Jules slurps his Mountain Dew. Brother’s got this way of sucking on a straw where it sounds like he’s way down at the bottom of the paper cup even though he’s just filled it at the fountain and has like 40 ounces to go in there. Jules didn’t order any food, just the biggest drink. He says he doesn’t mind Taco Bell, but I think he does. He’s humoring me because he knows I’m high.
“Guy we plugged looked like Grimace,” Jules says.
I was too fucked up when we got to the counter. I’d ordered two tacos and a taco supreme and a burrito supreme and an enchirito, which is like an enchilada, but they don’t call it that. Little known fact–Taco Bell is where the crispy taco was invented. All the tacos down in Mexico are soft. A crispy taco is an American food.
In my 64-ounce cup, I have a mix of everything—Coke, Diet Coke, Orange Slice, Lipton Iced tea with lemon, Sprite, and the red Mountain Dew. I pat at my jacket pocket for a nip of Bacardi but all I have is a baggie full of dope and a 45 automatic in a shoulder holster.
I sigh. Jules sighs.
“You gonna eat any of that, Vin?” Jules asks.
“Aww, I dunno. Want some?” I push the enchirito at him. I can’t eat nothing, I’m so wasted. I just want to melt into the plastic chair and float into the air like the essence of liquid nacho cheese. Maybe I want something sweet, like churros. But I don’t think Jules would want me going back to order more food. I’m pushing it with him, I can tell.
“What the fuck is an enchirito?” asks Jules.
“Try it. It ain’t got no pork in it,” I says. “It’s a burrito in a styrofoam bowl, covered in hot sauce, and you eat it with a spork.”
Jules pushes it back towards me. “You’re the one who wanted Taco Bell.”
Indeed. I had quiero’d the Bell. It was my border run. Jules probably wanted diner food. What the fuck was I thinking? Nobody eats Taco Bell in daylight. Now I’ve got all this food, and Jules is pissed off and hungry. The key to being friends with Jules is not to piss him off. Once you’re friends with him, you’re friends for life. But that don’t mean he won’t end your life to get out of it if you make him mad.
“Well, we’re here at the Bell,” says Jules. “So you better eat.”
It’s best to change the subject, even fucked up high, I know that.
“What the fuck is a Grimace?”
I unwrap a taco and put half of it in my mouth. When I bite down it cracks like a flag blowing in high wind and salts rushes over my tongue. I struggle to open a packet of hot sauce and squirt it onto the other half, which has kind of crumbled onto its paper wrapper and will be hard to eat.
Jules sucks his soda. “You don’t know Grimace? The Big purple thing from Ronald MacDonald’s gang?”
“Yeah, but what is it? The clown’s a clown, the mayor’s a mayor, the burglar’s a burglar. The king’s a king.”
“There ain’t no king.”
“Sorry,” I hold up a conciliatory hand. With my free hand, I grab the wrapper containing my remaining taco fragments and shove them into my mouth. The hot sauce makes me cough and a triangle of taco shell goes down the hard way. I have to wash it all down quickly with my everything soda.
“Careful,” says Jules.
“That’s the other place,” I chew through my words. “Ain’t no girl named Wendy, neither.” The taco hits my stomach hard. I have no appetite. I rewrap the Burrito Supreme.
“You gotta eat that enchirito thing,” says Jules. “That ain’t ‘to go’ food. Too sloppy. I don’t want to be cleaning up the car after you drop the damned thing.”
I want nothing less than the enchirito and its beany, cheese mixture. But Jules is on edge, so I stab it with my spork and take a big bite, smiling as I chew.
“Now that’s a Grimace,” Jules points are me. “That right there is a mother fucking Grimace.”
It was a moment of clarity. A Grimace is the food you think you want when you order it, that you change your mind about when you have it in front of you, but that you eat anyway because a man has to live with his choices.
“That is a mother fucking Grimace,” I agree.
I finish every bite of every Mexican confection in front of me, burp into a paper napkin and Jules drives me home. I have to be up early tomorrow for my trip to Amsterdam.