by Will Musgrove
Clicking silver levers, the former pastor, Hank, made change. He went to hand an assortment of greasy coins and bills to the funeral director but was waved off. A tip. A tithe. With the smell of cured meats and formaldehyde mixing, the funeral director broke for dinner. Hank ambled toward the door, not eager to get back to the bright light shining atop his car, a bright light that proved he was a man of dough and sauce, a delivery driver for Joe’s Pizza.
Noticing the podium where he’d laid to rest several members of the community, Hank thought: Why not? For old times’ sake. He gripped the podium’s wooden edges and stared out at the empty seats that had once supported the rears of his flock.
“Deliver me from sin and to a large meat lover’s, amen,” Hank said, his mouth tasting of stolen pepperonis.
The truth: Hank had never been a faithful believer. But do we need to believe in something to do good? That was what he’d wanted to do, good. Religion seemed like the easiest way to do just that, but he could only be dishonest for so long. So, last week, he left one franchise to work for another.
Having other deliveries to make, Hank stepped out from behind the podium and heard smacking lips. He peered down a hallway into a room where the funeral director sat at a table dangling a slice of pizza over his cocked head. Mozzarella tendrils oozed from the crust’s point to the tip of the funeral director’s chin, which was covered in marinara.
Watching the funeral director fold the slice like a piece of paper and devour it, a blissful moan accompanying each swallow, warmed Hank’s chest. When the funeral director lifted another slice from the box, Hank felt like he was being lifted, like his body was made of bread and toppings. He wanted to drive back to Joe’s Pizza and load the backseat of his car with every pie on the menu—hell, even pineapple—and bring them to the funeral director as an offering of hope. He wanted to crawl into the pizza oven and bake himself to be enjoyed by every hungry soul. He was a rising dough of happiness.
Hank’s cell phone buzzed. It was his next delivery asking for an estimated time of arrival. He jogged to his car. Reaching for a crumpled Joe’s Pizza napkin balled up on his dash, he wiped away tears. He turned the key in the ignition and pulled out of the funeral home’s quiet parking lot to spread the delicious word. For the remainder of his deliveries, an angel cheered him on, guided him as he went door to door. This angel’s wings weren’t made of white feathers. No, this angel’s wings were made of pure joy, pizza.
Will Musgrove is a writer and journalist from Northwest Iowa. He received an MFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in TIMBER, The McNeese Review, Oyez Review, Tampa Review, Vestal Review, and elsewhere. Connect on Twitter at @Will_Musgrove.