Friday, July 14, 2006

The Wal-Mart Crotch Rocket Getaway
Part III

(by Ari Voukydis)

This isn’t the plan.

His heart racing and sweat beading off his white face-paint, Frank spilled out into the Wal-Mart parking lot, blinking in the harsh Topeka sunlight. Head pounding.

This isn’t the plan.

From behind him, Bruce’s voice, muffled by the cavernous Mayor McCheese mask but audibly sharp with fear: “Frank!”

Frank took a slow deep breath and scanned for cops. None.

“Frank! Where are you going? Don’t leave us!”

A shotgun and the chimes of breaking glass. This definitely isn’t the plan.

Another voice, Max’s: “Jesus FUCK, Carl! Stop! Please! Let’s talk this out.”

To Frank’s left, the getaway motorcycles: beautiful red-and-chrome Sharks. He willed himself to leave, to run to one of the Beasts, throw the money in Her sidecar, and tear off into the anonymous embrace of the Crazy Days parade. Blend in with the freaks and float away with the rest of the garbage.


But that’s not the plan.

“Hey! Ronald Fucking McDonald!”

The plan – which seemed so foolproof just 24 hours ago – had in retrospect all the hallmarks of a fiasco. Dress in matching costumes and rob a Wal-Mart: Romantic. Bad-ass. How could we possibly screw that one up?

Let the record show, that’s what a Bad Plan looks like, and if one had to pinpoint the exact moment it graduated from Bad Plan to Dangerous Lunacy, one might point to Bruce’s insistence on unloaded guns. You know, for safety.

Still, it might have worked. Alone, maybe each of them could have pulled this off, but together, no. Doomed. Too much weird alchemy. Too many variables. The whole became less than the sum of its parts, and just because a plan is crazy doesn’t mean it just might work. To be fair, it just might have. But the Hamburglar got greedy, Mayor McCheese lost his nerve, and a drunk old man found a gun and a sense of purpose. Now Grimace was going to bleed to death if someone didn’t get him to a hospital. So now, a choice: Ronald McDonald could either try to save his friends and get killed, or abandon them altogether and see how far he could get before the spineless pricks gave him up to the police.

Res ipsa loquitur - the thing speaks for itself – all those connected with the operation are liable for negligence. Fucked if you do, fucked if you don’t. America. What a country.

This isn’t the plan.

Or is it? Maybe the plan just sucks.

“Fuck it,” Frank said, and sprinted to the Shark, tossed the sack into the sidecar, and lept onto the saddle. He took several deep breaths to compose himself, running over his mental checklist, trying to predict what he was about to do wrong.

Fuck it. No more plans. Do it. Let the brain play catch-up. Plenty of time to cook up plans in jail. He backed the bike up, gunned the engine, and rocketed towards the sliding glass entrance. For a moment he felt perfectly alive, electric, immortal. By the time he realized the automatic doors weren’t going to open, it was too late. For the rest of Frank’s life doctors would periodically tell him that he had no business surviving that crash, and he knew they were right. But today was that kind of day. Nothing was going according to plan.


Carl Boggs lowered his shotgun. The Hamburglar’s offer made some sense. The McDonalds Four would drop the money and leave. Carl saves the day, nobody goes to jail, nobody dies. Carl could even pocket a couple hundred and who would know? It was a good plan. And it would have probably worked, too, if that clown on that motorcycle hadn’t exploded through those glass doors and sent everything straight to Hell.


Later, long after the chaos had subsided -- after the body had been taken away and the survivors interviewed, after the late-night comics had picked the carcass clean of irony, and after Sam Brownback had gone on TV and found a way to blame the Democrats – after the chips were counted and everything had run its course, there was only one fact left upon which everyone could agree: That as bad as things had been, it wasn’t until Matt Klesko showed up that things really went to shit.


Congratulations, Matt Klesko! It is your lucky day! After today, things will be different. Today you are 33 years old, making six-fifty an hour to walk around the Topeka Wal-Mart in a Minnie Mouse costume, handing out free samples of Disney-themed snacks. Today, for the last time, your marching orders come from a pushy assistant manager who makes everyone call him Team Leader Tyler and docks your pay if you remove your costume’s head in front of customers. TLT is stocky, loud and arrogant. He has blond hair and entirely too much team spirit for someone with his salary. Most people, upon meeting Ty, have the same reaction: “He’s unusually sarcastic for a guy with Down’s.”

