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"The Cook, The Queen, and the Hammer" by Mikki Aronoff

I can say now that maybe I shouldn’t have pestered the chef and irritated the hungry folks lined up and shuffling behind me in a queue like the one that snaked across the London Bridge to see The Queen in a quarter-tonne box, God knows how much embalming fluid plunged into her wizened purple veins to keep her from melting for, say, 10 requisite days. Had I been a monarchist and anywhere near the UK at the time of her demise, I’d’ve paid my respects at the very start of her lying-in-state so as not to face leaks from Her Majesty’s lead-lined casket. I’m a sensitive soul, fussy about substances, the kind of person who likes to know where my food comes from and what else is in it, which is how I know what a hammer looks like when it’s hurling toward my face, thrown like an Olympian wannabe by the pissed-off cook at Bob’s Best Byrgers and Fysh who probably keeps brass knuckles under his counter and mascaras his pubic hair: it’s a comet with a cold steel head, a hard hickory tail. And I can say now it’s not the greatest idea to question an underpaid, exhausted worker wearing a faux chef’s hat about the ingredients in the patties he’s flipping and what percentage of sodium and protein do they have per serving, because what does he know and besides his twirling hammer is speeding its way to my forehead, a cool whoosh of air heralding its imminent arrival and I can say right now I don’t really give a rat’s what’s in the goddamn burger, I duck. I’ve got dogs at home to feed.

Mikki Aronoff’s work appears in New World Writing, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Tiny Molecules, The Disappointed Housewife, Bending Genres, Milk Candy Review, Gone Lawn, Mslexia, The Dribble Drabble Review, The Citron Review, and elsewhere. She has received Pushcart, Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions, Best American Short Stories, and Best Microfiction nominations.


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