The Pizza of Dorian Gray_Bill Bibo_1

The Pizza of Dorian Gray 

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Friday night. The sky is prematurely dark, layered by thick clouds heavy with moisture and menace. Thunder cracks. The lights over a parking lot blink from the electrical charge in the air as two silver minivans stop in front of The Pizza Libertine. Doors slide open. Twelve uniformed adults run for the front awning as the clouds let loose their watery torment.

Safe for the moment, Jim asks, “Are you sure this is the place?”

“It’s been 15 years but it looks exactly the same,” Sybil says.

“Why aren’t there any other cars?” Tiffany asks.

“Would you go out in this weather? Our softball game was cancelled. A flash flood has closed the highway. We’re stuck here till it passes,” Bobby says.

The restaurant door opens. Standing in the light is the most beautiful young man any of them has ever seen. It is love at first sight for more than one member of the team.

“Please come inside,” he says. Lightning strikes a nearby light pole. A cascade of golden sparks spills to the ground. They need no second offer, pushing by him to get inside.

“Greetings. I am Dorian,” says their host.

“You must be his son. We came here when I was a child,” Sybil says.

“I assure you I am he, the one, the only.”

“You can’t be. You look so”—she takes a deep breath—”amazing.”

“Thank you, my dear. I live life to the fullest, and try to do so with my pizza.”

“The Pizza Libertine?” Jim says. “That’s a curious name.”

“My pizza is so delicious, it’s sinful. One bite and you will sell your soul for another.” Thunder crashes.

“What’s on this unbelievable creation?” Jim asks. A mocking tone enters his voice.

“Anything”—Dorian takes Sybil’s hand—“you”—looks into her eyes—“desire.”—and kisses her fingertips.
Sybil giggles. A deep blush travels up her cheeks. What is she doing? She hasn’t giggled in years. She sees Jim turning a dangerous shade of red. To calm her boyfriend, she changes the subject by asking where the restroom is.

“Down the hall on the left. Do not open the door on the right if you value”—thunder booms—”your sanity.”

How does he do that? Sybil wonders as she heads to the restroom.

At the end of the hall her curiosity becomes too strong. Sybil opens the door on the right. A single pizza sits on a desk. She is horrified. The corruption of spices, the foulness of the toppings, the decay of the crust. It is too much. Should she warn her friends? They won’t believe her. A photo is needed. She leans in for the selfie.

The flash affects the pizza. It begins to decompose, disintegrating in the harsh sudden light.

“What have you done?” Dorian clutches the wall behind her, his once youthful flesh blistering like overcooked mozzarella. He falls to the floor.

“Guys!” Sybil shouts to her friends, stepping over him, “I think I’d rather have a burger.”

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Bill lives with his wife in Madison, WI. Late at night he writes about intelligent mummies, incompetent zombies, and other things that scare him in the hope that someday they no longer will. He’d like to thank his wife and children and especially his grandsons, Nolan and Sonny, for keeping the child alive in his heart. It’s so deeply rooted now nothing could remove it. @bbibojr

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