A low-pressure wave of singed ricotta pushes ahead of the slice. The translucent paper plate pulls the scent down with it in gently swirling vortices that fan out around the tabletop as plate meets formica with a greasy muffled thwack.
Outside a cold erratic wind whips up and down the main drag of the barrier island shore town, summer long gone now, the deep autumn creaking under its own ponderous weight as it prepares to surrender to winter’s biting lockdown.
Phh-TOONK! Phh-TOONK! Phh-TOONK! The carpenters’ nail guns pierce the abandoned neighborhood’s howling silence, the second story deck rough-in almost complete, let’s wrap this shit up for the day and get the hell out of here.
Pizza guy doesn’t belong in his store. He’s too smart, too nice, too well-educated, too normal, to be doing hard time on The Rock. It’s the same with so many here. What unforeseen turn of the wheel tossed these shorefolk onto the sand how many years ago now? And how do you get off after becoming a kinfolked citizen of the Island of Misfit Toys? After riding in on a bent wave in a thick fog, broken board propped in the corner, prop-like, an S. S. Minnow for a landlubbing lungfish? After the realization sinks in that no one there fits in and never will? And what then, indeed, after finding no greater refuge with the Mainland Misfits, Inland Division?
“Is that satellite radio?”
“Yeah, XFM” he says. “I just keep it on blues all day long. No trouble, no complaints, no arguments. Not everyone like the Dead,” and suddenly there it is, the Garcia effect, like a sighting of Christ on a tortilla stone: longish unkempt hair and beard, good buncha extra pounds around the middle, a good-natured but resigned bemusement about the mouth, oversized solid color T-shirt. Jerry’s wearing dark blue today, check it, maybe they’re gonna do Dark Star...
“No one gets offended by the blues.”
Half a wry smile and he turns, half a swipe at the counter, rag dancing in a careless whirl, 100% organic cotton dervish in ecstatic pirouette as the bay window darkens with just a touch, blue turned to grey, kinda suitable anyway, the low rumble pitter-pattering eastward across the bay.
The wheel is turning and you can't slow down
You can't let go and you can't hold on
You can't go back and you can't stand still
If the thunder don't get you then the lightning will
Then the lightning will.