[ROLEPLAY]McDonalds: Home of the Big Mac since 1967
Although their life had changed dramatically over the six months since the Dynamic Duo’s encounter with Laurent Le Foll, their apartment remained mostly the same, save for the fact that it was now located in downtown Paris and not Zagreb (Artyom had insisted on an exact replication, claiming it made him feel “safer”), and that their new station was reflected in the decour, which, being that they were working class Slavs, lacked both refinement and any trace element of subtlety. Anything that hadn’t been nailed to the ground had been replaced, upgraded, or otherwise embellished. For example, the entire kitchen been painted gold, whilst Konstantin’s bedroom was chromium and contained a malfunctioning neon sign proclaiming entrance to “Big Kon’s pleasure pad”.
ARTYOM: I still feel like people are going to mistake us for a couple of proles.
KONSTANTIN: That’s because we are proles, Artyom. Proles who happened to come upon the gig of a lifetime.
ARTYOM: True enough, but who says we can’t completely mask our socioeconomic status with outrageous amounts of gold?
KONSTANTIN: Those rich Jews will see right through our disguise. They’ll never accept us, pal!
Artyom was visibly disappointed at this harsh truth, and went into the kitchen in search of booze to ease the pain of the fact that God was dead.
Konstantin, who was lounging on a giant water-bed, attempted to flick through the TV, finding naught on but the Religious Entertainment Network.
KONSTANTIN: Say, Art, what happened to all that God shit, anyway? I haven’t seen you rub your face with the rosary beads for at least a month!
ARTYOM: My faith died in Paris with Karl.
KONSTANTIN: First off, his name wasn’t even fucking Karl, and frankly, the fact that your faith can be shaken by the death of one man we barely even knew leads me to believe you weren’t much of a true believer in the first place.
ARTYOM: You shut it! My faith was a real as this wall!
Artyom hammered away at a dividing wall, which was simply made out of plastering and wood.
ARTYOM: I was taken in, but I never will be again. God is and always has been dead, don’t you see that? Listen to The Dark Side of the Moon if you think otherwise!
KONSTANTIN: I never have thought otherwise, you dick!
The pair’s arguing, however, cut short by a flashing symbol on their personal heads-up displays. Down in the bottom left corner an image came up, which displayed the duo and Laurent Le Foll playing basketball together.
KONSTANTIN: Shit. Fuck off, Le Foll.
ARTYOM: We have to answer it! He’ll probably have us killed if we don’t! I’m going to answer it!
The duo started as a holographic display of the Genevois President appeared in front of them. Le Foll’s message appeared to be prerecorded, as he did not remark on the fact that Artyom was currently holding a giant schnapps bottle.
LE FOLL: Konstantin, Artyom, my brilliant friends – my best friends, in fact, how are you?
KONSTANTIN: Fucking terrible, thanks for asking?
LE FOLL: You’re good? I’m good too, isn’t that great. Listen buddies, do you want to meet up for a milkshake and a burger later on? I’m good for 7:30, afternoon, does that suit you?
KONSTANTIN: No, that’s my designated wank hour!
LE FOLL: Brilliant, guys! So come and meet me at the McDonalds on the Seine, and bring your work gear! Have fun, buddies, and don’t wear yourselves out before you get here, eh, tigers? Bye!
The projection of Le Foll dissipated, leaving Konstantin and Artyom back with their normal and hologram President free living room.
KONSTANTIN: Before you comment on how much you love our best friend, Laurent, would you like to get a fresh blanket, Artyom?
Artyom, picking up on the less-than-subtle hint his partner just dropped, headed into the living room to fetch the pair of aluminum insulated “space blankets” he had purchased on a whim from Amazon in case their new friend decided to monitor their communications. Throwing one to Konstantin, he whipped the other blanket over his own head. A few minutes later, Konstantin was wearing his chromium protection as you might wear a blanket, whilst Artyom had rapidly fashioned his into a burqa.
KONSTANTIN: Mate….I’m not sure if that’s really impressive, really racist, or points to latent Islamisation within you.
ARTYOM: I’m keeping my options open, alright?
KONSTANTIN: Right, I’m not even going to question that. We should be protected now, if you’ve gotten all the wires inside the apartment?
ARTYOM: I found a new one in my fleshlight earlier on today.
KONSTANTIN: You have a fleshlight.
ARTYOM: Flashlight, flashlight, you misheard, man.
KONSTANTIN: You clearly said fleshlight. That joke would only work if we were speaking English, but we’re fucking Croats!
ARTYOM: Don’t question me!
KONSTANTIN: Right…well, Le Foll’s a complete dickhead!
ARTYOM: Does he not realise we hate him!
KONSTANTIN: Whenever he tries to act like our best bud I’m just glancing at the clock waiting for him to stop; it’s pure uncomfortable, that shit.
ARTYOM:He forced us to play basketball with him! That was like rape!
