From My New Novel, Taco Jehovah

Hey! Here’s a chapter from my new novel, Taco Jehovah. It’s a little different. It’s a little weird. But it’s totally interesting and it’ll take a slightly different frame of mind to get into. Hope you’re okay with that. You can buy the full novel here (cheap!), listen to me talk about the book on this podcast or get your questions answered. Enjoy!

the landline rang a few days later.

cooper picked up the landline.

“we need cooper,” the voice said.

“this is,” cooper said.

“come to the chili’s,” the voice said. “help is needed.”

“are uniforms provided?” cooper said.

“many,” the voice said.

cooper put on his blue jeans. he put on his cheap, black shoes that he had owned for more than three years.

cooper walked to his bike. he unlocked the bike lock. he picked up his bike. he pedaled to chili’s.

someone threw a cup from one of the most popular coffeehouses in the world at cooper.

“coffee to go,” cooper said.

cooper walked into chili’s. two girls with long brown hair combed to opposite sides sat on a mahogany vinyl seat cushion. the two girls twirled their hair. one girl wore something strapless. the other girl wore something with spaghetti straps. one girl had a square flat plastic disc in her hand. the disc pulsated red.

cooper walked up to the kiosk-podium. cooper remembered this being called “the hostess stand.”

“welcome to chili’s,” a girl with several red-pulsating discs in her hand said.

the girl behind the stand was better dressed than the girls sitting down. the girl wore an all-black pantsuit or something.

“how many?” the girl said.

“i am here to work. someone called me to come in and work,” cooper said.

“it’s friday night,” the girl said.

cooper could not see her eyes. she looked down at a laminated sheet with square tables drawn on it.

“no, someone really did,” cooper said. “i am supposed to wash dishes or clean tables. maybe someone in the back called me or perhaps a manager did.”

“hold on, it’s friday night,” the girl said.

the girl picked up a phone. she swung her hair and her face away from cooper.

“you must be calling the back,” cooper said. the girl raised her eyes. the girl’s eyes were hard and squinty and possibly sea-green.

“hey, hey,” the girl said. “did you guys call this guy…” the girl stopped and looked at cooper. she made motions with her mouth. no sound came out.

finally, she said: “what’s your name?” cooper mouthed the word “cooper.” the girl shrugged her shoulders. cooper said “cooper” again with audible sound.

“…lugar to come in and work…it’s friday night,” the girl finished her sentence.

the girl listened. cooper watched the girl listen. the girl looked at cooper.

the girl nodded her head. “just go straight through that back door. ask for bardo,” the girl said.

“bardo?” cooper said. “bardo, bardo, bardo.”

cooper walked straight back. the tiles were deep maroon. he thought it was “corporate stereotype spanish-style.” dark gray grout was between the tiles.

“i remember when i went to the alamo and said ‘remember the alamo,’” cooper said. “everyone who was actually at the alamo before the alamo became a historical tourist attraction is now dead.”

a man with a NASCAR hat stopped eating a hamburger and looked up at cooper. the hamburger was poised in front of the man’s face. the man’s mouth was open.

cooper saw discolored teeth. he saw tomato and lettuce in the man’s mouth. meat and bread and lettuce and perhaps other condiment sauces were about to go into the man’s mouth.

a woman across from this man said, “can you take brie to violin practice tomorrow?” cooper could only see the back of her head. cooper saw semi-bald spots in the back of the woman’s head. the hair was styled and curled.

“cry cry curling iron,” cooper said.

cooper kept walking. he noticed many people sitting at many tables. he noticed people wearing black shirts and blue jeans. they carried trays of chicken tenders, salads, and heavily tomatoed chickens.

cooper walked through two swinging doors. “take it up a notch,” a voice said, “it’s friday night.”

someone bent down to grab sugar packets.someone stretched upward for a small trivet plate.

someone in the back dumped a huge plastic container of corn tortilla chips into another huge plastic container of corn tortilla chips.

someone untied a large plastic bag of sandwich buns.

“explosions in the rye,” cooper said.

someone with an empty chip container walked up to cooper. “employees only,” he said. his voice cracked. chip particles were on his black polo shirt.

“where is bardo?” cooper said.

“jacking off in the office,” empty chip container someone said. the someone laughed.

cooper kept walking. he felt his shoes slip. he heard his shoes squeak. he wobbled slightly, but kept his balance.

“confidence,” cooper said.

cooper saw an office. he stopped in front of the office. a window looked into the office. he looked through the window. hesaw a man in a tie with a fake tan.

cooper walked in.

cooper looked to his left. he saw the man. hen knew the man.

“bardo?” cooper said.

“that is me.”

“you worked at chili’s in high school,” cooper said.

“apparently, you work at chili’s now too,” bardo said. “what was your name again?”

