My story starts in a pizza emporium and ends in a shopping centre car park, with something sad and happy finishing it off at the same time. It starts with me wondering whose foot is nudging me in
the ribs, and smelling cracked pepper.
I woke up wondering whose foot was nudging me in the ribs, and I smelt cracked pepper. My side was sore, presumably from the bare foot at the side of the table, which was kicking at me, in short,
five-centimetre bounces. The foot had turquoise nail polish on it, and a few bunions, which was enough to make me stand bolt-upright.
I banged my head on a wooden table, and yelped. After this, I woke up again, but not in the actual waking up sense, but in the sense that I almost knew where I was.
A napkin under the table read; Pizza Hut of Broken Dreams. The tale above me was shaking back and forth, and bending on its metal centre. Two bodies above me were obviously making this occurrence
happen, and as I listened harder, I heard one humming and slapping the table wildly, while the other was kicking em in 4/4 time and playing a ukulele. I could pick out a few words of their song;
Alicia, do you need a shoulder?
A strong one to be your boulder?
Do you want to kick a can, do you want to find a man?
Do you want a skirt in colours that are bolder?
Sway, sway, Alicia, sway,
Sway, sway, Alicia.
It was now I decided to come out from under the table. I could not bear the song any more, and a large, cornflower-blue bruise had appeared between my hip and my shoulder.
Things did not make more sense as I stood up.
The two people who were singing and playing were a rather obese woman with over fourteen lei’s on, and a muscular man with a tiny, blue guitar and dreadlocks. They both had olive skin, and were
starting to get faster and faster in their song, until all you could hear was, “Alisneedoldabeboldawantcanwantfiman,swaylisway,swaaaay…”
After they had finished their song, a man behind me clapped slowly but politely. He was a tall man in a grey pinstripe suit, with pink, orange and yellow stripes, and his suit had a Rose in the
lapel. His hair was dark and spiky, with peaks like the type you get after whipping cream. When he spoke, he had an English, almost cockney accent.
“Very good, very good. Although, technically, “boulder” doesn’t rhyme with “bolder”.
“Why not?” said a girl who I hadn’t noticed until then, which was peculiar because she was quite distinctive. She had a black newsboy cap on, which was hard to distinguish from her raven black
hair, apart from the white lightning bolt earrings she had. Her clothes were black, but you could barely see that; they were covered in badges. Badges from various organisations, badges that were
simply one colour, badges that flashed and glowed in the dark. She was obviously of Asian heritage, and had a neon smile that seemed to make you feel like she was your best friend.
“Why not?” she asked again. “They both end with “older”, don’t they?” She then lifted a badge on her wrist that said, “Give me a break!”
“Well, that’s exactly the point,” said the suit, holding a cup of exotic-smelling coffee in mid-air. “They don’t rhyme because they’re different words. It’s like “me” and “me” don’t rhyme; they’re
exactly the same thing.”
The two musicians, who were not listening to the fight, were simply looking at each other. The obese woman finally spoke, after twirling pink-and-purple lei around her finger.
“She’s gone, boy. Let her go.”
The man did not seem fazed by this, but instead shook his head sleepily, and spoke as if in a dream.
“No, she isn’t. I bet she’s out there, just tapping her feet, waiting for me.”
I looked at them both with my mouth slightly open for a while before the woman turned to face me.
“He’s going through the six stages of grievance, luv. After Alicia, he hasn’t been the same.”
“Alicia?” I asked dumbfounded.
“Our steel drum player.”
I don’t know how to respond to something like that, so I say something clichéd, but warm.
“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that she passed away.”
“She didn’t pass away, luv. She quit. Y’see, we’re a traditional Hawaiian Hula band. The Cabo’s.”
The British man chugged down his coffee, in a hurry to say something to them.
“Yes, apart from the fact that you are half Caribbean.”
The muscled man raised an eyebrow. “Wait, Caribbean and Hawaiian are different things?”
