“Let’s try the Big Daddy Bwark,” said Brian.
Everybody in the restaurant gasped. Astonished whispers then rippled through the booths. It was a huge deal this. If you could somehow stomach this morbidly obese feast you get it on the house and go down in history. Not since the place had opened has anybody come close to finishing it.
The BIG DADDY BWARK MEAL: 2 chicken breasts, 8 rashers of bacon, 4 half-pounder beef patties, a medley of fried eggs, 3 pork sausages, cheese, 2 hash browns, blackberry jam and a tickle of pickle – all within a thick gourmet bun, served with potato skins, buffalo wings and beans.
Most people were vexed just looking at the poster of it’s cascading melting cheese sliding off an orgy of sepia meats. Brian wasn’t. The owner of the joint came out and greeted him. He was an ageing Italian man with a bulbous gut, snow white hair and a smile in his eyes. He knelt beside Brian, taking his wrist and kissing his hand. “Che Dio ti benedica,” he whispered before taking to his feet and floating through the walls.
A timer on the wall had already commenced counting down from 30 minutes. With every minute came a tangy tinge of excitement. The excitement was contagious. A spring entered the step of the waiters. They became like Butlins’ Redcoats warming up the revellers, even orchestrating a rhythmic clap and chant. It built and built and built as the seconds slipped off the countdown.
They began putting hats – little paper hats shaped like burgers – on the heads of the many children watching. Wide-eyed and wet mouthed the kids didn’t quite know what was about to take place but they knew they couldn’t wait for it to start.
At this point you could buy a burger mask, a burger balloon, even a burger fridge magnet to mark the occasion. Dancers dressed like clucky chickens came from the staff room kicking the air and pirouetting past the tables. They were whooped on by the giddy diners.
The countdown read: 5:27. There was so little time left. Sizzling, clattering and banging clanged from the kitchen behind the swinging door. Fellow customers had ceased eating their own meals, many of them angling their chairs towards Brian’s table.
He sat there alone with his thoughts and his rubbery hands. He caressed his paunch. This wasn’t about his gut though, this was about the stomach of his mind. Nearly 30 minutes had passed since he last uttered the word ‘BWARK’. The surrounding tables didn’t dare disturb him from his mental preparation.
15 seconds left. The lights dimmed, he undid his top button. Three chefs appeared holding the towering burger. A spotlight followed the dish to Brian’s table. They tentatively placed it in front of him and it eclipsed his face. He blinked. Silence filled the entire floor.
“Oh wow,” he laughed, “that’s huge!”
Truly it was larger than some of the children watching. “Look at those patties. Juicy! Forgot there was a bunch of eggs in there too. Wow.” He took a slug of water. More silence. “No way” he smiled, shaking his head. “No way can I eat that! No way… no way.”
He took his jacket from the back of his seat, stood up and paid his bill, proud that he had even challenged the house. Though he’d lost he’d had a great time. “One day!” he beamed. Polite claps turned into dense applause. The crowd then stood with cheers and whistles of raw adulation. He walked out shaking hands, ruffling nippers scalps and thanking his audience for their support. What a night. All eyes followed him as left to find his car.
The chefs looked around at the scene – kiddy-winks in fun hats; pie-eyed parents holding mini-signs of support; couples eagerly choosing a filter for their selfies with Brian. They stood there baffled.
The door then sprang open. The crowd gasped. Brian re-entered and another roar of love erupted for their man. With his jacket draped over his forearm he bowed one last time, sending kisses to each corner of the restaurant. A real life hero in this mouldy modern world. Nobody here would ever forget him.
The head chef slowly removed his apron. Sweat slithered from his forehead and dived off the peak of his beak. Setting his eyes on the meal he’d almost died cooking for this man he wiped his face and exhaled, “…oh fucking HELL.”