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Day 42: Fights

I delivered to a fight Monday night.

Pizza accompanies a lot of fights of all different kinds. WWF. Boxing. MMA. People spend all kinds of money to spectate those events.

I remember watching wrestling and having pizza delivered this one time. It was my stepdad, my sister, maybe my brother and I.

I got smacked that night for some reason.

I remember being hit across the chest. Maybe I mouthed off. Maybe I made a face. I think I said something to my sister that I shouldn’t have. I don’t remember. I just remember the consequence. It stung in a way that has lasted eighteen years.

See? Fights. Pizza.

I pulled up to a large apartment building on South 13th Street. It used to be a school. You might know the place. It is across from Zesto’s, right by the zoo entrance.

I hopped up the steps. Not like a bunny. I hopped like a svelte delivery man. I opened the door to the vestibule and stepped inside. I tested the inside door. It was locked. There was no code on the receipt.

I dialed the number.

“Hello?” she said. She sounded tired.

“Hi, this is RI with that one place that sells delicious pizzas. Is this my customer?”

“Yes!”

“Hi, I’m in the vestibule on the side by the Zesto’s…”

“Is that C street?”

“I’m not sure. It’s the one that comes straight off of 13th.”

“Yep, I’m on that side. I’ll be right down.”

I could hear her voice echoing in the bare hallways through the gap in the door. She wasn’t far away. I waited for a minute. Then two.

A man came down the stairs. He opened the door and exited.

“It’s not my pizza,” he said. “Where’s it for?”

“That one apartment,” I said. “I just spoke with her on the phone. She said she’d be right down.”

“Oh.” He said. Then he was silent. He held the door for me. I waited by the inside of the door.

It struck me again how close she must have been. I heard her outside her apartment. I decided to call and let her know someone let me in. Do you want me to come up and meet you there, or stay down at the door?

I dialed the number. It rang. I heard the chime of a cell one level above me. I hung up. She was on her way.

Nothing. I waited. I felt strange. There was no voice. No footsteps. No more phone. Something was up.

I dialed the phone again. I heard the ring. It rang. And rang. And rang some more.

I felt pressured. More deliveries were waiting. She had spoken moments ago. Why didn’t she answer? What was wrong? Images flashed across my mind of a sudden fall. A blow to the head on the side of a counter. Something dangerous.

I started up the stairs. They were concrete. The halls were hardwood flooring.

There was a clattering noise.  It sounded like the feet of metal chairs being dragged into a corner. The sound of keys in a lock rattled away, and a door shut. I followed the sound. Sure enough. It was that one apartment.

I knocked. I heard a shout from just inside the door.

“Fix this,” the voice said. “You may not love me anymore, but you can at least take care of… door…”

The voice trailed off into the apartment. It was the customer I had spoken to. She was crying. She couldn’t control herself. She was angry. It poured out from under the door.

I waited. I knocked again.

A man stepped to the door.

“Hey buddy,” he said, holding out a bill.

“Hi! Your total came to such and such. And,” I said, noting the size of the bill,” I can’t break a $50. Can you do two $20s?”

He sucked his teeth and stepped back into the apartment. I kept the food in the bag.

He came back out.

“You know, I can’t. Just keep it,” he said, extending the bill.

“Sure,” I said, reaching into the pizza bag.

“What’s the difference between this and the other amount?” he asked, pulling the $50 back.

The difference between $40 and $50 is $10. I know that. You know that. Even he knew that. But that’s not what he meant. He wanted his way. He was in no position to understand another’s point of view. I’ve been that angry. So have you.

“It’s about the amount of change we’re allowed to carry,” I said, my hand on the pizza boxes.

I hesitated.

“I can take the whole $50, or-“ I shrugged and gestured to the bag.

“Or just take it back?” He asked.

“Yeah,” I said.

“Fine, just take it back,” he said. He waved me off and shut the door.

I left in silence. I was sad. I said a prayer for them. I hoped they could figure whatever out and enjoy some pizza from anywhere, if not my little corner of cheesy deliciousness.

Fights are important to the delivery business. Some are paid for in tears. Those kinds are fought by the unprofessional. They are not for show, and the wrong people see them. Or feel them. For years.

Intense, right? Pizza dough, people. not pizza row. Row. You know, like a fight? (Here, third definition.)

ROE INTENSE

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