Treat the Troops

Artwork by Billie Justice Thomson
Artwork by Billie Justice Thomson


“IMAGINE A MCDONALD’S cheeseburger bun dipped in oil. That’s what a Krispy Kreme donut’s like”. Stopped at a red light with a 7-Eleven advertisement for Krispy Kreme directly ahead, Victor’s mother remembered overhearing this comment. It had made her proud of her donut abstinence, though she couldn’t help but think about the glaze crackling under her teeth, melting on her tongue. She wondered which donut she would eat out of the stack of four on the billboards.

When the light turned green, Victor’s mother chose the one with chocolate icing. She thought more about the words above the donuts: “Treat the troops after school”. When she figured out that the word “troops” must refer to children, and after noting that yes, she had one of those, Victor’s mother drove on, further reasoning that she needed to get petrol. There was a 7-Eleven on the way to Victor’s school.

Victor’s mother couldn’t wait to see the smile on her little troop’s face when she treated him after school. Administering the e10 Unleaded into the tank of her car, her stomach began to ache, saliva became thicker and the back of her tongue and throat area panged with emptiness. Inside the 7-Eleven she immediately spotted the glass display. It made her smile. Luckily the guy behind the counter had expelled a loud, “Good afternoon” and she pretended to be flashing her teeth in response to his mechanical cheeriness.

She surveyed the glistening options. Victor’s mother was relieved to see Original Glazed; she still remembers her first. There was one Choc Iced, four Strawberry Drizzles, two Choc Iced Custards, three Apple Custard Crumbles and two cyclical poops they call Mudcakes. The latter option was unfamiliar. She examined it as she picked up a four-pack box with one hand and a set of small metal tongs with the other.

Standing in front of the donut display, Victor’s mother snapped the tongs thoughtfully. She was trying to focus on what Victor’s preference might be. Apple Custard Crumble was definitely out, though she might grab one for herself, maybe, it was a, “Maybe.” But probably a, “No”, she thought. As she tonged the Choc Iced into the box, a man approached the Krispy Kreme display. She panicked and tonged herself an Apple Custard Crumble. The man looked for the tongs and noticing Victor’s mother’s pause in collection asked, “May I?” He had a four-pack box in hand. He tonged with conviction. Victor’s mother resented his confidence and realised with a fright that she hadn’t yet grabbed a Mudcake. She considered asking him if he would leave her one, decided against that, considered grabbing one with her hand and decided against that too.

She was five minutes late picking up Victor, thinking of sweet donut flesh and cheeseburger buns dipped in oil. Victor’s mother shoved the box under her seat as she pulled up to their meeting spot. Her son looked dirty and tired but smiled when he saw her car.