By Larry O. Grand

Chapter Two

DELIVERING pizzas, Brent Jones-Wotentowski had seen a lot of strange stuff.

Having been an employee at Perfect Pizza for three years, Brent had the 
distinction of being the Primary Driver, having worked his way up the ladder 
from the lowly rank of Onion-Peeling Boy (none of these ranks were official, of 
course, they were just names that he had created over the months to work off 
some of the monotony).  And being the Primary Driver of Pizzas from Perfect 
Pizza, and with a wide variety of delivery areas in a town of that size, Brent 
had observed many, many bizarre and unusual things.

There was, of course, the two times that he had been shot at, in that part of 
town, down past Eighth Street, where when you hit a red light you don't stop.  
Or the time when he was waiting at the red light on Oxford Avenue when this 
gang of low-level punks had jumped his car, and it was the summer and his 
window was rolled down.  Fortunately, by then he had qualified for insurance 
from his place of employment, and he was well-compensated for the incident, 
both for the seven stitches in his scalp and the broken taillight.  And he 
didn't have to pay for the three large deluxes that had been lifted in the 

And being so close to Palestrina University ("good ol' P.U.") there were the 
many deliveries he would have to make to the campus, to the dormitories, to the 
fraternity houses, to the library, where once he was greeted by a sleepy-eyed 
female who took the pizza and proceeded to crawl through, at the side of the 
building, a window that was about two sizes smaller than her, and she got stuck 
and the fire department had to come over and break the window just to get her 
out, and she was really embarrassed because she was trying to get around the 
library's "no food or drinks" policy.  Or the time when he delivered to Kronin 
Hall, the co-ed dorm, room 11-C, and when he knocked the door opened a crack 
and a hand stuck out a ten dollar bill and a rusty voice croaked "keep the 
change, pal," and Brent had handed over the medium green peppers special for 
$8.99, and through the slit between the door and wall he glimpsed, for half a 
second, a naked girl tied to the bottom bunkbed, a sweatsock in her mouth, and 
three shrouded men were sitting on the bed next to her knocking their cigarette 
butts onto her bare belly, and then the door closed and Brent had gone back to 
his car and driven on to the sorority house, which one he couldn't remember, 
and he had knocked on the door and the curtain drew back as the bow-headed 
blonde checked to see who was at the front, and as the curtain fluttered back 
into place he thought he saw (but wasn't one-hundred percent sure) two men, 
naked, tied to two chairs, their ankles and wrists bound with pantyhose, as 
four of the sorority sisters beat them across the chest with brown leather 
belts (which he assumed the men had worn at one time or another), and the girl 
who greeted him at the door said sorry, but the house that he wanted was next 
door, to the right, behind the green bushes, and as he walked across the lawn 
he thought he heard heavy breathing and moaning and thought he saw a white shoe 
and a bare female ankle connected to it sticking out from underneath the bush, 
but, he wasn't really sure.

The television station, WLOG, not affiliated with any network, was always a 
constant site for deliveries, particularly at night, when the station switched 
over to local programming, having shown syndicated shows all afternoon long.  
Always there was an intern or some other low-ranking slob waiting at the front 
desk, although once he had to go into the studio, during a taping of "The Bob 
Blanding Show," the local after-hours talk show, to deliver a mushroom and 
green pepper medium to Mr. Blanding himself, inducing much irate complaints 
from the director, who kept screaming something about why no one had been 
waiting by the front desk to receive the delivery.

And there were the many times that he had delivered down the block, in that 
rich neighborhood surrounded by the ten-foot high red brick fence and guarded 
at the gate by the crusty security guard whose name tag read "Burton," to the 
old Van der Poole house, the one with the circular driveway paved entirely in 
white marble and the huge fountain in the front lawn where old man Van der 
Poole had been arrested five years ago for taking a leak during a drunken 
stupor.  Those Van der Pooles were always having pizza parties, always for 
their three daughters, two of which, the twins, were getting into their teenage 
years, and Brent was almost always there, delivering the ten extra-larges (and 
a small olive-and-extra cheese for old Mrs. Van der Poole) for a pack of what 
appeared to be a hundred fifteen and sixteen-year-olds, popping gum and 
communicating with high-pitched squeals, blasting the MTV or whatever pop 
poster star was hip that week.  Once in awhile Brent had even glimpsed the 
oldest Van der Poole daughter, sometimes hanging out with her sisters but 
usually driving her red Ford convertible, with the top rolled down and her 
sandy brown hair drifting in the wind behind her as she exited the driveway, 
stereo blasting some indiscernible melody backed with a heavy bass beat, 
wearing those sleeveless mock turtlenecks that were her trademark.  And old Mr. 
Van der Poole, reeking of really cheap whiskey, after giving Brent the money 
and always slipping in an extra twenty, would invite him in for a drink or a 
game of backgammon, and Brent would always have to refuse; he was on the clock, 
he had more deliveries to make, and then old man Van der Poole would get 
extremely pissy and start to wave his gnarled cane at Brent, screaming 
something about the bombs, "the damn Commie bombs," and Mrs. Van der Poole 
would rush inside and pull her husband back down to his wheelchair, apologizing 
in Brent's direction but never looking at him, and Brent would make his way out 
of the labyrinth hallways of the house, oftentimes aided by Willis, the bald 
butler who beared a striking resemblance to that captain on that Star Trek 
show, and would make it out to where the Van der Poole's prized greyhounds were 
sniffing at the car door.

