This is an updated version of Pizza Delivery that I wrote at the turn of the year. I cut out some stuff, adjusted, that kind of stuff.
Exactly thirty-six miles out of town, past about a quarter mile of dense foliage, it’s a large, white house with a couple of tractors in out front. The caller certainly was more descriptive of his home than what he wanted on his pizza. It really wasn’t even an address rather than just random directions.
“So you want a small pizza, large pizza?” Raymond Joel inquired to the caller on the phone.
“Hurry over, my wife is getting sick of waiting,” the caller responded.
“Well… you can’t just throw together a pizza and expect customer satisfaction without details,” Raymond said. There was no one on the line.
Raymond was alone in the Dusty Lodge, the pizza shop he owned. It was nights like these he would dread. Not a soul in to eat the entire night. He carried business by himself. He blamed this on the new pizza shop opening up across town for taking all his customers. But he knew it was his social problems he had that drove people off. He knew it wasn’t competition; he just liked to make excuses.
Raymond began to craft the pizza. At first, Raymond didn’t even want to put together a meal for that caller. He thought it was too late to drive out of town and deliver some guy and his impatient wife a pizza. He accidentally dripped sauce on his white shirt, but didn’t bother wiping it off. He’d throw the shirt away when he’d get home.
Ten minutes before the shop closed. Raymond decided it wasn’t worth sitting around any longer. He closed up the shop early and grabbed the bleak-looking pizza out of the oven. Pepperoni, sausage, and ham. Raymond rolled his eyes in annoyance. Would it have killed the guy to give a couple details.
Raymond exited the shop, pizza in hand. He locked the door behind him and approached his car. The first of winter’s frozen teardrops coated Raymond’s vehicle. He didn’t even bother wiping the snow off the car knowing physics would do it for him while on the road. Raymond reset his odometer to track the thirty-six miles he’d need to travel
Raymond pulled onto the highway and headed out of the city. Who orders a pizza at 9 P.M.? He thought as he drove. Then again, who keeps their pizza shop open until 9 P.M.?
The night seemed thick, as if the subtle snowfall had turned black. His car’s lights barely shone inches in front of Raymond. Luckily he was as far from wildlife as he could get, no fear of restless animals leaping onto his car ever crossed his mind.
At exactly thirty-six miles, a road appeared to Raymond’s right in his limited vision. He pulled off and approached foliage. Raymond was impatient for this delivery to end. He longed for his warm home. If anything, all this job would pay him would be around $15, it’s not nearly worth the effort to travel all this way.
The foliage lifted, and a house appeared, just as described: large, white, two tractors out front. Every window was lit, but Raymond couldn’t see inside. He got out of the car, pizza in hand. He approached the house’s door, noting the silence. Not a sound crept into his ear as he strode to the door, his feet barely making a sound.
Raymond knocked twice. He stood in patience for the caller or the wife. He looked about the house. It seemed brand new, the siding, the windows, all clean and fresh. It couldn’t have been new, however. Raymond had friends in construction; no one had ever spoken of a new project exactly thirty-six miles out of town.
Raymond knocked twice again, and shouted “Pizza delivery!”
He couldn’t stand delivery, especially in the winter; standing in the cold, waiting, and waiting. It’s deliveries like these that made Raymond almost regret dropping out of high school. Almost.
Raymond tried turning the doorknob and entering the house. When he was inside he shouted “Pizza delivery!” a second time. The décor was great for someone who likely never had company over to see it. The front door opened to a long hallway, straight back to a bathroom, a staircase to the left, and the living room immediately to the right.
Raymond timidly sneaked through the living room, looking for a patron. He noticed a kitchen. He peeked in, hoping for a patron.
Instead, he what he found left him speechless.
On the floor twisted up in a mangled pile of blood and flesh lied a young woman in her late twenties. Her eyes had rolled backward into the sockets. Right above them was a dark hole. Scattered bits and pieces of brain and bone floated lightly in the expanding puddle of blood and fluid surrounding the woman in fetal position. Her intestines sprawled randomly about her from a gaping hole at her stomach, her arms slashed with bruises and cuts, each of her fingers split in half oozing blood all athwart her body. Raymond spun out of the kitchen and vomited in the living room. Somehow he missed the pizza, keeping it clean.
