UnBooks:The Legend of Ron and the Cheeseburger (v 2.0)
The Legend of Ron and the Cheeseburger
It was a cold afternoon in April. Or maybe it was evening already. Not that it mattered; as long as the radiator kept working, the cold wouldn't be a problem. I wasn't worried about that either, really. The radiator had not broken for the entire two months I'd been staying in the flat, so I didn't have any real reason to be thinking about it at this moment. But I was. Sue me.
"Hey man, are we playing cards, or what?"
"Sorry. I bet six peanuts."
I forgot to introduce you to my friends; Erik here is the one who wakes me up when I get lost in thought. He's useful that way. Yakob, my Palestinian friend, is my flatmate. He doesn't like it when I call him my Palestinian friend, which may have something to do with the fact that he's actually Moroccan. Did I mention he's my Palestinian friend? Oh, and Ed. We call him Ed.
We were playing poker, five-card stud. A real man's game, none of that Texas Hold-'em wussy crap. And yeah, we bet with peanuts instead of cash. Have you ever heard the phrase "working for peanuts"? Yeah.
Ed looked up. "Okay, spread 'em"
I had a pair of eights. Damn good hand when you're playing five-card stud.
Erik grinned, spread out a pair of nines.
"You son of a biscuit" I said.
Yakob had an ace, and a Pokemon card. I never asked him what the fuck that was all about.
Ed just tossed his cards in the middle. Erik scooped the peanuts into his pile, with the sort of grin you'd expect from a guy who just won two dozen or so peanuts.
I stood up. "It's getting late, we should wrap it up."
Erik put his newly gotten peanuts into his coat pocket. "Yeah, alright. We'll head to the place tomorrow morning, right?" He was speaking, of course, of the abandoned house two blocks down, the whole reason Yakob and I rented this flat.
"Yeah. We'll finish up there, and we can finally move out of here."
We used the flat as a base of operations, where we collaborated the evidence we had gathered during the day. Evidence gathered from the house, the library, and on one occasion, the sewer. I won't talk about that. More importantly, the flat was a place to store the beer. And the mead. Erik likes mead. Damn Vikings.
Anyway, the abandoned house: It had been abandoned for about three months by its former occupant, a retired archeology professor by the name of Bevan Joachim Yildiz. He was known (to only a few who cared to find out) as a collector of strange artifacts. We would return to his house in the morning.
My Palestinian friend Yakob rooted through Professor Yildiz's wardrobe, pulling put frock coats, parachute pants, and at least one set of Bedouin robes. I was digging under the bed, through some things with smells I'd rather not describe, and Ed was down the hall, in the study, shuffling through the clutter on the professor's desk. Erik had gone out to buy more mead.
Then I had a thought. A good one. "What if," I said out loud, "we stop all this rooting, digging, and shuffling through Professor Yildiz's belongings, we actually searched for what we were looking for?"
Yakob looked at me and said "That's retarded," but we did it anyway.
Jackpot. After two months of doing all kinds of weird things in an abandoned house, not getting anywhere, we actually had a chance to fill a big hole in the plot. Not all the holes, but the one that was causing the most problems.
"I've got it!" I shouted, and Yakob came running over, and we heard a crash from down the hall, which we rightly assumed was Ed tripping over himself in a hurry. He does that. Anyway, I showed them what I had found in a shoe box underneath the bed. It was a leather-bound notebook, the kind that pretentious people buy in bookstores for, like, fifteen bucks. It was held closed with a shoelace, and smelled of... cheeseburgers.
Ed leaned forward for a closer look and took a sniff. "That's pretty gross," he said.
We heard the door open downstairs; Erik was back. "I've got more booze!" He shouted.
We went downstairs, book in hand, and gathered in the kitchen. I dropped the book on the table and grabbed a bottle out of Erik's shopping bag. God knows where the hell he finds mead, I'd never even seen a liquor store in town.
