Gary sat sullenly on the arm of the couch. He glanced over toward the kitchen, where a burnt pie lay steaming on the counter. His cat, Aggie, jumped up onto the counter and ate the pie. He sprung up from off the couch and hobbled into the kitchen, turning Aggie’s face away from the burnt pie. His eyes widened.
“And how long have you been home?” Gary asked. Aggie poised her head up toward Gary. Meow.
Gary chuckled before turning over toward the refrigerator, tossing open the door, and bending over at the hips to peer inside. Ding-dong. He cocked his head toward the door and then toward Aggie.
“Oh, that must be the pizza! You’re gonna have to wait a minute for some food, Aggie.”
Gary stumbled away from the fridge, leaving the door hanging open. He hobbled over to the front door. Ding-dong. Gary hurled open the front door. Before him was a young man wearing a red uniform, donning a red pizza cap. In his hands, he held a box of pizza. Not a scratch — a big slab of pizza. He kept it.
“What are you up to?” Gary asked him in a quiet voice. The young man scoffed. He said,
“I’m waiting for my money.”
Gary stared at the young man blankly for a moment, before submerging his fist into his pocket and snatching out a wad of cash. He pressed it into the man’s palm and snatched the pizza box from out of his hand. The man stared down at the cash, donning on his face a disgusted expression. At once, Aggie ran between Gary’s legs, brushing up against him. Then she bolted out the front door. Gary gasped, and he said,
The man looked at Aggie as she stepped out of the doorway and disappeared into the darkness. Gary sighed. “Don’t worry about it, man. She does this.” The pizza delivery man looked up, staring into Gary’s eyes. Gary stared back at him. They remained like this for a moment; suddenly, Gary scoffed, and he slammed the door shut behind him as he strode back toward the couch.
The pizza delivery man stared idly at the front door for a moment. There was no sign of life upon his face, just a mind-numbing silence—the absence of thought. A few moments passed. The man rocked his head, and he turned to face his car.
“Oh, of course. I’m Danny. My shift is basically over.”
He held up both of his hands before him. In his right hand, he held up a sticky ring of keys. In his left hand, he held a wad of cash, which he promptly stuffed into his pocket before hobbling down the driveway toward his delivery-car. He promptly slid into his car and drove home.
As he eased open the front door and tossed his hat onto the kitchen table, they met him with the ear-piercing screams of children. Two children, a girl and a boy, ran past him, stirring up a ruckus as they went. Danny slipped off his jacket, hung it up on the back of the front door, and stumbled past the kitchen, making his way down the hall. Behind him, a soft voice spoke up.
“You sure are home awfully late.” Danny turned around. The voice was a heavy one, as if something stirred his heart with emotion. He said,
“Pardon?” She stared back at him for a moment, unflinching. Some time passed in silence, until she spoke up,
“Why can’t we just be honest with each other?” At that moment, her voice grew stronger. It tore through her speech, ripping through the atmosphere.
“You know, I’m tired of being lied to!” Danny sweat profusely. The children had stopped in their tracks, and they stared up at the two. Danny quickly turned around, and he ran into the bathroom, slamming the door shut behind him and locking it.
Danny gazed up into the mirror before him, his eyes trembling. He backed himself up into the corner of the room, clutching at his chest, leaning back against the wall. A banging echoed through the door — the sound of someone knocking.
“Really? This is what you’re doing? Come out and face me like a man! Every time you come back home, you just run away from me!” the voice said.
At once, Danny focused on his reflection. He took deeper and deeper breaths. At one point, it seemed as if his breathing had stopped. He was not even sure if he was in pain, but his eyes were widening with fear and confusion. His knees were trembling, and his ankles were rigid. He gently placed his hands on top of his head, burrowing his fingers into his curly brown hair. He pressed his face up close to the mirror, and he waited. It was dark. Danny wondered if he might not see through the veil. He was oddly relieved when he felt the mirror moving closer to him until it was as if it were a soft cloth wrapped around his face.
His eyes met the mirror, and he could see himself—he could see himself for who he truly was. He was not Danny. The reflection in the mirror seemed to distort. His hair straightened. His back became crooked, and his form became thin. Danny frowned, and he tore up. He asked,
“Why am I even here? This isn’t my problem. This shouldn’t be my problem. I’m fine with just being a loser, but I don’t need this on top of all that.”