But that doesn’t matter. Wal-Mart doesn’t matter. Tyler Brown certainly doesn’t matter. And that’s because you, Matt Klesko, are in love. Real love. The kind of love you’d long since decided was only for other people, maybe for nobody. You love Aimee Carson and Aimee Carson loves you and tonight, you’re going away. Leaving Wal-Mart, leaving Topeka, leaving Kansas. You crush out your Parliament, put the Minnie Mouse head back on, and head onto the floor to wind up your last day at Wal-Mart.


When you’re playing a Disney character, the head is the real problem: you can see out of it okay if you tilt your own head just right, but you can barely hear or be heard – a deliberate choice on the part of the Walt Disney Company, and one that you particularly appreciate: You’ve told Ty to go fuck himself close to eighty times, and he’s never heard you. You step into Housewares. There’s less ambient noise than usual but there’s a lot of yelling. You catch yourself hoping that Ernst is finally kicking the holy hell out of Ty, like he keeps saying he will, but suddenly you don’t care. The old Matt Klesko wishes for those kinds of things. The new Matt Klesko, the Matt Klesko who Loves, does not. You smile to yourself as you turn towards Lawn & Garden, and this is what you see:

Blood, fertilizer, pottery shards and nickels. Some guy in a Mayor McCheese costume pressed up against the north wall of Aisle 19. At his feet is Grimace: the left side of his giant purple body torn to rags and wire, the terrified man inside bleeding out onto the pale linoleum. The Mayor has taken off his oversized gloves and clutches a pistol. And you realize: These ignorant turds are robbing a Wal-Mart. In broad daylight. And not just in McDonald’s costumes, but in the two worst possible McDonald’s costumes. And you, Matt Klesko, know a thing or two about costumes. Did they really not try the costumes on first? Anyone who’s done even a day of mascot work can tell you that you can’t see shit out of McCheese’s head and the Grimace costume’s legs start at a man’s actual knees, so you can’t ever move faster than a sad, careful shuffle.

And you think, Aimee’s never going to believe this. Then you think, I wonder if Aimee’s too young to know who Mayor McCheese is? And then you think, Wait. Nobody would pick those two costumes unless they were the only ones left. There are probably more bad-guys in the store. You duck behind a rack of reasonably priced canoes and force yourself to concentrate. How many other gunmen would depend on where the costumes came from. If they got them at Party City then we’d just be missing Ronald and the Hamburglar. But if they got them at Marty’s Parties then you have to factor in the possibility of Birdie the Early Bird, Officer Big Mac and, depending on how committed they were, a half dozen Fry Guys. You know what, Matt Klesko? You’re a smart motherfucker. Would have made a good cop.

And then you think, Fuck this. And you head south towards the exit. Towards Aimee.

You feel rather than see the sudden movement to your left. You wheel around: Fear, then relief. It’s one of Wal-Mart’s Greeters. You remember this guy. Surly son of a bitch. Used to play for the Kansas City Monarchs, or so he says. Carl something. Carl is holding a shotgun he must have grabbed from Sporting Goods and Jesus, you have never seen Carl this angry. Boggs. That’s his name. Carl Boggs. The blast from the shotgun hits you in the eyes and tears off the top of your head. You’re dead before you hit the floor.

Nineteen years from now, contractors working on the basement of the house you used to live in will find the secret room, and the bones of your young victims, and the photographs, and all the little hands in the jars. And Aimee Carson will grow up safely, and dozens of other little girls will grow up safely. And Carl Boggs will never know how many lives he saved. And you got away with it, didn’t you? All because some half blind former Negro-Leaguer got drunk and thought Minnie Mouse was a McDonald’s character. What did I tell you, Matt Klesko? Today is your lucky day.


It was a long time before anyone speaks. Boggs, pale, has laid down the shotgun and slumps against a remarkably affordable flat-screen TV. Staring blankly at the wall, listening to the alarms, focusing on one idea: Do not throw up.

Max staggers to his feet and helps Bruce take off his McCheese head. Three motorcycles outside. This could work. He and Bruce could ride, stuff Frank and Ralph into a sidecar each, take them less than four miles to Doc Yardley’s place and holy shit, if they got very, very lucky, they might even be able to pull this off.

This was a good plan. And it probably would have worked, too, if the police hadn’t shown up.


Post a Comment

<< Home