Only one more delivery to go, then I’m done for the night.
Last stop is middle-class, a house a few streets from where I live. A cracked plastic snowman sits crooked in the front yard. The white lights framing the front door have been put up shoddily. I ring the bell and am surprised at how loud it resounds through the house.
“Mom! Mom the pizza guy is here!” cries a high-pitched voice from inside the house.
I can hear the stampede of little feet running down the stairs.
“Mom! Mom hurry the pizza guy is here!”
The front door swings open and five greedy, well-fed faces beam at me. It’s a mob of hyperactive hobbits. They seem to be starving.
“It’s my birthday. I’m seven. I get to stay up late because it’s my birthday. This is the second time we ordered pizza tonight but it wasn’t you that delivered it. We thought it might be the same pizza guy,” says the fattest kid in the hefty group. The kid holds out his hands.
“Happy birthday,” I say handing over the two large pepperonis.
“You know why it’s so neat to have a birthday so close to Christmas?”
“Because just when you are getting sick of your birthday presents Christmas comes. And you don’t get sick of those presents for a while.”
“That would have been weird, huh?” Says the cute little girl who looks like a postcard from Sweden, all fair and Nordic. She has crystal blue eyes and her blonde hair is in pigtails.
“What?” I ask confused. I haven’t talked to that many kids but the conversation is going the same way my late night talks with my friend Mike go right before Mike mumbles about the girl he has been in love with for his whole life and then passes out.
“If you would have been the same pizza guy,” says the girl.
“Yeah, I guess so,” I say. It’s the same answer I give Mike when asked if Bonnie will ever love him again.
There is a moment of pause as the children look at me and I look back at them. Then the birthday boy looks at the pizzas he is holding and the whole group rushes back up the stairs leaving me standing in the open doorway by myself. Snow blows into the house.
“Oh please come in and shut the door. I’m trying to find my purse,” calls a warm feminine voice. “You must be freezing.”
I do what I’m told and look around the room. In the corner five little snowsuits are scattered over tiny puddles. A young woman walks into my line of vision. She looks like my favorite actress Audrey Hepburn, only with fine blonde hair. She hurries down the hallway wearing a baggy V-neck tee shirt and blue jeans. She is scrounging in her purse and drops a couple of quarters on the floor. When she bends over to pick them up I see she isn’t wearing a bra and I catch a glimpse of her small round breast and erect nipple. I start thinking about my Irish Cream hot drink special. Heated passion increases as the temperature drops. I’m hot and horny.
“You the babysitter for this birthday bash?” I ask trying to avoid a stupid Tom Cruise smile while still flirting. All the real cool cats like Marlon Brando and Steve McQueen never smiled. They used their eyes.
“No, no I’m the mother unfortunately,” says the woman. “They’ve been wild all day. In out, in out. I don’t know where they get the energy. I’d like to just sit by the fire with my feet up sipping an Irish coffee.”
“You know I make…”
“Hey honey we’re putting in the second Mighty Ducks movie,” booms a gruff voice from upstairs. So she isn’t a divorcee, too bad.
“Dad it’s called D2,” corrects the birthday boy. “Yeah, Mom, and you’re missing all the pizza. Maybe we should order more.”
“That’s okay sweetheart, you can have my piece,” the mother yells upstairs.
“It’s called a slice, Mom, boy you are sure stupid.”
“Don’t tip the guy more than a dollar,” orders dad.
The woman gives me a weak smile. “How much is it?”
The mom hands over two twenties. “Keep it and stay warm,” she says.
“Thanks. You know they don’t appreciate what…”
A heavy hairy man wearing one of those XXL Giants football jerseys that fits like a maternity dress stands in gray sweatpants at the top of the stairs. The man is so out of form that only elasticized clothing fits him. This can’t be the slob she sleeps with.
“Honey, let’s go.”
I look up at his bulk. I can’t imagine him on top of her. She would be crushed. I hope she doesn’t suck his dick. I often sit and stare at people walking by. I’m always surprised when I see couples walking together who look so wrong for each other. I have no idea what the rules of attraction are. It has to be more than physical.
“Bye,” I say.
“Yeah, bye,” says the man staring hard at me.
I walk out and shut the door. From behind the closed walls I can hear the man yelling.
“Jesus Rachael! Why don’t you just invite the pizza guy to sleep over?"
I kick over the plastic snowman on the way back to the truck. I have a cigarette and slowly take my time driving back. I’m finally done. I pull into the back of Dick’s Italian Delights. This is home base.
The guy I work for is a foreigner. He isn’t Italian. He’s from Colombia and his name isn’t really Dick, its Ricardo. I answered the delivery ad in the paper. That was over two years ago. I was the first employee to see the sign go up in big neon lights.
‘Dick’s Italian Delights’
It was already paid for before I pointed out that maybe the restaurant would benefit from a more refined name. When it went up we stood in front of the restaurant and stared. Mike was there as well. We all looked at the huge glowing pink sign. There were a few sighs.
