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September 16th 2012  |  2  |  Category: Fiction , Suspense , Tragedy  |  Author: starpurple  |  859 views

Strings of hot mozzarella dripped onto the paper plate. The delicious pepperoni smell wafted into my face. I was famished and my mouth watered.
Barb and Joe were already devouring their slices, tearing off pieces with their teeth like starving wild dogs.
“Eat up, Mary, or you won’t get your share,” said Barb.
Joe swallowed a giant hunk. “It’s every man for himself!”
“Or woman for herself!” said Barb, with her mouth full.
“You guys are pigs,” I said.
I was staring at a nice dough bubble on the crust in front of me. Not eating.
Joe reached for a second slice from the box on the table. “Better hurry, slowpoke.”
I held the slice under my nose and felt the steam on my face. I blew on the cheese, slowly, to cool it off.
“You afraid to taste it?” said Barb. “Wimp!” I could see her tonsils when she threw back her head to laugh. Her tonsils and a glob of partially chewed pepperoni pizza.
“Yeah. Maybe,” I said. “But I’m really hungry.”
Joe sucked about a gallon of Pepsi through a straw and let out a deep belch. “It tastes like pizza to me. And even if it doesn’t, so what? At least you won’t be hungry any more.” He shrugged his shoulders and gave me a little smile. He had stuff stuck between his teeth.
“You’re going to need a toothpick later.” I pointed my pizza at his mouth.
He shrugged again and kept chomping. I held my slice under my nose, near my mouth, wanting to eat but afraid.
“Smells good?” said Barb.
“Smells great!”
“Listen.” Barb pulled a third slice onto her plate and sprinkled it with parmesan cheese and oregano from the shakers on the table. “You’re getting a little, um, weird, if you must know.”
“I know,” I sighed. “I know I’m getting weird. I don’t want to be weird. Who wants to be weird? I mean, except for Goths or people rebelling against their parents who get tattoos and put on fake German accents or whatever.”
“Who has a fake German accent?” Joe laughed and specks of pizza flew out of his mouth onto the table. He scrubbed the mess with a paper napkin and scrunched the napkin on the table next to his plate.
“I don’t know. I’m just saying. Those kinds of people would choose to be weird. But not me. I would not choose to be weird. Not weird like this.”
“It is pretty weird,” said Barb.
“I know it’s weird! Don’t you think I know it’s weird?”
“So just take a giant bite. Chew. Swallow. How hard is that?”
They both stopped eating to stare at me, their greasy fingers lingering in the air over their plates, ready.
“Just do it,” said Joe.
“Yeah,” said Barb. “We’ll sit here doing nothing until you eat. We’re on a hunger strike. So eat.”
“Speak for yourself,” said Joe. “I’ll sit here doing nothing for about five seconds, then I’m grabbing that big piece there, the one with the sausage.”
“Oh! Sausage! It does have sausage! Did we order sausage? We didn’t order sausage. Is that the only one with sausage? We should have ordered sausage.”
“You’re so easily distracted,” I said. “Not committed to your hunger strike.”
Barb and Joe were in a tug of war for the sausage slice. Joe pulled it onto his plate then Barb plucked off the one piece of sausage and popped it into her mouth. Joe hit her on the back which made her spit it out onto the floor.
“Now look what you’ve done! Now no one gets it!” said Barb. “Where is it?”
We all looked at the floor. Silent. Trying to spot the piece of sausage.
“It’s camouflage carpet,” I said. “You can’t see pizza or sausage.”
The carpet was red with a brown swirly pattern.
“Enjoy your stain, dude.” Joe pointed to a dark are under Barb’s seat.
“Gross!” Barb and I said I unison.
Barb pointed to the rug under my chair. “There it is!”
Barb shoved Joe with her elbow and lunged for my chair but Joe kicked away the sausage with his boot. Barb hit Joe on the shoulder and they started punching each other in the arm.
My chair wobbled and I grabbed the edge of the table to stay upright. “Hey!”
“Ow,” said Barb.
“Ow,” said Joe.
“No you, ow.”
I stepped in between them and got a punch on the arm. I don’t know if it was from Barb or Joe. They’re both good punchers. Trust me, I know. “What are you guys, two years old?” I said. “Were you going to eat a spit out piece of sausage off this gross floor anyway? With stain sauce on it?”
We looked down at the floor again. Barb wore sandals and her toenails were perfectly painted with pink nail polish. The metal was showing through the scuffs of my steel toe safety boots.
I snorted. I was laughing and holding my stomach.
We all snorted and laughed and we sat down in our seats.
“We’re letting the pizza get cold!” said Barb. “Tragic.”
“Not good,” agreed Joe. “Quick! Eat! Mary. Eat.”
The cheese wasn’t hot and melty any more and puddles of oil were forming on the pepperoni. I bit the end of the triangle. Chewed. Swallowed.
Barb and Joe looked at me expectantly.
“Well?” said Joe.
“Does it taste like pizza?” said Barb. “Please say it tastes like pizza.”
I shook my head. “No. Sorry.”
“So what does it taste like?”
They both looked intrigued. My suffering is so entertaining to others.
“Um.” I took another small bite and tried to identify the taste. “Something salty.”

