Daily Fiction 16
I’m a hamburger helper. I help hamburgers. Have been doing it as long as I’ve been alive.
I wasn’t born, in the sense that so many people are born and live and die, so much as I just came into being one day. The way it happened was a diner cook was working the night shift, while her daughter helped clean the dishes. “You want this dusty-ass lamp cleaned?” the daughter said.
“I need you to clean whatever you got back there,” said the mother.
The daughter rubbed the lamp, and a genie popped out. It was about to go into its spiel, when the mother yelled “Hamburger Helper!” And the genie, misunderstanding it as a wish, and misunderstanding what Hamburger Helper was, accidentally created me, a creature with the divine superpower to help any hamburger with anything it needs.
The mother and daughter were fine. They used the other two wishes on a billion dollars and eternal health. They upgraded the diner to name-brand Hamburger Helper, which they weren’t using before.
But I was at a loss for what to do. For my mission was to help hamburgers, and for this I had to know what hamburgers wanted, and that was hard because hamburgers had no mind or soul.
So I had to imagine myself as a hamburger. I had to think of what it was a hamburger wanted.
I hung around the kitchen of the diner for awhile, and I watched the hamburgers frying on the grill. It was a horror show! I raced to the rescue, throwing the hamburgers off the hot metal. The landed to the wall and crumbled into pieces. I gathered the chunks of ground beef, forced them back together, pushed them into lumps, the matted fried brown beef against the stickier red beef. They were twisted, grotesque versions of their former selves. I wasn’t helping them at all. I was only torturing them.
Shocked by my own ignorance, I thought that I’d study hamburgers a little more before I could attempt to save them. What I found was that hamburgers, through the process of being cooked, actually became themselves. They didn’t want to be hamburger meat—they wanted to be hamburgers, proper. Though the heat of the griddle was painful, the hamburger emerged something greater, stronger, tastier, more intact. Though the jaws of the person were monstrous, being chomped was the pathway to a greater glory that a hamburger could never achieve on the shelf.
What amazed me was how short the timespan was for a hamburger to truly live. A good hamburger would cook in minutes, be served immediately, eaten immediately after that. It was shame, a pathetic fate, to stay long enough in a cooked state to go cold. Only the good hamburgers were eaten young.
So I resolved to help them. I’d stay around kitchens, making sure the burgers were cooked right, turned at the right time, served with quality buns and fixins.
[to be continued]