On this Monday night, Melissa is boiling mad but trying not to take it out on her customers, as it’s not their fault; it’s that fucking Mary Ann.

Ray knows right away that something is wrong.

“What is it, dear?” he asks as she serves him a vodka & tonic and a pile of cocktail napkins for his shredding pleasure. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s that fucking Mary Ann,” she says.

“What did she do now?”

“She fired Jordan.”

“Jordan, the pizza cook?”


“Why? He makes great pizza.”

“That’s why.”

Ray thinks his 80 year old ears have failed him. “What’s why?”

“Let me back up. I heard this from Tara, so I’m sure it’s accurate. That girl doesn’t lie. There was a couple at the bar last night. Not regulars. Tara didn’t know them. They ordered the spinach and bacon pizza. Tara said it came out looking beautiful. The couple oohed and aahed and said it tastes as good as it looks. Mary Ann came up to the bar to ask Tara some stupid ass question about her timecard. The guy part of the couple apparently figured she was the manager and told her how great the pizza was. Said it was perfect, best he ever had. Tara said Mary Ann thanked him but got a funny look on her face.”

“Funny how?” Ray asks.

“Said she twisted her mouth more than usual and her eyes got hard and glittery.”

“Oh my.”

“As soon as the couple left, Mary Ann headed to the kitchen and fired Jordan. She told him he set an impossibly high standard and that any pizza served to that couple in the future could only be disappointing. Said she valued consistency above all else and he and the other cooks cannot be consistently perfect.”

“What a dope,” Ray says.

“Jordan will be fine but it’s so stupid. We’re going to lose business. Some regulars will only order pizza when Jordan is here. They’ll follow him to wherever he lands. It will take money right out of my pocket.”

Ray nods thoughtfully. “I know, dear,” he says. “It’s quite the clusterfuck.”

Melissa laughs. “Cracks me up when you curse like a young person, Ray-Ray,” she says. “What do you want to eat?”

“Not pizza,” Ray answers.











































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