Cross Roads

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Chapter Two: Devil

“Are you the manager?”

I stop scribbling on the night paper work to look up at the man staring down on me at the opposite side of front counter. He is a short, balding man with a serious beer-gut, looking as though he is a frequent patron of this humble fast-food restaurant. He is glaring down at me, obviously expecting my full and undivided attention when in reality he is only going to get about an eighth.

I know he is going to be complaining about something. I know he is going to be telling me how to do my job as though he could have a giant clue. I know that there is going to be an argument by just the way he is standing in front of me, like he is the most important person in the world and I should bow down to his every whim.

And my night had started out SO promising.

“Yes,” I say sweetly, straightening up and setting aside my pen. “How can I help you?”

He huffs, an air of superiority in his stance. “I came through and ordered a Big Mac with no onions.”

. . . I wait. He does not elaborate. “Yes, and?” I prompt.

“There were onions on it,” he growls as though this type of thing is just unacceptable. A sin of the highest degree. Something punishable by death through firing squad . . . or hanging.

In his mind it probably is, but what he doesn’t realize is that this is McDonald’s. This is a fast-food restaurant, not a five-star, spend a hundred dollars on a meal kind of place. Teens and college students work here. Managers are between eighteen and twenty-four. This is McDonald’s for crying out loud.

“Oh, I’m so sorry about that,” I gush, putting on my fakest look yet, sincere and apologetic when I am feeling anything but. Complaints like this are nothing new. “Did you call ahead?”

“. . . No.”

I frown. “Well, did you bring your receipt?”

“. . . No.”

Now I am getting annoyed. “Did you at least bring back the Big Mac?”

“No, I threw it out. There were onions on it. I asked for no onions and there were onions on it.”

“Yes, I understand that, sir, but there is nothing I can do,” I tell him. “If you had brought your receipt or the sandwich back I could have given you a refund—”

“I don’t want a refund,” he interrupts, face turning red.

“—or a replacement Big Mac,” I continue as though he hadn’t been so rude as to try and cut me off. “But you didn’t so my hands are tied.”

“But I ordered it with no onions and they put onions on it.” I swear that there was a whine in there, quite similar to that of a pampered three year old.

And as if that would change the fact that he neglected to bring me proof of purchase.

“Yes, so you have told me. And I am sincerely sorry about that. It was an honest mistake. It was not intentional, sir. But the fact still remains that you did not bring back the sandwich or your receipt. If you had I could have given you a refund—”

I don’t want a refund.”

“—or a replacement for the sandwich.”

“I threw it out because there were onions on it when I specifically said for no onions,” he yells, face resembling that of a tomato in his rage over a stupid sandwich. He throws his hands onto the counter, hitting my pen and sending it flying straight at me.

I flinch when it hits my face.

I stare at him.

He stares straight back.

I glare. “Sir, there is no reason for you to throw a hissy fit,” I say blankly, far from amused by this display of ‘righteous customer anger’ over one sandwich that I highly doubt he threw out. Yes, I can understand why he would be angry. That does not mean he can come in here and act like a spoiled brat. Onions on a Big Mac. Big whoop. He doesn’t like onions he should’ve at least checked before driving off or walking out or whatever he did when he was given his order.

He starts to splutter.

“You didn’t want onions on your Big Mac, I understand that. I am sorry that you did not get the correct sandwich, but you failed to do three things. You did not call and report the mistake. I could have done something if you had. You did not bring back the Big Mac. I could have done something for that, too. And then you did not bring a receipt as proof of purchase. My hands are tied. I cannot do anything for you. That is the company policy. I am sorry that you did not get what you wanted.”

“I want a number to call.”

I fold my arms, ready for this man to just get out of here already. Dinner rush is starting, and I have two new people who seem to be getting flustered with each order that comes onto the screen. I don’t have the time to stand here and continue to argue over something as stupid as onions on a Big Mac. “Look to your left, sir. It’s on the wall.”

