Tag Archives: Hamburger

Asphalt Whiskers

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He simply thought to himself as he rubbed at his temples: What do I have to do to make all the noise in my head just stop?

His name was Asphalt Whiskers and he was sitting in a fast-food behemoth of burger places, one out on the Brass Highway that mingled with all the rest, the chain of chains, and he was looking down at whatever it was he was about to eat. Asphalt looked up to the electric visuals slowly rotating by the menu board above the cashier’s counter and the milkshake machines. The pictures showed food and beverages that looked perfect, beyond appetizing, the penultimate of delicious and refreshing. Then he looked down into the greasy crinkled yellow paper at the half-squashed hamburger that was his lunch.

We live in a world of illusions, he thought to himself. Everything is purely an illusion. Even I, Asphalt Whiskers — I am merely an illusion. And if I am an illusion, I can do anything I want. I can get away with anything I want. No consequences. Like a dream.  

He picked up the hamburger and took a bite. The meat was cold, the cheese like a loose flap of fake yellow skin. A pickle slid out and dangled at his chin and he clumsily worked it into his mouth with his fingers. Some ketchup dribbled down onto his shirt. He nearly knocked over his orange soda as he reached for a white paper napkin. He looked around to see if anyone had noticed, if anyone was staring.

But then he remembered that no one cared about anything other than themselves. All the heads of dead thoughts were lost in their own listless worlds. Children were running and screaming in the play area, and out of the play area. A table of overweight adults was oblivious as they talked amongst themselves at megaphone volume… Words far drifted from any ordinary wisdom. One of the men was wearing a dusty sweat-stained ball cap that read: Free Moustache Rides.

Asphalt Whiskers just wanted to ascend away from the moronic, to go to his own private mountain and meditate. But he couldn’t. The end of his lunch break would be another end to his life. The monotony and the freezing rain on Mt. Olympus were killing him, so he thought as he looked out the window at the sunlight spilling and splashing along the Brass Highway. It was the main artery through the medium-high city of the Great Plains.

There was no true mountain. He wondered where all the beautiful water was. All he saw were backlit yellows and dirty grays and asphalt purples. He wondered if Asphalt was his real name. He reached down and pulled out the wrinkled birth certificate that he always kept on the inside of a sock in case he was stopped and had to prove his identity. He uncurled it and looked at it. There it said in completely legitimate and legal print: Asphalt Reginald Whiskers.

He picked up some French fries and dabbed the golden ends into a pool of ketchup he created on the paper with squeeze packets. They were salty and greasy. But they tasted good as they were masticated in his mouth and then swallowed. He suddenly became catatonic like he often does. It comes on without warning and the triggers are fathomless.

He wondered if it was the food or the atmosphere or just his own mind again. The way he sees his mind is like a clock and every once in a while, the second-hand may get caught on a piece of stardust before returning to the true sense of time, but then with an infinite lag. Does anyone even know what a second-hand on a clock is anymore, he wondered. Then he didn’t care. Because they didn’t care.

Asphalt’s eyes were then absorbed by the world around him. His hearing became muffled, but it was still loud. He wondered if he was underwater. A pain radiated through his arms, and it felt as if his heart was beating faster, like in an impending drug overdose. His mouth became dry. He suddenly got up from his seat, wobbly like a drunk. This time he did spill his cup of orange soda and people looked at him. Asphalt Whiskers just stood there as the orange soda puddled and then ran off the edge of the table and onto the dirty floor.

A man with a white Wilford Brimley moustache and half his hair looked over at him. “Are you okay?” His wife leaned into him and whispered, “Just ignore him. There’s something obviously wrong with him.”

Asphalt cocked his head in her direction when he heard what she had said. He reached toward and took what remained of his hamburger and clutched it in his hand. He threw it at the woman as hard as he could, and it hit her in the face. She made a noise like “Oooof.” It forced her head to turn to the side, and then Asphalt saw that exact event over and over and over again in his head like a comical movie in front of his frozen eyes… The hamburger flying and striking her face in slow-motion, the way her skin moved at the point of impact, the sound she made, the turning to the side of the head as in true human reaction to something hitting one in the face. Like a bug, maybe. But it was a hamburger. A disgusting fast-food hamburger prophesized by the corporate gods of lies and rained down upon the land by the billions.