“Are you a pirate?” Joe looked at me hopefully. “Is it fish? Sea water? Is it dried meat? Yarr, ye scurvy cur!”
“No.” I chew thoughtfully. “I think it’s caviar.”
“Caviar! Yuck!” said Joe.
“How do you know what caviar tastes like?” said Barb. “When have you ever had caviar, Miss Cup ‘o Noodles?”
“I had it once. At that party.”
“Which party?”
“Andrew’s party? You didn’t go.”
“Ooh. Andrew,” said Barb, knowingly.
“Ah. Andrew,” said Joe. “That explains it.”
“Explains what?”
“Explains the caviar,” said Joe.
“And other things,” said Barb.
“What other things?”
“Oh, you know.” Barb waved her hand vaguely. “Things.”
“Well, it’s caviar. I’m sure it is. Caviar on a Ritz cracker.”
“On a Ritz? Are you sure it’s a Ritz? That seems like kind of a cheap cracker for caviar.”
“That’s what it tastes like. Caviar on a Ritz.”
They stared at me while I chewed. Waiting. Waiting for something to happen. I chewed slowly. Nervously.
Then I felt it. The “surge” as I call it. Barb and Joe were still there, looking like Barb and Joe, but I felt different. Taller. Bossy. Words came out of my mouth.
“Damn, I need a cigarette!” I really, really wanted a cigarette.
“You don’t smoke!” said Barb. “Your hands are shaking.”
“Your face is sweating,” said Joe. “And what’s with the accent?”
“I just vant a cigarette! Get me a cigarette!” I looked desperately around the room. “Does anyone have a cigarette?” I shouted.
“Shh. Mary. Don’t shout. This is Berkeley. No smoking.”
“Don’t zey have a cigarette machine or something?” The urge was overwhelming. “How could zey not allow smoking? Vat kind of stupid sing is zat?”
Barb and Joe looked at each other and smirked.
“It’s not funny!” I said. “You!” I pointed my finger at Joe. “Hand over a smoke!”
Joe opened his mouth in mock fear. “Oooh. Or what? Are you going to stab me with your sharp “Z” sounds?”
Jow and Barb high-fived each other.
“Good one,” said Barb.
“Thanks,” said Joe.
“Kak vash moosh?” I shouted.
“What the hell is that?” said Barb. “What did she say?”
“I know this one!” said Joe. “It’s ‘How’s your mother?’ in Russian”
“How do you know that? And why did she say, ‘How’s your mother?’?”
“Luckily for all of us I use my time productively. Thank you Rosetta Stone. And I don’t know why she said it. Mary, why did you say, ‘How’s your mother?’”
“And why did you say it in Russ-“
“Get me a god damned cigarette!” I screamed. I slapped the table so hard the plastic glasses of soda jumped and soda splashed onto the napkins. “And stop looking at each other. Znayu!”
Barb looked me over like I was a specimen in the zoo. “Do you think she’s faking?”
“You two. You mock me,” I sneered. “You are very brave to mock the wife of Andre. You and your spoiled, pasty faces, stuffing yourselves. You sicken me.” I did feel sick. I was going to throw up if I didn’t get a cigarette, a strong one, like a Winston, and fast. “You get me cigarette, quick quick and I give you large diamond. No cigarette, and…” I made a slicing motion with my hand across my throat. “Curtains.” I yanked a stack of napkins out of the metal napkin dispenser on the table and tore them in half, like a strongman ripping a phone book in half, and slammed it on the table.
Joe and Barb looked at me blankly, like I wasn’t even there.
“I always think she’s faking until she busts out something impossible.”
“Like speaking Russian?”
“Right. How could she know, ‘How’s your mother?’ in Russian?”
“Maybe it’s a line in a James Bond movie.”
“Maybe. She is shaking though.”
“That’s easy to fake. Anyone can pretend to tremble.”
“Good point. It’s hard to fake sweating.”
“Unless she planned ahead and wore a wool undershirt.”
“Or broke open some of those heat packets hikers use.”
“But why? Why would she do it?”
Joe’s finger tapped on his temple. Barb’s lips disappeared inside her mouth like they do when she’s thinking.
“I’m sitting right here, I can hear you,” I said.
I snatched a glass of clear liquid sitting on the table, threw back my head, and dumped it into my mouth. “Ack! Vada!” I clutched my throat and gagged. “This is water? I need Vodka. Vodka!” I stood up and shouted towards the kitchen. “Vaiter! Vodka! Make it a double!” I stamped my foot.
“Mary,” said Barb, gently. “They don’t have waiters. They don’t have Vodka, just lemonade. You want me to get you a lemonade? You like lemonade.”
“Yeah. Lemonade’s your favorite,” said Joe. “It’s even better with…”
“Seven up!” I said.
Joe and Barb looked pleased. Like puppies who were hoping you were going to give them a treat. They looked so familiar and sweet and I felt my hatred of them waning. I saw the chicken pox scar on Barb’s forehead, the one she got because I gave her chicken pox when we were three. Barb patted my shaking hand.
I sniffed. I caught a whiff of a cigarette from somewhere outside. I sucked in as much of the smoke as I could inhale, it not being much, if any, since there was no smoking allowed within 25 feet of the building. Probably pot, then, not a cigarette. Whatever it was, it calmed me. I drummed my fingers slowly on the seat of my chair. I took a sip of water.
“No accent,” said Joe to Barb.
“She’s back,” said Barb. “Are you back, Mary?”
“I think so. I don’t need a cigarette any more.”
“Well of course you don’t,” said Barb. “You don’t smoke.”
Barb rolled up her slice of pizza like a burrito and took a bite. Joe balanced his double sized piece with two hands.
I peeled my slice off the paper plate and took a bite. “It tastes like pizza now.”
“Good,” said Barb.
“Eat up, Mary,” said Joe. “Before it gets cold.”


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2 Responses to Food

  1. Avatar of Ami Ami says:

    This story has a lot of potential. 5 stars

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