I’m thirty four

The guy at my deli watched me walk in and walk out of his store. He’s changed things. There is a salad bar. The doors are now modern floor to ceiling glass. The sign is no longer scribbled on black, but bright white. He watched me walk out of his store and smiled saying “Okay, boss,” and I detoured down the road to the pizza place not twenty yards down. I ordered a pepperoni pizza and a cannoli (no chocolate chips). I looked behind me and saw a girl in a booth. She had black marks all the way up her leg and her hands and elbows were stained in black. It seemed she had been run over by a car. Her boyfriend dumped a plate of mushroom pizza in front of her—which did nothing but sit there—as he dug into his all dressed, deep dish. She leaned her head against the brick wall.

Walking out of the pizza place the guy at my deli came out of his shop. “Why?” He wanted to know why I got a pizza instead of my usual tuna sandwich with onions on whole wheat toast. I replied “Why not?” He said, “Soon I will have everything. You won’t have to go anywhere else. Salad is just the beginning.”

I don’t know how long he watched me walk down the street, but I do know I’ll never make the mistake of walking into his deli without knowing what I want.

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