What she liked most about Ken Krieg? He didn’t mind she was taller or a volleyball star. Eating Buddhist cuisine in Buffalo, he told her flat as their food, “I want to marry you, work on Wall Street, and live in a mansion on Long Island.”
Already the school’s stud quarterback, Ken’s weren’t dreamy aspirations. In less than a decade, he collected all three, not to mention side pieces.
Every Friday, she shopped in Queens for Buddhist cuisine, but lately she swung by Queens-Size Pizza, too.
As tall as she, John Falco stooped affably behind the counter. Old classmates, they had always liked each other, but he hadn’t made a move. Four Fridays lustily eating in front of him, and nothing.
Finally seeming to get it, instead of pizza, he asked her to coffee. “Down the block.”
Some stares on the way assumed they were a couple. She didn’t mind.
Sitting with their drinks, he said, “Glad you were up for this. It’s great seeing you, but–”
“You wish it were more than a pizza fix.”
“You wish it were pizza and sex.”
He swallowed. “No.”
“‘No’? You wanted me in college.”
“More than wanted. I loved you.”
She blinked. “You… loved me?”
“I saw you were there for more than grades or sports. You wanted to learn as much as you could, take it with you the rest of your life. You made me want that, too. So maybe I never asked you out—”
“You were pretty taken with Ken.” He nodded at her ring.
She shut her eyes, sat back. “Yeah, well, he’s cheated on me. I’ve cheated on him. I’m afraid he’ll clean me out if I split. Still love me?”
She leaned in and kissed him. He turned it into a two-for-one.
Pulling back a bit, she whispered, “Ken’s away Tuesday till Saturday. Can you catch a train?”
Tuesday went so well, they did it again Wednesday and Thursday.
Eight days later, Ken surprised her at the Buddhist market. “Forget the diet,” he said. “Let’s get pizza.”
“Are you sure?” she asked, smoothly enough.
“I want a fresh start.”
That tied her tongue.
“I insist,” he said. “Let me drive.”
She did. Anything else would’ve made him suspicious. The chance he’d get pizza close to home faded as he pulled into Queens-Size.
He held the door for her. Inside, he studied the photo wall. “This guy went to college,” he whispered, “and wound up here? Better not embarrass him.”
The way he phrased that, maybe he didn’t remember John, a linebacker off the bench.
When their turn came, Ken ordered a large pie. “Half beef-and-bacon.”
“Half pepperoni-and-sausage,” she added.
“Drinks?” John asked, affable as always.
“No,” she cut in. “We’ll take it to go.”
“Twenty-five dollars. You can pay at the register and watch me make it.”
As cool as he played everything, John had to be freaking. She was freaking.
At home, Ken offered to reheat the pie, let her change clothes.
Instead of the usual twenty, she took two minutes. Sneaking back, she shot video with her phone from the archway, Ken spiking the pizza with rat poison.
“I’m divorcing you,” she blurted.
His hands rose in surrender. “Fine,” he sighed.
Gerald So is a writer, editor, and reviewer. He runs The Five-Two weekly crime poetry site, now in its tenth year.