When Ronald McDonald died everyone cried and all the world was swept up and carried on great plastic trays to the receptacle of their dreams. Against the hard, plastic store benches men and women paused, children too, feeling a bitter taste on their tongues, weeping sudden tears onto Big Macs, while behind the counter fat, wet drops splashed their way from eyes, sputtering into hot grease.
We leaned against one another, Kat and I, crying out brains out. From their couch we watched the television, staring and confused.
"God," Kat said.
"God," I said.
All day we had been filled with a great sadness; with bitterness and remorse. Across the city we had heard sobbing and buzzing and great litanies. In the mosques, muezzins buzzed and there were litanies; in orthodox onion-domes there were litanies; in basilicas more litanies; L. Ron Hubbard invoked a restorative litany from beyond the grave. The Christian Scientists and the idolaters echoed cries through the long day burning into night and news had it the Dalai Llama had come forth to forgive the meaty sins of Ronald.
Perfectly glass beads tumbled their way down Kat's cheek.
"I don't believe it," I said. "He was my best friend."
"Better than me?" she asked.
"Better than you," I said.
We sat a while.
"He was my lover," she said. "In my thoughts, I fantasized and daydreamed and secretly desired to bear his children. He had such big feet. Long, long, madly red feet, and we had beautiful red, white, yellow babies."
On the television, reports flashed. Happy Meals were turning to dust and golden arches sagged.
"Did you love him?" I asked.
"Yes," she nodded. "I think so."
All around there were questions. It was unavoidable; there were always questions. Why was he taken from us? Why so early in life, and so simple a soul? Did he suffer much? Had he a full life, one where his regrets resolved and buried themselves peacefully?
"How did he go?" Kat wondered aloud. "With the despair of Ivan Ilyich? The overwhelming feeling that perhaps he had not lived life as he should have? Did Grimace, round and purple, raise his legs up for him those last days as he might have wanted?"
An anchorman raged: "It is almost as though the Twenty-First Century itself has come to a sudden, violent, and premature end." He too wept, eyes puffed and reddened.
They showed the corpse. Around the corpse three wise men and mortician sat. While the wise men cried, the mortician applied eyeshadow on the brows and temples and rouge on the cheeks and, himself, cried. Their collective tears ran down and smeared the reds and blacks into paste-grained grays on his face. Everyone was crying. The cameraman cried. The camera itself cried and steamed, refracting kaleidoscopically and starry the reds and yellows of the corpse.
"Look at him," Kat said.
"An intrinsic part of us has perished," the anchorman spoke. "He was a universal bond. He was a unity. He had a vision. We are all one in his vision."
No, no, I thought. No, that is not it.
"Some say there was no vision," the anchorman continued, "some say there were only contradictions. But we know in death there was the vision."
"He's right," Kat said. "Only in life are there contradictions."
"I am right," said the reporter, "for only in life are there contradictions."
They began to announce funeral plans. The plans were grand and ambitious. There was to be a parade across thirty separate nations, a procession in tow, never diminishing, always growing in numbers, with even the Hamburglar lurking white and black in the background, leaking true tears.
"I hope they give him a good burial," I said, "a good Christian burial."
"Was he Christian?"
"I think he was. He had a generous, loving, red-haired soul."
"I am such a bad Christian," Kat said. "I never believed in anything."
"No," she said. "There were too many contradictions, and once I heaped the contradictions they clicked like the pieces of a jigsaw set, only incomplete. I turned around and discovered up, left, around the bend still more contradictions, more waiting everywhere and some even hiding, waiting in ambush or just plain scared of discovery. I ran after them, mad, grabbing mad, spittle-frenzied shouting and leaping and stomping on the ones I couldn't take alive. The pieces multiplied though, and there I was, with only a slice of the whole. I had a corner, maybe a center region, and then if I looked hard enough at the pieces I realized that I wasn't even sure where it fit at all. I wasn't even sure if it was the right puzzle."
Around the world there were vigils: New York, London, Paris, Rome. Then too, in the Cyrillic scribblings of Moscow there were vigils; vigils in Hong Kong, in Tokyo. In Beijing they coursed through the center of the city, sprawling, sad-eyed and mourning. The obese children felt shrinking and small; they blinked their thin-slit moistened eyes; they patted their frowning Buddha-bellies; they threw stones at the only KFC in all the Orient.
"There is nothing to believe in," I said.
"What about Ronald?"
"He didn't believe in God," I said. "Could he? How could he?"
"He believed in burgers," she said. "And efficiency."
"And beef tallow."
"He believed," I said, "in sliced buns toasted outside and sesame-sprinkled. He believed in chopped frozen onions, thin patties, dehydrated and looking floppy but slapped onto those buns with tender, often unsanitary, care. The special sauce, a tangy, peculiar flavor, rich and it seemed familiar hitting your tongue, so familiar you could almost name it as it spun pirouettes around your olfactory sense, stimulated, and left just as quickly. This was something good to believe in. This was something honest, something tangibly honest and so physically real you could taste it, did taste for the low price of 99 cents."
"He believed in magic," Kat said.
"Do you believe in magic?" she sang aloud. Her voice was reedy and delicate. Moving on the couch I leaned and kissed her.
"And I hope you do," she mumbled.
I kissed her some more and my hand began to grope underneath her shirt, feeling for her breast.
"No," she said, pushing me away. "Not tonight."
Talk of memorials. Talk of monuments. Moving words from Mayor McCheese and throughout it all the lingering sense: Is this good? Is this true? Is this sublime?
We sat long watching the images so fast on screen, flickering and running by and bright and gone. When the whole thing was over they used the ashes for Big Macs.
About the author:
Who is the enigma known as Hansun? Nothing can be said, save that he is eighteen, questionably single, and willing to try new, erotic things. And he lives in Japan.