I had been a young guy delivering pizza’s for Papa Vince after class for almost two years. The job was hard and people occasionally stiffed me, leaving me to pay their bill. But for the most part it was interesting enough for a college student to paid the bills that were more then my student loans covered.
My car took a beating I had to get it fixed more then I would have, but all in all I was happy with the situation. Tips were real good around the holidays and that made up for the rest.
I had my favorite customers, regulars that got a pie or two every week end or the Tuesday night meetings of the local sport enthusiast club in the church basement. They collectively tipped with the extra from the food fund each week after the pizza was paid for. Those guys always asked me when I was gonna’ join and I’d always cross my eyes and say, “Do you really want me shooting around you guys?” And they’d laugh.
I didn’t want to deliver pizza’s for the rest of my life, but until I finished college and went onto my doctorate this was the best gig I could find.
Halloween was always fun because we got to wear costumes on the job and got lots of candy along with a tip. Juvenile I know, but what did you expect from a college kid? We had a good group at the pizza place and we all tried hard to out do the others in the costume department.
Despite the fact that the boss, Vince, didn’t want me to wear it on deliveries I got the biggest tips the year I wore my costume of ‘The Fly.’ You know the old movie about the scientist that was caught with a fly in the booth for an experiment and he and the fly got their heads switched. I wore a research coat and made a giant fly, with a dolls head on it for its head, that I attached to the shoulder of the coat, and I had a full head mask of a fly on my head. I added a little squeaky voice saying, “Help me, help me!” sounding like it was coming from the doll head. It got a lot of laughs even from the people that didn’t know the movie.
But the worst Halloween was the one where I had to deliver to the cemetery.
The mayor was having a famous local dead people party there. For some reason the caterer didn’t have enough food for everyone that showed up so I was sent back and fourth with pizza’s as fast as Vince could make the extra ones.
I had Zombies and Ghosts, Witches all over me trying to be the first to get at the last order of pies. They had backed me up to a knee high headstone by the time they grabbed the last pie and didn’t see me trip backwards over the stone.
On the other side was an open grave roped off so no one got hurt, but I fell into it from the top, over the headstone of it‘s head to head neighbor. Right away I knew my arm was broken and I yelled and called for help, but the music was much too loud. No one heard me and if they did they must have thought it was sound effects for the party.
So there I was stuck in a hole, six feet down, with a broken arm, and there were people in every direction. Not one of them coming to help me. I managed to get myself into a sitting position in one of the corners and after waiting for the pain to subside I opened my eyes to see a small boy in the hole with me.
“You afraid?” he asked me.
“No, just hurt.” I told him. “Wait a minute. How did you get down here too? Did you get hurt when you fell in?”
“No. Just found myself down in a hole looking at you.”
I asked him what his name was and he told me Jimmy. I asked his age and he said, “Six.”
“Well your parents should be looking for you soon I guess, and they will find us and get us out.”
The party music played on and no one came looking for the boy. I tried to get up and help him to the top so he could get help, but I just couldn’t do it. My ankle was hurting too much and I couldn’t let go of my arm with my other hand. So I sat in the hole with this kid getting tired and wanting his mama for the rest of Halloween night.
The bandages from my undead costume were thinner then I thought and I was getting cold. Jimmy crawled up to my good side, he sang little rhyming songs to me and his toy dog that was the way we helped keep each other stay warm while we waited. There was nothing else we could do.
We woke to find it morning and we could hear the workers sent to clean up after the party. They were milling about waiting for the truck with the dumpster. I called and after some startled noises from the group I explained where we were and that we needed help getting out.
They gathered around the edge and looked down at me kind of funny, but I thought it was my costume. When I was done looking up and talking with my rescuers I looked back in the hole for Jimmy so they could get him out first while we waited for the rescue truck to come and haul me up in a basket, but he was gone.
I thought to myself, ‘Maybe I just dreamt about the kid?’ But when the nurse came in with my clothing so I could go home she gave me the little toy dog that she said was in my shirt pocket when I got there.
Jimmy was the name on the headstone I had tripped over that night. I stopped by the cemetery on the way home. I left his toy dog at the base of his headstone and thanked him for keeping me company that night. And his name appeared on my cast in a childish scrawl.