Pizza is not a sophisticated dish. Pizza is something you buy, by the slice, when you are in a hurry. You order pizza when you have been drinking like a fish and are tired to death. You fill your empty stomach with pizza when you're high on dope and your boyfriend has just ditched you for some more appealing flesh. Pizza is warmth to a chilly soul. Pizza is a candle in the window. A light in the darkness. Perhaps most of the 'Joy of Pizza' is in waiting for its arrival. You can almost smell it, taste it, and feel it fill your deepest voids. The mere idea of pizza can grip you and turn you full circle. Darkness to daylight. A friendly call when you least expect it. Then you devour it. You cram it down your throat as fast as you can. Shotgun Pizza.
Then the high wears off, and when it does, you're left with greasy lips and greasy fingers. The music stops and the lights go dim. You feel like you just got slugged by a cannonball. The image of comfort explodes like a twenty-one gun salute and the door that led somewhere slams shut. Bam.
However, when you pass the Pizza Hut tonight, you feel a tingle. Saliva fills your mouth and your legs falter. You make yourself walk past it, but your mind stops at the door. Your mind sits down and orders a slice…or does it? 'Do they have slices there?' you wonder as you look in the window of an Indian restaurant two doors down. Your mind flirts with the idea of the PIZZA BUZZ. You stamp your feet. Your mind stamps its feet. You look at the menu in the Indian restaurant window, but your mind looks only to the potential pizza TOPPINGS.
Voices start to fill your head. Rev. Guilt is there with Mrs. Indulge Me. They are yelling. Old Man Reason has his fingers in his ears and is not listening. Big Hunger shouts, "PEPPERONI!" Mz. Denial licks her lips and rubs her hips. Sweet Seduction grabs your hand, and Uncle Resolve goes flying for the hills.
You turn back and enter Pizza Hut. Your mind enters Pizza Hut. All your friends enter Pizza Hut and pat you on the shoulder. Curious George tugs on your sleeve and asks gently, "Do they have slices?" You look blindly at the menu board on the wall above the soda refrigerator.
"Do you have…?" Silence. You have a startling case of Mr. Mind Block. 'Do you have, do you have, do you have…?' Files are being rifled through and the embarrassment committee is preparing for a full-force launch.
"…slices! Do you have pizza-by-the-slice?"
There is a young woman behind the counter. She is prepared to deal with you because she is being paid five dollars an hour. She points to the menu board and says, "We have Personal Pan Pizzas."
The alliteration plays on you. You examine the menu board with a little more determination. Personal Pan Pizzas…. There are four kinds. You try to see them all next to each other in front of you.
"What is on the Supreme?" you ask. Some wild fantasy pizza appears before you with 49 different types of cheese.
"Uh," says the counter girl, "roast beef, ground beef, chorizo sausage, bean sprouts, mayonnaise, pickles and frosty whip."
"???" All voices are checked into the boards. "I'll take the pepperoni. How big is it?" She puts her hands together and makes a circle the size of a small sand dollar. "Fine. Oh. And I'll get myself a Sprite." You walk towards the refrigerator as you speak.
"Can I get your phone number please?" The music stops.
"What?" you ask quietly.
"Your phone number?"
"It's for security reasons." But this is ridiculous. You consider the pizza crooks in her head. The back-load of cases that the police have to deal with. You imagine the life of a pizza fraud artist, an underground ring bent on sabotaging the pizza industry. A bunch of health fanatics, possibly. You are hungry and impatient, so you give her your number. She types like a machine gun. "Can I get your name?" she asks and you hurl it at her. "Patsy Cline?"
"Eh!" says Fonzy. You give her a thumbs-up and lay a five dollar bill on the counter. "Keep the change." Fonzy winks and grabs your ass. The counter girl is now finished with you. She disappears to the back. You are alone in the store. You wait at the counter for a while, checking out the certificates from the health board. Then, lazily, you walk over to a booth and sit down.
It's coming. A double-barreled shotgun with a twist of pepperoni. A doughy casing with a cheesy shot. They bake it and throw it in a little cardboard box. You pull the trigger. Five...Four...Three…. The PIZZA BUZZ is on its way. You have only to wait. Your fingers tap on the table. Your foot taps on the floor. You open the Sprite and take a small sip. Then the counter girl returns carrying your dinner. You rise slowly, unable to speak. She puts it, in all its steaming glory, down in front of you. Two…One…. You open the little box. Go!
You cram one slice after another down your throat, unaffected by its scalding heat. You pause, only briefly, to wipe the grease as it drips off your chin. A roar booms from the fans as they pound on the table, "Go, go, go, go! Go, go, go, go!"
"Schnell!" yells Mr. Gestapo with a shotgun to your head. And as you are taking the last bite of the last slice, you crash. You feel as if you just had a head-on collision with a Mack Truck. You stop in mid-chew. You slump. Your eyelids get heavy. Through your nostrils you take a deep breath. Flags get lowered to half-mast. Just before the bell tolls, you give one last concerted effort to swallow. Slowly your body slides to the floor. A groan escapes from somewhere deep.
When the dust settles you find yourself stuffed, but empty, like the smoking shell of a shotgun.