A decrepit old woman with a large mop of white hair came dashing out of the door in the counter, carrying an enormous plate the size of a BMX wheel, and on it, an even larger pizza covered in, what
looked like, peanut butter and Coca Cola.
“Coming through! Entrance in twenty seconds! Out of the way, out of the way!”
Nobody made any effort to move, but instead lifted up their glasses of various beverages without looking down, and continued conversation.
I sat down in an empty booth, and felt my head slowly depress. I decided to ask a few questions.
“Who are you?”
The badge-bedecked girl raised one finely shaped eyebrow, then pulled at a badge on her shoulder that read, “Duh!”
“You expect me to know? I don’t know anybody’s name here. Heck, I think I’ve forgotten my name. And I don’t know yours. But I don’t think I want to. Don’t feel offended, It’s just…this is the only
place some of us can go. We might have done bad things, we might be doing bad things, or we might be searching for good things, like…”
The bell at the door rang loudly as another man burst in. Before I could see what he looked like, he let out a flurry of words, while sitting down and, apparently, munching his way through half the
“Oh, man, am I hungry. I’ve been searching all morning. And all night. Had to keep myself awake with twelve cups of coffee. That’s a record even for you, right? Am I right, man?” he said, looking
at the suited Brit and nodding his head.
“No. My record’s 108.”
“Yeah, well…anyway, this place in the centre, they give out pizzas that are, what, the size of a two-buck coin, and I was like, what the heck? You expect me to not want more than twenty of these?
They kicked me out later on, and there was this other guy in the street, and he was all, “you’re gonna get diabetes, or you’re gonna have a heart attack, live life” and I was all, “dude, don’t snap
your crayons, I’m fine, I run from place to place every night, that has to be some kind of weight-loss.”
After he settled down for a while, I saw that he, too, was a strange personage. He was wearing layers and layers of many different types of clothes, but they were all torn, stained, tattered or
scorched in some way. He had a wide-brimmed Akubra hat on, and wild eyes, crazed, but with a tad of irony in them.
“So…you didn’t find it?”
“Nope,” said the newcomer. “But this…”
He finished the last bite on the pizza.
“No. No, I’m sorry, all, but this is not the perfect pizza.”
The girl with the lightning bolt earring leant in to whisper to me.
“That’s…uh, I don’t know who he is, but his life mission is to find the perfect pizza. He looks for food like a Segal. Every day he comes here, just like the rest of us, and the chef cooks up a
random pizza for him to taste, in hope that it’ll be the best pizza he’s ever tasted. We all kinda root for him now, we want him to find it. And at twelve-o-clock p.m., he goes to all the other
restaurants in the city, looking for it elsewhere. He’s been everywhere.”
She gestured to badge on her hat that read, “I’ve been everywhere, man”.
There was a moment of silence as the woman with the lei’s patted the dreadlock-ed man’s shoulder, just as the song stated.
“She’s out there”, he said, while chewing a piece of salad. “Alicia. She’s out there.”
I didn’t want to ask any more questions. I wanted to run, and run back to where I came from. I didn’t know where I came from…but I did run. I ran to the nearest light; a castle.
It was the “Sir $ave-a-lot’s Grab N’ Buy” logo, but I had seen it before, and I knew that it was one thing I was familiar with. But how? What had this had to do with my past?
Where had I come from?
The night before had been rainy, so the car park was wet, and shiny, like the slimy back of whale. Wherever I walked, tiny, slapping sounds appeared as well as quiet sprays of water, flying up off
the ground and into my hair.
I kicked the ground angrily, sending a minituare tsunami up , then into harmless sprinkles back where they started.
It hit me. I had to be like the rain. I was hurt, and rebuilt, and I would find somewhere that was a sanctuary.
I had to be like the “perfect pizza” man, I had to brave any condition until something hit home.
I had to be like the man with the ukulele, and keep telling myself that I’d get what I wanted.
I had to learn to fly.
And with the gaudily coloured castle of Sir $ave-a-lot’s behind me, it was easier to take flight than I thought.
I was far, far away from the Pizza Hut Of Broken Dreams.
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