Mike said it was perfect. Mike and Ricardo have been great friends ever since. Ricardo told me he liked the way the phonics of American English sounded. Mike poured him a shot of whiskey and put his arm around Ricardo and said welcome to America as the pink neon glow added more rouge to the blushing Ricardo’s face. His son Ricardo Junior sulked off down the street mumbling about how he would never get laid now.
For the first few months some people didn’t know if Dick’s was a restaurant or sex shop, if the meat came on pizza or in a condom. Then word got around that they served the best pizza in the Tri-State area and business started to boom. Now everybody loves Dick’s sausage.
I park the truck and fire up another Marlboro Light. I open the glove compartment and get my tickets in order. I find the orders that didn’t use a discount and pull out coupons to match those tickets. It’s easy math. Let’s say someone orders two large cheese and sausage; that’s thirty-two bucks. If they don’t use a coupon and I match a three-dollar off with the order it’s an extra three bucks in my pocket. Grandpa is my coupon cutter. He loves looking in the papers for Dick ads.
Mike once asked if I ever felt like a white-collar criminal. I looked at my sauce-stained tee shirt and told him I don’t wear collars. I have justified it to myself. I’m not hurting Ricardo’s business. He has enough money. I need the few extra bucks I skim off with the coupons. It isn’t stealing, like embezzlement, really.
I extinguish the Bunsen burners in the back ovens. I look up. The night sky is vast over my head. I wonder why we work so hard when in reality we are all so insignificant. I’m not a great thinker and put it out of my mind. I go inside to get paid.
Ricardo Junior is in the hallway wrapped in telephone cord talking to someone. It must be a girl because he makes a crude sexual gesture in the direction of the person on the other end of the connection. Looking at Ricardo Junior it’s easy to see why I hate him. He has money, and gets good drugs like pure cocaine from his uncles. He has never had to suffer the raw chemical nausea of ingesting too many ephedrine pills.
Ricardo Junior has everything you need to attract the girls, good drugs, a nice car and great looks. Besides Mike he is probably one of the best looking guys this side of Manhattan. Ricardo Junior and Mike are the kind of guys so good looking even New York City girls stop and stare.
I’m jealous. Ricardo Junior has it so easy it pisses me off to be around him. He always has a date and never works, even when he bothers to show up. I think he hangs around Dick’s to bust my balls. I walk through the kitchen and find Ricardo in the back doing the dishes. I learned the pride of work and the importance of quality from him. He leads by example, an example that is lost on his son.
“Ah! Trevor my boy how are the roads?” he asks drying his hands on his apron.
“Not bad Ricardo, I got my slips ready for check out.”
“Oh! Sorry Trevor but Ricardo Junior took an order after we closed. Would you please do this one more? All the others have left. I’ll give you ten bucks and you can keep the truck over night.”
“Shit, yeah all right.”
“Thank you. You are a good boy.”
I really want the night to end but I could always use an extra ten bucks. Plus if they don't use a coupon that’ll be two more bills coming my way. I pull out my tickets and Ricardo Junior comes running up. “How many coupons you have tonight?”
“I don’t know. Why don’t you just mind your own business?”
“This is my business. No fucking way you had a coupon for every delivery.”
Ricardo breaks it up. “Boys please no fighting. This is a family business, yes, but don’t fight like brothers.”
“Dad will you fucking learn to speak English.”
“Okay, I go home to do that right now. You can stay to finish up the dishes.”
“Ah, fuck!” Ricardo Junior heads back to the kitchen. He talks a lot of shit but when his old man tells him to do something he does it. It must be some South American respect for father and family. Ricardo leaves and I go to get the pizza out of the ovens. On the way down the hallway I see Ricardo Junior scalding his pampered hands.
“Have fun Rico Suave. Make sure you get all the sauce off.”
“Sorry about that last delivery Trev. It’s to that freaky lesbian drug addict that lived out in L.A. for awhile.” He gives me a grin that melts female hearts.
“My pleasure Ricardo Junior. Your dad gave me ten bucks for it.”
“Yeah. And I get to keep the truck over night. It works out great; otherwise I would have walked home in this shit.”
“You bastard motherfucker!”
“Why don’t you learn to speak English? A bastard has no mother.”
“You mean just like you? You are a bastard!” he smiles wide at me. He isn’t too bright but he knows his words have stung.
I rush toward him and smack his face with my open hand. His smile goes distraught. His eyes water in pain and disbelief. This is the first time our taunting has ever gotten physical. I grab the pizza box and hurry out the door. I don’t want to wait around for him to retaliate.
Back in the truck I drive and smoke. I wonder if Ricardo Junior will be a baby and tell his dad. I might get fired. I don’t want to think about it. I wonder where I’m taking this pizza. There aren’t many lesbian drug addicts around here, not that I know about, anyway.