Raymond doubled over, contemplating his options. He just wanted to run as far away from the house as he could and never look back on this brutal murder. But his mind continued finding excuses to prolong the suffering. His DNA was all over the living room floor already. If he ran now, the murder would sure be blamed on him. He decided to report the murder. He jostled about his pockets searching for his cell phone. He discovered with great dismay he’d forgotten his phone at the pizza shop. He needed to find a phone somewhere in the house.
He stepped carefully across his vomit and glanced into the kitchen, being very careful he didn’t slip another look at the murdered woman. He pulled his head out of the room as quickly as possible and ran out of the living room, dropping the pizza on the coffee table in front of the couch. He stepped into the hall and regretted not running to the bathroom mere feet away when he got sick. He knew there wouldn’t be a phone in there, so he proceeded up the stairway. It led to a relatively small open area and a single room on the other side. The door to the room was closed, and Raymond dreaded what could be on the other side. He creaked the door open and was surprised at what he saw: a kid’s room.
It was the stereotypical little girl’s room, pink ponies, pink dolls, pink everything. One thing did catch Raymond’s eye. It was an ancient looking book of nursery rhymes set near the room’s only window. He walked over and picked it up. The cover was brown, and was a nice change of scenery from all the pink. He flipped through the first couple of pages, grinning from nostalgia at the classic titles. Raymond read aloud “Buckingham Palace,” his favorite story as a child, in nearly an ecstatic voice. He almost forgot there was only a floor between him and a murder scene.
He flipped to the next page. It had been bookmarked. He read it to himself:
“Billy was glad, Billy was grown. Billy always wandered around on his own.”
The story didn’t have a title above it. Raymond had never heard it before.
“Billy was proud, Billy was brave. Billy didn’t ever want to behave.”
Raymond wanted to stop reading and move on, but he kept coming up with excuses to continue.
“Billy ran off, Billy sung his song. Billy found himself where he didn’t belong.”
How does it end? I’m this far in already, may as well finish.
“Billy was scared, Billy sat to cry. Billy wanted only just to die.”
You’ll never have to read it again. Just finish it now.
“Billy was found, Billy was forsaken. Billy, trespassing, the evil spirits awaken.”
Quit being such a baby, you’re not afraid of a kid’s story are you?
“Billy stood still, Billy knew his wrong. Billy found himself where he didn’t belong.”
“Billy accepted fate, Billy needn’t pray. Billy was buried later that day.”
And that’s where the story ended. Raymond’s eyes left the page, and he glanced to the window in confusion. There he saw a swollen, disfigured head staring back. The head was dark gray, covered in dirt and sledge. The eyes had incisions in the shape of X’s, blood dried around the eyes in their sockets, forever gluing them open. Its nose was slanted, the top of the bone jutting out from the skin. The lips were faintly red, as though they’d been glossed. Its mouth was open in a wide, crooked smile, revealing rotted out black and yellow teeth.
Raymond jumped up and ran out of the room from the site of this distended face. He slammed the door and leaned against the door to keep it shut. No force tried to open the door behind him. When Raymond came to his senses, he was hyperventilating, all of his body’s weight holding the door behind him shut. Raymond slowed his breathing, and he looked back to the Billy poem and noticed a title had been scribbled onto the page. It read “Leave Now.” Raymond dropped the book, gasping in fear. Immediately when the book it the floor, the lights cut out across the whole house. Raymond fell to a seated position in front of the door in awe of what happened.
He got up again and began to walk to the staircase. Just before the first steps was another window. Raymond forced himself to look through it. There wasn’t a single light outside. The faint glow of the moon only lightly lit the posterior of the house, revealing an inch of snow had already fallen on the desolate land. Raymond carefully crept down the stairwell careful not to fall. He thought to look for a flashlight downstairs. He still hadn’t found a phone yet either.
