Two for Five (Extra Zen)

“He said he could take Jordan in a one on one.” The stranger said and my two friends in the circle scoffed.

“Saw a simulation of the two, it was close at first but Jordan obviously won. Cool little thing but even his old ass now would beat the dude.” My friend W- coughed out. All I knew about basketball was that I was better than my one friend who judged his ability on whether or not his shots hit the rim.

The stranger continued on, “I think he plans it, all that Ball family merchandise was around before I ever heard his name now he on First Take and Sports-Center sayin’ anything to make people angry. Jordan?!”

“Trump’d his way into it.” My friend J- agreed with a nod of his head.

“The final four.” The stranger clapped his hands then rubbed them together and my two friends leaned in for the intensity sure to follow.

“I’mma head out.” I stood up and scooped my book-bag onto shoulder in the same motion; my stomach growled but the conversation had continued.

J- looked up. “If you wanna wait a couple I’m leaving too?”

“Walk’ll be good for me.” I’d been sitting in a circle all day but had endured marathon sessions longer, obviously fitness didn’t concern me; truth was I didn’t know what food I wanted, didn’t want to bother him by pondering. I left, deposited my only real goodbye on W-‘s dog Greedo with a head rub and snuck treat.

It was a twenty-minute walk between where I was and needed to end up, but the track was all city; planned-out, well-known, I got lost in the scratch of rubber on cement, occasional slap through mud, constant crosswinds then came to, opened my eyes entering the Sheetz that was my unofficial point of being half-way home.

It was too full of people to wait for hot food, my stomach grumbled in response to the promises my eyes beheld, taste-buds dripped out beef-jerky flavored saliva and I knew it’d be good but a bag was never worth the eight bucks it cost; the fantasy ruined the rest of the store’s stock.

I stormed out, back on my way remembered McDonald’s was nearer to home; didn’t have a way to check the time but hoped with everything I had left, my stomach even threw in a few whines to the divines of its own, that they’d be open when I got there; pace increased, I stepped in more mud than before, splashed my ankles stomping through a puddle, but I got there saw people not in uniform sitting inside yanked on the door and only when it yielded to my pressure did I breathe.

A man in a black hoodie had his eyebrows arched at his phone; I smiled at the person behind the counter. “Hi. How are you?” My voice scratched out.

The guy looked taken aback. “I’m good.” He took a breath then smiled back. “How can I help you?”

“Can I have the two for five please? The quarter-pounder with extra onions and the ten-piece nugget.” I offered him a ten.

“Barbecue sauce?” I nodded. “Your change is 4.65, have a nice night.” We said the last part at the same time, over the exchange of receipt bills and coins.

I stood next to the man still staring at his phone for ten seconds and did nothing else.

“583?” My clerk friend asked me; I looked at my receipt, smiled again, picked up my bag and thanked him.

“Still waitin’ on my damn food.” The man seemed to wait for me to pass to reply but I wasn’t worried about that, was out the door then opening the cardboard of my burger gripping the buns not caring that the meat spilled over the sides, greased my hands, deposited the container in McDonald’s trash-can then walked through the exit of the ‘Drive-Thru’ without looking either way; I was too busy enjoying ketchup, a splash of mustard, the occasional burst of onion all with a constant grounding of meat and bread.

Then it was gone, my fingers licked, one hand opening the nuggets and the other maneuvering the two sauces from the bag; I stood like a crane to balance, one foot in the air to bring a plastic container to my teeth, grip the cover between my two front tusks and yank it smoothly away; the plastic made the perfect wedge to prop open the nugget’s cardboard, kept the harvest plentiful for my plucking hand. The chicken CRUNCHED, produced a proper amount of grease after bite, I dipped part after part into the sauce then my mouth and was on the last one, last part, also very close to home.

There was movement to my left; a rabbit stared at me sideways. I looked at my last bit of nugget, shrugged, tossed it towards the silent fur-ball, checked over my shoulder before turning into the parking lot; the rabbit wiggled its nose at my offering.


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