The McDonalds was starting to close when Kristin and I walked in. The floor was being mopped, and only one register was open. I was actually surprised at how late it was; seeing a McDonald's open at 11:30 was not something I had really seen before moving down to the city. But apparently the business they pulled in at these hours was enough to justify it- this was New York City after all. At any rate, there was only one person waiting for their order, so we walked right up to the counter.
"So Thom," Kristin asked me, "Order yourself some sacred cow patties. Be greedy."
The gleam in her eye advised me to be very greedy. "Ummm... two number threes and two double cheeseburgers and a big mac. Supersize the combo." The clerk nodded, punching in the order. I didn't make eye contact with her. I barely acknowledged her presence. Do you ever? I mean, they're McDonald's employees. Their entire job has been boiled down to a readout on the cash register that reads "Average serve time: 37s".
"Ooohhh... a nice heart attack order." Kristin playfully punched my arm, and again, it hurt. I was going to be terribly bruised tomorrow.
"Eh, I figured since you were buying I could score breakfast and lunch for tomorrow."
Kristin shrugged and placed her order, and tendered the cash. She did so with a flourish, which drew my eye towards the bill. At first glance, it was a fifty. It looked like a fifty. But no, it wasn't. It was the same size and shape as currency, but instead of the face of a dead president, it bore the face of none other than Ronald McDonald, with a black eye and gigantic vampire fangs. It was green, but the decorations were all wrong. The cashier didn't even glance at the bill as she punched in the result I for my part did the only intelligent thing- I ignored it. As the cashier was handing back the change, Kristin asked for it all to go, and a stunning 48 seconds later, we were on our way out the door, with two large bags of artery clogging grease.
"So uhhh... wanna explain what happened there?" I asked. "Or are you going to play dumb like at the Starbucks?"
Kristin sighed. "You are so annoying sometimes. Fine, I torched the Starbucks, are you happy?"
I stopped and stared. "You did?"
"Yeah. Now, as for the Ronald McFifty," she started, but I cut her off.
"You torched the Starbucks?" I was getting towards shouting.
"Keep your voice down." She started walking again, leaving me to stand still, my chin getting scraped by the pavement, or follow her. When I caught up, she continued. "The cashier is a friend of mine. Her name's Alice, not that you noticed, because, that's the wonderful thing about places like McDonald's... no one notices the help, not even the management. At any rate, in about ten minutes, she's going to cash out her register, and 'not notice' a customer slipped her a phony bill. The manager happens to be blind as a bat, and refuses to wear glasses, so when she double checks Alice's count, she won't notice it either. All the money gets handled together, and when there's a deposit, presumably, the bank catches it. Maybe not, and that would make me laugh. At any rate, last I heard, one of the higher ups from McDonald's Corporate Mafia was investigating."
"You torched a Starbucks?"
"You're not going to let that go."
"That... someone could have gotten hurt! I mean... just think... the damage!"
"Yes, think about the damage. A franchise coffee bar is a smoldering cinder. Directly above it was an insurance company's office, which as we all know, is roughly akin to a Vegas Casino where the house makes no pretense of you standing a chance at winning. The floor above that? An import company brining in Malaysian sweatshop labor. I don't think much above that got damaged."
"Still... that's just..."
"It's my little tip of the hat to the revolution."
"Revolution! You call torching a Starbucks a revolution? Vandalism maybe, but that's not a revolution. What, one Starbucks? I mean, jeezus, we could organize a boycott or something. We don't need to go torching places."
She shook her head. "Boycotts don't work."
"They do so! You just need enough people behind it."
Angrily, she snapped, "People don't care anymore." She sounded on the verge of tears.
"Maybe we should make them care."
She stopped walking, grinned, and then kissed me around the bags. At this point, we had been wandering aimlessly for enough time to end up near Central Park, she led me over into a section of it. She plopped down under a tree and happily began munching a "sacred cow patty" as she called it.
I sat and started eating, and said, "You have to be the most singularly confusing girl I ever met."
"I prefer to be thought of as intoxicating."
"No Kristin, that's just the sort of beverage one should drink before speaking with you."
"Oh ho, clever. Listen, Thom, about the Starfucks."
"Listen, I don't think we should talk about it. I mean, I'll give you an alibi and all, but you can't-"
This time, she cut me off. "Don't worry about an alibi. I was at a meeting of my quilting club across town till midnight. Plenty of witnesses, no Thom, I wanted to talk to you about why I did it."
"Blah blah, for the revolution."
"Yes, but not the way you think. Thom, I did it so I could know how you felt about seeing the burning Starbucks. Honestly."
I thought about it. And now I was starting to have an idea of what she was talking about when she talked about the World Trade Center falling. Because there was a little trimphant feeling in the back of my head. One less nasty, heartless thing in the world. One less soul drainer. Hell, if I had just been driving by and hadn't been looking for Kristin, I probably would have happily related it to all of my friends. "Like I just won a Little League game."
"Exactly. Thom, would you like to play the big leagues?"
My heart tripled its rate. "What do you mean?"
"I mean Thom, would you like to join my quilting club? Mind you this quilting club involves an espousal of things that might be considered idealogically sensitive."
You know that feeling you get when you're doing something you really shouldn't be? Listening to your best friend's wife tell you all the dirty things she wanted to do to you- not that you'd let her do them, but you just wanted to listen for the titillation of it. "What sort of ideas?"
"First, the Government has ceased to be of or for the people. The same noble ruling class that led to the American Revolution exists in the US today; titles may not be hereditary, but money is. Second, Corporations are not entities guaranteed to free speech, or any other constitutional rights, unlike what the Supreme Court says. Third, the primary cause of terrorism is asshole behavior by these same nobles that are supposed to be upholding a constituon that explicitly prohibits nobles. Those are the big ones, pretty much everything comes out of that."
I thought about what she had said, and I was feeling that titillation. "Everything comes out of it? Like being against the war in Iraq?"
"Exactly. The noble ruling class is using the middle and lower classes as pawns to further the objectives of the Project for the New American Century, which essentially seeks the same sort of global dominance that the British Empire once had, and various others before it."
"Project for a New American Century?" Now she was sounding like a conspiracy nut. "Some evil secret society?"
She laughed. "Nothing secret about them. They have a website. They've been advocating hitting Iraq, and even mentioned that pushing for global dominance might be best achieved if America had a second 'Pearl Harbor'. And there are signatures on these documents- from people like Dick "I don't have one" Cheney, and Donald "Take me up the" Rumsfeld."
"And your quilting club fights against all this?"
"You'd be amazed what a couple of sewing needles and some batting can do."
"Like take out a Starbucks?"
"Exactly." She smiled at me mischeviously.
Remember how I mentioned that titillation from my best friend's wife? One thing I forgot to mention. I slept with her. "I'm in."
Right after sleeping with her, or actually, more like during, I had this incredible feeling of having just put myself in over my head. "I just need to know a bit more."
Yay! Actually getting someplace with the story. Took long enough. Okay, it wasn't really long at all, but it felt like forever. I'm just gonna keep snapping it along at a high pace. And try not to make it sound like the typical rants one is likely to hear in my journal. Just out of curiosity, if you write about a protaganist that makes a threat against someone in high political office, is that construed as you having made the same threat?
Ah well. I'll have to take my chances, since it will inevitably come up in future installments.