When Raymond reached the base of ground floor, he skulked back into the living room. He sat on the couch and closed his eyes, rubbed them violently and angrily, thinking to himself in the dark. Raymond slowly opening his eyes, fearing whatever ghastly sight he’d witness next. He stared to the coffee table he’d left the pizza at. The box had been opened, and slices were missing. Raymond threw his head back against the couch. His body ached from the night, and he just wanted to sleep.
Raymond’s head kicked to the left and he saw a faint glow emitting from the kitchen. As much as he hated to go back into that kitchen, he found himself inching closer and closer to the doorway. He spotted candles lit all over the room. There were candles surrounding the dead woman’s body, there were candles on the kitchen counters and on the kitchen’s island. Cupboard doors opened wide revealing several more candles. At the center of all the candles stood a muscular man in a white shirt. He was facing away from Raymond. The sound of rustling dished radiated from the man. Was he the caller? Had he murdered this woman?
The man hummed softly to himself as he washed the dishes, seemingly oblivious to the murder scene right behind him. Raymond almost thought the man had no idea Raymond was there.
“You weren’t supposed to come in until I invited you, you know?” the man spoke, still facing away from Raymond. Raymond just stood there, mesmerized. “It’s not polite to walk into someone’s home while they’re busy with family matters.”
Now the man turned, revealing a weathered, yet surprisingly soft face. The old man had scars about his face, giving Raymond the impression he was a war veteran. He had drops of red around his mouth. The old man spoke again.
“You make a mighty fine pizza, son,” the old man’s gruff but calm voice scared Raymond. Raymond didn’t know what the old man was trying to pull.
“Did you kill this woman?” Raymond spoke, his words the first that came to his head.
“Come now, don’t sound so morbid,” the old man responded. “I merely initiated the inevitable.”
“Why did you need me to come here? Are you going to pin this murder on me?” Raymond inquired.
The old man’s face grimaced, as if he were hurt by Raymond’s assertion. “Son, I’m already a dead man. I don’t need to blame anyone else for my actions. I just knew anyone else would put a bullet into my sad, sorry self without even a final request. I knew a good ole’ pizza boy would at least listen first.”
“So why me??” Raymond shouted right back.
“I just told you!” the old man shouted at the same volume. He was getting angry. “You think the police would arrest me, give me a comfy bed and nice jail cell? They’d put me down right here and not even offer me a final meal. I called you for exactly that. I wanted one last opportunity to be treated like a normal person so I called for pizza delivery.”
“You don’t deserve to be treated like a normal person you insane old man!” Raymond screamed and took a step back toward the door, not taking his eyes off the old man.
“Insane? You want to see insane buddy? I’ll show you insane!” the old man pulled out a phone and dialed. Raymond stood in a strange stance, both listening and staring intently, but also eager to run out the front door.
“Hello, police?” the old man had put on a fake, scared sounding voice, almost mimicking Raymond’s own. “There’s a man here who just murdered my wife…” Raymond couldn’t believe what he was seeing, “She’s lying on the floor, he stabbed her…” The old man had a fake scared face on as well. It almost looked as if he was crying as well. “The man’s nearby, he’s older. Quick, please get over here before he kills me too!” Raymond’s hands instinctively covered his mouth. He wobbled a little, nearly passing out. The old man’s scared expression soon evolved into a sinister, evil smile. Raymond bolted from the living room to the front door. In the darkness, he tried to find a knob, and couldn’t. He felt all about the door and realized it had been boarded shut. He gave up on the door and shot toward the bathroom just as the old man’s figure emerged from the entryway of the living room.
Raymond literally dove into the bathroom and slammed the door shut behind him. In the darkness he could only make out the sound of a dripping faucet coming from the bathtub. Raymond was aware the old man knew he was in the bathroom, but he still wanted to stop that dripping, or he’d go mad. Raymond reached across the tub to stop the water, but in doing so he bumped against something floating in the water. A shimmer of light shone through the window at that instant. Raymond had bumped into the swollen, drowned body of a little girl. His scream stuck in his throat and Raymond coughed. He turned away from the body, but didn’t vomit this time. Raymond even cried a little. What kind of monster was this old man?
