manager's office and was looking around. Jerry knew there was a safe in there, but he didn't know if the thief could get into it or not. He wasn't going to wait around to find out.
"Here," he said, handing Suzie a Spidey-Speed Stop Watch. "Put this on." She did and he did the same. Then he reached into another box and pulled out two handfuls of Spidey Web Balls and some Throw and Stick Spideys. He didn't need the accompanying sticky spider gloves. The balls should do the trick, he figured. Lastly, he reached into the box and took out two Spidey's Super Squirters, one for each hand. The directions said to: Put on your wrists, Fill with water, Aim, and Pull the plunger. But Jerry had a different idea.
He flipped open the Spidey head-shaped stop watch and told Suzie to do the same. "Hit the start button now. In one minute, toss a ball into the office. Keep doing it until that asshole comes out to see what's going on."
"What are you going to do?" she asked.
"Okay, but be careful." She reached out and touched his shoulder. Oh man.
"Don't worry. I will be."
Jerry filled both of his Spidey's Super Squirters up with the oil, which he prayed had cooled enough to not melt the plastic. Then he slid under the counter and tiptoed to the side of the office. He was out of Suzie's site, but he looked at his stop watch and counted down the seconds. He saw the first Spidey Web Ball, with it's tailing plastic webbing, go whizzing by a moment later. A Throw and Stick Spidey Ball followed soon after.
"What the fuck's going on out there?" the thief yelled from the office.
Suzie kept tossing the balls in until the thief yelled, "Don't make me come out there."
That's my cue. With his left hand, Jerry squeezed down the plunger and soaked the floor with the vegetable oil. Suzie kept tossing the balls in and, as planned, the thief came out to investigate. That's when Jerry let him have it with his right hand. The oil went right in the thief's eyes. "What the fu." But he went slipping and sliding before he could finish the statement, dropping the knife to the ground as he tried to wipe the oil from his eyes. With the thief temporarily blinded and near ready to topple over, Jerry charged out and made a hard mid-section tackle. Between the oil and the force of Jerry's lunge, the two went sliding clear across the floor. Jerry saw the wall they were about to hit and quickly rolled off. The thief, not being able to see much of anything, smacked head first into the concrete. WHAM! His skull made a loud crack upon impact.
"There! See who sits on the bench next year!" Jerry shouted down at the thief, who was, to his profound delight and amazement, knocked out cold. "Suzie, go call 911."
Suzie slid out from under the counter and ran to the office. A minute later she came up behind Jerry. "They're on their way. Man, that was cool. What would you have done if he didn't hit that wall?"
"Oh, um, I didn't plan that far ahead. Guess I just wanted to make sure he didn't get to you and I figured I'd just stay on him until you could get away."
Suzie looked at him in awe. "Really? You'd do that for me?"
Jerry turned three shades of red and nodded at her.
A moment later the police arrived and were surprised to find two kids and an unconscious thief on the ground. "Nice work," one of them said.
"Yeah," Suzie said to Jerry, "Nice work." Then she whispered into his ear, "Wanna walk me home?" She kissed him on the cheek for good measure. She kissed me. She kissed me. She kissed me.
"Hey, this is Burger King. Have it your way," he whispered back and returned the kiss.
Jerry's got a girlfriend. Jerry's got a girlfriend. And, hand in hand, the two left Burger King and walked into the night. Thank you Spiderman, wherever you are.
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Rob Rosen lives, loves, and works in San Francisco. His first novel, "Sparkle", was published in 2001 to critical acclaim. His short stories have appeared on the literary sites: SoMa Literary Review, Unlikely Stories, Hairy Musings, Strange Minds, Ten Thousand Monkeys, Thunder Sandwich, Willow Lake Press, Muse Apprentice Guild (M.A.G.), StickYourNeckOut, and in the coming months at Open Wide Magazine. Feel free to visit him at his website www.therobrosen.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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