It was me who took the order. It could have been anyone, so I don’t know why I feel guilty. But it was me.
“Pete’s Pizza. This is Duncan,” I said, and winked at Kayla. She blew the bangs out of her blue eyes and smiled. Even wearing that stupid white baseball cap Pete made us wear, she looked sexy. I wondered if she knew that. Probably. Then she picked up a handful of pepperoni and weighed it on top of the small silver scale. She started laying them out on the pizza skin she had already covered with sauce and cheese.
“Yeah,” a man said. “I’d like to order some pizzas to be delivered.” There was nothing special about his voice. The police have asked me that over and over. Did he have an accent? Did he sound drunk? Was he old? Young? Did he sound like a smoker? Did I recognize his voice?
For each question, I have the same answer. I don’t know.
I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know. I haven’t been able to tell them anything useful.
Each time I tell them that, they sigh or shake their heads and then ask me another question. Like if they ask it enough times in enough ways, I’ll remember something important. But I don’t.
I pulled an order form toward me and grabbed a pen. “Okay. What kind do you want?”
“Three larges. Hey - is the girl in the orange Volkswagen working tonight? She’s delivered my pizza before.”
He meant Gabie. “No. She’s off tonight. It’s the girl in the red Taurus.” I smiled at Kayla, who turned back to me when she heard me mention her car. Kayla and I were the only two working that night. She had traded with Gabie, I guess so she could have Friday off. Tonight Kayla was on delivery, because I don’t have a car, but it had been slow, and she had only gone out once. It was a Thursday night, which meant not many walk-ins, not many calls. And it was already eight thirty. We close at ten.
Pete’s Pizza is in a little strip mall. On one side is a florist and a Blockbuster, and on the other is a Baskin Robbins and a Subway. Kayla used to work at the Subway but Pete pays fifty cents more an hour, plus extra for deliveries. She always said she liked to make deliveries.
Says. She always says. I shouldn’t use the past tense.
When I told the guy on the phone that Gabie wasn’t working, he said, “Oh. Okay.” I thought he sounded disappointed. That’s the only thing I’ve been able to tell the police, but what difference does it make? Gabie hasn’t been able to tell them anything either.
At the time, it made me think he must have flirted with Gabie last time she delivered a pizza to him. I felt a pinch of jealousy. It wasn’t like I was dating Gabie. I wasn’t dating anyone. But this guy, this guy felt confident enough to chat up the pizza delivery girl. He could probably stand behind a cute girl in a movie line and by the time he got to the window he’d be buying tickets for both of them.
“So what kind do you want?” I repeated.
“Three large Meat Monsters.” Meat Monsters were kind of gross, with sausage and pepperoni and ground beef and linguica. They left your lips slick and greasy. And if you looked in the mirror later, you’d find an orange ring around your mouth. Even if you’d been using a napkin.
He gave me his phone number and his address and I told him it would be about forty-five minutes and cost forty-nine fifty and hung up the phone.
Then I grabbed three pizza skins from the cooler and Kayla and I got to work. We stood hip to hip, not working fast, but not working slow, either. Just a steady, comfortable rhythm. We’ve worked together enough that we didn’t have to say much about who was going to do what. Once we both reached for the cheese at the same time and out hands touched. We looked at each other. Kayla smiled and then pulled her hand away.
I think about that a lot now. Was I the last friendly, normal person to touch her?