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Phil was watching television. He had been watching television for almost 3 hours now, and he was planning on watching television for at least 3 hours more. The western he had been watching was over, and the program had switched over to an infomercial for some sort of foot-massaging device. He had no interest in this device, but to change the channel would be to get up and change it manually, and he was determined not to get up. He had decided earlier today that he was not going to do a goddamn thing today, it being Labor Day and all, and changing the channel qualified as something rather than nothing. If he had the remote he might have conceded that it was okay to press the up or down channel buttons, but the remote was out of commission. Remotes require working batteries to operate, and new batteries meant getting up, driving to the store, buying batteries of the correct size and voltage, driving back, opening the back of the remote, removing the old batteries, and installing the new ones. And on top of that, he'd still have to press the up or down channel buttons. It seemed a whole lot simpler, and more in line with his doing-nothing goal, to stay right where he was.
Then he heard a rumble down below. He ignored it. Eating was out of the question. Phil had picked this day, this lazy Monday, as Do-Freaking-Nothing Day. Eating would require much more than getting up and changing a channel, and he had already decided not to do that. No sir, he thought logically, since I decided not to do a thing because it requires effort, that certainly rules out doing something else that requires more effort than that first thing. If I could deal with watching this horrid blue vibrating massage boot, I can deal with hunger.
Then the voices came. At exactly 3:29 and 52 seconds in the afternoon. From inside his head.
Fulfill the destiny, they said. You know you want it... And before his eyes, Phil beheld a vision of what was to come. It was a five-inch burrito, packed with ground beef, two kinds of cheeses, a mild salsa, a layer of refried beans and Mexican rice, all wrapped up neatly in a flour tortilla. Burrito Deluxe, it was called. He saw himself, his future self, removing that burrito from the freezer, liberating it from its cardboard and plastic trappings, placing it gently upon a sheet of paper towel and microwaving it for 3 minutes or until done. The whole scene passed before his eyes in what seemed like a few minutes. And then it was over. Phil glanced at his watch. It was 3:29 and 55 seconds. The whole thing had only lasted for a moment.
"No!" he said, out loud to nobody in particular. "I don't care if I'm hungry! I'm not getting up to make a burrito! Today is Labor Day, and I'm not doing a damned thing and nobody, I said nobody, is going to make me do anything more today. And nobody includes myself." He realized he was speaking aloud, and stopped talking. He was going to add that he had already gotten out of bed, turned on the television, and sat on the couch, and three things was plenty for one day, but he had already stopped talking and to start again after that awkward pause would be too much effort. He returned himself, determined and apathetic, to the television program, ignoring the grumbling of his stomach.
The foot-massager infomercial ended, and another infomercial began. To Phil's dismay, this new product was nothing less than a burrito-maker. Called the Burrito Wizard, it was a raised plastic tray with a concave indentation in the center. One simply had to lay a standard flour tortilla in the curved central cavity, then place anything one wanted -- ground beef, chicken, even fruit -- into the cavity, then fold once, twice, thrice, and viola! the burrito was made. It looked so easy to do, and fun. The plastic tray was microwave safe, so after folding one could simply slide the tray into the microwave and heat, and serve in that same tray. There were other smaller indentations on the tray where one could place some beans or rice, and a dipping bowl for extra salsa came free if one called right now or within the next 10 minutes.
It was pure torture.
Phil knew that he would have to expend even less effort to make the burrito sitting in his freezer than this blue-aproned man was making with his proud invention. This man had to gather semi-fresh ingredients, and put the burrito together, and later he would need to place the dishwasher-safe plastic Wizard in the dishwasher, then pour in some dishwashing detergent, then set the dishwasher on either energy-saver or regular depending on the damage, and then close the dishwasher and press start. All Phil would need to do afterwards is throw the paper towel away and that would be that. Phil got angry at himself in thinking such nonsense. "This is a test," he said to himself, mentally this time. "The world is trying to test me. Well, I'm going to pass that test with lazy colors! I'm not getting up, regardless of whatever highly-appealing burrito-making contraptions they throw at me."