"Is that a plot device?" Erik asked, pointing at the book.
I nodded. "Best one we've had in months."
Yakob cleared his throat. "Are we going to open it, or what?"
"Calm down," I said, "is everyone this impatient in Palestine?"
"Fuck you, Dave. I'm Moroccan, and if you call me Palestinian one more fucking time..."
Ed opened the book. He stared at it for a few moments, then passed it around. I took a look at it. All the entries were written in purple crayon. Go figure.
"Look at this," I said. "Yildiz was on to something alright. He's got all kinds of diagrams, maps, and weird shit in here."
Erik squinted at it. "Looks like Necronomicon stuff to me. Are we gonna go looking for Cthulhu?"
"No," Ed said, "this looks way more evil. Look at that design on that page."
I held the book open. In yellow crayon this time, Prof. Bevan Joachim Yildiz had carefully drawn a large, curved letter "M". It looked pretty sinister. There were directions to some sort of temple, conveniently located in Israel. We were ready to go by the next day.
"So, what the hell is going on?" I asked the group in general.
Erik replied "We're going to investigate this temple of Regrubezeehc described in Professor Yildiz's journal, where a hero named Nor supposedly came and slew the beastly creature posing as a god."
We wandered a bit through the Jerusalem airport, and bought some chocolate. After eating it, we booked a hotel room and went in search of the temple. We found it about 2 miles away.
It was truly an evil-looking thing, with its giant, gleaming golden "M" above its doorway. People were going in and out of the doors, if you could call them people. Strange, sickly-looking cultists with greasy fingers they were, sometimes walking out carrying small paper sacks with that same "M" printed on them.
"Let's go in," I said, unable to think of anything else. We'd come this far, and now was not the time to be repulsed by the stench of bubbling lipids emanating from the place. It was pretty repulsive, though.
As we approached the gleaming iron doors, we passed a statue of some weird-looking dude with a red afro.
"That must be Nor!" Ed whispered excitedly to the group in general.
"No, it isn't."
We spun on our heels, fell over, stood up again, and struck what we figured were intimidating kung-fu poses. We looked around for whomever had said that rather innocuous statement, because it was not someone from within the group. Normally, nobody wants to talk to us. Then, I noticed a small, ratty-looking man standing behind the statue.
"Who are you? What do you want?"
"I'm Professor Yildiz, and I want your help, you nitwits." He walked towards us, grabbed my arm, and led us around behind the temple. "Listen, this is not the temple you're looking for. This whole thing is called 'The Legend of Ron and the Cheezeburger' because Sliferjam is trying to trick us into using Ronald McDonald as part of the plot, which will cause this story to lose points!"
This was too much self-reference for Yakob to tolerate. "What the hell are we supposed to do, then? Besides, we don't even know the it's 'The Legend of Ron and the Cheezeburger' yet, because we haven't gotten to the obligatory scene where the names 'Nor' and 'Regrubezeehc' are revealed to be a reverse spelling."
Professor Yildiz hesitated, then blinked. "Oops. I guess we'll have to do something else. Here, I've got a spare plot hole in my pocket. We'll jump through and get the action started."
About bloody time, I thought. This was starting to drag, and we were quickly sobering up. Not good.
We were in an antechamber inside a massive underground structure, which we, as trained archeologists, assumed was a temple of some sort. At least, Ed had called it an antechamber; I wouldn't know an antechamber from a jar of pickles.
Erik moved towards the large, intimidating passageway in front of us. "Come on, the truth about Ron and the Cheezeburger is nearby."
Yakob interjected with some Palestinian wit into the conversation: "What exactly would we do with the truth about Ron and the Cheezeburger?" Much later, he would punch me for writing that down as "Palestinian" wit.
"Who cares?" Ed replied. "What I want to know is what the hell happened to Professor Yildiz." Ed has a bothersome habit of feigning ignorance whenever we encounter a strategically placed plot hole.
