The door to the Burger Bop burst open. The doorstop shrieked and scuttled into the nearest corner, stifling a whimper, a little bloody. Nobody cared.
“Smithann!” Her mom yelled through thought-transference. But Smithann could hardly hear it in her head because of all the letter ‘d’s suspended in the air. She didn’t think that actual physical objects (especially huge, black, and shiny letter ‘d’s) would really be able to interfere with the way they talked. Or would they?
She had seen some weird stuff before- one time her friend Benitha was telling her a story about a guy at school and all of a sudden her eyes stopped peering deep into Smithann’s and her mouth opened wide and gross and the corners of her lips expanded and MOVED up on her face toward her cheeks and these strange guttural shrieks came out of her tube. It was so crazy. Smithann had heard the laughing track in her mind before but she had never seen a display as gross as this. Afterward, Benitha picked up all of her books in a hurry and ran out of the room. They never talked about it again.
The ‘d’s were starting to accumulate and press up against the windows of the Burger Bop. Some were small and very, very tiny. They were getting stuck in the crevices of the Slurpee machine and she wondered how long it would take to coax them all out later. Some were big and teetered on the edges of the counter and near the sack chute. This was bad.
Her mom waded in through the ‘d’s, elbowing some of them, and finally stopped in front of Smithann, glaring at her angrily. “What have you done?!” Smithann heard thinly in her head.
“Come on, Mom, you don’t see all these fucking ‘d’s in the air? How would I know-“
Her mom’s eyes snapped closed suddenly and Smithann wasn’t sure if her mom had heard what she said but she really hoped so. She really did. Her mom’s eyes snapped back open and Smithann thought everything was okay but then they snapped back closed again. It started going faster. “Uh-oh,” she thought, “This isn’t helping.”
“Sit down Mom,” she thought, “over there.” But she wasn’t sure if she heard her or not. A lone ‘d’ suddenly popped up by her mom’s head but she didn’t even try to shoo it away with her hand. Her eyes kept doing that weird closing thing while the ‘d’ bounced gently against her temple. Smithann decided it was time to try what she’d been practicing at home, thank God. She opened her mouth but the door to the Burger Bop burst open again.
“What the fuck?” Ben2Times grimaced in his mind and immediately started knocking the ‘d’s out of his way and even stomped one into the linoleum. Stephania stared at him angrily in amazement he hoped and he grabbed her hand and walked toward the counter. He saw Smithann staring at her mom (of all people, damn!) while she opened and closed her eyes… he had seen this before, too. There was so much they didn’t know about him, no one did. Good. He liked it that way, but for now, he didn’t care if they knew or not and the objective was to make Stephania stop clearing her throat and singing that song AND to fix his voice, etcetera.
Now this. Her mom, of all people. Ben2Times let his mind wander back to the freight train that was three years ago. He pictured Smithann’s mom in the backyard in that white bikini, him showing up drunk in the middle of the day and hoping to lean on Smithann’s shoulder… she was so good at being a friend and listening and not putting any demands on him. He remembered Mrs. Filler’s sultry voice… “Call me Natalianese Ben. I don’t mind…”
The way she glared at him when he walked into the backyard, put the lotion in his hands, put his hands on her tits. He… he just… oh well, that was a long time ago and now was not the time to picture it especially with all this interference he might not know what was going through, or capable of going through into their heads.
All of this poured through his head while the ‘d’s bounced gently and ricocheted off their shoulders, floating through the air.
“I feel like you’re doing this to embarrass me.” Stephania heard in her head.
The problem was she wasn’t sure who said it. It sounded so far away. It could have ben Ben2Times but why would she try to embarrass him? She would never do that, not in a million years. Never. For reals, never.
She couldn’t help it that the ‘d’s were doing whatever popped into her head. The four of them had been here for like three years now standing at the counter of the Burger Bop and every time a thought or idea (or memory or wish or just fleeting things) or anything popped into her head the ‘d’s had evolved to start performing it. But were they performing? Now she wasn’t so sure. Maybe they believed it. Could they see her? Could they see Ben?
Stephania cleared her throat. She wasn’t sure but she could almost feel Ben2Times grimace. She looked at him but he was just looking at her in the usual, normal way.
It started 2 years ago. They were all standing at the counter and she happened to think of a leather-studded flamingo gyrating and dancing awesomely to AC/DC’s classic tune “Thunderstruck.” She didn’t know where it came from but she thought of it.
All of a sudden, one of the more hefty ‘d’s started gyrating and moving its bottom and she could swear that she heard the song playing just a little bit in the back of her head. The ‘d’ picked up speed, moving it’s circular bottom and it almost seemed to turn a little pink hue but no one was quite sure, they never had fully agreed on that. It was a moot point now though because since then they had witnessed the ‘d’s doing some pretty weird things.
The thunderstruck flamingo never stopped dancing and eventually started picking up other ‘d’s and tossing them on the wall or seeming to kiss them deeply, swooning to the ground. And at one point most of the other ‘d’s in the Burger Bop started encircling the walls while these connected steel cages glimmered thinly into view and then all the ‘d’ flamingos were inside the connected steel cages gyrating and rocking out while the initial rock ‘d’ continued his gyrations and pure awesomeness. He periodically pulled random ‘d’s from the auditorium-like cages that were now glamoured in the walls and seemed to kiss them deeply, and naturally the swoon. The four of them had about four weeks of hard work sweeping up ‘d’s and it was getting very distracting.
“Stephania!” Ben yelled, “STOP THINKING OF FLAMINGOS!”
“I’m not! I’m trying so hard. I’m literally not thinking of flamingos.” She said as she softly hummed “…thuuuunderstuck..”
“Stop it. Just stop it.”
“I’m not.” She whined as Smithann’s mom’s eyes kept closing and opening, which was still really weird and hard for her to look at.
“I feel like you’re trying to embarrass me.” Ben said, but all she heard from far away was “…..emb…rrs…. eeeee.”
She could barely hear him but she knew what he was saying. She decided to just glare at him anyway. He didn’t know. The one thing she did know was that she wasn’t trying to embarrass him. She wouldn’t do that until a million years. Well, at least not intentionally.
“You have to be careful.” She heard from somewhere.
“Duly noted,” she thought, as a leather-studded flamingo drifted by, sniffing coke above her head.