Josh Spilker

cooper is inside mcdonald’s, then outside

cooper walked outside. cooper saw a mcdonald’s sign. it was yellow. “a beacon of hope for people. it is my lucky yellow day,” cooper said. cooper went in the mcdonald’s. red plastic booths. boys with glasses. an old man with a gray beard. a woman in a shirt with light pink stripes and leathery hair.

cooper walked to the counter. flashy signs for smoothies, ice cream cones, and drinks.

a woman in a blue hat and a blue shirt was behind the counter. she stared at the cash register. the cash register was a nemesis.

“how can i help you?” the woman said.

“i need something brown,” cooper said.

“we got bun brown, we got hamburger brown, we got burnt french fry brown,” the counterperson said.

“hahahaha,” cooper said.

“what’s funny? we got apple pie brown and fudge cake brown. we got coca-cola brown and dr. pepper brown and diet coke brown and coffee brown.”

“yes. i want coca-cola brown,” cooper said.
“you want a coke?” the counterperson said.
“yes,” cooper said.

the counterperson took a paper cup from a sleeve of more paper cups. the counterperson put the cup underneath a gray spout. brown carbonated liquid plunged from the gray spout. the counterperson pulled the plastic cup away from the gray spout. the counterperson turned back around. the counterperson handed cooper the cup of coke.

“you confused...?” the counterperson said. “talkin brown and shit.”

“huh,” cooper said.

cooper took his cup of coke. cooper turned around. cooper saw a table. cooper sat down behind a plastic booth table. cooper watched other people come up to the counter. cooper watched other people talk to the counterperson.

cooper saw an old woman talk to the counterperson. the old woman was small and short. “maybe she feels excited about her life, like everything is hitting all cylinders, like everything is peachy, like everything is great, and she came to get something brown from mcdonald’s.”

cooper watched the old woman. her neck. the fat around her neck took a different shape. cooper could not tell if the woman was excited or depressed.

“if the woman turns right, her face fat doesn’t stick out. if the woman turns left, her face fat squeezes out. seems like a plastic mayonnaise tube,” cooper said.

cooper stood in the doorway of mcdonald’s. he stood over a sensor that opened and closed the doors. the glass doors opened. the glass doors closed. the glass doors opened.

“mcdonald’s is confused about my place in the world,” cooper said.

cooper hopped from one foot to another. several different sets of glass doors opened and closed. a group of women were near the doors. they wore floral printed blouses. the blouses were short sleeved. some wore black pants. others wore white pants. most had short hair.

cooper immediately identified them by the tone of their skin, the number of “spots” on their skin and the “folds” within their arms and faces. he identified them as “older.” cooper expected the women to say something to him. instead, they made other noises. Deep grunts and high cackles.

“and then... and then...,” one woman huffed.

cooper walked out through the doors. a section of plants was near the doors. plants and gravel. gravel made of rocks. cooper picked up a rock. “i will be a hamburglar,” cooper said. he threw the rocks at the glass. he threw another rock at the glass doors.

the last one hit a man wearing a mcdonald’s polo shirt.
“what are you doing?” he said.

“i am trying to be a burger-lar,” cooper said. “break in, yeah.”

“get the hell out of here,” the man said.

cooper dropped the rocks. he went to his bike. he unlocked his bike.

cooper started peddling. he rode down the street. he rode back to his apartment. cooper saw the homeless man from a few days earlier. the homeless man with a dirty dress shirt and maroon-colored overcoat.

cooper waved.

the homeless man’s eyes  grew larger. the homeless man waved. and waved faster.

cooper heard a noise. it sounded like a large machine that transports stuff and passengers.

a car swerved. cooper’s bike went off the edge of the road.

cooper rode over rough rivets and rocks. cooper felt his front wheel shake. the seat. his hands. his body. all vibrated. cooper felt his body leave the bike. Parts of his body were above the bike and entangled with parts of the bike.

soon, his head was sliding on the concrete pushed by his own mass of limbs and body fat. his mass of limbs and body fat dragged across the asphalt. the asphalt scraped layers off his body as he slid across it.

cooper thought of the many sewer lines under his head. the sewer lines feeding into an eco-system of america. dirt, tilled, slabs poured, walls fortified, ceiling juiced, how much different would an existence be in pastoral fields and long grasses and earthworms and muskrats and small prairie dogs as our only uses?

cooper saw wet corn pressed into oblong, flattened circles. Tampon sops for green avocado-ed mash, drippy salsa and tenderized cubed poultry.

a freight truck knocks into this giant mexi-cali staple flinging sour cream and shredded lettuce into the mouths of everyone lining up to return home----eventually.

Josh Spilker (@joshspilker) is the founder of I AM ALT LIT and regularly blogs at This is an excerpt from his forthcoming book Taco Jehovah, coming soon from Dig That Book Co. 

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