Tequan Is On Bicycle – Homeless
November 26, 2020
Tequan is on bicycle…?
Greg blinked at the computer screen like a mouth-breathing owl with a lobotomy. He read it again, to make sure his eyes weren’t playing tricks on him.
Tequan is on bicycle…
Then again, in fragments. Slower.
Tequan… Is on… Bicycle.
Tequan is on bicycle… his brain finally wheezed in acquiescence.
Stunned, Greg’s enormous frame of layered folds leaned back in his Herman Miller X Logitech G Embody Gaming Chair, making the sound of a pleather suitcase packed full of dead rats being unzipped.
He couldn’t believe it. After all these years, the McRib was finally back and it was being delivered to him on a bicycle?
Surely, car is faster… Greg’s hungry brain reasoned. For the life of him, he couldn’t understand what Uber Eats was thinking.
“Mom!” Greg screamed over his shoulder.
“What?” a voice like pickle brine screamed over the sound of “The Price Is Right“ playing on TV in the living room.
“They’re delivering it on bicycle!”
“They’re delivering it on bicycle!”
“Yeah. Some fucking guy named Tequan is delivering our McRibs on bicycle!”
“Why would they deliver them on bicycle?!”
“That’s what I’m saying!”
“That makes no sense!”
“And just as the McRib comes back!”
“I know!” Greg yelled again, really getting steamed now and slamming his ham of a fist down onto his “Make America Great Again” mouse pad.
“Tequan?! That name doesn’t even sound American! How long ‘til he gets here?” his mother yelled over the beeping sound of some contestant spinning the big wheel, trying to get themselves into The Showcase Showdown.
Greg looked at his computer screen just as the 8 minute wait time clicked down to 7.
“7 or 8 minutes!” Greg screamed.
“Well which one is it? 7 or 8? It can’t be both!” his mom yelled back. Greg could hear traces of panic in her voice, which almost made him start to panic himself.
“7!” Greg clarified.
“7…” Greg heard his mom say to herself, and then there was silence except for the excitement of some contestant spinning the wheel onto the $1 space, earning themselves a spot in The Showcase Showdown.
“Wouldn’t car be faster?!” Greg’s mom screamed.
“That’s what I thought too!”
“Surely, car is faster!”
“What are they thinking?!”
“Hold on!” Greg screamed back.
Greg leaned forward in his gaming chair. He opened Google Maps on his computer. His home destination was already set. He clicked on “Directions,” found the McDonald’s they were getting delivery from, then clicked enter. Thanks to 21st century, modern magic, the results were instantaneous.
By car? 10 minutes. Walking? 18 minutes. By bicycle…?
Greg’s breath left his hunkering body as he leaned back in his chair, making it squeak in elastomeric agony.
“Well?!” his mom screamed.
No… Greg’s trembling brain said. It couldn’t be. It just didn’t make sense.
By bicycle? 8 minutes…
Greg’s entire body tensed up. Suddenly, his heart felt as if it were pinching itself, a sensation that hurt so badly Greg had to massage his chest to try and quell the pain.
Bicycle couldn’t be faster than car… his brain reasoned. Cars could top out going 110 MPH. Someone on bicycle, even a professional, could, most likely, only go 50-60 MPH, max. And Greg highly doubted Tequan was a professional bicycler. It just didn’t add up. Not to mention, Uber was a car service. Not a bicycle service. When you called for an Uber they didn’t pick you up on a bicycle. They picked you up in a goddamn car.
What the hell? Greg’s brain said. Uber Eats has no idea what they’re doing.
“Greggie?!” Greg’s mom screamed. “You’re scaring me, Greggie! Talk to me! What’s going on?”
What was Uber Eats doing? Had they completely lost it? If they didn’t have enough common sense to deliver their McRibs by car, could they even be trusted to deliver the order at all? Who knew? Nothing made sense anymore.
Greg wanted to anxiously pace the length of his small bedroom—its floor littered with XXL black t-shirts adorned by minuscule snowfalls on dandruff—but he felt too weak and dizzy to even stand up.
Why now? was all his brain could say to him. Why now? Why did this have to happen now of all times? Why after the return of the McRib?
“Greggie?!” his mom called again. “Greggie, are you okay?”
“I’m fine, Mom!” Greg lied.
Fine? Greg wasn’t fine. In fact, he couldn’t remember a time he’d felt worse. Maybe when his mom drank his last can of Mtn Dew Game Fuel, the same can he’d been saving for months. His “Rainy Day Dew,” Greg had called it.
Fuck… Why did she have to drink it? If there were any time to be sucking down a “Rainy Day Dew” it was now.
“Should we call them?! Should we call the McDonald’s?!” his mom bellowed.
“They don’t have the order anymore!”
“What do you mean they don’t have the order anymore?!”
“The guy has it! That fuckin’ Tequan guy! On his bicycle!”
“That name really doesn’t sound American at all!” Greg’s mom yelled.
She’s right, Greg’s brain said. Tequan didn’t sound American in the least bit. Who the fuck was this Tequan guy? Was he an illegal alien? A terrorist perhaps? Why the hell was Uber Eats entrusting terrorists with their food? And not just their food. Their McRibs. Their god damn, limited-time-only McRibs.
Greg looked at his computer screen. The tracking on the Uber Eats website informed him that Tequan was now 6 minutes away.
But… but wasn’t he just 6 minutes away?
Greg couldn’t remember. Everything was hazy and sweaty and warm and his heart was swirling around in a blender of panic.
6 minutes away?
