Sunday, August 10, 2008

David Almost Dies; Pizza Hut With Andre Alexis; Saved By John Metcalf's "The Lady Who Sold Furniture"

I was stabbed last week. Once in the shoulder, once just under the shoulder, and once just below the title of my hardcover copy of John Metcalf's The Lady Who Sold Furniture. Right now there's a tube leading from my my AC joint to a wad of gauze that's taped to my pectoral muscle. Luckily, like Robert Kroetsch, I don't have much chest hair. So getting the tape off is really almost fun.

Here's how it happened. I was outside a bar at Weston Road and Lawrence, and I was waiting for Andre Alexis to pick me up. But he was late, as always, and I started walking. About a hundred steps east on Lawrence I heard a guy shouting. I turned to look at him.

"What are you lookin' at?"

I turned away.

"Don't you be turnin' away from me."

It was Alexis.

"What happened to your car?" I asked.

"It broke down."

"It broke down, and you walked all the way here?"

"It broke down and I biked all the way here."

"So where's your bike?"

"It broke down."

We kept walking. About twenty minutes later, just east of Jane, Andre saw a Pizza Hut. "Let's go in," he said. "I like the thick crusts."

"Let's just go for a drink, okay. That was the plan."

"But this way we'll get a base."

"That pizza's all grease."

"Hey! I like the thick crust."

This argument lasted for about five minutes. I was too tired to keep going. If Andre Alexis wants a thick crust, then Andre Alexis will have a thick crust. I've seen it happen at least twelve times. Once I was at one of his readings and a guy in the audience was eating an apple. "You know what I could use right about now?" Alexis asked himself. "A thick crust." He looked at the audience. "Is anyone here hungry? Let's split a pizza. Show of hands: who likes the thick crust?" Another time, at the dentist's office, he had a pizza delivered to the waiting room. When the receptionist asked what he was doing, he just said, "The thick crust calls, my dear." This night was a variation on the theme. "You want a pizza?" I asked. "Fine. We'll get a pizza."

"You're sharing."

"I'm not sharing."

"This is authentic, Chicago deep-dish pizza, man."

"You mean they freeze it all the way down in Illinois?"

"Nooo! This is always fresh!"

"That's Pizza Pizza, Andre."

"This is Pizza Hut! Look at that roof. Now that's a hut."

At about that point, a guy walked up behind me and jabbed something in my hip. "Gimme your money," he said.

I gave him my money. Why argue with a man with an eight-inch hunting knife. He turned to Alexis. "And you."

"Where are you from?" Alexis asked.

"I'm from gimme your money."

"Jamaica's a fine place."

"Gimme your money."

"We were just about to order a Chicago, deep-dish pizza."

"Okay. Gimme your money and your ticket."

"My what?"

"Your ticket. You're going to Chicago."

"No, no. We were going to order a pizza."

"Just gimme your money."

At this point I stepped in between them. "Look. He probably only has twenty bucks. Don't you have something that he can autograph. Really, it would be worth much more. I know that Eva-Marie Kroller, if you called her, would really--"

"Shut up."

"...And told her it was tax deductible--"

"Just give me the damn money!"

"...Justin D. Edwards said that Morley Callaghan--"

And that's when he stabbed me. It was the Morley Callaghan allusion. I know it. Never mention Morley Callaghan's name during a robbery. This was the second time I'd done it, and neither had ended well. The first time I was at Bay and King and a guy told me to give him my shoes. I said, "Morley Callaghan died in these shoes!" and the guy fractured my forearm with a pipe cutter.

We went into the Pizza Hut to call the police. "Ask the ambulance how long they'll be," Alexis told me.

"Just order the goddamn pizza already."

"...If I could get some SERVICE around here."

At this point I was flat, face-first on the floor. "David! David!"

"Yes," I mumbled. You can mumble Yes. It's a three-letter word, but it can be mumbled.

"David! Do you like onions? They have red onions. On the pizza."

"No onions."

"David! David! The bill's $18.46. Do you have a penny? That way--"

"I know. They give you a quarter."

"Stay awake, David. Don't sleep. Don't go to sleep on me...It's almost ready."

"I'm really...I'm really tired."

"Don't close your eyes! Don't close them! Here, read something."

And he gave me a copy of TLWSF. "I've read it already."

"How many times?"


"Oh, you've got to read it twice."

When the pizza came out, Alexis bit his lip. I'd bled onto the all-weather carpet. "This is a large? Come on! Can you look at this, David! I can't eat this myself. What value."

I'm recovering, but it'll be a few days 'til I can move my right arm. In the meantime, I'm eating leftovers.

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