KONSTANTIN: It’s obvious he hates us, too, but he keeps trying to act like he’d rather bum us than behead us.
ARTYOM: Mate, I fear that when we’re done with this stuff he’ll try to like…unperson us.
KONSTANTIN: Did the Nazis do that? I thought that was more of a Stalinist tactic. I think he’ll just have us sent to a work camp.
ARTYOM: Stalin did nothing of the sort. He only stood up to the capitalist and religious classes. In fact the USSR is the ultimate realisation of the Nietzschian ideal of the Übermensch.
KONSTANTIN: Art, that makes no sense. Do you even have any idea what any of those words mean? Who was Nietzsche, in your mind?
ARTYOM: He was…the guy with the, the beard, who helped Marx write The God Delusion.
KONSTANTIN: No, you idiot, Friedrich Nietzsche co-authored Mein Kampf and went on to work on screenplays for the very first James Bond movies!
ARTYOM: Fuck, I guess you must be right. Who am I thinking of then? Spielberg?
ARTYOM: We should probably go. There are at least a hundred McDonalds on the Seine, and our friend never bothered to mention which fucking one it was.
Konstantin nodded, and the duo headed out their apartment door. Although they could not be expected to go around in public wearing space blankets, due to the simple fact that they would look like complete freaks, that did not mean that Antonovich and Filipov would venture out without protection, which was how the Capathian Chancellor had ended up as a happy family matriarch. Their chromium concealment devices were merely stored in two identical briefcases, which looked remarkably less queer than you might think, due to the fact that the duo’s business attire were two matching James Bond-tier suits.
After several agonising patrolling the McDonalds establishments on the banks of the Seine, of which there were 14, the Dynamic Duo finally located the President. They were first tipped off to his presence by the enormous security presence outside that specific McDonalds, by the fact that there was no one in it, and most importantly by the fact that they received a message from Le Foll simply saying: “I see you, friends. Come closer.”
KONSTANTIN: That, Artyom, is quite the McDonalds.
ARTYOM: This fucking country, man.
The Big M that they were gazing towards was certainly not about to get missed by any hungry Parisians. Standing at least seven floors tall, it was an imposing building almost entirely black, save for the red and yellow corners, and the giant flat-screens on each side of the Big Ronald’s tower, displaying advertisements from sponsors, new McDonalds deals, and comforting messages from McDonalds corporate. The building was topped off by a giant neon red-and-yellow M on the spire above the roof, letting people from miles around know that this was the home of the Big Mac. The duo approached the entrance, identifying with the security guards through information sent from their eye-implants, and moved from the outside world into the capital of capitalism, where the only sound was of 2050s ambience. Despite the outside, the interior of the McDonalds was the same as ever, with sections of raised stools, standard chairs, and larger couch locations, all pointing towards the central counter location. In the modern era, McDonalds did not employ staff to prepare or serve meals, or even to man the counter, and instead used service robots for this purpose. The McWaiter-model robot, modelled after Ronald McDonald (naturally) stood behind the till, regarding the duo with the cold unmoving eyes of a droid trained to deal with the dregs of humanity. They were alone, just Konstantin, Artyom, the robot, and the repurposed music of Brian Eno.
ARTYOM: This place is really fucking weird.
KONSTANTIN: Do we order? Would it be rude to order without Le Foll?
ARTYOM: Should we care if it is? Go on, order if you want something, I’m not supporting this Mecca of capitalism.
Konstantin, who had no socio-religious qualms about the food of foreign fast-food chains, quickly ordered himself a happy meal, because he liked the toys that they got with them, over his personal HUD UI, accessing the McDonalds website.
KONSTANTIN: Well, that’s fucking queer.
ARTYOM: What is? Your life?
KONSTANTIN: No, I’ve been assigned order number two, but I’m the only person ordering.
Sitting down in front of his partner, who was contenting himself by attempting to play with the straws and salt packets provided by McDonalds, Konstantin looked around the empty establishment, whose interior lights stood in stark contrast to the rapidly darkening Autumn night.
KONSTANTIN: What exactly do you plan to do with those straws?
ARTYOM: It’s a game, we used to play it as children in Russia –
KONSTANTIN: You’re not Russian.
ARTYOM: Anyway, the objective is to snort salt with the straw.
KONSTANTIN: How is that a game? That’s just doing lines of salt! Did you make that up just now? Artyom, I worry –
MCWAITER: Order number….2…., please make your way to the counter, and collect your order. Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba, you’re loving it.
The robot said this with as much scorn as an emotionless non-intelligent service robot could muster, before returning to its regular staring duties as Konstantin went up to collect his order. When he was halfway to the till, the music playing on the corporate tunes system changed.
"Please bring me my wine"
He said, "We haven't had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine"
And still those voices are calling from far away,
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say…
Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
They livin' it up at the Hotel California
What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise)
Bring your alibis
Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said "We are all just prisoners here, of our own device"
And in the master's chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can't kill the beast
Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
"Relax, " said the night man,
"We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave! "
LE FOLL: Welcome to the Hotel Americana, Konstantin.
