if you must work
(originally posted 12/1/2019… and includes perhaps my favorite sentence I’ve ever written)
“If you must work,
Work to leave some part of you on this earth.”
-Keaton Henson You
Who can say what is worthwhile and what is folly? All I know is that once an idea takes hold it creates a momentum of its own.
So it was for the Peoria Players, a theater troupe (of sorts) that did all of their productions exclusively for security cameras. Their final production took place in Peoria and some people claim it will continue on for years.
Right now Gary Winters, co-founder of the Peoria Players, sits on death row embroiled in a controversy that is attracting nationwide interest. He has requested a Big Mac, fries and a coke for his last meal. The district attorney for Maricopa County, the family of Gavin Fitzsimmons, the other co-founder of the Peoria Players, and the McDonald’s Corporation are fighting this request tooth and nail.
Why is this causing such an uproar?
I’d better begin at the beginning.
Gavin’s desire to do something with his life. To be remembered for something. A grand and final gesture. A wonderful and terrible idea, the merits of which will be debated for years to come. The final production I mentioned earlier?
Gavin walked into a McDonalds dressed as Ronald McDonald and ordered some food. Moments after receiving his food and before he could turn to sit down Gary, dressed as the Hamburglar, walked in with a gun demanding Gavin’s/Ronald’s hamburgers. Everyone in the restaurant watched and laughed and pulled out their phones to capture the event.
Ronald refused to give Hamburglar his food so Hamburglar/Gary shot him in the chest. The loudness of the gun startled the onlookers and as Ronald crumpled to the ground there were a few seconds of confusion as everyone was smiling awkwardly and wondering what they had just witnessed. When the blood began spreading from Ronald’s body the realization started to hit everyone. The looks on the children’s faces, Happy Meals in hand.
Gary never broke character.
Gavin died on the floor of that McDonald’s. As scripted.
Moments later Officer Big Mac came in to hold the Hamburglar until police arrived. Eventually Mayor McCheese also arrived but by that time officials found the presence of these costumed characters unhelpful at the scene of a murder and roughly pushed them out of the building. Cameras from the local news station watched these characters mill around with the rest of the bystanders and the reporters were unclear what to say to the viewers about their presence in the crowd. Eventually Gary’s body was carried out, a sheet covering everything but his giant red shoes.
Throughout the trial Gary stayed in character, despite the judge’s admonitions and suggestions that this blatant disrespect of the legal system would cost him his freedom and possibly his life. The media expressed outrage at the Peoria Players for continuing the farce after a man had died. Every day more people turned up at the courthouse dressed up as the Hamburglar and zombie Ronald McDonalds.
The judge would not allow Gary’s sole character witness, Grimace, to testify in his costume so with a final, defiant “Robble, Robble!” the defense rested. Outside Grimace paced and robbled at the unfairness of it all.
After a few hours a jury returned a guilty verdict. The judge, in her closing comments, said the following; “I don’t know what to make of all this.”
Outside a scuffle ensued when a man dressed as the Burger King arrived and had to be saved from the hostile crowd and led away under police protection.
Almost a year later and after turning down every appeal presented to him by his defense, and with the day of his execution looming, Gavin requested his final meal; a Big Mac, fries and a coke.
Eventually he was granted this request, due in no small part to the influence of the entertainment industry. Celebrities, while unable to articulate why, felt a kinship to Gavin and loudly supported his right to a last request.
The day of his execution all McDonald’s in the US were closed for fear of copy cat incidents. Outside of the facility that carried out the verdict hundreds gathered and wept and lit candles and left piles of hamburgers as a memorial to the co-founder of the Peoria Players.
Calls for the arrest of the remaining Players eventually subsided.
There is talk of a big-screen adaption in the works.