He looks and shakes his head. “No, I want a one-eight-hundred number.”

“Sir, that is the office number. That is the number you are getting. You want to call someone about this, you will call them.”

He splutters again. “Well . . . w-well I want your name.”

I glance down to my chest, at the nametag pinned to my shirt. The guy does the same. “It’s Spencer. Do you want me to write it down for you?”

He nods, pouting now.

I print out some receipt paper, write down the office number and my name. I hand it over to the man and ask, “Is there anything else that you need today?” maintaining my sickly sweet, polite voice. I cannot yell at this moron, so the next best thing is to irritate with sarcastic civility.

“The store number.”

I go into the office and write down the store phone number, bringing it back up front. “Here you go, sir.”

He looks over what I have written, shakes his head before his eyes can even comprehend what he is reading. “No, the store number.”

“That’s what I gave you.”

“No, your actual number. So when I call and explain this to your office, I can give them which store has a rudely ignorant manager.”

I chew my lip, trying to hold back the angry remark that is building. I yank back the paper and scribble down the number, not really caring if it’s legible. I push it back. “Is there anything else I can help you with?” The sarcasm is overflowing, dripping from every word. I am no longer smiling.

“I came here and ordered a Big Mac no onions—”

It is my turn to interrupt. “Yes, I know, but you failed to bring back the sandwich or your receipt. There is nothing I can do. I am sincerely sorry about this inconvenience, but that is the way it is. I can guarantee you it was not on purpose. We try to make every order the way the customer wants, but accidents do happen. I am sorry about your Big Mac, sir.”

“All I wanted was a Big Mac no onions—”

“You have a good day,” I interrupt for a second time, turning and giving him my back to find that counter and drive-thru has piled up. Both my counter people are spazzing out. I sigh and yell for fries to be dropped, and then I ask which orders they have started on.

None.

I sigh again and start bagging food.

“This one’s for here,” the kid on counter says, flustered and earnest and looking like a deer caught in headlights.

I nod. “Okay,” but continue to bag it. There’s too many for me to worry about grabbing trays. “Are all the orders on counter taken?” I ask.

The boy shakes his head.

“Take all the orders and then start making drinks.” I turn to the girl on drive-thru. “I need you to make your drinks and fries. First I need two mediums and a baby. Get the apple slices for the Happy Meal.” I lean around and scream into the back for the headset person “BOY OR GIRL TOYS FOR THE HAPPY MEALS!”

Headset screams back “Sorry!”

I start on the first order, the one which has been waiting five whole minutes for a simple Number Three meal. I make the Coke, bag the burger and grab the medium fry. Spinning to counter I call “Quarter Pounder meal with a Coke!” I look around at all those swarmed around me, trying to spot the one whose order was just called. An older man raises his hand and I hold it out to him. I barely give him a chance to take it before I’m starting on the first drive-thru order.

The next half-hour is chaos as the dinner rush arrives. A dozen Dinner Boxes are ordered – we are constantly holding on fries. Hundreds of Happy Meals pop up on the screens, and I come to the realization – not for the first time – how unhappy these things make me.

Catch my pun? Un-Happy Meal? . . . Never mind.

Customers whine and complain about waiting, demanding immediate service when they’ve all ordered at least thirty dollars worth of food. I am overwhelmed, but slowly things get out and the rush dies down.

Lobby and front counter is a complete mess. It looks like a bomb has gone off.

Back in grill it is no different. Buns lie on the floor among lettuce, sauce, cheese, onions and boxes.

All my crew people look overwhelmed and exhausted. I feel the same. The beginning of summer is always the worst time, the number of customers constantly fluctuating to the point the GM can never predict how many people to schedule during a shift. Ten people are scheduled, we’re dead. Six people – consisting of two new employees – are scheduled and we get slammed.

There is never a happy medium in this place, which adds credence to the altered jingle of ‘I’m hatin’ it’.

