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6:08 a.m. - 2003-06-26

IT'S TIME FOR A CAREER CHANGE

Like millions of other online journalists, I am so wildly disillusioned that I think just because a bored housewife in Nova Scotia thinks that I've got some semblance of talent, it's high time I started crafting the Great American Novel.

Truth be told, I've always fancied myself as a tortured soul with a story that's just itching to get out. Or I just scratched my ass a lot. One or the other.

Recently, I've sat down and began crafting my idea of the Great American Novel.

The words flowed like explosive diarrhea as I began putting my novel on cyber-paper.

Today, I will share with you Chapter 12 of this novel.

Keep in mind, this is a romance novel, combining two of the most endearing factors of the human psyche: the constant quest for love...and McDonald's.

I call it...

LOVE BENEATH THE GOLDEN ARCHES

Charlotte Thompson's breath-taking auburn tresses yearned to break free of their hatlike confine, but Charlotte knew they mustn't. Health department regulations forbade it, and Mr. Sneerson, her boss, would berate her in front of her peers. Sighing, she rested her elbows on the stainless steel counter and said "Can I help you?"

Then, in spite of herself, Charlotte gasped.

Her next customer was none other than darkly handsome, severely brooding, muscularly physically fit Derek Stone!

And he was gazing straight at her!

"What have you got?" he asked, a twinkle in his steel-blue eyes.

"Why, er, I..." Charlotte began. Then she caught herself, and her training and expertise took over. "The Big Mac is quite popular," she breathed.

Derek's eyes softened. "What's that?" he gently inquired.

"Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun," Charlotte replied with a lilt in her voice.

"I see," he remarked and Charlotte felt her heart beat wildly in her creamy milk-white breast.

Would he take her suggestion?

"I don't really care for special sauce," he commented. "What else is there?"

Charlotte felt a sudden pang of dismay. Because to reject special sauce was to reject the entire Big Mac. And to reject the Big Mac was to reject her!

Then he did have someone else!

Hope was dead!

There was nothing more to do but tell him everything, and trust that he would be kind with her emotions.

"Hamburgers," she offered numbly. "Cheeseburgers. Large fries. Small fries. Filet-o-Fish. McRib Sandwich. Quarter Pounder with Cheese. Chocolate shake. Strawberry ..."

"Wait a moment!" Derek exclaimed. "Did you say Quarter Pounder WITH Cheese?"

Derek's eyes were suddenly remote on his cruelly handsome face.

"I ... why....yes. Is there something wrong?" Charlotte queried.

"Damn," he muttered, a scowl passing over his features.

Suddenly, Charlotte was fearful, frightened. Frightened of this man, of his disapproval of her menu, of everything.

"My wife used to eat Quarter Pounders with Cheese," he mumbled, staring into space.

"I...I'm sorry," Charlotte said sympathetically.

"Look Miss," Derek said, snapping out of his temporary haze. "I'm afraid I'd better not eat a hamburger of any kind. You've been too kind. Thank you," he said as he turned to leave.

"No!" cried out Charlotte's soul!

Was there no hope for her? Could he not forget his ex-wife? Must a Quarter Pounder with Cheese stand between them and a lifetime full of happiness? What if she worked at Arby's? Everything would be different then, wouldn't it?

It was so incredibly unfair!

Suddenly Charlotte realized her one chance. Her heart in her throat, her palms damp with anxiety, she said, desperately ... "Sir?"

"Yes?" he said, turning back to face her.

"Couldn't you ... I mean...we do have the Egg McMuffin."

The earth ceased in its orbit.

Time itself halted.

All the universe paused for a moment as Derek Stone pondered her words and finally said "Oh. Hmm. Well, that sounds good. No special sauce on that, is there?"

"Oh, no sir!" Charlotte blurted out.

"All right," Derek said, reaching for his wallet resting near his taut, firm ass. "I'll take one of those."

And as Charlotte punched the buttons on the cash register and walked ... nay...ran! ... to fetch the freshest Egg McMuffin under the heat lamp, her heart soared within her, for she knew that Derek Stone was hers alone.

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