Chapter One Part Two
Jesse and his friends headed for the church parking lot. Jesse got into the driver’s seat of his cherry red 2010 Chevy Silverado, and his friends piled into the bed of the truck. On the drive to the pizzeria Jesse felt himself becoming frustrated with Pastor Boe, “That guy has a lot of nerve, suggesting my father is a danger to me.” Jesse said to himself aloud. Jesse looked over to his dashboard, turned on the radio, and began to sing Rob Zombie’s hit song Dragula. Jesse loses himself in these dark lyrics, beginning to feel a sense of peace.
Jesse heard his rear windshield window slide open, “Hey Jesse, you know you passed Papa Ed’s, right?” Sean reminded Jesse.
“Sorry,” Jesse apologized.
“Remember Jesse, distracted driving is reckless driving,” Sean joked as he slid the window shut. Jesse made a quick U-Turn on Concord Mall Drive and headed back towards Papa Ed’s shop.
Jesse pulled into the parking lot, parked the truck, and walked into the pizzeria with his friends. “Hello, welcome to Papa Ed’s, home of the famous Firehouse Pizza. My name is Kyle, would you prefer a booth or table?” A tall young man with long, dirty blonde hair greeted.
“Kyle, you know who I am, you don’t have to introduce yourself to me every time I walk through the door,” Jesse corrected the dimwitted host.
“Oh, right, my bad Mr. Sterling.” Kyle apologized.
“Kyle, Kyle, man I’ve told you a hundred times, call me Jesse,” Jesse corrected again.
“Sorry man,” Kyle awkwardly apologized again.
“Uhh, what’s The Firehouse Pizza?” Nick asked, wondering what kind of mad concoction this pizza could possibly be.
“The Firehouse Pizza is one of our many specialty pizzas.
Instead of having normal pizza sauce we replaced it with a cheese sauce. The toppings include cheesy shell noodles, ground beef, diced tomatoes, onions, and hot sauce,” Kyle explained.
“Oh, sounds delightful,” Nick said.
“Remind me to sit as far away from you as possible during our study session tonight,” Jesse said.
“We’ll take a table,” Sean said.
“Wonderful, right this way please,” Kyle said.
Jesse took a moment to admire the familiar design of the pizzeria, the front of the store had black and white tile flooring with walls to match. There was a counter near the door where customers paid for their orders. To the left of that around the corner was a mini arcade room. Towards the back of the room were the tables and booths. In the center of the room was a salad bar as well as a warming table where the lunch buffet was served. Hung all over the restaurant were pictures of fire trucks, fire stations, and pictures of Papa Ed when he was in the fire service. In between two of the booths in the back of the room was a jukebox where you could listen to any song for only a quarter.
“Jesse Sterling, you old son of a gun!” Jesse heard the familiar voice of Ed O’Ryan shout from the back of the store. Ed was a taller man of about 6’ and a bit chubby. He was a man of thirty years and an Army veteran. Jesse stood up from the table and suddenly felt his feet being lifted from the ground as Ed picked him up for a tight embrace.
“How’ve you been guy? I haven’t heard from you since you came to celebrate the big day last spring.” Ed asked as he squeezed Jesse tighter.
“Not too bad Ed. You look like you’re doing well.” Jesse replied trying to ignore the fact that Ed was wearing a white apron covered in pizza grease and flour.
“Oh, yeah, ever since leaving the fire service this old place has treated me quite well.” Ed said proudly.
“How’s the new wife?”
“Shelia is good, still can’t believe I got married again,” Ed said as he put his left hand to his forehead in disbelief. “I’m happy though, Shelia is a great woman and she makes me happy, and that’s all a man can ask for in life,” Ed said with a large smirk. “Thanks for coming to celebrate with us in New Orleans, Shelia and I really appreciated that, thank your dad for me too,” Ed said still with a giant grin.
“So, what will it be today gentlemen?” Ed asked as he pulled out a notepad out of his greasy apron.
“I’ll have a medium Firehouse Pizza with a Pepsi,” Nick ordered.
“Excellent choice, I can’t tell you how many nights I had The Firehouse Special and felt as though I was having a food baby afterwards. Not a good thing to eat right before going headlong into a house fire.”
“I’ll just have a medium ham and sausage pizza with water,” Jesse ordered.
“Just ask this guy, he knows all about the dreaded Firehouse Special,” Ed hassled Jesse.
“Oh God, don’t remind me. I thought I was going to explode that night,” Jesse said as he felt his stomach punish him at the mere thought of the memory.
“I’ll just have a medium cheese pizza with a Dr. Pepper,” Sean ordered.
“Alright gentlemen I’ll have this right out to you,” Ed said putting the notepad back into his filthy apron and walking back to the kitchen.
“Seems like a pretty cool guy,” Sean said.
“Oh yeah, the coolest…” Jesse said pausing to listen to the music. “Hang on guys I love this song,” Jesse said as he walked back to the jukebox and began to sing the chorus of I Want it That Way by The Backstreet Boys.
“Seriously man? Do you still listen to the Backstreet Boys? How old are you, twelve?” Sean asked sarcastically as both he and Nick shared a long laugh.
“Yeah, and so what? I like singing to their songs, and they are like my favorite band,” Jesse said defensively. Jesse’s friends just laughed.
“That’s a beautiful singing voice you have,” A beautiful young woman complimented him.
“Why thank you. I haven’t seen you around here before, you new to town?” Jesse asked smiling at the young woman.
“No, I’ve lived here for years, I’ve never been here before, so I decided to check it out,” She answered. There was a short pause between them, “My name is Melody,” She introduced.
“I’m Jesse,” He said shyly. “Are you here with friends?” Jesse asked struggling to strike up a conversation.
“Yeah,” Melody replied as she brushed her golden locks out of her face.
“I see,” Jesse answered at a loss for words.
“Melody, let’s go. We’re late!” Jesse heard a feminine voice call from the door.
“Well it was nice meeting you Jesse, I hope I’ll see you around,” Melody said smiling at Jesse.
“Yeah, me too,” Jesse answered awkwardly as he watched her glide out the door.