My Life of Crime
By Tyler C. Gore
o one likes a practical joker," my mother had often warned me but, hey, my mother was out shopping. We lived in suburban New Jersey. It was a dreary day, rainy and cold like that day in the beginning of "The Cat in the Hat," and there was nothing to do. None of my friends were home. So I picked up the phone and ordered a pizza for my neighbor across the street.
I walked to the front window where I could peer at my neighbor's house from behind the curtains. But there is no instant gratification with this sort of prank, and patience has never been one of my virtues. So, after about five minutes, I got up and ordered another pizza from a different shop. Then either to kill time or to satisfy some vague sense of proportion I called a third pizzeria. This time, under the assumed name of Andr้ Breton, I ordered two pies, one with sausage and one with mushrooms and green peppers.
Then I went back to wait at the window.
When the first delivery truck from Domino's arrived and the driver trudged up the walk carrying the pie I had ordered, I felt a familiar rush of excitement, the giddy thrill of the voyeur. I had a relationship with this man wetly slogging up the walk, but he didn't know it. I had secretly orchestrated his mission, and knew something about how it would end that is, in disappointment. (It occurred to me that this was exactly how God must feel all day long.) Now I watched my neighbor open the door, and even from that distance I could see his puzzled expression as he shook his head and slowly closed the door. Like Sisyphus trudging down the hill for his rock, the Domino's guy returned to his truck with the noble, dejected air of one who knows that in spite of all his efforts, the fates have singled him out for misery.
He pulled his truck into the road just as the truck from Tony's Pizzeria arrived. The Domino's guy slowed down for a moment, as if to assess the situation, but then apparently decided to wash his hands of the whole thing and continued on his way. The Tony's guy got out of the truck, paused for a moment to cast a long perplexed gaze at his competitor's truck, shrugged, and removed a pie from the passenger side of his own truck.
When my neighbor opened the door, I observed with fascination how quickly his expression could change from mild surprise to extreme irritation. He shook his head emphatically, and then peered over the driver's shoulders, as if looking for a hidden camera. It was at that moment the third truck arrived, pulling up right behind the other truck.
My neighbor, who has a short temper believe me, I know pushed past the Tony's guy and stormed out towards the third truck, gesticulating angrily. Then he suddenly stopped in the middle of his lawn and mute with rage intently scanned the houses around him, as if dormant psychic powers might help him locate the culprit. For a tense moment, his gaze passed directly over my window, and I held my breath.
The moment passed, the drivers were dismissed, and after my laughter subsided, I considered calling another place. Sure: why not make a day of it? In the heavily Italian area where I grew up there are more pizzerias than, um... I don't know... something. Starbucks. Fire hydrants. Chinese restaurants. Whatever. There are a lot. And I was prepared to arrange for every single one of them to visit my neighbor. But just as I reached for the phone, it suddenly rang all by itself.
I picked up the phone and a man said, "Hello, Mr. Breton, this is Ray's Pizza. Did you order two pies for delivery about half an hour ago?" His tone was suspiciously smug, the way it is when someone asks a question that they already know the answer to.
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