This month’s Tandy was:
A man tries to hold up a Burger King but just then a bus full of band students arrives to order food. The burgler has to pretend to be a manager to avoid being caught. Eventually, he is trapped in the freezer.
As the dull wheat-covered land of North Dakota met with my bored eyes, I released a deep sigh and glanced down to the flute case resting in my lap. My body was vigorously shaken as the school bus traveled across the bumpy roads, hitting my knees against the hard plastic. I was tired after playing in the parade, and was ready to go back home, yet my stomach quickly reminded me of my hunger. I took another long glance to the desolate land hidden from the dust-covered window and wondered who would build a Burger King out in the middle of nowhere.
After pushing my instrument to rest on the seat beside me, I turned my body to place my feet in the aisle. “I can’t wait until we get there,” I told my friend, Hannah, who was seated in the next seat over.
“Yeah, I know,” she replied with a slight smile. “Ughh, I am so bored!” With her knees propped up against the back of the seat in front of her, she returned to her usual thinking.
I glanced behind me to Bret, who was listening to his CD player, then to the seat behind Hannah where Jared was speaking with Alex. Afterwards, I turned into my seat and stared at the case by my side for a while. For some reason, I never feel like playing video games when I am on a long road trip. Flipping my notebook open, I decided to draw and write some story ideas. Wearing my awkward maroon and gold band uniform made it difficult for me to concentrate however as I fidgeted with the unusual clothing.
Soon, the bus began to slow as my classmates began to wake and stir. Mrs. Feldner, our band teacher and conductor, appeared at the front of the long aisle between the seats. “Okay, we will be here for about an hour so stay in the building and behave yourselves. You will stay with us and be on your best behavior. Remember, you are representing Central Campus.” With her statement, she left the bus as her students followed after her. I waited for my friend to go before me, and then thanked the bus driver as I left as I always do. Stepping onto the dry, dusty ground, I followed the line into the lone restaurant, pondering over how much business it actually received daily.
Many students filled the tiny Burger King, making me feel very nervous and claustrophobic. I shuddered as I stood behind Hannah. I noticed that there were few booths along a window-lined wall and some tables floating in the middle of the small building. I noticed a single employee standing before a cash register with an interesting Burger King mask on. He looked like “The King” from the commercials, and made me laugh. Hannah turned to me, “What’s so funny?”
I pointed to the man at the cash register. “Look at that guy!” I silently whispered. “Why is he wearing that?”
She looked to where I had pointed before laughing with a shrug.
As I continued to observe my surroundings, I noticed that there weren’t any workers cooking in the back area. The building was empty besides the masked man and us. I found this odd, but pushed it to the back of my mind as I came to the conclusion that they did not get many customers very often. After the first students had ordered their food, moved to the side, and let the line advance, I realized that the man at the cash register was the only employee here at the moment, and that it would be a while until we actually received our orders.
After Hannah and I had placed our orders, we moved over to stand alongside the wall, still bored without anything to say. I watched the masked man run into the back area after Mrs. Feldner, the bus driver, and Ms. Kephart, the student teacher, placed their orders. I watched him intently until he disappeared from my view. I often received bad feelings about random people that I see in public, as I am a little paranoid, and was not surprised to feel the strange feeling consume me.
I sighed with exasperation as I leaned against the wall and heard the adults talking amongst themselves. “You know, it is a little strange that there is only one employee here,” began Mrs. Feldner. “I take the kids here every year, and there has never been just one employee.”
“Yeah, I think that is a little strange, ” replied Ms. Kephart with a sense of suspicion in her voice.
“Ughh, how long is this going to take?” Hannah groaned.
I turned away from the teachers and answered, “I don’t know, but I am getting a strange feeling about that guy.”
“That guy with the mask? Yeah, me too.”
“I don’t know…it just seems weird to only have one worker here. Also, why is he wearing that retarded mask?”
Once again, as I concentrated on the voices around me, I heard another conversation, this time between a couple of guys standing near us. “Dude, what is up with that guy and the stupid plastic face?”
There were some smirks and snickers before another person added on. “Hey, I dare you to go sneak into the back area. He would never know! It’s just one person.”
I watched from the corner of my eye as one percussionist slipped behind the counter without the teacher’s notice and disappeared behind the wall. As my curiosity about the peculiar masked man rose, I began to wonder why nobody was cooking our food. We had been waiting for ten minutes now, and I didn’t see anybody even enter the kitchen area. What was the masked man doing back there?
