• Nikolette Bellocchio


She walked into southdown pizza wearing a straw hat, jeans, and a jean jacket. Disheveled

gray hair octopused down her back and her eyes were hollowed. She looked around anxiously as if

she lost womething. Suddenly aware of the eyes following her, she made her way to the front.

"I'll have a ginger ale and Jason will have a plain slice," she said.

The man just looked at her and hit a few keys on the cash register. "Three-fifty," he told her.

He walked to the display to take out a slice and put it in the oven. The smoky smell of crispy crust

and cheese ran from the oven and circulated the restaurant.

She whispered inaudibly as she built little towers of pennies and nickels and dimes. Maybe

quarters. Her eyes glazed over as she struggled to hand her fortune to the man. He sighed and held

the change in his cupped hands.

"Three-fifty exactly," she said. "Three dollars and fifty cents." She reached for the slice and

the ginger ale. "Do you know any firemen?" she asked the man.

He nodded no, trying to avoid the voluble woman.

"Jason is a firefighter," she said to the man. But he was gone. She realized no one was

listening. She looked around for someone to talk to. But everyone avoided meeting her desperate

stare. I accidentally looked up from my half eaten slice and she slid in the booth across from me.

"Hi." she said.

"Hi," responded. I examined the deep holes that dug out her eye sockets. Her eyes were an

opaque shade of green. Olive. Her hands had lakes of wrinkles and rivers of veins. She kept her

fingers on the plate the slice of pizza was on.

"Do you know Jason?" she asked.

"No, I don't." I looked up from her aged hands. "Who's Jason?"

"My husband. He's a firefighter," she said "1 got this slice for him."

I became aware of the zephyr of cigarette smoke protruding from her skin. "Where is he?" I


"He's visiting my family." she said "I got this for him," she pointed to the slice in front of

her. "It's his favorite."

"Oh." l said. "Where are they?" I asked, suddenly curious.

"I don't know." She fell sullen. "They haven't told me yet. But I know that I'll see them


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