Jared Lipof
| Fiction

I should have seen what was coming when we pulled up in front of King’s Pizza.

“King’s?” I said. “We always go to Star Pizza.”

My parents exchanged a look I could not decipher.

Inside, we gazed up at a menu that was nearly identical to Star’s, and yet all wrong and foreign-seeming, like my father’s Saab. He mused, loudly, to the guy behind the counter, “Thought I saw a FOR RENT sign outside. You got a recent vacancy upstairs?”

The guy shrugged. “I just work here. I don’t own the building.”

At dinner my father managed to drop the words bank, rob, escape, and even fugitive into our conversation. As we awaited the falling ax, my father chomped joyously on pizza crust, loving every minute of it.

Afterwards, back in the car, he said, “Anyone feel like swinging by…Shoemaker’s?”

Before I could answer, Benny said “I do!”

Goddamn him. What did he care, anyway? A lecture from somebody else’s parents was meaningless, irrelevant as a Belgian tax schedule. My father dragged us all down there to witness an obvious burlesque of his being very interested in a black-and-white photo of the actor Mark Hamill, encased in bandages. Naturally, they had never stocked nor heard of such an item.

“Oh, really?” He turned around to face Benny and me while my mother leafed through the latest issue of Wonder Woman. “What do you two have to say for yourselves?”

“Sorry,” we said in unison, and he led us back out to the car.

Jared Lipof is a sound engineer for documentary television programs. His work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review. He lives in Tallahassee, where he is at work on a novel.

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