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Sean Flynn’s phone rang and he permitted it to do so several times before answering to assure the caller on the other end that he was not as desperate as they believed.
“Hello?” He said it in the form of a question although he knew full well who was on the receiving end.
“What news of the front?” The man sounded jovial, and as a result, also portly and somewhat inebriated though it was only eleven o’clock.
“I’m almost in. I’ll let you know once I get a look myself, John.”
“Make sure you know what you’re doing. All right, you gotta make sure. Do you know what you’re doing?”
“Bye John,” he hung up the phone and almost instantly regretted it. He was quick to reflect and quick to regret. Separately, they were almost admirable traits, but together they were a lethal solution and a harbinger of guilt and he thought he might call John back but instead he proceeded to pass through the mighty golden arches overlooking his company.
The door stuck. It was heavy and jammed and there was an elderly woman attempting to leave through the other end. Sean grappled with the handle in an attempt to seem chivalrous, but the bolts merely rattled and the door clung shut.
What sort of establishment is this? They trap old ladies inside and their doors are glued shut. What if the commercials were all a lie? He had seen the productions when he had nothing better to do then inspect advertisements, which was somewhat pitifully most of the time. The old woman banged on the glass and it sent tremors through the pane and down her brittle hands. “I’m Loving It,” was that what he was supposed to be doing? He supposed it was unfair to judge a restaurant by its impenetrable doorways, but if it never allowed any passage then what was it? More a prison. The old woman was prisoner to it. He could tell. She was obese and clinging to a hefty sized bag of food with a wet glob of grease slowly eroding the bottom and dripping onto the cobblestone floors beneath her.
The scene became quite comical, Sean continued to wrench the door with all his might, pulling it back, and she joined him in pushing thrusting her archaic shoulders against the glass and using a four pronged walker as leverage. Then it occurred to him that perhaps she was insane, so he pushed the door inward and it opened with a mighty swing knocking his counterpart to the ground.
“Oh my, I’m so sorry ma’am! Are you all right?” he offered her a hand, but she slapped it away. Curiously, she began placing her walker at several different angles in attempts to thrust herself upward, but the legs slipped and fell against the greasy floors and so she sat with arms folded and opened the bag and began to eat. That is a tragedy, he thought, for an old woman to be relegated to a greasy floor until heart disease claims her wantonly. A seamy employee with a thin, sparse mustache quickly moved into the doorway and placed a wet floor sign beside the old woman and then left her to rot glaring at Sean Flynn and his camera wrapped tightly around his neck.
He passed through a second door, this time with great ease and entered the restaurant forum which was occupied by several winding lines and glossy plastic tables and myriad of employees shuffling around behind a restricted bar. His aspirations lay behind the bar, but it was blatantly off limits so he took a spot in line.
“Dad I want one of the big sandwiches. One of the big ones dad!”
“I know I heard you.”
“I want a big one though,” it was a young boy tugging at his apparent father’s shirt.
“A big, big one. Not like last time, I want the big kind.”
“I know! I heard you! You have to be quiet in line!”
“I just wanted the big one,” the young boy hung his head and folded his arms in a determined pout.
Sean reached for his camera and captured a photo of the boy and his father and smiled as it appeared on his digital screen. Will he get one of the big ones? We all want one of the big ones from time to time, but did he deserve one of the big ones? Had the commercials brought him hear too? Had he heard the song and was that his reason for arriving at this juncture? What brings a young boy to a big burger? Is it pleasure or exploitation, maybe a clown?
Sean reached deep into his sagging pockets and searched the cavity until he claimed several ruffled bills and a fist’s worth of change and gazed at the menu. The menu did not deserve a picture. It was predictable and bland and unworthy of praise, so he captured it with an image to remind himself just how unhallowed it was.
The boy before him had ordered. A small burger was placed on his plate and he looked at his father with steaming eyes.
“Can I help you sir?” It was the woman behind the register.
“Yes, I was wondering if I might take a few pictures of the establishment,” He lifted his camera into view.
“That’ll be one Large Big Mac Meal and what will you have to drink?” she punched a few buttons on her register.
“No, I’m sorry ma’am, perhaps you didn’t hear me. I want to take a few photos. May I come behind the counter?”
“Coke it is. What a surprise. Your total comes to eight ninety-five, sir.”
“I don’t want any food. I just want to take some pictures, behind the register if I may.”
“That total again is eight ninety-five.”
He obliged here, guessing that she might allow him after the exchange, but he was unequivocally incorrect.
“Please step aside sir your food will be up any minute.”
Sean felt a phantom shove him aside from behind and his hopes were discarded like the contents of the empty trays into the various garbage cans which all curiously read “Thank You.” Sean snapped a photo of that because it made little sense. What were they thanking them for, common decency? Since when did acting in a civilized manner become so commendable? What a strange restaurant this was.
A burly man draped in an apron with the sleeves of shirt folded up profanely tossed the meal onto a plastic tray and then slid it Sean’s direction. He decided since he had paid he would indulge and took a seat at an unoccupied booth. He opened the box to find a behemoth of a sandwich that he carefully bit all the way around so that it had no edges before continuing to eat.
Those types of idiosyncrasies were what distinguished him as a photographer. He always had a vision in mind and he was deft in the art of converting reality so that it bent to his wills. As he was eating he felt a strange tingle fly up the veins of his arm and he rubbed it against the booth and then shook it vehemently in his attempt to return blood flow.
Then, suddenly, his breathing wavered and he stood and accidentally flashed the camera in an odd couple’s direction and he flailed.
“My heart! I think I’m having a heart attack!” he collapsed to the ground and the couple he had shot immediately phoned him an ambulance. Several other customers found him to be an obnoxious hazard as they stepped over him on their way to the back booths and the man with the thin mustache placed another “Wet Floor” sign beside him just as he had done earlier. Over the intercom the light drizzle of “Good Vibrations” echoed along the restaurant ceiling and the register rang even louder as some of the daily crowd shuffled in.
Sean Flynn gripped at his chest and wriggled, miraculously still conscious. He attempted to crawl to the exit, but found it too far and when he turned to find the couple that had called for the ambulance he noticed they were accepting their “Thank You” and heading on their way. So there he lay, struggling for air with his phone on redial and ringing in the ear of John Boone far away. On the opposite side of the restaurant, a team of doctors were consulting one another on the matter of opening a peculiarly stuck door.