We came to the end of the hallway. For a massive, and probably very expensive, underground temple once inhabited by mad cultists who worshipped a Cheezeburger, it seemed like a very anticlimactic end for a hallway. There was a blank wall, and about three feet in front of it, in the middle of the hallway, was a circular well. The sides of the well were stone, about two feet high, and a foot thick. A thick chain hung from the ceiling above (duh) and hung down the center of the well, and disappeared into the darkness below. The darkness smelled like Erik's feet. He doesn't change his socks very often.
"I guess we'll have to go down, then" I said. Being a moron, I said it first, which meant I had to be the one to figure out how we were going to do that. Luckily, metal bars just long enough to serve as handholds and footholds stuck out from the chain every few feet.
Forgoing conversation, which would inevitably complicate things, I grabbed one of the bars and placed my feet on the one below. To my delight (or perhaps horror), the chain began to slide downwards with a really horrible screeching sound. I wished I'd remembered my flashlight. Fortunately, inexplicable lit torches lined the wall, which seemed odd since this temple surely had not been occupied for a very long time.
Once the rest of the group had made it safely down, we navigated our way through a maze of twisting passages. We were aided by a map in Professor Yildiz's journal, as well as several large arrows painted on the walls in glow-in-the-dark green. We walked past an open doorway through which an oily black pool of liquid could be seen in the center of the room, and robed figures paced around it, chanting "Ia! Ia! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!" We decided to move along and act like we hadn't seen anything, although I would later remember that it was not, technically, a copyright violation. Still, it seemed like cheating, and we continued searching for our own dramatic climax.
We finally entered a secret chamber that was extremely large, which is really very impractical for something that's supposed to be secret. Inside, I saw what looked like a scrawny, dirty hobo wearing a fedora, although Erik insists it was a homburg. Yakob swears that he was a hippy wearing a sombrero, and Ed has pointed out that we were all much too drunk for this sort of thing. Whatever he was, he was sitting cross-legged next to a stone altar. On the altar sat a large, greasy, double-stacked cheeseburger.
"There it is!" shouted Yakob, "the cheeseburger!"
In a hoarse voice that sounded like it hadn't been used in years, the man sitting next to the altar replied "It's the Cheezeburger, you ignorant twit. It's an American invention, and god-dammit we're gonna spell it with a 'z', not some sissy British letter like 's'. We pronounce it like a 'z', don't we? And pronounce it with a capital 'C', thank you very much."
"And just who the hell are you?" Yakob retorted.
The man turned his creepy bearded face towards us. "I'm Norman, I am. The name 'Nor' from the Legend of Nor and the Regrubezeehc is an abbreviation of my name, while the Regrubezeehc is just a retarded reverse spelling of 'Cheezeburger.'"
"Two word tricks in the same coded phrase?" I exclaimed. "This is getting really dumb. Please, just tell us what the deal is with that Cheezeburger, and why are you sitting here."
"Well, it's not really a very good Cheezeburger. I was expecting a better one when I came in here and slaughtered all of the cultists 547 years ago. You' d expect an edible object of worship to be delicious, right? I was wrong. It's greasy, with too much ketchup, and it's only gotten worse with age. So I decided to wait for someone to come and give me a better one, while I waited and kept myself alive by means of the artificial preservatives in the soft drinks."
"We haven't got a better sandwich for you, but I've got these peanuts." Erik reached into his pocket and pulled out the two dozen peanuts he'd won during our poker game in the first chapter.
"I'm allergic to peanuts, so piss off if you haven't got a new Cheezeburger" Norman said angrily. He returned to glaring at the sorry Cheezeburger in a disappointed manner.
"I guess that's that" I said as we turned to leave.
"Yeah. Not as much fun as I'd hoped, though" replied Erik.
"Cheer up, I've got some Toblerone and pack of gum" Yakob said.
"Let's go get some more booze" Ed suggested.