The husband stood up in his wife’s defense. “What the hell is wrong with you!?”

Asphalt Whiskers looked at him in a robotic sense of the way and smiled, but it wasn’t a big smile, it was a straight-line smile with no teeth, just a flat horizon of mouth. “I need to use the restroom. Do you know where the restroom is?” And Asphalt wildly moved his head about scanning the entire restaurant for the restrooms even though they were close by.

Then the recognition clicked in him. “Oh. There they are,” he said, and he moved away from his table and walked by the man and the woman, and he paused and raised a threatening fist toward them and play-acted like he was going to really throw a punch and the husband shrunk back in fear. Asphalt retracted his fist and laughed. “I wasn’t going to hit you,” he said. Then he laughed again. “Not this time!” He disappeared into the men’s restroom.

Another man was like a firehose at the urinal when he went in. Asphalt stood there and watched him. The other man noticed him leering like a pervert and made a face. “What the hell’s your problem?” He quickly finished, zipped up and walked around him and to the sink.

Asphalt watched as the other man washed his hands. “I like your beard,” he said. And the burly man did have an impressive flowing motorcycle-riding guy kind of beard, wild and long and full of freedom.

“Back off before I knock you out!” the motorcycle-riding-looking kind of guy barked as he made himself large and threatening, like a Kodiak bear. “Do you want to be dead!?”

Asphalt looked at him and sadly smiled. “Sometimes.”

The motorcycle-riding-looking kind of guy scoffed at him, backed away, and walked out of the restroom.

Asphalt Whiskers looked at himself in the water-spotted mirror of unclean humanity and decided that he didn’t even look like a regular human being. Asphalt felt he looked like he should be living on another planet behind a wooden rail fence usually reserved for longhorn steers. The sky would be nearly black all the time and the three moons above would all be a different shade of lack-of-oxygen blue.

He put his hands beneath the automatic faucet and let the cold water chill his knuckles and palms. He splashed some up in his face. He stuck his head beneath an automatic hand dryer and kept it there until it started to burn.

When Asphalt walked out of the restroom there was a police officer talking to the woman he had thrown the hamburger at. Her husband pointed. “That’s him!”

“Sir,” the officer called out to him. “Sir! I need to talk to you!”

Asphalt pushed on the bar of a nearby emergency exit door and bolted through the parking lot. He stopped at the curb of the busy Brass Highway as if it was the edge of a cliff overlooking a rapturous sea. He looked back over his shoulder as he tried to maintain his balance. The police officer was giving chase and yelling, “Stop! Stop! Stop or I will gun you down!”

Asphalt Whiskers then stood on the edge of the curb like it was a diving board. He closed his eyes, the smell of pool chlorine wafting up the passages of his hobbled imagination and memories. He then dove into traffic, arms out in front of him, legs held close together, breath held in the waiting room of copious amounts of fear. He felt the warmth of Acapulco in that anorexic sliver of a moment.

Asphalt was instantly and violently struck, and his body twisted and flew into the center of the roadway like a hurled deer carcass. Drivers in both directions slammed on brakes. Horns blared. People screamed. Air raid sirens wailed. A murder of ebony crows made a scattering from the treetops. A mushroom cloud splashed upward from the floor of a once beautiful now forgotten desert ruthlessly betrayed by greedy madmen. The police officer radioed for an ambulance with a winded voice.

A shocked crowd gathered around the broken body of Asphalt Whiskers. Hands were clamped over mouths, eyes were closed by dismay, heads turned away to avoid the unbelievable. Maybe they had forgotten the way the world is. Maybe they had forgotten meat comes from living things and broken hearts run to foolish errands in the end.


The Chronicles of Anton Chico (The Dragon)

The dragon in the night.

I walked out of the dusty shop in Juarez with my two postcards and headed up the street. It was nearly noon, and the sun was thrusting down its fiery tentacles and burning the whole place up. At the end of the block, I turned the corner, passing by pharmacies and cheap-looking stores with posters and magazines and greasy smells.

At the end of the next block, I crossed the busy street. A bus was blocking traffic and I just moved with the crowd. A woman walked suspiciously close to me, and I moved away, over to a small square across the way where men were feeding a huge flock of pigeons.

I sat on a low wall and watched them tossing down dried corn on the ground or breadcrumbs or whatever it was. There were more buses clogging up the streets. I was glad I wasn’t driving, I would have gone mad.

