Written by Rachel Kushner
The Flamethrowers, 2013
The commercial’s director and crew had come to Mount Rose, where we trained. They talked to our coach and ended up choosing me and a racer named Lisa, a quiet girl no one really knew. There was a long day of takes and retakes. They wanted two girls with hair flying, snow bunnies on a brisk, sunny afternoon. A week later they flew us both to Los Angeles, to a strange McDonald’s in the City of Industry where they only filmed commercials. It looked like a regular McDonald’s, with cashiers in paper hats, a menu board, the plastic bench tables where Lisa and I sat across from each other and smiled as if we were friends although we weren’t, each of us holding a hamburger in our fingers with hot lights on us, in this fake restaurant that looked real except they didn’t serve customers. I tried to explain this to Nadine, but she kept interrupting me.
When we finished shooting the ad, I flew home to Reno. Lisa was supposed to be on the flight but she wasn’t. She was eighteen, an adult, and I didn’t wonder. She had apparently gone to a bar near the fake McDonald’s in the City of Industry. No one ever heard from her again.
© 2013 Rachel Kushner; New York: Scribner