There’s No Place Like Outside the Bun

The police report will not mention how Gavin Dail (rhymes with “gale”) won’t go as far as to lick the seeped out red sauce off his bean burrito wrapper, using a spork to scoop errant cheesy onion beans because he’s not some sort of miscreant,despite his having no qualms sucking every last drop of hot sauce out the packets. That he can’t help himself when it come to that sassy goodness. Why should he concern himself withwhat God only knows may be on the packets when the flavor’s so pure? He’d live in the stuff if he could.

​“Bout ready, T-Rocks?” he asked his closest, most trusted companion: a stone he found on a run one morning shaped like a tyrannosaur, thus painted thus.

​A storm was brewing. It seemed best to start heading home. He stood, teetering a little wobbly, a silly sort of lightheadedness chuckled down by Jordaning his trash, nothing but can. And with T-Rocks under his arm, the weight balancing his steps, a friend he couldn’t be more thankful for, he made their way to the door, yet had to brace himself on the handle as his mind dizzied, likening a tornado, as he stepped through.

​But by stepping through he stepped in. Confusion glazed across his eyes and washed out his expression. Even T-Rocks’sgenerally stoic smile curved inward with uncertainty. He’d seen this place before despite his instinctual denial.

​“Welcome to…” and there it was, the counter girl had said the name with that golden arched inflection.

​He backed from the counter, slowly, to keep inaudible the panic alarms to this improbability, sounding off in his being.

​“How can we help you?”

​A step.

​Backwards.

​Ever so slowly.

​His body halted into the flesh of another. A tall stack of looming big eyes between a mop of curly red hair and a smile so widespread it was painted on. “No sudden movements,” he whispered. Not a threat, advice.

​“Where are we?” he attempted not moving his lips.

​“By golly, I believe it’s hell. Nothing but a two all beefpatties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickle on a sesame seed bun boxed sandwich sort of hell.”

​“Then what do we do?”

​“By George, I’ve no thoughts on the matter, ever since Grimace’s disappearance and all,” the words flowed like silenttears, his face so strained Gavin Dail could only assume thegrimace had returned.

​“Have you tried the door?” T-Rocks suggested to Gavin Dail who verbalized it.

​“I’ve had no luck.”’

​“Then it won’t hurt to try again.” So, with nothing left to lose, the trio, as far from the counter and the “come back and see us” would allow, with an obviously stiffened which they believed was a casual ease, made their way across the red tiled floor to the door. Gavin Dail placed his hand across the bar. His new companion (who he intuitively, as in ingrained in him since birth, knew his name was) Ron’s breathing quickened towards anxious vomit.

​Push.

​Success.

​Ron giggled in a way only a grown man in clown makeup could as they stepped through.

​But the giggle turned into a “golly” drowned out by horns dun-dun-dunning for the royal court.

​“Welcome to…”

​“Not again,” said Ron, a plea into the french fried air.

​Gavin Dail had intended to immediately break from the mass of smiling, bearded faces for the door, but in moving forward before moving backwards stumbled over Ron’s unusually oversized shoe and instead reached the floor.

​“Oh, geeze,” Ron said, fumbling to him.

​T-Rocks skidded across the tiles. The bright eyes and plastic smiles of the bearded crown people no longer seemed welcoming. Their expressions unchanged yet shifted into glaring, flared nostrils, jaw dropped on the verge of unhinged screams as if a dragon had laid waste their kingdom.

​“It’s alright, it’s quite alright,” a man wearing trays as a suit of armor said to comfort the shocked, frozen denizens as he scooped up T-Rocks. (“It’ actually quite not alright,” this quietly to Gavin Dail, being more inhibited than helped to his feet by Ron, who was then handed his granite companion.) “We see the wet floor sign,” although there wasn’t one, “we see it quite clearly.”

​Moans like snuffed screams crescendoed like a siren.

​“Golly,” Ron said, covering his ears. “Wha—”

​“No time to explain,” the tray knight called to action. “But you two,” he corralled them towards the door, “just might be my meal ticket. If not, well, in a word we’re f—no need to summon The King—” he called over his tray plated shoulder, “fresh never frozen to the broiler.”

​“The who?”

​“The nobody if we’re lucky.”

​The tray knight pushed the door. No dice.

​“Who disturbs my wagers?” boomed amongst the sirens.

​“But it appears we aren’t quite as such.”