"It's so fun and easy, it's a Wiz!" said the spokesman, an aging but enthusiastic man with a wide smile and blue twinkling eyes. "You can put anything in your Burrito. Cereal, fresh vegetables, walnuts -- soon you'll have a great meal in a snap. Mexicans have known the secret of The Burrito for years, and now you can share in their Chicano magic in your own kitchen! But Phil, you don't even have to make your burrito, it's sitting in your freezer right now, all you have to do is heat it and eat it. Go on, Phil, try it. It's destiny." Phil jolted upright with a start. Did the television just talk to him? He must be imagining things. He watched intently to see if the spokesman would address him again, but evidently the spokesman was done with Phil, and went back to showing various fun recipies one can try with the Burrito Wizard. He showed how you can put sliced chunks of fried chicken along with mashed potatoes to make a southern wrap that one could then dip into brown gravy in the dipping bowl. He then filled another flour tortilla with marshmallows and microwaved it to make a marshmallow burrito that he dipped in chocolate pudding for a tasty afterschool snack. He then chopped up some sea cucumber and added pickled ginger and Japanese rice for some exciting Pan-Asian Mexican fusion cuisine. Phil grew bored. "The possiblities are endless. Except for you, Phil," the spokesman said, suddenly staring at him with cold, intense eyes. "You have but one choice, and it is destiny. Fulfill your calling, you pansy."
Phil was shaken. His mouth felt dry and he felt goosebumps on the back of his neck. Am I going crazy?, he thought. I need to get a drink of water and clear my head. No! he replied mentally. "That's just what they want me to do! As soon as I get up, I've lost! And once I get a drink of water, I'll already be up, and then I'll make the burrito because I'm already in the kitchen and it's right there! And I'm not going to make that burrito! I don't care what my stomach says! I don't care what the television says! I don't care what the voices say! I'm not going to do it, because it's Labor Day and I've already done enough! "Leave me alone, all of you!" he said out loud, flailing on the couch. "I don't want your stinking beef!"
Then he thought of the burrito.
Somewhere in the continental U.S., in a food factory maybe, was an assembly line worker who had crafted that burrito. With love and with care he had made a row of pre-cooked ground beef, poured on the melted cheese, smeared on a layer of refried beans and sprinkled on the rice, then dripped upon it with mild, medium, or super spicy salsa depending on the conveyor line he or she was in. Then he or she had placed the burrito into the folding machine for it to be folded, sealed in a plastic bag, and inserted into a small cardboard box with a smiling sombrero-wearing Mexican cartoon boy saying "Aye carumba, she is good!" on it, knowing in his or her heart that somewhere out there, someone would microwave that tube of food and eat it, and it would be edible. That burrito was created to make someone full and mildly pleased, but without someone to eat it, that burrito was made in vain. It was then that Phil realized that it wasn't just his destiny the voices were talking about -- it was the burrito's destiny, its destiny to be purchased and eaten.
All his day, Phil had known what he wanted, and he was determined to stay his course. Life had been so simple then, it seemed like only two hours ago that he was watching two men in leather chaps shoot each other on the screen, knowing who he was, knowing what he wanted to not do today. But now it was like his day was turned upside down, and a few things he thought he knew were completely wrong. And at this moment where everything hung in the balance, Phil knew he would have to sacrifice everything he had believed in this Labor Day, if he was to do what was right. Not for his stomach, not for the television, not for the voices. For the burrito. This burrito, The Burrito, for burritos everywhere sitting in freezers forgotten.
"This is for you, Boy Pablo Brand Mild Beef Burrito!" he exclaimed. His jaw was set, his eyes vivid. For the first time in 3-4 hours, he felt truly alive. The spokesman on the screen paused from his Baked Alaska Burrito recipe to nod at him. Phil nodded back. There was no turning back now. It was The Destiny. His Destiny.
He stood up.
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