Konstantin employed all of his self-control, and refrained from jumping between 2-3 feet away from Laurent Le Foll. The President of Geneva was leaning on the counter beside him, picking up his own order. Konstantin had not seen Le Foll enter the building, and he was quite sure that Le Foll hadn’t been it when he’d arrived, so the only logical deduction was that Laurent Le Foll was a master of stealth who had simply walked past Artyom and gotten the jump on him while he was distracted by the revelation of music with lyrics.
KONSTANTIN: Hi Laurent, buddy.
Le Foll laughed, and slapped Konstantin playfully on the arm.
LE FOLL: Right on, buddy! Let’s go eat, pal!
Konstantin and the President returned to their table, where Artyom by now was regretting inhaling salt, and had turned a most curious red colour, similar to a tomato. Upon seeing this, Konstantin wondered if it was racist to call a tomato a vegetable; after all, they were fruit. Artyom passed Konstantin a napkin, which read, in salt, “Where the fuck did fucking Laurent fucking Le Foll come the fuck from?” The Genevois President shot an awkward glance at Konstantin’s barbie-themed Happy Meal, before tucking into his own Big Mac.
KONSTANTIN: So, Laurent, buddy, you said you had a job for us?
ARTYOM: If it’s another sewer job, I’m not doing it. It took me three weeks to clean this suit, and I still think I see dirt on it!
KONSTANTIN: Why do you only have one suit? I have sixteen matching copies of this one!
LE FOLL: Buddies, pals…friends. All in good time, am I right? There are more important things to talk about first. Take, for example, this building. We live in the culinary hyperpower. In this nation blends the fine traditions of French, Italian, Catalan, Basque, Greek, Slavic, and Arabic cuisine, as well as German and Dutch, Turkish, and so on. In this nation exists the greatest variety of good food, done right, that there has ever been on the planet. We have, at last count, 56 three-starred Michelin restaurants. What a positively outrageous number, and yet do you know what the most popular restaurant chain in Geneva is? Where people go? Where people want to go?
KONSTANTIN: Do you know what a restaurant is?
LE FOLL: It’s McDonalds, and this specific McDonalds is the most popular in the nation. Seven different floors of the optimised fast food experience – ambient music designed to make you feel at home, an interior which never varies from location to location, aromas pumped through the air to subtly increase your hunger – they have even gotten rid of the people working here. You would find this exact same McDonalds in Prague, in Moscow, in New York, in Darwin, Australia, one day even on the surface of an alien planet. McDonalds is eternal, and it is dominant, and that is because of the thing that I’m holding in my hand right now, the Big Mac.
KONSTANTIN: Look, budd-
LE FOLL: Do you have any conception of what the Big Mac is? What it represents? Oh, sure, it’s three buns, two all-beef patties, lettuce, pickles, and onions, topped off with the special sauce, but it is so much more than that. What I’m eating right now is the very idea of the West, one bite at a time. This simple burger is the mascot of American capitalism. Just how long has the Big Mac been like this? Eighty-nine years. Eighty-nine years without change, eighty-nine years without compromise, eighty-nine years of the Big Mac eternal. This burger is older than either of you, it is older than your parents, it may even be of age with your grandparents. The Big Mac is so ubiquitous that it can be used to compare currencies. It has outlasted the nation which birthed it, it has seen the rise and fall of communism, it was there at the “end of history”, and it was there when history started again. When this burger was released, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was two months old, Charles De Gaulle was still kicking, most countries on the map today did not even exist.
The duo shifted uneasily at this.
LE FOLL: And despite that, it has retained its sense of self. This burger, this supersoldier of the American dream, has not yielded. It takes hundreds of hours to make one of these burgers. Vegetables must be picked, cheese must be fermented, cows must be born as calfs and reared for slaughter, and it must all be transported hundreds of miles to reach your nearest outlet – and what is the end price for you? Four euros, drinks and fries included. It is cheap, it has mass-appeal, and it is loyal. This is a burger that you will eat when you lose your baby teeth, and it is a burger you will eat when you have dentures. It, and all of its billions of brothers and sisters, will be here long after you are gone. They will promote an ideal that echoes throughout the ages, and it will look the same in 2167 as it did in 1967. Konstantin, Artyom, couldn’t we all stand to be a little bit more like this burger?
Le Foll stared down the duo, slowly finishing off his meal. Konstantin and Artyom did not speak for at least ten minutes, transfixed by the unprompted, unwanted, and most certainly unexpected speech Le Foll had made.
LE FOLL: You’re here for your job, then. Well, it’s simple. Go back to your apartment and await further instructions from the Security Brigade. Tonight, you will be assassinating Thomas Bangalter.
The Dynamic Duo slowly left, and the President stayed.