Across the way from the square was a building made of dark brown brick, a smooth stone arch around the doorway. It was some kind of a palace for some king unlike me. It didn’t really look like a palace, but it was called a palace.

There was a mother walking with her two small boys. I sat on the wall taking pictures of all the surroundings like some lame tourist, and then felt odd so I stopped. I felt I was drawing attention to myself, and I did not want to do that, so I just sat there and watched, my head drooping down a bit out of habit, and I looked at the dirty ground.

I began to think if I was ever going to feel happy again. Seemed no matter how hard I pushed my thoughts and feelings in a positive direction, they just never went there. It was as if I was somehow always on the precipice between darkness and light and could just not get my leg over that highest rail. It was defeating and frustrating. Having to feign a smile for one’s whole life is not a good way to live, now is it, Anton Chico.

It was getting hotter still and I felt sticky and greasy all over. I wanted a shower. I thought of the girl in the room above the shop and wondered what she was doing right now. I pictured some UTEP college boy slobbering all over her and I imagined she hated it, but poppa didn’t hate it as he stood around downstairs collecting all that American dough. He loved it, but did he love her? I wouldn’t think so, but then again maybe they do things differently down here.

I stood up and walked away from the square and toward a park where they had a market going on. Rows of canvass covered cubicles spread out on the lawn crammed full of all kinds of cheap junk, trinkets, and souvenirs. I strolled through, but I did not buy anything. I was worried about exposing my wallet.

I kept on walking, back down to the main drag I came in on and turned back toward the border. When I saw a Mexican cop walking around, I got nervous. I heard stories about Mexican cops locking American dudes away in some crummy jail for months on end for doing barely anything. I was worried; Anton Chico is always worried and that is not a good state of mind to be in.

I turned into a kind of open mall. They had a Burger King there along with a bunch of dress shops. I just walked through, came out on the other side, and continued walking toward the border, the cop now behind me rather than in front of me.

Someone tugged on my sleeve. I looked down to see a small boy showing me his open hand and, in his palm, sat a few coins, foreign coins. He talked in Spanish but the only word I understood was “hamburger.” He wanted to buy a hamburger, but he did not have enough money. He looked sad, dirty, and desperate. I pulled out my wallet and gave him two dollars. He looked at me and grinned wide. I watched him run off.

I slipped into a colorful cantina in the shadows of a side street and ordered a drink at the bar.

“Beer. Tequila.”

I slammed the shot, chased it with the beer. The place wasn’t very crowded. There were a few Mexican dudes drinking at the end of the bar and talking amongst themselves. There was an older Mexican dude sitting closer to me sipping on a beer and watching Mexican TV.

Anton Chico could get carried away with the drink at times. It was tucked down in the alien DNA somewhere, and now I was spilling bills onto the bar. I downed shot after shot and began feeling very warm, as if my soul was walking on the surface of the sun. Then I got sad and wanted to cry about all that tarnished love that had gotten in the way of the perfect American dream. But it was no dream. It was brutal reality of the ball-shattering kind. I straightened myself out and returned to the present. The here and now. The only place one can be.

I wanted strange music and went to the dusty old jukebox and slipped in some coins, pushed some buttons, and then went back to my stool at the bar. A moment later, some weepy western tune came crawling out of the machine like a skeleton from a grave and I lit another cigarette as more desperados entered the cantina and clambered noisily around me.

Smoke and loud talk filled the joint. I could hear a cue ball being smacked around in the back, rolling across some beat up table and the desperados cheering it on.

Everyone was getting drunk and lucid and parading around the joint like they were on some great fucking holiday or junkie acid trip. It was becoming a fiesta. Anton Chico suddenly became sad again and huddled closer to the bar and bowed his head in painful drunken prayer.

In the dim reverence he let more of the strong drink run down to his belly and then to his brain where it sloshed around like a warm sea tide and as he looked out his blurry and wet eyes, through the smoke clouds, through the laughter coming from the mouths of those with bad teeth and unruly facial hair, he wondered, as he often did, if he had hit rock bottom once again.

See more of the Chronicles of Anton Chico at cerealaftersex.com. Thank you for reading and supporting independent writers and publishers. Be sure to subscribe by entering your email below for updates on new posts. It’s free to follow! Thank you.