“Spencer, I need ones,” my order-taker calls warily, holding open his drawer and staring down at the lack of singles and the over abundance of twenties.

I nod and walk over. I take a twenty, finger the keys hanging from my belt, and walk into the office. I punch in my code for the safe, wait to open it, and then pull out the change bucket. I count out twenty ones and then return to the front. “Here ya go.”

“Thanks,” he says, looking less nervous.

I take a look around my store, saddened by the mess and overflowing garbages. Some customers were courteous enough to just leave their crap lying on the tables. Others have been sweet enough to try and shove garbage into the already full bins.

Note the sarcasm that should be obvious.

It’s going to be so much FUN changing those.

Once again, take note of my open sarcasm.

“Okay, I need someone to change all the garbages.” I look between my two counter people. The order-taker raises his hand. “Good. Thanks.” I spin on drive-thru. “You are going to wipe down tables and sweep lobby.” She groans but goes to grab a broom, a dust-pan and a clean rag. With those two taken care of I lean over the soda machine to my people in grill. “I need you guys to sweep and mop back there. Make sure everything’s stocked up in case we get another rush.”

My demands are met with annoyed groans, but they all go to obey. One crew member even has the nerve to raise his arm, extending at a sixty-degree angle from his body. A perfect salute if there ever was one.

For some reason I have been given the nickname of ‘Hitler’ on my shifts – I have no clue why, but the GM says it’s because of a control freak . . . I wonder if that’s true . . .

I nod my approval, finding a grin forming and start in on the pile of trays that are lying off to the side on counter.


One o’clock slowly rolls around and the store is finally closed. With manic glee I shut off the lot lights as well as the outside menu board. I lock the doors, print my drawer receipts and paper work, and then go into the office to count the money and fill out my cash-sheet. I am not surprised when my deposit for the night reaches dangerously close to two thousand, having dealt with two dinner rushes, and then an ice cream swarm an hour before closing. My grill closer and I are both more than ready to call it a night and walk out.

Quite possibly to never return.

I feel a headache building as I add my daily totals.

“This place sucks,” my grill closer, a college girl by the name of Natalia groans, emptying the garbages in grill and setting the bags down in back hall for the maintenance guy to take care of in a couple hours during opening. She lets out a sigh and leans against the wall next to me. “I’m done. What about you?”

“I just have to fax this to the office and fill out the black book,” I say, taking my cash-sheet and cashless printouts to the fax machine. I punch in the office number, wait for the cash-sheet to go through, and then sit down to copy and add the information for the day into the black book. It takes me a couple minutes and then we’re done. “Let’s get out of here,” I tell her, standing from the chair.

We grab our things and clock out for the night. I turn off the lights, make sure all the heaters have been turned off, and then we walk outside. I lock the door behind us, bid Natalia goodnight, and then make my way towards my jeep parked so far away at the back of the lot.

It is not alone.

There is a very expensive 918 Spyder parked creepily next to mine, a very creepy male leaning against it. His arms are crossed and he is smiling, pearly, unnaturally white teeth gleaming.

Alvin Knightly, younger brother to my sister’s ex.

I stop walking ten feet away, glaring. “We’re closed, Alvin,” I say, thinking he wants free food. He’s done this before, him and his brother. They think it’s hysterical that I make a living as a McDonald’s manager, yet they use that to their advantage whenever they’re drunk. “Come back when it’s open.”

His smile only grows wider and more blood chilling. “I didn’t come here for food, Spencer.”

I groan, too exhausted to start arguing with this guy. “Then why are you here?”

“To talk.”

“I have nothing to talk to you about. Now excuse me.” I start towards my Jeep, getting as close as my hand on the door when he appears next to me. “What?” I cry, voice cracking in my irritation.

I know what you did,” he sing-songs.

I raise an eyebrow. “Oh? And what’s that? I do a lot of things.”

“It has something to do with my brother’s car and his completely warped engine.”

I stare at him.

He stares back at me, thinking he has me.

