Drive-Thru Boss

I’d get out of work at 10 at night and stop at Taco Bell on the way home. 

I was becoming friends with the drive-thru guy. He called me Boss even though I wasn’t a real boss, and I called him Stephen because that was his name. He had tattoos and facial piercings and his hair was really long and all different colors. 

Things were great.

But then Stephen wasn’t there anymore.

Then it was my friend’s dad. Now he was the new late-night drive-thru guy. His son and I were in a car accident when we were teenagers. I was driving and drinking and drugs were involved. 

We were fine.

But his son died from a heroin overdose a few years later. 

His Dad was always joking in the drive-thru window. And positive. Too positive. He never stopped joking when I got my Taco Bell from him, we always fist bumped.

Big smiles.

Smiles so big I could tell he wanted them to last forever. 

Then he was gone. Don’t know what happened. 

Then the late-night drive-thru guy was a guy I went to elementary and middle school with. 

I didn’t recognize him from all the face tattoos. We caught up. Me in my piece of shit car. Him hanging out the drive-thru window ignoring his headset. 

He was only there once and then was gone.

Then this girl I kinda knew. She was into Goth and Wicca stuff. 

One time we were at this bar down the road. Not together. Both just getting drunk with our own separate group of friends. We started talking later at night when everyone was too drunk and then we fucked in my car in the parking lot while everyone else got kicked out of the bar.

It was a busy night in the drive-thru. And now here she was. I was amazed at how good she was at her job. She was taking orders and handing me my warm bag of Cheesy Gordita Crunch and Steak Quesarito through the window telling me about the survey to win an Xbox. And we both looked at each other for a second during the hand off. Like she was casting one of her Wicca spells on me and I was cool with it. And I took my food from her and we both acted like we never had sex in the back of my car before.

Then she took the other order on her headset and I drove away.

And I thought maybe they won’t be so busy next time.

Jon Berger lives in Saginaw, Michigan. His work has appeared in BULL, Jellyfish Review, X-R-A-Y, Ellipsis Zine, BackPatio, Cowboy Jamboree and elsewhere. He tweets @bergerbomb44. 

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