THE PIZZA BEYOND THE THRESHOLD by José Luis Carrasco. Translated by Marco Fernández
I never wanted to work at a pizza joint, but I always loved Dostoyevsky. Money was not a problem for me, since I came from noble blood. My family were direct descendants of the last Merovingian King, Childeric III. My Genovese mother and Luxembourgian father spared no expense so that I could enjoy a rich and eclectic education, but the doctrines of the brilliant Russian novelist took me down the path of the dilettante, and made me an observer of human tragedy. You can believe me on this one – there is no shorter way to adopt a new morality than getting a job in the service industry, Italian food branch, night shift, nor is there a bigger tragedy than witnessing a customer attempt to wolf down an entire slice of Travel Pizza’s Anchovy Special in one gulp.
My boss, Don Giuseppe, occupied a position in the world of home-delivery food franchises that could be equated to that of the Janissary army in Asia Minor. A tyrannosaurus afflicted with indigestion would be less distressing to run into than Don Giuseppe on a bad day. Perhaps you have heard about some company where they keep track of the time elapsed since the last delay in the service. Some display it on a board on the wall. Don Giuseppe used an abacus to keep track of the number of pizzas that didn’t reach their destination in the half hour the company stipulated. It would always display a sum total of zero, with all the blood-red marbles on the left side, and woe be to him who dared alter this figure. Such a case had never presented itself, at least since I started working there as a delivery boy, but according to Fernando, a kid was ten minutes late once. The customer didn’t even notice, but Don Giuseppe, God knows how, managed to figure out the time he had employed, and accurately calculated the delay. Needless to say, the kid didn’t show up at the pizza parlor the next morning. They say he still lives with his parents to this day, painting portraits of clowns devouring all kinds of food: fruit, vegetables, legumes... anything but pizza.