Author: Ken Carlson

“Hello and welcome to Burger King. How may I help you,” said the disembodied out of the drive-through speaker in a dark parking lot off Interstate 5, Tacoma.

The voice belonged to Chad Stearns, 16 years old, 120 pounds and already drained of hope.
He mumbled to himself, off-mic. “Maybe to kiss my…”

“Chad!” Elizabeth Huckley crowed from the French fry station. Elizabeth was the miserable night manager. The two of them were the only ones to show up tonight.

“Sorry, just joking,” he said.

Elizabeth bellowed, “One more word and you’ll be out of a job!”

This sucked, but it wasn’t home where his drunken old man, the pontificator about the importance of hard work and a job well done loved smacking him around. Now Chad was out earning a few bucks, which Dad would skim to buy more booze.

Chad finally heard something from the drive-thru.“We are here,” a mechanical voice responded. Chad checked the monitor and spied a beaten-up black van, idling with its headlights off.

The voice returned. “Does this electric board feature all your establishment sells?”

“It’s called a menu, sir,” Chad said. “How about a Junior Whopper, some fries, and a shake?”

“We are hungry. The menu will be fine.”

“You want everything on the menu? That’s gonna take a while,” Chad laughed.

“Fine,” the voice said, “We’ll take all that you can. We are hungry.”

The van pulled up. Chad saw the dark interior, yet he knew someone was there. He was handed a wad of cash, thousands, just not with an actual hand, more of a disembodied force.

“Elizabeth! We have an order for everything we’ve got!”

She waddled up to Chad, “If this is your idea of a joke, Chad, I’ll…”

She saw the cash and looked out to the van. She grabbed the cash, put it in the register and got to work.

In an hour, the food was ready. Everything the two of them could prepare and bag in that time was done. The food was handed off. Chad and Elizabeth were exhausted. The van drove away.

“Chad, you’ll be punished for what you said earlier,” said a sweaty Elizabeth. “I’m going home. You have clean-up tonight. The grill, the trash bins. It will be off the clock and you will be here tomorrow at 6 am when Brian opens.”

Chad stared at the mess from the biggest night this store ever saw. Elizabeth returned to the overly stuffed register, pulled out several bills and stuffing them into her purse.

The van returned to the drive-thru, dark as midnight when you die.

Chad leaned out the window and said, “Welcome to Burger King. How may I help you.”

“We are still hungry,” said the van voice, “for something nice and fat.” More dollars were thrust at Chad, more than he could make in a month at this joint, maybe a year.

Chad nodded. The breeze blowing his brown hair poking out from under his BK cap.

“Liz, there’s a customer here that wants to speak to the manager.”

She shoved him out of the way, stomping back to the drive-thru station.

“Hello and welcome to Burger King,” she said. “How may I help…”

Her screams were muffled as her body was lifted through the courtesy window into the waiting van. Chad heard a crunching sound, but he was probably mistaken. He made his way to the back door, set the alarm, and locked up; ending a long day with a satisfied customer, the mark of a job well done.