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The Revolting Degrees of the Unhygienic Behavior of Mr. Lato Crooke

Lato Crooke wiped an indefinable bead of sweat from his brow and tucked his hair greased to a revolting degree into the brim of his Braves baseball cap and didn't feel the slightest bit of disgust. And again when he wiped his nose on the back of his hand he felt no remorse as he flipped the greasy "meat" patty on the grill before him, poking the bit of critter before him with his little finger to see how done it was. Some might have said it was disgusting. The law said it was unsanitary, but to Lato that little bit of mucus gave the burger that extra bit of kick. He sure as hell wasn't going to listen to some yankee from the Health Department tell him how things should be done no matter how many times they sent a Representative to talk to him.

He flipped the patty, which sizzled voluptuously, and he padded it down into a thick pool of its own crackling juices with his metal spatula covered with flecks of meat and grease, and inversely meaty grease and greasy meet. After twenty years of obligatory labor at the hands of the grill Lato could never find himself free from the sensual whispers the burgers gave him. It was almost like they were his lover whispering in his ear at midnight after a passionate embrace. "Sizzle, sizzle" it whispered to him lovingly, and he would always find a way to affectionately " sizzle, sizzle" back. Sometimes in the early hours of the morning when he should be asleep dreaming of his grill, Lato would come into his burger joint out of sheer lust and compulsion, light himself a cigarette (he'd been hooked on Marlboro's for years) and just warm up the grill to cook a burger. Just to hear the friendly hiss of the oil and the juices, the emission of the grease traps, he could barely express the elation he got when he started the deep fat fryer. Surely, he thought, the grease traps, the oil; the cautious juices all put together were symbolic for America.

With a carbonated fizz he popped unbolted a lukewarm Jolt Cola that stood like a sentinel in the back of his fridge (which he knew to be broken) behind congealing crème cartons, which lay here and there open and unused with a layer of accumulated crème around their twist off caps which either stood like an elitist hat upon the carton or strewn about in an unorganized fashion about the cooler. With a half happy grimace he forced down a mouthful of the sludge which took up half of the stale can of cola, then he slurped down the caramel juices and food dyes, which were the remnants of the drink. He took out a lighter from his back pocket of his overly tight jeans, escorted by a pack of smokes. He took a drag inhaling the carcinogens and then he leaned back his neck and poured the rest of the Jolt Cola down his throat, all the time listening to the sizzle, sizzle of the grill.

Caught up in the moment, he turned the burger again and inhaled the temperately noxious fumes that drifted from it. He absorbed them into his very being, and they fascinated him and bent him to their will. From a shelf above the long metal grill he grabbed one beaten porcelain plate chipped in places and laid it off to the side balancing it on the handle of the deep fryer which crackled with it’s trans-fatty elation. From a cabinet beneath the grill-top he grabbed a bun, squishing it with his fist to make sure that it wasn’t moldy, he then placed it open and in two halves on the chipped plate. With the skill of a master of the craft he took the spatula with one hand and seized the patty and slid it gently onto the bun, caressing it’s meat, he placed a piece of American cheese atop the grill marks, with a smattering of mustard and a globule of ketchup it was ready. But he couldn’t help himself he set two pickles on top of the ketchup and sprayed a small curving line of mayonnaise above all the other condiments. He smiled, and the burger smiled back at him.

Finishing his roll of tobacco he put out the butt on the grill right in the middle of the puddle of burger grease for good measure, and it sizzled and he caught one last whiff before it was drowned by the greasy smells of the meat. He put the plate on the immaculate white counter behind him, where his customer sat idly inspecting the cup of coffee before him. Before, Lato hadn’t taken time to absorb the young man before him in complete detail. The young man’s hair was tossed askew and to the side covered in what seemed to be caked blood, and his ribs shone clear threw his torn shirt, which seemed covered in dirt. There was no way his man could be alive at all! The way Lato saw it, this man was dead, and to prove his point even more when the man at last took a sip of his coffee, grimacing as a curdle of bad crème entered his mouth, Lato watched as the man’s heart fell out of his chest in the most comical of manners.

“Your dead.” Lato affirmed.

“Quite.” Reaffirmed the young man, whose bloody hair remained askew, and parted on the side, of course, you probably knew that already.

“But if you’re dead, you can’t be alive.” Lato responded thickly.

“Well I never stated that I was alive in the first place did I? For your information I know that I am quite dead. And another point, it is never good to assume things about someone who you hardly know, you could risk offending them.” The young man (who’s name we are going to assume is Philip) responded pushing the coffee cup in his hand politely aside not wanting to offend Lato’s fragile ego, and boy did Lato’s ego wreak. It smelled of bad eggs and cheap cigarettes, a deadly combination aside but together smelled of a public bathroom which hasn’t seen bleach in years.

“I didn’t want to offend you.” Lato responded struck quite dumb by the intelligent stranger’s response, not paying attention at all to anything he had said, which if you ask me is much ruder than responding with a remark as stupid as ‘I didn’t mean to offend you’ when the topic of the entire sentence has nothing to do with the person in question being offended at all.

“The entire sentence which I just gave to you had nothing to do with me being offended, and quite honestly now that you have completely disregarded everything that I have just said I am actually more offended than I was prior to your ridiculous blunder. Did it not shock you at all to know I’m a zombie?”

“Well to be quite honest, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ died for my sins and rose from his grave so, if by the way I’m lookin’ at it he’s a zombie, I suppose, well I ought not to be shocked or frightened of you, you’re a goody? Aint’cha?”

The Zombie was not quite sure he knew what a ‘goody’ was. “Well what is there to say that I’m not one of the bad kinds? I could have a desire to consume your flesh?” The Undead creature pointed out fashionably.

Lato seemed to consider for a moment the implications of a Zombie who wished to consume his flesh, to this day it is unsure if he even knew what consume meant. “But our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, praised forever in Heaven!” he paused and tentatively looked up to the sky, “Didn’t consume the flesh of anyone did he, and he was a Zombie?”

The Zombie, who for the sake of redundancy, we’ll call Philip, did not quite know how to respond to this, he was not quite sure what point, if any, Lato was trying to make, and by mentioning Jesus he was not fully ready to respond to someone so ingrained in religion. “That might be so,” Philip tried, “however, if you think about it, at Church services don’t you eat communion? Is that not considered to be symbolic for the flesh of Christ?”

Lato thought of it, he had not, as of late, been to Mass in years. “True, but I don’t quite get the point of what you’re trying to say.” He shot back gracefully.

“What I just said has no relevance whatsoever! But you’re in no place to criticize me for lack of germane statements! ” Philip shouted, and then realizing the dangerous closeness of Rednecks and Guns silenced himself with a smile and took a mouthful of the revolting coffee and took a bite of the burger.

“Well.” Said Lato.

“Did you put your finger on my burger?”

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