Fiction: I Always Wanted to Do It
By David Centorbi
In this business, all of us have some kind of Hit Bucket List. And I knew mine could be done, in a few different ways.
And sure, it’s not professional. It would be taking unnecessary risks, too much exposure. I mean. I like it quiet, quick, and done: headshot, and I’m on my way to dinner or a drive along Lakeshore Drive.
But this, well, it would take a bit of planning. The good thing was I had the contract. I had some time to plan.
This all started one day over coffee at Mike’s Best Brew. Jimmy D my, when-he-was-in-the mood-for-a job partner, and Rachel my, most-of-my-jobs partner were sitting around discussing the best film hits. And of course, the toll booth scene in The Godfather always won hands down.
So from then on, I was always thinking about the hit I wanted to try, and now I had the opportunity with my current contract, Mr. Greenblat.
Mr. G was the best: predictable: and his daily eight am McDonald’s breakfast drive-thru stop was where my bucket list would get its first check.
The easiest way to do it, but not really satisfying my bucket list requirements, would be from my car. I would sit in the used car parking lot next to the McDonald’s drive-thru and when he got his order and was pulling it through the window, right when he made that turn to set his coffee in the holder next to him, I’d snipe his brains out all over the dashboard and steering wheel.
No one else would get hurt, or splattered.
The drive-thru window would be closed and the McDonald’s girl would already be on to the next order.
So, there would be Mr. G’s brainless body slumped against the steering wheel, hopefully with the horn blaring.
But then, I wouldn’t be able to see his face when I opened the drive-thru window with my Ruger .22 pointed at his. And really, that surprised face was what I was really looking for. It was obvious what had to be done.
I told Rachel my plans as we sat on her balcony overlooking the Detroit River. She flicked her cigarette over the railing, her bleached red hair and Miami-tanned face were hazed in smoke as she said, “Well. you can’t just walk in there, go behind the counter, and hang out at the drive-thru window. Unless the manager wasn’t coming in, and some other manager was taking his place for the morning shift.” She looked at me waiting for my response. I tilted my head and raised my eyebrows.
“Sure. That’s easy. Where does he live?”
Thursday was the day. Rachel made the manager two offers. One he easily refused and took the $500 to call in sick.
Rachel would follow Mr. G and give me the play-by-play right up to the point where I opened the drive-thru window, and then she would be waiting in the used car parking lot to drive me away.
So, with my McDonald’s manager costume on, fake mustache, and wig, which Rachel said reminded her of her favorite 70’s porn star, I walked into the McDonalds and was met by the assistant manager, a very thin, pale-faced guy, with braces and a shaved head. He let me know Mr. Thomas called in sick and said another manager would be coming in. He also let me know he went ahead and told the crew, and then added, “I don’t know why they have to have two managers, I can handle it, I’ve been doing this for 10 years, ya know what I mean.”
I looked at his name tag. “Yes. Rodney, I know what you mean. You look like a very capable fast-food manager.” He laughed, relieved it seemed that at least someone else thought the same way he did.
“So, where is my office?” I asked.
I sat down and looked around. The office was small and cramped. It smelled like a combination of sweat and old grease. As I moved up closer to the desk my feet hit something metal. I pushed the chair back and looked down. It was the garbage can filled with Big Mac and Egg McMuffin wrappers, on top of those were a couple of apple pie boxes. While I was still looking at all the trash my watch buzzed, and it said 10.
Mr. G was on the move, ETA 10 minutes. I stood up and closed my eyes and started planning this morning’s bucket list checkoff until Rodney knocked on my door and interrupted.
“So everything is set for breakfast and everyone knows what’s up with you, ya know what I mean.”
“Sure Rodney. Thank you.” I stood there hoping he would leave without me telling him. But he didn’t, so I had to shoo him away, suggesting he go check on the Egg McMuffins.
At the drive-thru window was a very pale, heavily eyelinered girl with some very large pink earlobe plugs. I never really understood those things, but somehow the combination of the eyeliner and McDonald’s uniform made it all work.
“Hi, my name is Mr. Rooney and I am…”
‘Yeah, I know, rodent told us.”
I didn’t know if I should laugh. I was, for the moment, a McDonald's manager and had no idea how to act. So I stood there quietly.
And so did she. Her really deep hazel eyes staring at my face, like a game of telepathic chicken: am I going to smile, laugh, yell, or what.
“Well, right then. Glad he... that you know... ah… ” I tried to find her name tag.
“Clara.” she said. And gave me a look that suggested she had won our first meeting, then turned around when she heard the tone letting her know a customer wanted to order.
I stood behind. I never knew what went on on this side of the wall. I listened. I could hear a muffled voice coming through her headset.
She responded, “Yes, coffee, two cream, sugar. What was the last thing? Yes, we have hash browns. Right. Ok, $10.27. pull around.” She clicked off her mic. “Dickweed.”
