Loyalty Rewards

“Alright, I’ll get that in for you,” the waitress smiled at the three men, and walked to the back. The idled in silence for a minute before Jack sighed.

“Well?” He gestured at Ronald. “You’re the one that called us here. Why?” The redheaded clown shrugged and blew the wrapper off his straw at the King. Both he and Jack laughed while the King glared at them and dusted the piece of trash off his lap.

“I’ve been thinking about how long we’ve all been at this,” he took a sip through his straw. “I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m getting old. But why do we always have to be in competition with each other, you know?’ The King laughed.

“You’re not getting old, Ron. You’re just wallowing because Wendy left you for Carl,” he laughed harder.

“Take it easy,” Jack looked at the King. “It wasn’t too long ago you were crying every time you saw a soft serve cone because they reminded you of D. Queen.” Then, Jack placed a hand on Ronald’s shoulder. “Not competing all the time sounds great, but you wouldn’t have called us here if you didn’t have an idea. So, what’s the plan?” he asked. Ronald nodded.

“Thanks, yeah. I’ve been thinking about an alliance,” the clown said.

“We tried that already. It didn’t work,” the King dismissed the idea immediately.

“It didn’t work because there were too many people involved,” Ronald said.

“Yeah, too many people named Arby,” Jack replied. All three of them laughed for several seconds, but Ronald spoke up again once the laughter faded.

“Yeah, he’s not the crispiest fry in the bag. But the point stands, I wanted to start small. That’s why you two are here.”

“Did you think this through any further than, ‘Oh I want an alliance!'” the King asked with his usual condescension. Ronald nodded again.

“I did. I put a lot of thought into it.” Ronald spread his arms wide and gestured at the Pizza Hut. “That’s a big part of the reason I chose this restaurant. I wanted you to feel safe.”

“That’s a great start,” Jack said. “So we feel safe, what’s the special sauce that’s gonna make this alliance work?” Ronald smiled, the first time they’d seen him smile since they got there.

“Loyalty,” Ronald said. The King made a point to scoff extra loud.

“You mean like those childish punch cards that earn you a free sandwich? Please, we’re above that.” Ronald shook his head.

“Not that kind of loyalty. I mean loyalty to the alliance. Whoever commits to it has to work together, you know?”

“That’s all well and good, but what would be the benefits. And how do we know one of us…,” Jack cast a side-eye at the King, “…won’t just swear loyalty, but bail at the first opportunity?”

Well, the biggest benefit would be shared knowledge. I’m convinced there’s a way we can improve our offerings without treading on each other’s markets. I mean, I’d trust an alliance partner with the secret sauce recipe in exchange for something equally secret. With that kind of knowledge, they could build their own version and make it different enough that it’s not a big deal. I wouldn’t lose customers but they’d definitely gain some, you know?”

“Okay, I can see that working. But there’s still the question of loyalty,” Jack reminded Ronald. The clown nodded.

“It would take a major gesture to prove that kind of loyalty,” Ronald said. “Something there’s no going back on.”

“Obviously,” the King replied.

“But it’d be worth it, don’t you think?” Jack nodded, and even the King gave a half nod.

“So? Do you have something like that in mind already, or is that why we’re here?”

“Both actually,” Ronald said.

“Oh my heavens, what is he doing here?” the King asked. Jack looked up to see the Colonel walking towards their table carrying a steaming hot pizza.

“This is one of his,” Ronald replied.

” ‘Afternoon, gentlemen,” the colonel smiled. He set the pizza down on the table. “Don’t let me interrupt.”

“Colonel, can I get a refill?” Ronald asked before the man in white walked away.

“Why it would be my pleasure, Sir. I’ll be back in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.” The colonel grabbed the red plastic cup from the table and retreated to the back.

“Wait a minute,” Jack asked. The King already had a slice of pizza on his plate. “You knew this was his place?” he asked Ronald.

“Oh yeah. Remember when we all said we were going to offer pizza, but I was the only one that did?” Jack and the King laughed. Ronald did not.

“Yeah! Sorry man, we were just pulling your leg. We didn’t think you would actually do it.” Ronald forced a smile.

“Ha ha, yeah. I did do it. When researching it I found out this was one of his,” Ronald pointed at the Colonel walking back to their table.

“So how do we prove our loyalty?” Jack asked, trying to get back on topic.

“Oh man, no. I’m sorry, I should have been clearer,” Ronald shrugged with his hands in the air.

“You’re not here to prove loyalty to me. You’re here to prove my loyalty to him,” again Ronald pointed at the Colonel who now stood at their table with a gun pointed at the King’s head.

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