Soon, I heard a yell from the back area before the masked man dragged the percussionist back to the front. “What were you doing back there?! Only employees are allowed back there!”
As he released the boy’s uniform collar, Mrs. Feldner approached the single employee. “Excuse me,” I heard her say. “Where is our food? Why isn’t anyone cooking our food? I need to speak to your manager.” I was inquisitive on how Mrs. Feldner was able to look directly into the large, plastic mask while keeping a straight face, yet she bore a twisted look of anger.
“Ma’am, I am the manager. Your food will be out shortly.” The man quickly disappeared behind the back wall once more before our teacher could even reply, adding to the mystery.
“Hey, Broono,” I heard Jared call from behind me. “Did you hear? That guy with “The King” mask isn’t doing anything back there!”
“Yeah, that guy just told me that when he was back there, he found the man just digging through a desk in the back. What is he doing?”
“I don’t know,” I answered with a confused look about my countenance. “Something isn’t right.”
“I am going to sue if I don’t get my burger!” an abrupt voice yelled out, bringing all the voices to a stop. The building was silent as everybody stared at the trumpet player who had yelled out the remark. His face grew bright red with embarrassment, before I realized that the “manager” was not coming out from his concealment. Any manager would come out from a comment like that. The silence still lingered over until Mrs. Feldner and her student teacher decided to speak to the “manager” once more.
I waited beside my friends, with the persistent, paranoid feeling still nagging at my mind. I knew something wasn’t right, but I didn’t know what to do. I could sense that the others knew that something was wrong also as they shifted their eyes and looked about constantly. After minutes of waiting on our teachers, a few of the boys decided to sneak to the back again.
“Where is our food?” I heard from beside me.
“What is taking so long?”
“What is going on?”
“Why don’t we just leave?”
“I want my money back!”
My peers began to grow annoyed and agitated with the situation before we heard muffled screams followed by a large thud. I glanced to Hannah with a sense of fear emerging from my dark eyes, and could see the same from hers. There was a crash as something hit the floor, and a man’s yell, filled with fury.
The bus driver instantly rose from where he was seated and ran to the back area of the Burger King. What was going on?
“Everyone! Hey everybody!” I saw the percussionist from earlier run from behind the wall, flailing his arms above his head. “Mrs. Feldner and Ms. Kephart are gone! There isn’t anybody back there, but that guy with the mask!” There were a few cheers until everyone realized what the boy was saying.
Suddenly, the bus driver’s voice was heard as a low groan emitted from the secret area. It sounded as if he was in pain. It sounded as if he was in trouble… A few girls around me screamed as the masked man, with the giant, plastic face of “The King” ran around the corner before the cash register. Without even glancing at the teenagers surrounding him, he began to pound on the machine with great force and resentment. I found it odd that the register was open when we had come in, and he was able to take our orders, but was unable to open the machine now.
In a flash, the strange man darted back to his obscuration before we heard a creak and a furious voice. “Where is the key? Which one of you has the key?!”
“Thief!” I heard someone yell out as many students swarmed to the back area. Hannah and I followed, dazed along with the rest of the members of the band as we charged into the destroyed room. There was a desk lying on the ground with papers skewed about the tiled floor along with open filing cabinets and folders. The man had been searching for something.
“Where is that key?!” He was searching for the key to the cash register. This man really was a thief! As we discovered the giant, plastic head by a large, open, metal door, we charged at him with immense force due to our great numbers. It was a blur as people surrounded me, yet I could make out the man falling into the room with the open door with a low grunt. We peered in and noticed about four employees along with our two teachers and our bus driver, weakly lying against the cold floor of the freezer as the violent man had thrown them in. There were screams coming from the corner of the large, walk-in freezer as I noticed that the masked man’s disguise had gotten him stuck between two racks of frozen patties, the painted face of “The King” still radiating its bright smile.
We quickly led the weakened and frightened employees out of their frozen prison with our teachers escaping behind them before closing the door in on the thief. The actual manager of the Burger King called the police and we finally received our meals after much anticipation. By then, we were all hungry, and did not mind that we received our money back along with our food.
Oh, what the Central Campus Crier would say after this band trip!