“Marty, check this out. Marty? Hey, check this out. Look.”
“So a woman, disgruntled that McDonald’s wouldn’t let her inside, firing at the employees. Can you believe that?”
“Huh. ‘Gonna terminate some lives for mcnuggies.’ Why didn’t she just take the drive-thru?”
“Marty, this isn’t funny. People were seriously injured. All because of this damn lockdown.”
“You know, people wouldn’t be so upset if they just started opening things up again. I tell you, they’re gonna find that the lockdown actually did more harm than the virus itself.”
“Yeah really. Why?”
“There is no maybe, Marty. There is no maybe. And I’m not saying the virus isn’t serious. Any life lost is tragic, but–”
“We’re just going to shrug them off? Because people want fast food?”
“Because people are dying Marty. Have some perspective. You know, look at the numbers. This county has had, what? 3 cases.”
“I think it was more than that.”
“But it’s small. There’s a few million living here, and we should remain shut-down due to a handful of cases?”
“Well, maybe we should start opening places up. But we still don’t know how many cases because not everyone gets tested, right? And what if another strain or wave erupts–”
“Nonsense! People are literally killing each other. People are protesting. You know, and it might already be too late. You’ve got mayors and sheriffs threatening to take people out of their homes if they don’t follow every little step. Again, not saying the virus isn’t terrible, Marty, but the aftermath is going to be a whole lot worse. I bet you the government is just using this thing as an excuse to further their control. That’s what they do, Marty.”
“I guess. Maybe they should reopen, but gradually, safely. Everyone should still wear masks and stuff.”
“Yeah. I guess. But people are gonna get sick of that as well. God, I bet the Democrats are loving this.”
“Ok. Ok. Everybody out. Move,” I said, gesturing to the two men to leave the living room.
“Excuse me, who are you?”
“I’m the author. Now move. Your business is done. Get out please.” I corralled the two men toward the doorway.
“I don’t understand…how are you going to end this piece without us?”
“I’m going to scrap it. Too didactic. No one wants to read anything about this virus anyway.”
“Yeah, but…can we have some mcnuggies at least? Haven’t had them for so long…”
I considered this for a moment. Finally, I said, “No.” And brushed them out.
“I’m sorry you folks had to see that,” I said to no one in particular. “I didn’t know how else to end this ‘story’ or whatever you want to call this. So I guess, be safe. Don’t shoot anyway. And I really, really hope that Jeff Bezos continues to make more money. Because nothing really matters anymore.”
“Ok. Ok. Time to go.” Another me came out of nowhere and started gesturing at original me to leave. “Time to go. Bye. Bye. Time to go. Bye.”
“But, can’t I just tell the nice people to socially distance?”
“They already know. And apparently they don’t care. Ok. Bye. Bye.”
“Ok. Ok. Fine. What happens if I step out?”
“You know what happens. You cease to exist.”
“Ok…that’s cool. And, wait. What’s that? You hear that?”
Suddenly, the windows shattered and SWAT came flying in, donning their rifles.
“Oh no…” I said. “Looks like they’re after the virus. Guess this story is going to take a little long–”
“Oh for fuck’s sake.”
One of the SWAT members approached the two of us and unfurled a scroll. “Greetings gentlemen. Martial law has been officially instituted and we are here to confiscate any illicit chicken nuggets you may be in possession of.”
“This is the stupidest thing–” Other me muttered.
“Why? It’s social commentary!”
“No! It’s incoherent! Are you criticizing the government? Do you think the virus is a hoax? What the fuck are you saying?”
“I’m just providing entertainment.”
“Entertainment? You have to watch what you say! People could interpret this as you not taking the pandemic seriously. They may think–”
“Look, people are going to interpret things in any way–”
“Because you want them!”
The SWAT member cleared his throat. We turned to him. “Now, have you two seen these fellas here?” He held-up a sketch of Marty and Eugene (the name of the other guy).
“Yeah. We made them.”
“Well, they are suspected of being in possession of and distributing black-market chicken nuggies.”
Other me glared at me. “What the fuck is this?”
“Ok. We’re ending this. This story is over.” The SWAT team hung their heads and flew backwards out the windows. Other me turned to no one in particular. “We are so sorry you had to go through all this. In fact, I’m not even sure why you are still reading at this point. Unless you decided to scroll at this point in the hopes of reading something interesting. Well, you’re shit outta luck, bud.”
“But, we can’t end it this way.”
“Why not? It’s the only way to salvage this mess.”
“Well, like you, I wanted to just end this story. Fed-up with it. Then I realized, we can’t just end things to our own satisfaction. We have to consider the reader as well.”
“Ok…then why didn’t you just end it with Eugene and Marty? That would have been fine.”
“Well, that would have been boring.”
“Maybe, but a little blandness is ok sometimes. This story wouldn’t have been good, but it would have been better than whatever this is. Sometimes a story just has to dwell on the everyday. Not everything has to be a knock out of the park.”
Suddenly, the room roared with cheers. I turned and saw three snobbish-looking types sitting on the other side of the room. “Who are they?”
“Oh, they’re here to cheer whenever I make a good point. See, you have to have confidence in your writing. Don’t feel like you need to inject artificial excitement into everything. Especially when it comes to writing about a pandemic everyone is dealing with.”
More cheers. “Why do they look like Starbucks?”
“Because they’re the types I loath, yet still want admiration from.”
“God, I suck.”
“Now, let’s have some chicken nuggets.” The peanut gallery was about to stand. “Not you!” And they sat back down. And the two of us ate there in the peace of the living room as the world outside burned and screamed at itself.