On March 12, 2003, Artie feared for his life with five other people in the freezer of his University’s local pizza shop. They also sold pottery. Interesting business model.
Artie stopped at La Cocina for lunch on this day. He figured he’d get a small pizza. Pineapple and mushroom for toppings. Light on the cheese. Heavy on the sauce.
There were two people in front of him in line. One was a taller fellow. Walked loose like if he was made of spaghetti. His curly hair draped over three-fourths of his head and covered his eyes which made Artie wonder how he could see through any of it. When the tall man turned around, Artie could catch a glimpse of his green eyes through his coal hair. What a weird combination.
In front of the tall man was the woman that was holding up the line. She couldn’t decide if she wanted bacon or Canadian bacon on her flatbread pizza. Artie figured he could fit his fist through her hoop earrings. Her ponytail looked like a loaf of french bread hanging off the back of her head. Lord, she was taking forever.
The front of the shop swung open. In the door frame was a woman holding her two-month-old son in her right hand and her seven-year-old daughter with her left. Odd.
“He has a gun,” she yelled.
There was a strange period of silence between everyone in the shop. The sound of the oven and kiln in the back roared over the lack of speech.
“What?” Artie asked as if he didn’t hear her the first time.
“There’s a man outside with a gun,” the woman at the door frame repeated. She then ran out of the shop. Her children’s heads bobbed up and down as she ran to her car. Three gun shots fired.
Aside from Spaghetti Limbs and French Braid, there was two workers in the back that had forgotten about the pizzas burning in the oven. The cashier finally broke the silence among them.
“We have to hide,” he said. The cashier was colored. A thick neck and broad shoulders. He jogged over to the desk in the back and picked up the keys to the store. “Go to the back. Hide in the freezer. I’ll be there soon after I lock the store. You can tell it’s me by my voice, just listen. A-E-I-O-U-and-sometimes-Y.” Artie thought that was a strange thing to say.
The other worker couldn’t have been over seventeen. He had shaggy blonde hair. Kind of like Spaghetti limbs, but not as long. “Oh shit, man,” he said. He picked up all the pizza cutters and clay tools he could before motioning the others over to the freezer. The large freezer door opened and swallowed the four people. Inside, the shaggy-haired worker gave out the tools in his hands.
Spaghetti Man got the largest pizza cutter. French Braid held a clamp and a pottery needle. Artie was given two pizza pans. He thought he could use them as frisbees. He told this to Spaghetti Man. The two chuckled. What a ridiculous idea. But if it comes down to it…
The shaggy-haired worker smiled at all of them one more time before he turned off the lights. Then it all went dark. Artie could still see his breath in the darkness. He found it odd.
The four waited in the cold for anyone that would dare open the freeze door. Surely the four of them could take on the gunman. Right?
There were three knocks on the door. They all readied their “weapons.”
Suddenly, the idea of a man with a gun seemed much larger than four people with kitchen utensils.
“A-E-I-O-U-and-sometimes-Y.” Everyone let out their held breaths. Artie could see them all.
The cashier snuck into the freezer. He carried a long pizza spatula. Artie thought about how he didn’t seem like a cashier anymore. More like savior now. The apron the cashier had on slowly turned into a breast plate made of steel. His pizza spatula now a sword. Spaghetti Man’s pizza cutter was razor sharp. French Braid’s needle came to a microscopic point. Her clamp’s jaw could crush a man’s bones. Artie’s pans turned to saw blades. God help whoever came into the freezer next.
Six more gunshots were heard. Six more. Three more. Five. One. The apron looked a lot like an apron again. Artie looked in his hand and saw his pans were pans again.
The five people stood in the cold as still as they could. After ten minutes, everyone was shivering.
The doorbell rang. Their kitchen utensils were readied again. They heard footsteps grown closer to the fridge. The footsteps mimicked Artie’s heartbeat. Then, the footsteps stopped in front of the freezer and Artie’s heart dropped.
“Hello?” said the man on the outside of the freezer.
All at once, the five people jumped out of the freezer and attacked. The gunman was beat with the pans, penetrated with the pottery needles, slapped with the pizza spatula, and sliced with pizza cutters. No one stopped their barrage until they all knew the man was dead.
After the slaughter, the five looked up to each other. Cutters and pans were drenched in blood. The cashier’s spatula had meat on it. French Braid’s arms were stained red. Spaghetti Man’s hair had red freckles covering it. They let out a collective breath of relief.
The doorbell rang again.
“Is anyone here?” a voice asked at the front of the store.
The weapons were readied again.
“The gunman is dead,” the voice said.
Yes he was. Right at their feet.
“The police managed to gun him down.”
The body on the floor didn’t look like the gunman’s anymore. Instead, it looked like Garry who was scheduled to come in at 4 pm.
It was 4:15.
Their weapons started to weigh heavy with blood.