This is What you Wanted
Have you ever licked a stack of taco shells? 200 taco shells? I did. I licked until my tongue went dry.
Have you ever licked the sesames off a seeded bun?
Or a fresh head of lettuce?
A steaming slab of roast beef?
Have you ever licked a dab of chocolate dangling from the tip of a milkshake machine? I did. I’ve made milkshakes in my mouth, mother fucker.
I’ve licked everything you’ve ever eaten.
But you will still come to me. Time after time. You will come in the middle of a snowstorm, or on the 4th of July, Christmas Eve, after an outbreak of E. coli. You will come after I’ve spent the day in school, and I hate school, I really do, or after Stephanie, I hate her too, broke my heart by the lockers, or after coach said, better luck next year small fry, and you order. You order sandwiches, and drinks, small fries. You say numbers. You say give me a number four, a number that, a number 23.
All the while, this is what you wanted:
A glob of gleaming pink meat deep-fried inside another glob of meat. Fill it with cheese. Slaver at the juices.
Remove the buns. Replace them with crispy chicken breasts. Double down, gravy boat.
Potatoes blasted with bacon bits, bacon grease, bacon-onion-bacon-cream.
And, of course, there are complaints. I say, hi, my name is blank, Yes, those super nuggets do look like a rat. The head of a chicken in your party bucket, you say? A garter snake in your chopped salad?
If I were you, I would worry about the things you don’t find.
I would worry about the slogans. I would worry about the ads.
Actually, forget everything I ever said.
Go ahead, hum your favorite jingle.
Dennis Scott Herbert is dangerous. He is a winner of the Toy Wilson Blethen Fine Arts award and recent MFA graduate from Minnesota State University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Paper Darts, Squalorly, the Minnesota Review, Smokelong Quarterly, and Hobart among others.
(Next story: Salts in the Brain by Anthony Cordello)
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Detail of painting by Peter Klashorst