She turned and was startled when she saw me still standing there.
“What, is there something wrong?”
I stood there going through the hit in my head, and mumbled to myself, “Seems simple enough.”
“What does? Ordering?”
“What?” I asked.
She looked at me. Her head tilted a bit as she tried to decide exactly what I was and what I was doing there.
“So, I need to get the coffee,” she said. And waited for me to move.
I stepped aside. I felt my wristwatch buzz. I looked at it. 5 minutes before I would put the first check off on my bucket list.
I tried to go back to my office but saw Rodney standing next to the door. I wasn’t going to deal with him if I could avoid it. So I walked over to where another very pale young girl with shoulder-length straight black hair was making the Egg McMuffins. A couple were already made and I reached for one. She stopped and turned her head and looked down at my hand.
“Oh god, sorry. Ahhh, good job. They look really good, ahh…”
“Connie. Good job.”
“Thank you.” she said still looking down.
“Ok then, carry on.” and I walked away back toward the drive-thru window. I was standing behind Clara, out of her peripheral just enough so I could hear her.
“$9.35. Pull around… Dickweed.”
This time I couldn’t help myself and made the nose laugh, half a sound out my nostrils, half in my throat. She spun around when she heard me. I had to figure out what to say, but she got there first.
“Are you spying on me?”
“Well, Mr. Thomas always stays in his office.”
“Oh. Well, I’m more an in-the-action kind of manager. I like to mingle.”
“Mingle?” She gave me the, what-does-that-mean-weirdo, look.
“Yes. Just how I do it.”
I knew I had to end this so I walked away. As I left I heard what had become her familiar ending, “Dickweed.”
I did another nose laugh and kept walking to my office and almost made it in.
“So Mr. Rooney is everything ok. Is there something I need to handle?”
l looked at him with what I have been told was a pretty intimidating frown face. His eyes widened and his face panicked. “No, why?” I asked.
“Well,” his voice barely able to find its way out, “It’s just. Well. Mr. Thomas always stays in his office. You know what I mean?”
“Well. That’s where I’m headed.”
My watch went off as I sat at the desk. It brought me out of my, whenever I can, slow mindful breathing. It was time. I got up, put my Ruger under my shirt behind the buckle so it would be easy to pull out once I was in front of the window, and headed over to Clara.
I walked fast. I already knew once I stepped out of the office Rodney would be right in front of me asking if I knew what he meant about something. Sure enough. And I walked even faster signaling to him, I hoped, that he should back off and find someone else to annoy.
I stood behind Clara. She laughed, then said into her mic, “Oh really, I never heard that one before. Where do you get those?”
I watched her face as she listened on her headset. She had a strange, almost contorted smile on her face.
“Ok, $18.64. Pull around.” I assumed whatever I just saw was her attempt at some cheerful customer service exercise, and I was waiting for her follow-up, ‘Dickweed.’ But she just stood at the register and hummed what sounded almost like, Here Comes The Bride.
Then she stopped, realizing I was looking at her.
“What the fuck, Dickweed, are you spying on me?”
“Were you humming, Here Comes The Bride?”
Her eyes squinted almost shut and her nose crinkled. “What the hell does that mean?”
She was standing next to the closed drive-thru window. I could see Mr. G’s face through it. He had his window down with a big smile on his face as he waited for Clara.
She looked down where my hand was under my shirt as I was getting ready to pull out my Ruger.
“What the fuck. Are you playing with your dick?”
I could feel behind me how her voice stopped everyone where they stood: customers in line, employees behind the counter. All of them focused on us.
She stood there. Her deep hazel eyes looking straight at my face, demanding an answer. I relaxed my grip on my Ruger and took my hand out from under my shirt. She didn't turn away when Greenblatt started tapping on the window.
Rodney’s crackly voice broke the silence. “Mr. Rooney, is everything ok?”
I started to back up, the exit was to my left.
Clara walked toward me.
“Who the fuck are you?”
I started to reach back for my Ruger. At this point, Clara looked closer at my hand.
And now, those demanding tough hazel eyes showed the panic I was so used to when I stood in front of a mark. It was the look I was waiting to see on Greenblat’s face.
Clara backed away. I smiled and her panicked face relaxed a bit.
I took a couple of steps towards her, still calculating: check-off or no check-off.
Clara moved as far away as she could, her back was against the drive-thru window. Her panicked deep hazel eyes still looking at me.
“It was nice to meet you, Clara.” I said.
And as I turned toward the door, I saw all the bagged drive-thru orders lined up on the counter. I reached over and grabbed all their properly folded tops, and with a handful of McDonald’s breakfast bags, I headed out the door.
David Centorbi is a writer whom in the 90's earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona and now writes and works in Detroit, MI. He is also the author of Landscapes of You and Me (Alien Buddha press) and After Falling into Disarray (Daily Drunk Press).