“You know what warped means?” I wonder. “Seriously? That’s such a big vocabulary you’ve got. Good for you.” I pat his shoulder and make another go at climbing inside the safety of my car. I wrench open the door, toss in my bag and prepare for the three-foot hop into the driver’s seat.

He grows angry. “No, that’s not what I meant,” he growls, grabbing my arm. It hurts, surprisingly.

“Let go!” I hiss, yanking to free myself. His hand only tightens. There is a good chance that I will have a bruise within a few days. “Alvin! Don’t make me scream rape!”

He pauses, staring me down. “You wouldn’t,” he denies.

“Wouldn’t I?” I throw back darkly, taking a deep breath to do just that. There is a twenty-four hour gas station right next door, and the kid working nights has a thing for McDonald’s employees – of the female variety. I know that he will respond timely to my plea. “Let go.”

He does, but moves closer. “I know what you did to Adrian’s car.”

“I was nowhere near that thing.”

He smiles again, feral. “And yet, somehow, I got pictures of you sneaking out of my garage.”

I can feel my blood run cold as I realize just how much trouble I am actually in. My dad is so gonna kill me for this when he finds out. “Oh? Let me see.” I hold out my hand, playing unconcerned. And then I get the pictures and realize that I am royally screwed. “That’s not me, Alvin. Whoever this is, she’s too tall to be me.” Denial is one of my better qualities, right next to being horrifically deranged.

He laughs. “Spencer, Spencer, Spencer,” he breathes. “You are too funny.”

“Yeah? Wanna fund my ambition to be a comedian in Las Vegas? I hope to one day have my own show. Goode’s Goods, maybe?”

He shakes his head. “Not really catchy.”

“Eh, I’ll work on it.” I wave my hand. “Now MOVE.”

He plants himself firmly between me and my door. I am stuck.

I sigh. “What do you want, Alvin? That’s not me.” Deny, deny, deny, deny.

“I know it’s you, Spencer Tierney Goode.”

I frown at the use of my full name. I blame my sister. She just had to let it slip during a sibling squabble. And then she also had to be too nice and too shy to get revenge after being dumped so coldly. This is all Anabelle’s fault. I hate her.

“And Adrian will know too if I show him.”

That catches me off guard.

“What do you mean?” I ask, curious and dreading the answer.

“I mean that I won’t show him. Under one condition.”

“Which would be?” I press.

This time his smile is absolutely terrifying, dark eyebrows raised and arched high on his head. “You be my date.”

The thought that I would ever agree to such an outrageous offer is hilarious.

I laugh at him, just for saying it. Alvin and his brother both knew how I felt about them from the get-go. I was my usual blunt, sarcastic, rude self whenever Anabelle brought them over for a few hours, or they stopped by McDonald’s during one of my shifts. Not once did I ever give the impression that I cared the least bit for either of them. There was just something wrong about being filthy rich, knowing it, and rubbing it in us lesser folks’ faces.

It grated on my nerves.

Also, I hated that the Knightly Duo had taken to referring to me as Mick D’s whenever they saw me. At first it made sense, but then, the more they used it, the more I understood that they were picking fun at me. Well, at least I have a job, unlike these two losers who are riding on the waves of life on their parents’ checking accounts . . .

. . . Suddenly my little argument to make myself feel better seems so very unhelpful.

“No,” I finally say once I’ve sobered up from nearly asphyxiating on my laughter at the absurdity of this moment.

Alvin’s gaze hardens. “You kind of don’t have a choice, Spencer. Either you be my date or I show my brother and my mother these pictures,” he threatens, waving them around.

“You know, they might think you’re a crazy stalker,” I shoot back, hands folded over my chest.

He raises an eyebrow, perfectly waxed like the girl he is – I wouldn’t be surprised if he got weekly pedis and manis, too.

