On May 8th of this year, Joe Henderson decided to go through the driveway of his local Burger King because he was seriously craving a Whopper. Normally, Joe sticks to a personal rule that keeps him out of awful places like fast food drive throughs, but this time he was feeling a little hungover and he’d had a shitty day at work and didn’t want to go to the gym or the driving range, nor face the ordeal of going home to cook food, and he was too pissed off at the world to go sit down and eat somewhere, so Burger King was a quick, easy choice; and it wouldn’t kill him to eat some shitty fast food just this once, he thought.

When he got to the entrance of the Burger King, he noticed 5 cars already waiting, and a quick glance inside the large, half-domed front windows of the Burger King seemed to suggest it would actually be quicker to park and go inside, but Joe just didn’t feel like engaging in that degree of familiarity with the world outside his head at the moment, so he pulled up behind the last car in line, a blue Toyota, and he started thinking about what else he wanted with his Whopper, as he half-paid-attention to the radio, which was in the middle of a commercial break with some loud guy trying to sell him a BMW; Joe was happy with his Ford F-350; only American made cars for Joe.

Joe was in the midst of a nondescript zoning out session when he finally got to the big menu board and a voice sounding vaguely feminine but in a muffled sort of way greeted him and asked for his order; a Whopper, some chicken fries, onion rings, large, and a large Coke; oh, and a value sized fry, he threw on there at the end; and hold the lettuce on the Whopper. The girl repeated his order, but did not mention the holding of the lettuce. Joe reminded her he wanted the lettuce held. “Okay,” she said. “Please pull ahead to the first window.”

At the first window, Joe was told again the total was 9.36 and he handed the girl, clearly Mexican, his credit card. He couldn’t help but to think that she was an idiot, so he asked her again if she told them to hold the lettuce. She told him she did.

At this point, Joe was becoming increasingly worried, filled with anxiety about the prospect of seeing lettuce on his Whopper. He knew at this point it was bound to happen. Joe, as he sat between the first window and the second, some Dio playing on the stereo, “Holy Diver,” was dreading the moment he knew would soon arrive; the moment when he took the bun off his hamburger to find some fucking lettuce, awful shit that it is.

There was no one inside the second window when Joe pulled up and he sat there for what seemed to him like several minutes but was actually about 90 seconds. Finally, a young guy opened the window and handed Joe his drink, which had been sitting there, the ice melting, for the whole time Joe had been peering in the window trying to decipher the odd nothingness he kept observing inside. Joe felt cheated by the delay, as those first few sips of Coke, relatively unadulterated by any ice having melted, set the stage for the entire experience of the drink, he thought.

A few moments later the guy came back, handed Joe his bag, and Joe, not wanting to unnecessarily hold up the line, pulled forward and turned right into an open parking space, to both make sure the food was correct and to start eating it if it was.

Joe naturally checked the Whopper first. He was shaking as he pulled apart the underside of the wrapper and began inspecting the sandwich. Before he turned the Whopper over, he did not see any green, and this gave him a sense of hope that would almost instantaneously turn out to be false. As he removed the top bun from the abomination he would soon realize he held in his hands, he saw that pale, sickly, vomit green color of wilted, stale, fast food lettuce staring up at him directly into his eyes, daring him to do something.

Joe began shaking violently. He did not know at this point what he was going to do. He was losing control. He began violently punching the steering wheel, screaming fuck, shit, motherfucker, cunt, anything that popped in his head, as he punched and punched and punched and bloodied up his knuckles, foamy spit emanating from between his clenched teeth and trickling from his mouth, his white face now as red as the tomato on his burger, which was partially obscured by the lettuce.

Joe, in some kind of deranged trance of rage, reached for the glove compartment where he kept his revolver. He was going to scare them, he thought, especially that cunt in the first window; that stupid little Mexican bitch; and that fag in the second window too. He had to be some kind of queer, Joe thought.

Joe marched to the door and swung it open. There were a few customers waiting in line, but Joe pushed them aside and began screaming at everyone semi-incomprehensibly through the veil of his tantrum which had grown exponentially in the brief time that had elapsed between Joe’s discovery of the lettuce and the moment at hand. He took the Whopper, which he carried inside with him, and he held it up over his head and started screaming about the lettuce. He threw the Whopper at the guy in the second window and called him a faggot. The manager came from the back and Joe, probably alarmed by the sight of a large black man coming toward him, instinctively drew his gun and put two bullets into the manager’s chest. At this point, Joe was agitated by fear but was also paralyzed by an adrenalin-fueled rage that had taken control of his entire being. He fired the gun again at the guy at the second window he thought was gay, who in that split second that seemed like an eternity since the second bullet was fired into his manager’s chest had tried running from the general area where the violence had unfolded to try and save himself, an act which turned out to be of no avail, because, Joe Henderson, being a lifetime member of the NRA and an avid firearms enthusiast, spent much of his free time practicing at the local firing range, often shooting into rubber humanoid targets, and had become an excellent shot over the years.

Joe’s next target was harder to find, but cowering in a corner adjacent to the first window was the Mexican teenager responsible for everything that was happening, the little bitch who failed to make sure his Whopper would not include lettuce. He pointed his gun directly at her head from about 4 feet away, pulled the trigger and ended her short life.

At this point the grim realization occurred to Joe that he pretty much fucked up his entire life, and that there was no better possible fate to be had by him than a quick and easy death; so, Joe Henderson pointed the gun inside his mouth, a mouth that never got to take a bite from that fateful Whopper, and he pulled the trigger, splattering his blood all over the interior north-facing wall next to the first window of the Burger King, the window stationed by the teenaged Mexican girl who he had killed, his freshly minted corpse plopping on the brown and off-white tiled floor like a mishandled flame-broiled beef patty, head smacking the tile, thereby ending the dismal reality of his meaningless and awful life.

God bless America.


Hold The Lettuce

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