by: Ben Fitts
I was excited to be back in New York City. I had grown up there and always thought I would end up living my whole life in the city, but the four years I planned to spend in New England for college had into stretched nine and there was no end in sight.
But my and girlfriend Michelle I were spending the day in the city. We were going to see the stoner metal bands Canabyss and Capra Coven play at Saint Vitus that night, and I was stoked to show her all of my favorite spots.
“I promise Italianame’s Dollar Pizza is the best you’ll ever have,” I told her as we bustled down a crowded street. “And it’s only a dollar! I really hope it’s still there.”
Michelle and I paused outside when we reached the place. There was a big handwritten sign taped to the glass.
Now no longer accepting dollars.
“What does that mean?” asked Michelle.
I had no idea. She shrugged and we headed inside.
A sweaty middle-aged man mulled behind the counter. My jaw dropped when I saw him. He was Italianame himself.
It’d been over ten years and he clearly didn’t recognize me, so I didn’t say anything.
“Excuse me,” asked Michelle, “We saw your sign out front. What does it mean that you’re not accepting dollars anymore?”
“I’ve got too many dollars,” he said. “I don’t need no more, so I don’t take ‘em.”
“What do you mean you have too many dollars?” I asked.
“I’ve been running this dollar pizza place since I was a young man, and I’ve sold more slices now than there are rats in this city. Over time, you just get too many dollars. More than you can do anything with.”
“I still don’t get what you mean though. How can you have too many dollars?”
Italianame snorted. “I’ll show you too many dollars,” he said and swung open a door to a back room behind the counter.
The room was filled from floor to ceiling with stacks and stacks of single dollar bills. There would scarcely have been room for an ant to crawl in there.
“Now do you see what I mean?” he demanded.
“For twenty-seven years I’ve run this pizza place and the deal has always been the same. You give me a dollar, I give you a slice of pizza. Eventually, you get too many dollars! What am I supposed to do with all these dollars? You can only make a fort out of them so many times before it just gets old. So now I no longer take dollars in exchange for pizza.”
“Sure,” Michelle said. “I’ve got a debit card.”
“I don’t take debit.”
“So how do we pay for the pizza?” I asked.
“Pay with something that I have less of. Like toes.”
“Yeah, toes. I’ve only have ten toes. I could still use more of those.”
“Could it just be one of my pinky toes?” I proposed.
“I only have two of those! I could definitely use a third. You give me one of your pinky toes, and I’ll give you any slice on you see on display there,” he said, gesturing to rows of pizzas with various toppings behind a sneeze guard.
“Just chop one off with this thing,” he said, handing me a long kitchen knife.
The toppings were eclectic. The pizza with I ♡ NY keychains salvaged from the corpses of murdered tourists didn’t look particularly tasty, but to be fair it did look better than the pizza whose topping was dogshit that never got picked up.
“I think I’ll have a slice of the Strawberry Fields pizza.”
“Sure, I just need that toe.”
I nodded, unlaced my boot, and sliced off my pinky toe with the knife. I handed him the bloody stump of severed flesh.
“And what do you have to pay for your pizza?” he asked Michelle.
Michelle examined the pockets of her denim jacket. “How much pizza would you give me for a quarter gram of weed?”
Once we had sat down at a table, I felt a little jealous nibbling on my slice with my toe bleeding in my combat boot while I watched Michelle devour the two entire pies that Italianame had given her. Michelle had already started pregaming for the Canabyss/Capra Coven show that night and had the munchies pretty bad, so I didn’t ask her to share. I knew her well enough to know she’d eat it all herself when she was this high and enjoy every bite of it more than I ever would.
I enjoyed my Strawberry Fields slice though.
The slice was a New York classic, a reference to the Central Park landmark of the same name honoring John Lennon. Each slice’s toppings consisted of four beatles scavenged from the very field itself.
I wasn’t expecting them to still be alive though. Their legs pumped madly and they flapped their little insect wings, but they couldn’t get away. They were trapped to the pizza by its sticky cheese and sauce.
“Are you going to finish that?” she asked, pointing to my half eaten slice.
“Yeah, I’m going to finish my only slice,” I said as sweetly as I could.
“That’s good,” said one of the beatles on my slice in a British accent, its wings flapping. “I thought you were full already.”
“Shhh, Ringo,” scolded another one of the beatles on my pizza. “I don’t want to get eaten!”
“Oh, come off it, Paul,” said a third beatle. “We’re beatles! What are we if not consumed? Turtles? Bay City Rollers?”
I had had enough of their yammering then, and stuffed the slice into my mouth. The beatle’s spiky thoraxes crunched between my teeth. As I chewed, I could still hear one of them singing to itself “Da da da, da da da da dum dum da”. The catchy melody echoed in my skull as I swallowed the bugs in my cheese.
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