“Do you make it a habit of taking pictures of unsuspecting girls?” I wonder. “If so, Alvin, you need to get some help. This kind of behavior could be classified as stalker-ish. You risk being pepper-sprayed, or being kicked in the nuts, or both. Do you really want to chance that? Do you? I’m not sure you could handle being mace’d in the face. And your family jewels . . . well, they’re lacking to begin with. You can’t afford to be kicked there. By anyone—”

Spencer!” he roars, cutting me off.

I shrink back, not entirely fearful, but pretending to be completely put out. “I’m just saying,” I mumble, pouting.

“Do you ever shut up?” he hisses, bending low and getting in my face.

“Um . . . no? What kind of question is that? Like, seriously? Have you ever known me to shut my mouth? There’s a reason my nickname is Motor-Mouth, you moron,” I reply, just as angry. “Where’ve you been?”

He groans, rubbing his eyes.

As if he’s the one who has a right to be stressed out.

“Look, this isn’t going how I wanted it to,” he mutters, more to himself than to me.

I respond anyways. “Oh? And how did you want this to go? Did you expect me to throw myself into your arms and agree with your insane idea? Did you expect me to tell you this is a dream come true for me? Did you really think that I would even consider a single word that came out of your mouth?” At his silence I realize that the answer is yes. “Hi, my name is Spencer. I hate rich snobs, which means that anyone with the last name of Knightly is immediately on my Hit-List.” I stick out my hand for him to shake, taking it back not even a second later having no intention of touching the guy. “Now that we’ve got that awkwardness out of the way, move.” I shove him to the side and scramble up behind the wheel. I frantically put the key in and turn over the engine, hitting the gas to warm it up. I put the shifter into reverse and back up, sticking my tongue out at Adrian on my way.

I am home free.

That is, until Alvin Knightly jumps straight in front of me, standing and glaring into my headlights.

“Move it you idiot!” I scream, rolling down my window.

“No! Not until you agree to be my date.”

I shake my head, whether or not he can see me I do not care. “The answer is still no! Now move before I run you over.” I slam the gas, causing him to jump as the engine growls.

“Spencer, if you don’t agree to this then I’m going to tell Adrian and my mother that it was Anabelle who trashed the car,” he yells back, eyes wide from the threat of being squashed by my monstrous beast of a ride. “Do you really want that to happen? We both know it was you, so are you really willing to let her take the fall for something that you did?”

I lean out my window and stare.

He smirks now, knowing that he has me.

I don’t go without one last flight, turning on my high beams with the tip of my shoe. He cries out and stumbles back, shielding his eyes from the bright lights.

“I hate you!” I cry out, watching the man squirm. “Do you know that? I really, really, really hate you.”

“We’ve already established that. I hate you, too,” he replied, staggering over to my door, dazed and – fingers crossed – a little blinded. “The party’s tomorrow night. I know you don’t close,” he adds when I start to open my mouth. “I’ll pick you up at seven. You’ll need to be dressed nice. No pants, no boots, no leather jacket. Dress like a girl for a change, Spencer.”

I glare at him. “I could still run you over,” I growl.

He snorts. “Sure you will,” he says flippantly.

“I will,” I repeat.

“But not right now.”

I snarl and bite my lip. “Anything else you’d like to dictate? Perhaps my choice in deodorant? Ooh, or maybe what color my underwear is? Fair warning, sometimes I like to go commando—” Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have said that, whether or not it isn’t true.

Alvin is grinning like a fool, waggling his eyebrows and trailing his eyes up and down what he can see of me through the window. It ain’t much.

I sock him in the ear.

He flinches away.

“You’re such a freakin’ pervert, Alvin!” I yell. “Now get outta my way. I’ve got some sleep to catch up on.”

“Don’t forget, seven o’clock on the dot.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I mutter, knowing that I won’t have a chance of forgetting about this. I let out the clutch and slam on the gas, lurching forwards and down the parking lot. Glancing up in the rearview mirror I can see Alvin watching me go, looking smug and surprisingly demon-like.

And then it hits me.

My life is officially over.

I have just sold my soul to the devil.

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