​Gavin Dail, not knowing what else to possibly do with his back against the wall, which in this case was the door, didn’t stop backing. Dice

​“By my charms, I stand corrected,” the tray knight hurriedthem through, although Gavin Dail nor Ron needed any coaxing, as a thin man with an oversized, plastic head with an oversized,plastic crown and perfectly trimmed oversized, plastic beard and permanent oversized, plastic grin came barreling from behind the counter. But before he could reach them, and thankfully, the door shut escaping Gavin Dail to his own reflection.

​“And yet again, I’m quite corrected.” Snake eyes.  

​Because also in the reflection: another counter, another overhead wall menu, another fountain drink station, another set of heads; the difference here, besides being completely clean shaven—as in eyebrowless and bald—and the wearing of little yellow hats, was the cacophonic boing-boing of springs as they bounced and wobbled disembodied on coils. Overhead or all around, ever and omnipresent, Pop Goes the Weasel clankednote by note.  

​“Oh g—” Ron couldn’t finish, trailing off in a way Gavin Dail somehow hypnotically knew these rocking, permanent smiles would too haunt Ron the rest of his born days.

​The music.

​The sway.

​Bobbing heads.

​The menu overhead mesmerized, the words and images rhythmically swirling into circles.

​Gavin Dail felt the waves of circles in his eyes. The circles became his irises.

​“Ahoy,” came like a pssst from behind a trash can.

​Entranced, Gavin Dail paid no mind having no mind to pay: “They have tiny tacos,” monotoned, shuffling forward.

​“Stop your boy” The blue eyed, red smiling ping-pong ball the size of a beach inflatable showed itself. “They’re not real tacos!”

​But no warning could sway Gavin Dail from the soothing, the music, the springs, the smiles, the smiles, the smiles in his eyes, the menu, too eclectic, too appealing, despite the best attempt from the tray knight, impeding the path before him, and Ron desperately yet ineffectively pulling from behind.    

​DUN of Pop Goes the Weasel reverberated above the already droning notes, mirroring and clashing.

​“Golly gee, what was that?”

​DUN.

​“I’m quite sure we don’t want to find out.”

​“Believe you me, you don’t,” concurred the Beach Pong Ball.

​DUN.

​“Shucks, what do we do?” strained Ron still not stopping the unstoppable Gavin Dail.

​DUN.

​“The only ding-dang thing that’s never been done,” The Beach Pong Ball.

​“I don’t quite like the sound of that.”

​DUN.

​“Hoist your boy and let’s rock!”

​DUNDUNDUN

​Tray knight scooped Gavin Dail over his shoulder. Ron scooped T-Rocks. The Beach Pong Ball bounced through the air, “To the window,” over the counter, “to the wall,” between the bobbing heads, “And whatever you do, don’t look down,” to the crew following suit.

​(Which, of course, they then did, seeing the bloody flesh boxes, the spring bases, and Ron, of course, threw up in his mouth a bit.)

​DUNDUN

​The Beach Pong Ball shot through the open drive thru window. Followed by Ron, a dribble of vomit on his shirt. The tray knight tossed Gavin Dail longways in time to hear the DUNDUN eject from the kitchen and a hinged door spring into action as a ghost pale death head, sharp teeth, and pointy hat, fired in his direction.

​Tray knight was done for. Or so he thought. With his last chance of effort and every ounce of luck, he leaped towards the window, grabbed the edge, and hoisted as the razor yellow hat grazed the rear of his shin tray, leaving with him a miracle.

​“Where are we,” Gavin Dail in that slow drawl of waking into a startled backwards shimmy away from a large ball with a face smiling upon him.

​“I’m quite sure we’re still in Hell,” the tray knight said amidst pants.

​And in his words, he was quite possibly right: another tiled floor, another counter, another overhead menu, another indistinguishable waft of fried fries and air-conditioned air, another set of creepy, smiling employees: this go round, all redheaded with pigtails jutting behind their ears.

​“Lovely,” Gavin Dail.

​“Well, boys, not sure where I thought we’d be going, but it’s better than where we were, right?”

​“I’m not quite sold.” This from the tray knight in response to the employees cocking their heads to the side, eyes unblinking towards the huddled mass of adventures, to the chant of “Dave. Dave. Dave.”

​“Are they calling for you?” asked the tray knight.