Or the time he had delivered to Crystalline Apartments, and the skinny man who 
answered the door, the one who didn't have the shirt on, began singing in 
German (or Italian, or maybe both) and began dancing with the other skinny man, 
the one who threw his beer can, still containing liquid, out the window where 
it hit the top of Brent's car but didn't leave a dent but did leave a frothy 
brown mess across his windshield, while a very nourished cat sat on the sofa 
and licked itself the whole time Brent wasn't there, and the television set was 
on but not tuned in to any specific channel, sort of wavering between two 
different channels and delivering mostly static, and both men were extremely 
agitated when they learned that Brent had not brought the breadsticks (it was 
entirely Alison's fault, the new telephone answerer, and besides, she had quit 
that evening to take a job at an all-night blood bank).

Yes, Brent had seen many, many strange things.  But two such instances stuck in 
his mind as being the strangest, most weirdest event that he had witnessed, in 
his marginally long career as a pizza deliverer.

It was about four months ago.  He was slightly lost and had pulled into the 
parking lot on the taco joint off Random Avenue to try and get his bearings; 
mainly the street number of the building behind the taco place.  He had stepped 
out of the car and was scanning for any painted number, any indication of where 
he was, since he was looking for 486 Random and the last street number he had 
seen, two blocks down, was 881, and he wanted to make sure the numbers were 
decreasing, not increasing.

That was when he had heard the music.  Or what was passing for music.  Faint, 
out-of-key twangings of a guitar, punctuated by the beat of something banging 
on something metallic.  He approached the apartment complex behind the taco 
joint, a five-story gleaming white monstrosity that had been built over a 
former marijuana field, that was eventually revealed to be owned by the mayor, 
the ex-mayor.  As he walked towards the apartments, the music, the noise, 
became louder.  It appeared to be coming from the dumpster that was behind the 
apartments, adjacent to the law offices of Beecher, Beecher and Black, which 
were closed for the day.

Puzzled, Brent had altered his path and began approaching the dumpster, the 
rusty green metal cube approximately eight feet high and ten feet wide, nested 
into a fenced-in alcove no more that forty yards away from the apartment 
buildings, in the corner of the parking lot.  As he approached, he thought he 
heard some tuneless singing, a rough male vocal, croaking something about candy 
bars and small lumps of mold found between the toes.  The twanging he had heard 
earlier was definitely that of a guitar, although it was very out of tune, and 
the banging was definitely someone striking something against the sides of the 

Now, standing in front of the dumpster, he could make out some words: "Mars 
bars, cookies and mint, I eat the stuff between my toes, oooooh, baby, it goes 
down, down, down, my toes are happy, see they are, I can see the happiness 
oozing, between my toes, toe toe toe, see my toes, oh they are happy, yes they 
are, toe toe toe, with a Twix and a Milky Way, I am happy, so are my toes, hose 
hose hose" this was all sung as if a five-year-old was vocalizing, and very 
badly out of tune.  Brent glanced around the side of the dumpster; the sliding 
door on the right was open.  Brent silently crept to the door and cautiously 
peeked inside.

Two men, both wearing blue overalls (and nothing else) were inside.  One, the 
taller of the two, had a five-day beard and his overalls were covered by an 
indescribable stain.  He held the guitar, which used to accommodate six strings 
but at this point held only four, and he was strumming them with what used to 
be a banana, but was now just a fistful of mush.  Next to him, sitting down, 
was a smaller man, wearing a straw hat and smoking a cigar.  His overalls were 
clean but more faded that the others.  He held two cast-iron skillets in his 
hands and was banging them against the sides of the dumpster, definitely not in 
time with the other's guitar riff.  He was not singing.  Around them was an 
assortment of organic and inorganic garbage, mostly table scraps but also a 
couple of broken lamps, a ripped-open bag of used kitty litter, and several 
empty beer cases.

"Ooohhh, pee poo poo baby, dah dah dah dah, Milky Way, Mounds bar, toenails 
from my belly . . . . unh?"  The taller man stopped singing and looked up.  He 
stopped strumming the guitar.  "Well, lookee here George." he grunted with a 
heavy Southern drawl, smiling a very toothless smile as he gazed right up into 
Brent's eyes, "looks like we gots ourselves an audience!"

"Fab, Gumbo!" said the smaller man, taking a puff of his cigar as he made eye 
contact with Brent, "So, pizza boy . . . what's can we play fer ya?"

The taller man, Gumbo, strummed his guitar with a dirty hand, wiping the rest 
of the banana shit on his overalls.  "We kin play whatever you want us to, mah 
boy.  C'mon, what can we do to entert'n yuh?"

Brent had turned around and run as fast as he could towards his car, almost 
tripping twice and ripping the knees out of his new slacks.  As he ran, he 
heard the two men laughing and beginning a new song, which sounded a lot like 
the previous one, except they were both rhythmically chanting "Pizza boy, our 
pal pizza boy, our pal pizza boy, come and play with us ..." Brent was out of 
breath when he reached his car, but he flung the door open, jammed the key into 
the ignition, and pulled out of the parking lot of the taco joint so fast he 
forgot to look down the road, and almost careened into a pickup truck 
containing several drunken fraternity boys, who threw their beer cans at his 
car and missed.  Afterwards, back at Perfect Pizza, Brent had put in a request 
never to make a delivery to Random Street.

That was one incident.

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All contents copyright (c) 1997 Larry O. Grand
Please do not repost or reprint without permission from Larry O. Grand, except for review purposes.

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