I stared at the pizza. It was a work of art. My barbeque chicken pizza was great but I could tell this one was better than any I’d made before. I’d put the chicken into marinade yesterday morning, poking the breasts with the tip of a knife so the barbeque would sink deep. I hadn’t broiled it in the broiler. Instead I’d grilled it on my cast iron grill pan that had been seasoned with much use so the chicken pieces had deep charcoal grill marks. It was kind of a pain in the ass to do it that way but I knew it would taste a whole lot better. I’d bought the expensive black olives and taken time to chop the mushrooms fine. I used twice as much cheese and I bought the expensive kind of that too.
Just looking at it, not to brag or anything, I knew this particular pizza could win awards. This particular pizza was fit for a king and it was definitely fit for Ten Point Five Detective Mitch Lawson.
* * * * *
My faucet had broken on Wednesday.
On Thursday, I’d gone to work and because I was brimming with my encounter with Mitch, I had to tell someone. In a moment of quiet at the store, I grabbed Roberta and we curled up on one of the display beds. There, I told her everything (except my classification system of Ones to Tens and the fact that I was secretly in love with him, now more than ever).
* * * * *
I had been at Pierson’s for seven years and Roberta had worked there for five.
She started out as a part-timer, doing something to bring in a little extra money for the household and to get her out and about so she didn’t spend twenty-four, seven with her kids. After that her husband decided he was in love with his best friend’s wife. He moved out. Then he moved from their home in the suburbs of Denver to Portland and suddenly Roberta was the primary breadwinner for herself and her three kids.
Our boss and the second generation Mr. Pierson who owned Pierson’s Mattress and Bed was a top-notch guy. He was a family man, loyal to his family and to his family of workers so he put her on full-time even though it was a hit for all his salespeople. We didn’t need another full-time salesperson and we worked mostly on commission.
Barney lost his mind and bitched about it all the time to anyone who would listen. But I figured Mr. Pierson knew Barney’s time was short since Barney was a dick and like anyone, Mr. Pierson didn’t like dicks. But since Barney was a good salesperson Mr. Pierson didn’t really have a reason to get rid of him that was legal. That was, until Barney tried to make things so difficult for Roberta that she’d have to leave. He did this by being an even bigger dick to her. I talked her into lodging a complaint, then Barney was gone and all was well in the world of Pierson’s Mattress and Bed.
Roberta had been a Seven when I met her because she was pretty, petite, with thick brunette hair and a little extra weight that she held well. She was also happy with her family and her husband in their suburban house with two cars and vacations to Disney World. She’d slipped down to a Five Point Five when she got angry and moody and hated the world and mostly all the men in it after her husband left. Now she was back up and surpassed the Seven to be an Eight because she’d settled into her new life; her kids were great kids and came through the divorce really well because she was a great Mom. She’d realized her husband had always been a big jerk, she’d just not noticed it so much because she loved him. Therefore, she had come through to the other side stronger; an independent woman with a happy non-nuclear family and was secure in the knowledge that she was a good Mom and better off without her jerk of a husband.
Oh, and she had a new boyfriend and he was really cool.
When she heard about Mitch, it was Roberta that talked me into making the pizza.
“You have to!” she’d nearly shrieked. She did this because I’d waxed on perhaps a little too enthusiastically about Mitch’s looks, his warm smile and his neighborly behavior.
I shook my head. “I don’t know. He freaks me out.”
“Yeah, I get that. Johnny Depp came in and fixed my faucet then told me he wanted to try my pizza that would freak me out too. But I’d still make him my freaking pizza.”
Johnny Depp was hot, very much so, but he was no comparison to Mitch. Too skinny, not tall enough and I doubted when he said my name it would sound as good as it did when Mitch said it.
“That’s easy to say,” I returned. “Johnny Depp is never going to fix your faucet. Mitch is my neighbor.” I leaned in closer to her. “You should have seen me Roberta. I was a total dork. I made an absolute fool out of myself. I don’t need to sit down to pizza with him. I might drop some on my shirt or something worse. I might talk with my mouth full. I could do anything, say anything, he freaks me out that much.”