Double Grilled Quesadilla
In which your quesadilla is grilled twice. The Taco Bell subreddit promises a texture that no single grill can achieve, a crunch that passes understanding.
In which cheesy lava sauce is added to any item. The philomath, for example, might satisfy herself by upgrading her seven-layer burrito to an eight-layer burrito, while the daredevil might thrill at the heat fancifying her regular beef soft taco. I’m no philomath or daredevil. I’m just bored. When I request a lava-anything Coke, the drive-thru attendant does not hesitate to pass me the disgusting beverage which, upon later inspection, is swirled with the requisite goop. I pour the liquid over my driveway. The lava sauce gleams lonelily in the moonlight.
In which guacamole brings a fresh salty tang to a boring bean and cheese burrito, which is what I explain to the drive-thru attendant when he doesn’t recognize the code word. He dangles the bag of food just out of my reach. He asks if I’m the girl who ordered the cheese Coke a couple nights ago. I say yes. He asks me why I would order a Coke with lava sauce mixed in. I tell him that’s a secret. He flashes a shy smile at me and sort of playfully jerks the bag back from my hand. I thrust myself far out though the window to snatch my meal away. As I drive into the night, my heart is warm and fluttering. My face feels hot to the touch. It’s ridiculous.
His name is Daniel. I’d guess he’s around my son’s age, early twenties. He’s trying to flirt with me over the drive-thru intercom. So you know what the Superman burrito is? I say. Where do you go to school? he says, and I realize he’s even younger than my son, probably a high-school student, sixteen or seventeen, but this late at night, with the glare inside the restaurant, he genuinely can’t tell my age. Shorewood, I hear myself say, as if from a great distance—Shorewood is the high-school my son graduated from before he moved away—and the boy says, I do, too! What year are you? Junior, I hear myself say. What’s your name? he says. I’m anonymous, I say. Nice to meet you, Anonymous, he says. Do you know about the Superman burrito or not? I say. He says of course he does. He says he’ll make it especially tasty for his friend, Anonymous. As he hands me my order, I stare him full in the face, daring him to recognize I’m lying, and badly, but he only grins at me. He might even wink: it’s hard to tell with the clunky microphone headgear spilling shadows down his face. He’s young but he’s not handsome. On the way home, I listen to loud rap music on the radio, like someone my son might’ve been friends with. The Superman Burrito is a cheesy beef burrito that contains sour cream, guacamole, crispy strips, and fried potatoes.
I visit the Taco Bell in the daytime, when I hope Daniel won’t be working, to see if they carry the verde sauce I’ve been reading about. It’s described as having a sugary vinegary heat. It’s extremely rare. As I comb through piles of sauce by the napkins, red sauce packet after red sauce packet, I spot Daniel on the assembly line, lovingly folding a Crunchwrap together. I duck my head low before I walk quickly out the door. I never return.
The Invisible Man
I’m explaining the Invisible Man to my son on the phone. It is, according to Taco Bell lore, an item that costs exactly five dollars. When you order the Invisible Man, it negates anything else you might have ordered, so at the drive-thru window, you are handed an empty plastic bag. Very few Taco Bell employees know about the Invisible Man. It might even be a hoax. But why would you order that? my son asks. I guess it’s funny, I say. I don’t understand, he says. It’s funny to a certain kind of person, I say. Are you okay, Mom? he says. Are you taking care of yourself? All alone in that house? Are you looking for another job like you promised me? I find ways to stay busy, I say. Thank you. I am doing well.
Joe Aguilar lives in Worcester, MA. His fiction is in DIAGRAM, Threepenny Review, and Conjunctions.