Knock knock knock knock knock. There was a pounding at the door. At once, Danny winced. He pressed his fingers sharply against his scalp, pressing his nails beneath his skin. A thin stream of blood poured down his face as he tore apart the veil. Like the peel of an orange, the flesh crumbled onto the floor. Gary emerged from the pile of scrap. He smirked at himself in the mirror, and he apprehended the pile of flesh from off the ground. Triumphantly, Gary unlocked the door and paced out into the hall. As he stepped out of the bathroom, the woman from before met his gaze. She flinched for a moment, before pushing past him, investigating the bathroom for herself.
“Who the fuck are you? Where’d Danny go?” She asked.
Gary did not respond. He glanced about the hall, at the two kids staring at them from behind the banister at the end of the hall, at the framed family photos lining the wall, and at the fuming individual behind him. At once, she stumbled for a moment, regaining her balance as she lay her hand on the sink. She glanced down at the skin in Gary’s hand. Her eyes widened. She screamed.
With an awkward expression on his face, Gary dashed down the hall, back into the kitchen. He snatched his hat from off the table, and he threw on his coat, and he bought an empty pizza box from out of the trash before tossing open the door and sprinting out of the home.
A few hours passed. Gary drove off into the night, bringing the car to a halt in his own driveway. He sauntered out of the car, slammed its door shut behind him, and stumbled up the path toward his front door, carrying a pizza box in his hand, still wearing the man’s uniform. Ding-dong. Gary rang the doorbell. Some time passed. No sound came from beyond the door. Gary leaned forward once more. Ding-dong. The door flew open. Before him, Gary saw himself standing in the doorway of his home. In a quiet voice, the other Gary asked,
“What are you up to?”
Gary scoffed, and he propped his hand out in front of him.
“I’m waiting for my money.”
The other man stared blankly at Gary for a moment before submerging his fist into his pocket and snatching out a wad of cash. He pressed it into Gary’s palm and snatched the pizza box from out of his hand. The man stared down at the cash, donning on his face a disgusted expression. At once, Aggie ran between Gary’s legs, brushing up against him. Then she bolted out the front door. The other Gary gasped, and he said,
The man looked at Aggie as she stepped out of the doorway and disappeared into the darkness. The other Gary sighed.
“Don’t worry about it, man. She does this.”
Gary glanced up, staring into the other Gary’s eyes. Gary whispered,
The other man gulped. He stared down toward the pizza box, and he slowly lifted the lid. For a moment, he frowned as he flipped the lid over. Then he smiled. As he pulled Danny's skin from the box, he chuckled a bit. He dropped the box onto his concrete doorstep as he held the flesh in front of him, as if he were holding a shirt. He shook it. A jingling sound echoed from out of the flesh. A pair of keys fell onto the hardwood floor, coated in a thin layer of blood. The other Gary snatched them up from off of the floor. They were still sticky. He stuffed them into his pockets, and he returned his gaze back to the flesh.
At once, in a single motion, he stretched the skin underneath his leg. At first, he stepped into the suit as if putting on a pair of pants. Then he slid his arms inside as if putting on a coat. He glanced up at Gary once more. They stared at each other for a moment before leaning together, sharing a quick hug. The other Gary retrieved the pizza box from off of the ground and walked past Gary, making his way toward the car in Gary’s driveway.
Gary stepped into his own house. He tossed his hat off onto the couch as he walked by. Gary paraded around toward the back of the room, and he hung his pizza delivery jacket onto a coat rack at the far end of the living room. He creeped over into the kitchen. The fridge door remained hanging open, the inside of which was empty. He glanced over toward the counter, where Aggie sat, staring up at him.
“I’m sorry, Aggie!” He continued, “I totally forgot to feed you after I got that pizza, huh?”
“Man! Now I don’t even know where the pizzas are. That bastard probably ate it already!”
Aggie shook her head. She jumped down from the counter, and she tip-toed through the kitchen into the living room. She jumped up onto the back of the couch and stared back toward Gary. He followed her into the living room, collapsing onto the couch, around the side of which until she stopped on the arm of the sofa. Behind her, on the nearby coffee table, rested a box of pizza. Gary smiled. He grabbed the remote from off the side of the couch, and he snatched the box of pizza onto his lap.
He turned the TV on, set it onto a vapid soap opera, and scarfed down the pizza. Meow. Aggie tapped her paw against Gary’s arm. He stared down at her before snatching a slice of pizza from out of the box and setting it down on the couch beside her, which she scarfed up just as Gary did.
As the pizza dwindled, there was writing at the bottom of the box. In time, he finished the pizza, and Gary investigated the space. Gary’s eyes widened. There was a massive text written in black sharpie: I can’t wait to meet you, Gary! ~ Your man, Godfrey.