By Jack Keillor
There’s nothing like a warm sandwich on a cold day, and there wasn’t any colder a day than the day I had my last Quarter Pounder with Cheese.
I’d just left the force to pursue a career of living in the shame of being fired for assaulting a civilian at my daughter’s funeral. There wasn’t much left for me in this world but after several failed suicide attempts I decided I might as well get a job if I was going to still be hanging around. Being that detective work was the only work I knew, I decided to get my P.I. license. After just a few classes and hiring a new secretary, Jessica. I’d like to say I hired her for her professionalism or because I found her sexually attractive and wanted to leverage my position to get her to have robotic, passionless sex with me, but the truth was that she simply shared a name with my recently deceased daughter. Looked like her, too.
Jessica 2 (she hated that name) was all the fun of Jessica 1 but without all the being dead part. She was fun, naive and made me feel like a big shot when she turned to me for help with stuff like shopping and boys, two of my favorite pastime activities. It didn’t take long for us to build a strong relationship and it truly felt like, for a few months there, that I’d never even lost my daughter. Not to mention the sex was fantastic.
We got the office up and running in about a month and were taking pictures of cheating husbands before we even had the sign on the door. Jessica was proving both useful as a secretary and a great stopgap for the massive hole my daughter had left in my life. I knew that I was just delaying the inevitable breakdown but I didn’t care. Sorting through your emotional problems was what death is for, I imagine. I wouldn’t know, never died. Not my thing. It’s been almost everyone that I’ve ever loved’s “thing” but not mine. I play through the pain and I go home and eat a big bowl of the stuff for dinner. Then for breakfast? You guessed it, more pain. It’s fine. I can take it. I could take death too if that wimp had the guts to take on someone his own size.
I couldn’t have death, not without taking the coward’s way out at least, and I just didn’t have it in me to do that either. It wasn’t that I couldn’t bring myself to do it, or that I didn’t think I deserved it. It’s just that every time I was about to finally make it happen it felt… cheap. Like after all this I was going to just quit? Just let them win? Sometimes I think that’d be better, to just cut my losses and check out early, but that wouldn’t be me. That isn’t the game Jack Keillor has been playing so far and it certainly wasn’t how he was going to leave the goddam stadium. No, I couldn’t have death, at least not with my own hands. But I could have a Quarter Pounder with Cheese.
For two years I would go to McDonald’s for lunch and for two years I would get the Quarter Pounder with Cheese. I’m a man of routine, always have been, and the Quarter Pounder with Cheese was the highlight of that routine at the time. The pickles, that thick patty, the cheese? Get out of here with that cheese! Sometimes, you’re going to love this, sometimes I would say to Rebecca, who worked there on weekdays, I would say, “Hey! Can I get the Cheese and Quarter Pounder!?” and she wouldn’t know WHAT to think! I made that joke every day for two years and she never knew what the heck I was talking about. She always figured it out though and I always got exactly what I wanted. Up until that last time.
The thing about being a P.I. is that you’re going to make a lot of enemies. For example; the men whose lives you destroy. They can get awfully angry, and unfortunately there’s not much stopping them from getting awfully angry with a gun in their hands. One of the biggest problems with the U.S., and I can’t believe more people don’t talk about this more, is that pretty much anybody can get their hands on a legal firearm. Call me crazy, but I don’t think that’s the best idea. Especially when those guns are assault weapons.
When the disgruntled husband of a scorned woman entered the McDonald’s I was enjoying my lunch in, I at first didn’t recognize him in his clothes and not dressed as a tree with his penis painted to look like a branch. Though once he took his assault rifle out, aimed it at me and screamed my name I finally pieced it together.
I tried to convince him to let them go and just take me, but that didn’t work so I tried to convince him to let me go and take everyone else, but that didn’t take either. This guy just wasn’t playing ball so I did the only thing I could think of; I called the police. Then, an hour and a half later when they still hadn’t shown up, I called Jessica.
I knew that if she could get my gun out of my car and throw it to me through the window, I could catch it, cool-style, swing around and shoot this dirtbag before he could even figure out which way to point that mass murder machine that he bought in a store. She got there in less than ten minutes.
The plan worked like a charm. By which I mean it didn’t work at all and I looked like an idiot for even thinking it would. She got the gun out of my car and threw it as hard as she could at the window, which was apparently reinforced. Though it wasn’t reinforced enough for the disgruntled husband, who tore through it, half the crowd and Jessica with his assault rifle like it was some sort of sandwich spread that would make butter feel like a tough guy before turning it on himself. Somehow he had missed me entirely.
I was the only one left alive. Again. I left the Quarter Pounder with Cheese on the table and I never looked back.