Grandpa and the Rice Cakes
“Grandpa, can you remember when you could go to a store and buy a hamburger and French fries? I read in my history book that there was a special place where you could go and get some to take home or eat there.”
The old man rubbed his thinning hair and shook his head. “No Ryan I’m not as old as I look. That was before my time, but they weren’t called stores they were fast food restaurants. I do remember in my youth hamburger spots. You could go and knock on the door, usually in a dark basement, and if you knew someone they would let you in. There was a little porthole like door and you would say “Joe sent me”. There were video games and music and always lots of pretty girls. Yeah it was a good time. The French fries were golden brown and crisp, the girls beautiful and friendly.” The old man reminisced.
“Have you read about speakeasies where people went to drink liquor? They were sort of like
“You mean people bootlegged hamburgers and French fries? Wasn’t that against the law?”
“Yes of course it was against the law but outlawing hamburgers made people outlaws. That used to be the main teenage diet. Not like the tasteless stuff the kids eat today.”
“What did they taste like? What were they made out of?”
“Mainly it was real Angus beef, ground up but they must have put something else in them to make them taste so good. The potatoes were cut real thin and fried in deep fat. I can close my eyes and----.” the old man stopped mid sentence watching Ryan. The boy was almost salivating thing about food.
“Did you ever go to one of those underground places?”
“Oh no, like you say that would have been illegal. But I did have friends that told me about them. Now days you can’t even make them at home. All sorts of terrible things might happen if you were to eat an old fashioned hamburger. They weren’t made out of ham you know.” He looked at Ryan to gauge his reaction. “Come on let’s go in the kitchen ad get one of those rice cakes your mother brought home.”
“Naw, I’m not hungry right now. I’m going out for a while.” Ryan closed his book and made for the door.
As soon as he got to the street he heard someone call his name.
“Hey Ryan, come over here and see what I got.” Butch was one of the toughest kids in school. He seemed to always be in trouble. Right now he was leaning on the trunk of his car. Slowly Ryan walked over.
“Yeah? Whatcha got? Ryan asked.
“Look here! I scored some of the good stuff. You want in?” He pointed to the open trunk
Spread out on waxed paper was cheeseburgers, bacon burgers, double burgers, French fries all with an appetizing aroma wafting right to Ryan’s nose.
‘Where’d you get all this man?” Ryan asked his eyes tearing up at the thought of eating his choice of the glorious food.
“Don’t worry about where I got it. You want some or not?”
“How much? I don’t have much money.”
“The first one’s free/ Take your pick. If you like it then we’ll make some kind of deal. If you don’t want anymore then I’ll go on my way no hard feelings.”
Ryan reached for a cheeseburger. He bit into the sandwich and the combination of flavors burst like rockets in his mouth, lettuce, onions, pickles, and dressing. He moaned in ecstasy. When he was finished he licked his fingers.
O.K. what do you want me to do to get another one? How many banks do I have to rob?”
“It’s simple all you have to do is distribute hamburgers for me. You have to get your own customers though. I have a cook that will make all you can sell. You can make some extra money and eat all you want at the same time. Keep in mind that if you get caught I don’t know you or what you do.”
“How big a risk is it?”
“Are you thinking about changing your mind?”
“No but I like to know what I’m getting into. Will I do jail time?”
“Probably not. I’ve got cops as regulars. But of course there is always a chance that you could run into some tough guy that wants to make a name for himself. So you do have to be careful. I’ll pay the fine the first time but if you get run in again you’re on your own.”
“How do you keep them warm?” Or keep them fresh?”
“I’ve had a special unit built in the trunk of my car. It keeps them warm until I get them sold. There’s no trouble keeping them fresh. They go too fast to worry about that.”
“That sounds O.K. to me but how did you know I would go for a deal like that?”
Because your grandfather is one of my best customers. He’ll probably start buying from you now, but he told me you might be a candidate for hamburgers. He said you were always hungry that those rice cakes didn’t fill you up.”
“Yeah you might as well eat cardboard.” Ryan reached for a bag of French fries.