by Jon Konrath
Ricky's older brother Tom worked at a McDonald's, in the back half because of his full-face tattoos of Star Wars characters from outside the official canon, mostly creatures from fan fiction and Marvel comic books about the trilogy that were penned in a bizarro universe only accessible from inside DC comics, which later started an alternate reality lawsuit that eventually got thrown out when Philip K. Dick took too much speed with an alien life form and went back in time to score more coke.
Tom told us to come to his store when he was working and order a 20-piece Chicken McNuggets, and he'd cram at least 50 pieces in the box by smashing them to a pulp with the water pump core from a '67 Chevy Nova 396 SS, which he bought at a local Kragen auto supply and kept on a fake gold chain around his neck. The restaurant's owner, a meth-addled anti-semite with gambling problems and a Lyndon Larouche fetish, often re-introduced the McRib sandwich during Jewish holidays. “Pork for the win,” he told me once, right before he abandoned the store, moved to a small yurt in the Ukrainian deadlands, and serially married a plethora of gap-toothed Iranian podiatrists with season tickets to every San Diego Padres game ever, including playoff games they were eliminated from long before the end of each regular season.
After the owner bailed, a deranged Posse Comitatus group tried to claim a common-law lien against the fast-food restaurant, saying that because they stopped putting the actual number of hamburgers served on the store signs and went with the vague “billions and billions served,” they somehow invalidated the sanctity of the restaurant/customer contract and they didn't need to actually pay for the food anymore. This led to a Waco-esque standoff ending in a bloodbath, a small army of state troopers firing thousands of M-16 rounds into the restaurant, killing 23 protestors, five line cooks, an assistant manager, and a teenager in a foam Grimace suit. Tom wasn't hurt, but he ran home, crying like a little bitch, and asked if we could time travel to stop the whole thing from happening. “I was gonna get my balls licked by this whore working second shift on the fry maker. You gotta stop those fuckers!”
Ricky and I bought a time machine at Wal-Mart with hopes of getting some future sports scores, fucking our grandfathers, the usual shit. But Ricky picked out the wrong version; it was the Forever Time Traveling Lite, which only let you travel up to ten years in either direction, and would stop your journey every two minutes and show you five minutes of ads. It also traveled time by opening wormholes into alternate realities, which meant you couldn't change the future by screwing with things in the past; you'd only change things on the alternate timeline, which didn't help with schemes like going back five years and planting subliminal hints to hot chicks that their lives depended on getting down with some weird dude in the future.
I considered finding a white board or pad of paper to draw a diagram explaining the structure of parallel realities and time vortexes and walk Tom through the complex geometry involved, but I remembered the hours-long debate I once had with him about the difference between Bob's Big Boy and Azar's Big Boy (he was insistent that the Azar's faction was somehow related to the Freemasons, and if we visited one, we'd probably find some Masonic imagery hidden on the back of the menu like you would on the back of a dollar.) His stupid theories on the world were as ill-informed and demented as my mom's understanding of Windows 95 functionality. I told him we sold the time machine on the Mexican eBay, and went back to gluing chopped-up pieces of Star Wars figurines that didn't match his face tattoos to a giant Lego and Easter decoration diorama with trees made out of medical marijuana plants and a Dagobah swamp of human shit.