She didn’t even notice the three boys as they entered the pizza parlor. She was waiting patiently at the counter for her order to arrive when they came in. She ordered one large pie – half plain and half mushroom and one large Greek salad. It seemed like it was taking forever.
She almost felt a little guilty for ordering out instead of preparing dinner for the evening for her husband and son. Almost. She thought about what a shit day she had and quickly reconsidered her feelings of guilt.
Her day started out with aggravation. Bottlenecking on the highway caused her to be late for work again. She had already been late one time earlier in the week. Damn alarm clock wasn’t set. She blamed her husband Charlie for that one. From there it got progressively worse. An impromptu meeting set her back an hour of completing her regular tasks. Her boss didn’t want to hear any excuses. He wanted that report on his desk, even though he was the one who set up the meeting in the first place. She got the report on his desk in time, albeit a half-ass job. She wondered if he was even going to read it in the first place.
Lunchtime didn’t fare any better for her. She ran out to grab a quick bite to eat at the deli down the block from her job only to find an incredibly long line that wouldn’t allow her enough time to get something and eat. She couldn’t risk being late twice in one day. She grabbed a bag of Doritos© from the vending machine on the second floor and she called it lunch. She washed it down with a Diet Coke© and hoped that it would be enough until dinner. It was not.
She thought about food all afternoon. She tossed around several ideas before settling on pizza night. Chinese and Mexican food was quickly tossed aside in favor of pizza night. Her son William, named after her father, wouldn’t complain. Neither would Charlie for that matter. Her rationale of ordering the salad would cancel out the pizza in her mind. She knew nobody would touch the salad but her. “What’s this?” William would ask. “I’m not a rabbit.” She smiled as she thought this.
She was watching the TV in the corner while she waited. The 5:00 news was playing but she wasn’t really paying attention to it. It was then she felt as if someone was watching her. She turned around and saw one of the three boys directly behind her. She didn’t notice his face, but she did notice the gun in his hand. It was pointing directly at her.
“Give me your money and your pizza.” He said to her. She froze in fear and didn’t know what to do. Her first thoughts were of Charlie and William. She wanted them to know how much she loved them and was scared to death she wasn’t going to be able to tell them it ever again. Tears welled up in her eyes as she wondered if this was how she was going to die – inside a pizza parlor, killed over $20.
One of the boys saw the fear and sadness in her eyes and quickly piped up, “Don’t worry lady. It’s not real. It’s a fake.” She was still shaking when the boy holding the gun said, “I’m just playing. It ain’t real. It’s only a lighter.” Her fear was subsiding, but she could feel her heartbeat in her throat. The owner came out from the back where he was making pizzas to see what the commotion was about. He took the gun from the boy and inspected it. The boy was telling the truth, it wasn’t real. He shook his head at the boys and headed back to the kitchen. The third boy looked at her and asked, “What would you have done if it was real?” Her food was ready and the owner told the cashier not to charge her for it. She thanked him for his generosity and looked at the boy who posed her the question and answered him, “Fuck you!” The boys laughed as she walked out the door, her heart still pounding with fright.
She arrived home moments later and Charlie greeted her at the door to help her with the bag and the pizza box. He placed them on the counter when William came running in from playing a video game. “Pizza!” he shouted. She grabbed him as he attacked the pizza box and hugged him.
“Stop with the mushy stuff, I’m trying to eat Mom.” He said to her as he squirmed away with a slice of pizza.
“I love you.” She said to him while he ran back to play his video game. She couldn’t even tell if he heard her.
Charlie was grabbing a bowl from the cabinet while she just stared at him. She came up behind him and hugged him and turned him around so he was facing her and kissed him – right on the lips. She hugged him again, holding it for a while. “I love you.” She whispered into his shoulder. “I know.” He replied in the same manner Han Solo responded to Princess Leia’s declaration of love. She held onto him a little tighter which made him say, “What’s wrong?” He asked her this as he dumped some of the salad into the bowl for her. She looked at him, a little teary-eyed and held him again before saying, “Nothing. Nothing at all.”