To Take Away

I knock on the big metal swinging door plastered with the remains of a scraped-off sticker. It’s a former warehouse, I see with my expert eyes. I always try to deduce from the door what might be hidden behind it – a little hobby of mine while waiting, carrying hot pizzas in my arms. The door is open. Nothing happens. I slip inside. The large studio is bathed in light. The photos on the wall are bizarre, but I like them. There are sketches and scraps of paper everywhere, half-finished worlds in white on the dummies. A young man emerges from the back room and looks at me with questioning eyes, a crinkled bill in his left hand, a pencil in his right. He’s obviously been working. Instead of “Pizza delivery,” I say, “That’s pretty...” and nod my head in the direction of the dummies. He seems a bit puzzled, but thanks me by nodding his head and giving me a fleeting smile. “What’s it gonna be... later?” I ask, haltingly.

“A story – an attitude towards life,” he says slowly, looking at me observantly. Yes, I can imagine that. My story at the moment is bright red and at least one size too big – which doesn’t matter since “bulky” is actually a compliment for our company‘s uniforms. “Biagie’s World of Pizza,” it reads on my chest in happy yellow letters. My story doesn’t boast of secrets. “Biagie’s World of Pizza” and my stage props – flat cardboard boxes smelling of basil and chilies – unequivocally hint at the reason for my being here. I look at those worlds in white again. They are like secrets made of folded paper. Dignified, they look back at me without condescending themselves to re- veal a functionality and therefore a reason for their existence. They are simply enticing: beauty, independent of function, smiling at me. “Selling an attitude towards life,” I say abruptly. “Sounds like you’re a magician.”
“More like a good observer,” he replies. My arms are hot and smell like chilies.
“Good, I’ll have mine to take away,” I say, handing him the cardboard boxes. He laughs and hands me the money.
“Keep the change,” he says. I stuff the bill in my oversized side pocket and cheerily head towards the door, throwing one last glance at the promises in white.