Pisatello’s Pizzeria has cheap wings and draft pulls for a buck. They got booths that look like someone bent their kitchen counters, all rounded space triangles and gold flecks. My cousin Randy likes to spread his arms along the shoulders of the curved benches and listen.
I get a kick out of the way he talks, all fancy like. He’s kind of a squirt for a guy though. Ma says we’re all God’s children, and I gotta protect him after what he’s been through.
Tonight, two ladies sit in the booth behind us. One of them starts grinching about how being late is disrespectful and she goes to “extra-ordinary,” that’s how she says it, “extra-ordinary lengths to be on time.” Her super strict father mashed punctuality into her and friendships are hard ’cause she’s always judging people. Then she raves about how helpful her weekly navel gaze sessions are.
Randy’s face turns from pink to red and his eyes get buggy. He keeps punching his thigh and making jazz hands at the side of his head, murmuring, “What an effing idiot,” then he shoves out of the booth.
“Dang, Randy. We haven’t even got our wings yet.” I swig my beer and stand up too, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand.
Randy stomps over and grabs the Formica counter with both hands. Leaning in he barks, “Listen Naval Gaze, it’s great that you’ve diagnosed yourself with time sensitivity disorder. It’s glorious that therapy helps, but over here, in “military fathers who fucked us up land” that disorder is laughably mundane and so bizarrely common it’s barely worth mentioning.”
She stares at him, then her mouth snaps shut and goes thin. She crosses her arms, all who the hell are you, which only makes him madder.
“You blabble on and on, subjecting those around you to your insipid nattering. It’s wonderful that your teeny neurosis is calmed by regular applications of psychoanalysis but it’s time to shut up and move over honey cause I got some real scars to show you.”
Randy steps back, begins to unzip his jeans. I pick him up and bundle him outside, his legs frog kicking the air behind. I drag him out to the sidewalk, spread my hand across his forehead, and keep him an arm’s length away as he flails the empty air.
“Dude, calm down. It’s OK.” And just like that he stops. He steps out from under my hand, tugs his jacket straight. “Randy, what’s up with you man? Why d’you go off on that lady like that?”
He crosses his arms. “Her anemic affirmation grated my neanderthalic knuckles,” he says, then puffs his bangs off his face.
I put my hand on his arm. “You good?” Randy nods. “Wanna go see a movie or something?”
He shrugs, flattens his hands deep in the front pockets of his jeans, jerks his chin uptown. Randy turns and I follow. It’s a good thing I’m twice his size.
NINA FOSATI loves portraiture and historic clothing. Beguiled, she regularly holds forth on her favorites @NinaFosati. Recent work has or will soon appear in the Disabled Voices Anthology, Persephone’s Daughters, Pen 2 Paper TX, and L’Éphémère Review.
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