​“No, my names Gavin. Dail.”

​“DAVE. DAVE. DAVE. DAVE.”

​“Then, by George, what do we do now?”

​“Clearly, folks, the wall window is out,” said the Beach Pong Ball.

​“DAVEDAVEDAVEDAVE.”

​A head appeared in the glow of the menu. Gray hair. Glasses. “Who dares disturb my daughters?!” in a curmudgeon voice.

​No reply, instead freezing as if hoping not moving meant not being seen.  

​“WHO DARES DISTURB MY DAUGHTERS?!?!?!?!”

​Maybe this was working—

​“You there, with the rock and the trays and the clown makeup and the ball.”

​They looked around like, who us?

​“Dare you not place an order after disturbing my daughters?”

​“dave dave dave dave,” the daughters, softly.

​“We’re—um, I—I mean—you see, um—I’m not in the mood for hamburgers,” Gavin Dail finally sputtered.

​“Then we have salads!” the old head boomed.

​“Yeah—no,” said Gavin Dail.

​“Then chocolate ice cream!”

​Gavin thought this one over. “With, like, cookie chunks or candies swirled in?”

​“No. Plain chocolate ice cream!”

​“Oh—right—I might have to pass.”

​“WHAAAT?!?” The establishment shook. Red hellfire flickers in burst from beneath the head. “Chili, my daughters. The chili!”

​“Definitely not.”

​“No, you fools, you won’t be ordering chili. You will be the chili.” Maniacal laughter.

​“dave’s chili dave’s chili dave’s chili,” the daughters moved towards them, stepping in beat.

​The group cowered backwards.

​The creepy wide-eyed, red-headed, pigtailed creeps surrounded them.

​“Oh, geeze, it’s come to this.”

​“I wouldn’t quite believe.”

​“We had a good run, boys.”

​BOOOOOOOOOONG

​A bell. The ground shakes with reverberations. The crew managed balance as the daughters fell.

​BOOOOOOOOOONG rang forth, again, triumphant.

​“No!” screamed the head.

​A golden dome descended from the ceiling, binging and bonging joyfully living mas!

​The head dissipated into its continued screaming. The daughters scattered, withdrawing behind the counter and receptacles and tables.

​Another earth shattering bong ripped, and a short, older man, white shirt, black tie, face wide glasses—a tangible, real life operate of the now gone replica head—stumbled out from behind the counter. Attached to a body, no longer hovering, fearwas in his eyes. The bell bonged again, and the old man scampered into the kitchen.

​“Golly, what’s going on?”

​“I’m not sure,” said Gavin Dail.

​The bell, shining like the sun in yo quiero glory, binged and ringed.

​“But somehow I understand it, it’s like—like it’s speaking to me.”

​“What’s it saying, my boy?”

​“It says the way out is through the way in. That like a bean burrito, it was inside me all along.”

​“I’m quite sure he’s lost it,” the tray knight, under his breath.

​“No! We’ve had it all along!” Gavin Dail sang! “We must think outside the bun!” allowing the words to echo: think outside the bun think outside the bun think outside the bun.

The police report will read at approximately 1457, Gavin Dail, M, 27, was apprehended outside the Taco Bell on Rose Spring Rd. The suspect was clearly intoxicated (blank yet rapid eye movements, loss of balance/inability to stand) prompting Officer Reginald Woods to call in the ambulance. Witnesses will attest to Dail’s erratic behavior: carrying a painted rock from door to door, exiting and reentering the establishment, including a climb through the drive thru window, and the nearly incoherent yelling of “they’re got tiny tacos” and “think outside the bun.” They will also attest that he ordered and ate peacefully, without incident, prior to finishing his meal. Gavin Dail will be held for observations at Sacred Heart.

This particular report will make no mention of testing the sauce packets for foreign substances. However, this will be raised into question when repeat occurrences take place at the Rose Springs’ Taco Bell. This reputation will soon establish Rose Springs as the most profitable Taco Bell, an attraction for those wanting to see if the urban legends are true and/or those wanting to “take the trip outside the bun.”  


Donald Ryan has stuff in Hobart, Cleaver, Back Patio, Silent Auctions, Seiren, and elsewhere. He browses Twitter like a library @dryanswords

Categories: Fiction

Daily Drunk

Shawn Berman runs The Daily Drunk. You can follow him on Twitter @Sbb_writer.

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