Click here for the contest description. The task was to answer the question: Why does Jimmy hate pizza?
by Luis Vendrell
The cafeteria was acrid with pubescent sweat. Boys, those who had yet to realize that deodorant is more than a courtesy, filled the seats around him. Girls who understood the intricacies of bathing clung to the edges, far away from the almost visible cloud of pungent stink emitted by the males. Jimmy wished he had the courage to join them. Anything to get away from the barbaric guys who thought punching him in the gut was the funniest thing they last farted.
The stench wafted at him from all directions. He could feel the grease cling to his face and soak into his skin.
As if he needed anything else to add to the blotched wasteland of his face.
Jimmy poked at the food on his plate. How could he have forgotten his lunch? He was under strict orders from his dermatologist: Do not stray from this diet. Well, that was, if he didn't want to end up looking like that guy from Machete. But, here he was, faced with the only food in the world that mirrored his face. The one food that could mock him simply with its existence.
Pizza. It made him all too aware of the three new pimples that had sprung up on his forehead over night. Each with a white bulb fresh for the popping. He had resisted the urge to do so, but only barely. The debate as to whether a pearl of puss or a seeping red hole was worse went on for fifteen minutes while he stared at himself in the mirror.
Whatever cosmic entity had decided to crap on him today has certainly done its homework. Grease oozed red from the pepperoni and mixed with its clear counterpoint from the cheese. He imagined touching it, the way the viscous fluid would adhere to his fingertips. Traces would remain even after wiping it away. No napkin stood a chance against that mess. Still, he had an army of the things set before him -- a vain hope that maybe he could win this battle.
With a sigh Jimmy plucked one from the top of the pile. Then, unsure if a lone sheet could handle the task, he grabbed several more. He dabbed at the top of the slice. The action started timid, but turned determined as the white paper became translucent. It was more like kicking a dog than discarding a used napkin when he slapped the sodden mass into the cup cut-out of his Styrofoam tray. Orange specks spattered and speckled the ringed top edge. His stomach groaned at the sight while his mind made the corollary between the visage and his face.
At least that is over, he thought and looked upon his lunch. More oil had seeped out of the places he had already wiped.
"Really?" He asked the air.
"Who yah talkin' to Jay?" Jorge Valdez, the kid seated next to him, turned towards Jimmy, his lips shined with the sheen of his already eaten pizza. A smear crept up from his mouth in a diagonal across his cheek. Jimmy imagined a line of white-heads using the grease as fuel to finally breach the surface of his skin. That was, if Jorge had ever had to struggle against blemishes. His tanned skin was flawless.
"No one," Jimmy said and grabbed several more napkins. It was futile. The stupid slice of pizza seemed to have an infinite supply of grease. In despair he pinched the bridge of his nose, before quickly retracting his hand, but the damage was done. Like a second parasitic skin the stickiness of his fingerprints burned. How many blemishes would come from that inadvertent action?
One step closer to you Mr. Pizza, he thought with a glare at triangular slab in front of him.
A voice broke though his melancholy, "Yah goin' to eat that?" Jorge pointed at the tramped down slice.
"No." Jimmy shook his head.
"Can I have it?"
"It's all yours, man." He pushed the tray towards Jorge.
"Sweet." Jorge reached towards the pizza with gleaming fingers. The corner of his mouth curved up slightly when he held the floppy thing to the rest of the table.
If Jimmy had known what he would do next, maybe he would have left before it happened.
The imbecile folded the slice in half. It was a poor imitation of a mouth. "Hey everybody! I'm Jimmy." Jorge traitorous words spoke for the pizza. He then held the slice a few inches from
Jimmy's face. "It's like lookin' in a mirror huh?"
Before Jimmy could stand up and flee the scene Jorge slammed the slice right into his face. Long gone cold from Jimmy's inability to eat it, the pizza still managed to secrete its damning venom onto his flesh.
The only thing louder than the resultant laughs from everyone in the cafeteria, was the scream of his shame.