I’m sorry that when I tried to deliver your pizza to you, you were in a coma. My co-workers and I tried to figure it out. We were amazed that you called and ordered yourself a pepperoni thin crust. We wondered if maybe it was a miracle of sorts, though we were puzzled at the single can of Coke. Something about the Coke made it seem more everyday, less revelatory. But then again, the Virgin Mary comes often to the plainest of women when they least expect it.
The nurses told me about your coma when I got to your room. They told me that you’d been in one for days and were taking your dinners through a tube. I’m sorry about that. I wondered if you could smell the pepperoni, and if so, if that would be enough. The nurses offered to buy the pizza and I thought, well that’s some metaphor, but to this day I can’t tell you what it means.
So I sold it to them along with the damp can of Coke. I hope they ate it some place far from you. How did you manage to work the phone, get yourself an outside line? I apologize for not holding up my end of the plan. Standing at the foot of your bed I wasn’t sure what I should do. I’m sorry that I had to leave so soon. Other people were waiting for their pizzas.
Has your family come yet to sit beside you, or are you still making do with the stars?
Chris is the father of three teenagers. He lives in a corrugated tin blue trailer he had to buy twice: once when he and his wife moved into it as newlyweds, the second time when she left years later, but won it in the divorce settlement. He still lets the wooden nameplate hang from its chain over the door–The Lutka Family, and all their names burned into it, including hers. And I guess it’s still true, in a way, the way once you’ve lived in a place a part of you is forever there. Tonight it’s raining. I open the store’s front door for Chris and watch his thin frame stumble toward his light blue Mazda, his arms loaded with pizza and Coca-Cola. His windshield wipers scrape dryly back and forth over the glass. He climbs in, slams the door. Country music, sung by a throaty young woman, plays inside his car. After a while, after midnight, the rain will turn to snow. When Chris gets home his trailer will be bathed in white while his children sleep inside, sprawled every which way like fierce arrows. Only the cat will wake to greet him as he stands in the fake paneled kitchen. It yawns and flashes its milk-white mouth. No hurry, it thrums. No hurry.
Mrs. Havisham scares the hell out of me. She lives in the old part of town where most of the blocks have as many vacant lots as they do Victorian, wood-frame homes. Her house is painted steel grey with white trim and a blood-red door, though its style isn’t Victorian, rather French with its arched portico and tall, shuttered windows. The whole thing needs a coat of paint, badly.
She only orders after dark. Seen during the day, the house looks lifeless. In the evenings a dull light glows from deep within. The curtains remain drawn. In my mind, she paces in her living room in a faded bridal dress, but in reality she orders a sausage pizza once a week. She does not turn the porch light on, and after ringing the bell there is an uncomfortably long pause before she opens the door. Clad most often in a white robe, she opens the door only far enough to get the pizza in, tipped sideways, and to hand out a check for the exact amount. Her handwriting resembles the nibbling of rats. Her teeth frighten me.
Something terrible happened here.
Now he prefers solid objects. Televisions, one leather glove, shattered trellises. He carries it all home, after dark, walking dangerously along the four-lane road past my ridiculous place of employment.
It’s not the same since the advent of plastic. He misses the old tin garbage cans, when the wind tipped them down, empty, and they rolled in crazy arcs rippling out the sounds of rusted accordions or the loose corner of a corrugated roof.
Rumor has it he was once a professor of history accumulating facts of human nature, the inexplicable gaps in judgment. One night he passes by, the door from a house in his arms. Aha! says the wind, making his job more difficult. This is just what my heart was lacking.
Roll down the window. Let the evening summer warmth float in. Turn off the radio. Become the absence of dusk. Lean back in the car seat and tip your head a little bit to the right. Let your hands hang limp on the steering wheel. Smile when you look and see the fox standing upright in the ditch measuring the distance across the road. Wish him safe passage. Say something funny to the children who scream at you and point while jumping up and down in their driveways. Wave to the child later on who makes his fingers into a gun and pulls the trigger. Be kind. Take flight. Coast through all the lights which have turned green, one after another, just for you.