There was a slam on the door, and the old man knocked several successional times shouting “Pizza delivery!” He hammered on the door with some weapon as Raymond searched the room. He couldn’t find any weapons to face the old man with. The old man continued banging and shouting. Raymond glanced back to the drowned girl, and from a faint shimmer of moonlight he found a knife jutting from the kid. Raymond gagged at the thought of pulling the knife from that child. Another loud bang came from the door and Raymond heard a slight crack. The door was breaking.
It’s the only way.
Raymond gently grasped the knife and put his other hand on the child. He pushed down on the child and pulled back on the knife. The swollen body felt squishy like the melted cheese he always put on his pizzas. He could feel the skin slice. Warm blood and water flowed all over his hands as he pulled the knife, the squishy sounds of the body drowned out only by the shouting and banging on the door.
Eventually the knife flung out of the body. The hole in the child bubbled as the body sunk to the bottom of the tub. Raymond stared intently at the door, and slowly stood, pending the old man’s entrance. Raymond gripped the knife tight and waited.
Soon the old man’s weapon, an axe, cut through the door, creating only a small slit. Raymond braced himself. The old man swung twice more, breaking the door open. The old man powered his way past the splintering wood, and barely had time to glance at Raymond before he pounced on the old man. He had the old man pinned down, and was screaming as he stabbed the old man, blow after blow, slicing right through the skin and striking bone. The old man coughed as he spit blood between gritted teeth. Raymond put all his strength into his stabs, spanning all over the old man’s torso, and he wouldn’t stop until the old man’s breathing quit. After what seemed like hours the old man’s body finally stopped vibrating, and Raymond’s stabs slowed. Raymond stared deeply into the old man’s eyes, making sure he wouldn’t move again.
Raymond ever so slowly removed himself from atop the old man, his shirt recolored red, his hands soaked, and fingers nearly glued together from all the fluid. He took the old man’s axe, and gradually sauntered to the barricaded door. His body ached from head to toe and he was exhausted. It took him a long time to remove the boards from the door. When the last board had fallen, he looked back to make sure the old man was still lying there. He was. Raymond jumped when he heard more banging sounds, getting closer by the second. He gripped the axe tight, ready to strike again, but he noticed it was the old book of nursery rhymes he had seen upstairs. When it bounced down to the final stair, it stopped upright, opened to a certain story. In the darkness it was difficult to make out the story, but he could easily see the name. It was titled “Thank You, Daddy.” Raymond sighed and turned back to the door.
He kicked the door wide open and was immediately blinded by flashing lights. The police had arrived and set up a roadblock around the house. The old man never told them his address, but they’d found the place. One officer was shouting orders into a megaphone, but Raymond couldn’t hear a word. His ears were ringing from the sudden noise. He took a step towards the officers and felt a sharp pain in his chest. He looked down to see a hole, and more blood than before. Someone had shot him. He could barely feel it with all the other pains in his body, but he knew it was there. Soon more sharp pains zapped across his body. More and more bullets rained into Raymond’s battered body. He slipped on ice forming along the patio, falling and hitting the back of his head on the ground. He couldn’t move.
Officers ran straight past Raymond and into the house, ready to inspect the damages. Everything seemed to be playing in slow motion. The officer that had been shouting peered into the house and looked back to Raymond. The officer called Raymond something nasty and proceeded into the home with the rest of the officers. Raymond lied on the ground staring into the sky as snow fell upon him. The officers would never know what happened in that house, they’d never know the truth. Raymond no longer cared about the truth. His vision was fading as more officers entered the home. He saw some paramedics easing him onto a stretcher. Raymond didn’t acknowledge them. He could only see the snow falling upon his face, and he only thought a single thought:
“Billy was glad, Billy was grown. Billy always wandered around on his own.
Billy was proud, Billy was brave. Billy didn’t ever want to behave.
Billy ran off, Billy sung his song. Billy found himself where he didn’t belong.
Billy was scared, Billy sat to cry. Billy wanted only just to die.
Billy was found, Billy was forsaken. Billy, trespassing, the evil spirits awaken.
Billy stood still, Billy knew his wrong. Billy found himself where he didn’t belong.
Billy accepted fate, Billy needn’t pray. Billy was buried later that day.”