If bicycle was actually speedier than car, than why wasn’t Tequan moving faster? Was he even moving at all?
“Are you sure we shouldn’t try to call them?! Or even try to call that Talban guy?!” Greg’s mother screamed.
On the TV, Greg could hear a contestant playing Plinko.
Greg imagined a contestant dropping one of his McRib sandwiches down the sloped Plinko board, his sandwich bouncing off the pegs, going this way and that, and then, at the very end, at the very bottom of the Plinko board, his sandwich plops into Tequan’s open and waiting mouth as he lies on the studio floor, hungry and smiling menacingly.
“No!” Greg screamed, and jumped up, tipping his gaming chair over.
“Greggie?! Greggie, are you sure you’re okay in there?!”
Greg slowly ran his chubby sausage fingers through his head of greasy, unwashed hair. Maybe Tequan wasn’t moving because he was currently pulled over onto the sidewalk somewhere, eating their McRibs. The gluttonous terrorist of a man, devouring all ten of their sandwiches with BBQ sauce smeared over his face, licking his fingers clean with no one the wiser. His stomach content and full, Greg and his mother’s stomachs empty, gurgling, starving.
“What if they’re cold?!” Greg’s mother bellowed. “If he’s taking his time on bicycle they’re going to be cold by the time they get here!”
Dear God… Greg’s brain shuddered.
Greg hadn’t even thought about that maiming possibility. Cold McRibs? The idea seemed even crueler than if Tequan were to eat all of the sandwiches himself.
Greg imagined Tequan finally arriving and leaving their McDonald’s at the door, then Greg himself grabbing the bag, opening it, taking out a sandwich—the sandwich he’s been waiting for for so long, not just 8 minutes, but years—then taking a bite out the McRib only to have his taste buds assaulted by cold, slimy, lackadaisical BBQ flavors. It would be catastrophic, another “Rainy Day Dew” incident all over again. A disappointment so huge there’d never be any coming back from it.
“I guess we could just throw them in the microwave!” Greg’s mom reasoned scream’ily.
Did his own mother really just suggest the microwave? Really? The microwave? So this way parts of the McRib would be scorching hot and others frigidly cold?
Greg was at a complete loss. He didn’t know what his mother was thinking. It was like he didn’t even know who this woman was anymore. You didn’t put a McRib in the microwave. The boneless pork patty magically shaped like a little rack of ribs, the slathering of BBQ sauce, the onions, the pickles—you didn’t disrespect those ingredients by putting them in a microwave. These weren’t leftover White Castle Sliders. This was the elusive McRib they were talking about here—a rare and majestic hunk of processed meat. And she, his own mother, suggested putting them in the microwave?
Bicycle… Greg’s brain muttered.
Why was Tequan on a bicycle? All of this could’ve been avoided if their order was delivered via car like they’d signed up for, like they paid for.
Greg slowly dropped onto his knees. Tears welled up behind his distraught and widened eyes. Through the watery lens of his vision, Greg looked up at the computer screen.
7 minutes away, the countdown read.
Greg let out a scream so loud, so tortured, so primal it shook the entire house.
“Greg?! Greggie, what’s wrong?!”
From the floor, Greg swiped his computer monitor off his desk. Then he grabbed the keyboard and threw it across the room. Then his wireless mouse.
“Greggie?! Greggie, what are you doing?!!!”
Greg sobbed into his bear paw-sized hands. Through his swollen-looking fingers, up above where his monitor once was, Greg saw his shotgun mounted onto the wooden paneling that covered his bedroom wall. The very same shotgun he bought at Walmart just because he was American and he could.
Still crying to himself, and with his mother—this woman, just a pair of varicosed veined-legs from the perspective of Greg’s room—with his mother bellowing for answers, Greg slowly rose to his feet and grabbed the shotgun off the wall. He cocked it, wiped the tears from his eyes with his flabby forearm, then walked into the living room and put a buckshot into the womb that carried and nurtured him for 9 months before, eventually, turning the gun on himself.
On TV, Drew Carey went into a commercial break.
Tequan arrived at the house on bicycle. Despite being in great shape, he was winded. He’d been biking back and forth across town all day, in the cold nonetheless, delivering people their food orders. His throat was scratchy and he could feel another sinus headache coming on. This was the time of year he hated the most, the time of year when the sun seemed to go on vacation and his allergies and seasonal depression moved right on in instead. But, in a way, as tired as he was, and as shitty as he felt, and as cold as it was going to become when fall finally gave way to winter, he still felt okay. At the end of each long and tiring day, he still had a way to take care of himself and his family. And although it wasn’t ideal, it was only temporary, he knew—a stepping stone to a better life for him, his wife and his daughter. His wife was in school to become nurse and he was going to open a restaurant someday. A place where he could cook the the food his mother and grandmother taught him to make when he was just a little boy.
Tequan sneezed into his shoulder then grabbed the bag of McDonald’s from his bicycle’s pouch. He thought of his daughter as he walked to the front door, of the outdoor castle he was saving up to buy her for her birthday. He’d been squirreling money away the past few months and imagined the look on her face when she’d walk out into the backyard and see it built and completed for the first time.
Tequan rang the doorbell. Moments passed but no one came to answer. He double checked the address of the delivery order and, sure enough, he was at the right house.
He rang the doorbell again and thought of Tianna, his daughter, as he waited. He thought of the way she loved princesses and the color pink and how much she looked like her mother when she smiled.
Still no answer. Tequan rang the doorbell a third time.
The food from the bag he was holding smelled good.