“my name is cooper.”

“cooper,” bardo leaned back. “didn’t you leave norcross?”

“i want to wash dishes. i want to clean tables,” cooper said. “i did leave. but i am back.”

“first, get dressed,” bardo said. bardo turned around in his office. he handed cooper a stack of clothes. he looked at cooper’s shoes. “what size do you wear?”

“11,” cooper said.

“that’s what i wear,” bardo said. “take these for tonight.”

bardo kicked off his shoes. they were black with a firm grip on the bottom unlike cooper’s current black shoes.

“i will know exactly what it’s like to be in your shoes,” cooper said.

“yes, you will,” bardo said.

cooper kicked off his black shoes with no firm grip.

“okay, it’s friday night. just pick up all the dishes. andres will show you. i really don’t have time,” bardo said. bardo looked past cooper. someone stood behind cooper.

cooper turned around. hesaw a man in a black shirt and a black apron. the man wore black pants and the proper black shoes with a firm grip. the man wore a hat that read “chili’s” in red letters. the man wore a name tag. the name tag said “andres.”

“andres,” cooper said. “i’m cooper.”

“hello,” andres said.

“i’ll go change,” cooper said.

cooper walked towards the bathroom. he saw the woman with a bald spot and the man who needed to take brie to violin practice.

“should i wave to them?” cooper said.

cooper went into the bathroom. he found a stall and changed clothes. he now wore a black hat with a red pepper emblazoned onto the hat.

cooper did not know what to do with his regular clothes. “most people go back and put these in their car, probably, i do not have a car,” cooper said.

cooper looked around the bathroom. he saw a trashcan. he lifted up the trashcan. he put the clothes underneath the trashcan. the trashcan was now uneven, but would not fall over.

“many people will look at this trashcan and think, ‘why is this trashcan uneven?’ but people will just throw their paper towels in it anyway, and then they will not think about it again, maybe one person will look at the trashcan and notice the clothes, but then they probably won’t do anything about it, this is a safe plan,” cooper said.

cooper walked out of the bathroom. the woman and the man were gone.

cooper passed by the two girls he saw waiting when he arrived. he walked up to their table.

the one with the spaghetti straps was to cooper’s left. the one with a strapless shirt was to his right. they were making high-pitched sounds that probably resulted in conversation. they stopped speaking when cooper stood near their table. they were less than eight inches apart from cooper.

“uh…” the spaghetti-strapped girl said.

“i work here. i am just checking to see if everything is alright,” cooper said.

“mmmmm….nice shoes,” the strapless shirt girl said. she laughed in a small way.

“thank you, but they are not mine,” cooper said.

“whose are they?” the strapless shirt girl said.

“these shoes belong to bardo,” cooper said.

“who is bardo?” the spaghetti-strap girl said.

“my boss,” cooper said.

“tell your boss,” the strapless shirt girl said leaning forward, “that they’re hot.” she poked cooper. she laughed louder.

“our boyfriends would literally mess you bad,” the spaghetti-strapped girl said.

“alright,” cooper said. “where are you going now?”

“uh…,” the spaghetti strap girl said. “that’s like not for you to know.”

“okay,” cooper said. he walked away from their table.

cooper walked back into the kitchen. andres handed cooper a brown tub.

“take this on the floor, pick up plates on empty tables, bring it over to the dish area, put silverware into the dryer area, pick up brown tub, do it again, then you get money,” andres said.

cooper took the brown tub to pick up the white plates. the plates were smeared with dried cheesy gloop and pixelated ketchup and millions of crumbs. crumbs and half eaten fake steak egg rolls.

“i will do a good job,” cooper said.

cooper walked out to the floor. he saw girls wearing “chili’s” shirts with golden streaks in their hair and artificially tanned necks. cooper saw men with strong arms and close-cropped hair. he imagined some of the girls kissing bardo. he imagined bardo and the guys going to the gym together.

cooper saw aprons full of cash.

“let’s open a bank account,” cooper said.

cooper saw pads and pencils.

“menu items. do-si-do,” cooper said.

cooper stretched his arms to the fullest and walked back to the kitchen.

cooper unloaded the white plates from the brown tub. he heard words in spanish he did not know. he heard words in spanish he did know.

“there is so much steam,” cooper said. “i will do a good job.”

cooper picked up forks that had swiped people’s teeth. he picked up spoons that had swiped people’s tongues. he picked up napkins that had swiped people’s lips.

“bacteria lives here. partially eaten hamburgers could feed kids in africa but then they’d get bacteria,” cooper said.

cooper walked back on the floor. no empty tables. cooper walked around. there were no plates to pick up.

“the market fluctuates,” cooper said.


I’m Josh Spilker, a writer and author. I blog about the writing process at Create, Make, Write. My new novel is called Taco Jehovah.