It was the best of times; and it was the worst of tacos. An endless cycle; ebb and flow, wax and wane. Beans and cheese. Sour cream and salsa. Double and dip.
Again and again, we all had naught to do but watch as our joys came to us, then inevitably slipped away.
In this, we are all lamenters; grievers; mourners. We all wail and gnash at the bitter draught we must drink. The loss of the seasonal specials.
Every Taco Bell across this desperate world bears them, the seasonal specials, close to their bosoms. The most wondrous of foodstuffs, righteous mana sent from heaven on high to nourish us in mind, body, and soul.
So, it came with the heaviest of hearts that we would learn the cycle of gain and loss, of old specials ending and new ones beginning, would soon distort. Supply lines began to crack and break under the strain of a new rising horror. Manpower faded and drained away as the shadow fell upon us all.
We hoped. We prayed, horribly and in vain, to stop the fall. But all our efforts were to no avail. Attempts to hold back the bleed of personnel were countered by the state’s own quarantine rules. Supplications to trucking and food processing companies, were crushed by the hard heel of market demand.
If Taco Bell could not help us, we would have to help ourselves.
I remember, with fondness, one particular action…
A cold, windy day. We assembled outside a trucking company’s dispatch center, picket signs inscribed with slogans and sigils of our righteous cause. This company, in their greed and sloth, given easy justification by the hand of the state and the hand of the disease, had dared to cease their transport of a crucial ingredient in one of our most adored articles: that most treasured piece of mana.
The Dorito taco shell.
The crisp tortilla and cheese concoctions lay in gentle rest in the dark holds of their trucks. We could all but taste them, smell them, through the chill air and the cold steel. Hundreds, thousands of tacos, betrayed by their conveyors; unable to fulfill their ordained purpose of bringing nourishment to our stomachs and joy to our souls!
This evil could not be countenanced.
Our cries grew ever greater, louder, higher. We pressed our bodies against the chain-link surrounding their office. Slowly, ever so slowly, the fence giving way to the weight of our flesh and the fervor of our spirits. Every thrash of the arm, every kick of the leg, and it gave more, and more, and more.
I can hear the workers howling. “Stop,” they dared to call out. “Leave us alone! This isn’t our fault, take it up with corporate!”
“You can let us in to take what is ours, to take what we need! Do us this meager favor, and you’ll be left alone!” I screamed. “Give us what we need, and you’ll be left alone!”
The others joined me in a new chant; a just, vengeful chorus.
“Give the people what we need, and you’ll be left alone! The people will prevail! In shell we trust!”
Yet they did not yield.
“We can’t! We’ll be fired! I have a family, I have a new baby, I can’t lose my job!”
They all had the same pitiful responses. “I’m just a temp!” “You need to talk to a
manager!” “I have kids!” “I have a hamster!” As if any of these circumstances could excuse them their conduct.
It would not be suffered. With a final shout, the fence gave way; we washed over those workers and truckers who couldn’t escape the tide. We swept in like a wave of diablo sauce, drowning them in our burning wrath as surely as hot sauces burn the tongue. That they did not die; was all the better. They would live to witness their failure, and behold our triumph, behold the glorious victory of those loyal to the Bell! Falling on their sealed trailers as cheese upon a burrito, with brutal speed we tore away the locks and flung open the containers, at last, our goal in sight. Crate after crate after crate was passed down the line, each person touching them all but screaming in joy at being so close to such a great concentration of the blessed taco shells. With the shells secured, we had taken our nourishment into our own hands; seized our own destiny!
But should we stop there?
There were so many other ingredients to be taken. Other companies yet held exotic nacho cheeses, specially-flavored hand-cut fries, juicy seasonal soft drinks, all contained in vile bondage by their capitalist oppressors. We would never be complete with just the Dorito taco shells brought to their rightful homes in the restaurants.There were so many more to free. So many more to liberate. Verily, we could even control the means of production!
We began to plot. Acquire our targets, sort our arms, harden our hearts. This would be a long campaign, long and savage, but the end would be worth it. Someday soon, our specials would be returned to us. Someday soon we would control it all!
“Comrades, to the barricades. The churros await!”
Tain Leonard-Peck is a student, writer, actor, model, painter, and composer. He’s a competitive sailor, skier, and fencer, also trained in stage fighting.
His produced/published plays include Quarantine: The Musical; The Last Bag; and The Quarantine Monologues: All Roads Lead to Tinfoil. His work has also been published in the 2020 Anthology of Youth Writing on Human Rights & Social Justice, Molecule, Multiplicity Magazine, and Czykmate. He won Honorable Mention for the Creators of Literary Justice Award, by IHRAF, and was a finalist for #Enough: Plays to End Gun Violence. He currently lives on a family farm on Martha’s Vineyard.