October 20th
by frank marasco

“That pizza was delivered to 500 South Western Avenue, sir.”

“No. That can’t be right. That’s my address…”

“That’s where the pizza that was ordered on the card ending in 1234 was delivered to.”

“Oh. I’m just confused because that is my card, but I didn’t order the pizza. The card is stolen. And that’s my address.”

Breathing and pizzeria sounds.

“There’s no apartment number on the order?”

“No, sir. I’m really sorry I can’t help you more, but I have other customers. I need to go. Good luck.”

Fred worked at a pizzeria too so he understood. It was Friday night, and that’s a busy time for pizza.

Fred burned his hand, not realizing his hot plate was on. He flipped the off switch, but it stayed on. This was a problem, but a problem for later. One problem at a time.

He turned to his sink and ran his hand under warm water. Warm not cold. Cold could send you into shock, he thought.

Fred had checked his statement when he realized his card was gone and saw the charge to New York Pizzeria (in Los Angeles) for $19.98.

And now that pizza was inside his building. There’s something strange going on here. Something funky, he thought.

He could just cancel the card. He could just say 'haha wow I lost my credit card and then someone picked it up and used it to order a pizza to the building I live in — what a world,' and he could call it a night. He could laugh and go eat a weed fruit roll up with his friend who had a medical card and they would laugh and play FIFA ’13 and that would be it.

But that was no life for Fred. He would be seeing this through to the end. One way or another. He had no choice.

He headed down the hall. He awaited whatever fate.

The usual hallway dwellers. The couple who did meth who would always come knock on the door and ask if he was busy and wanted to hang out when he was in the shower.

It could just be a coincidence, but it seems like they do that on purpose when they hear me going into the shower, he thought. He didn’t like that.

Another problem for later. One problem at a time.

Towards apartment one he walked. Door to door was his plan. Knock until he had the card. Perhaps some pizza too.

A crazy plan. A reckless plan. Fred didn’t care. The absolute madman. It was one of those nights and he didn’t care anymore.

When suddenly the unmistakable aroma of a Los Angeles New York pizza flooded the air. Coming from the building manager’s office. The door was open.

There sat the building manager. The man who had told Fred not to fuck with him because he had served in the Israeli military and knew five ways to kill any man instantly, with his bare hands.

He had told Fred that when they first met. He had said that, waited what seemed like 20, maybe 25 seconds with no expression on his face, and then had asked Fred if he was married.

Fred thought about that moment as he entered the office.

He sat, eating in silence, staring up at Fred.

Fred thought about the words of that priest he had known years ago. That priest who spoke of evil spirits who inhabit this world and make people do strange things.

Still eating, he set Fred’s card down on the table where he ate, and smiled a thin smile.

What sort of evil is this? Fred felt the room get colder.

Spirits or not, you cannot let another man take your credit card, order a pizza to your home, and eat it in front of you, Fred thought. That is no way to live.

He had fought evil spirits before. Spirits who inhabited boys on his soccer team who had made cheap comments about his mom being pregnant.

“Your mom had sex too!” Fred had called out, after the boys had all been separated.

“How do you think you got here?! Your mom had sex too!”, spit flying from his mouth.

Boys. Those were just boys. This was a grown man who knew how to kill five different ways. No weapon.

I did not come here to die tonight, but if this should be my end, I will give him hell, Fred thought. For he saw no other option.

The soft, wet sound of chewing. The only sound breaking the silence.

Finally the manager spoke. He addressed Fred, mouth filled to the brim. A chunk of pizza pressing his cheek outward, he addressed Fred through the cheese and the crust and the sauce and the little chewed up pepperonis.

“Mr. Fred, tonight I teach you a lesson. And the lesson is: don’t lose your credit card.”

Fred was never seen again.

Some say that if you stand outside 500 South Western Avenue on a fall night and press your hand to the brick it will burn.

Fred’s hot plate they say.

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