The Chance of a Lifetime

February 28, 2011
If there was a more dull, dreary, touristy city I would probably be there, but New York City, thats a pizza maker’s paradise. Well, I don’t own a pizzeria, but that’s where I usually find myself. Hired from one fired from another. Flipping dough, coming home with a salary that could get me a new pen.

While walking into the lobby of an 8 story walk up on Bleaker St I find myself repeating the same dull pattern of my life; the only things that change being the people I share the elevator with. The elevator takes me to my 3rd floor ‘walk-in-closet’ of an apartment. I feel my lack of sympathy almost as thick as I can hear the rain outside. Sticking my key in the lock of the green scratched-up door that is so loose on its hinges, I’m surprised the entire Homeless Person’s Convention hasn’t found their way in. I realize I’d forgotten groceries: ramen noodles. Chicken or beef. Too many possibilities. A bed, a kitchenette that could maybe rival that of a hotel mini-bar, a coffee table, couch, and a window that gives me the amazing view of a brick wall with dead ivy spanned across it.

This morning at 4:30 I had the privilege of making myself a hearty breakfast of grapes and toast, and opened up ‘Papa Luigi’s Pizzeria Extraordinaire on 7th. My checklist includes: thaw the frozen ingredients (which basically means everything). It’s beyond me why people like our pizza; sure we over load it with cheese; but besides that everything in that pizza we get from the Food Supply Co., and it’s really not great pizza. After that I turn on the OPEN sign, and that’s it. Which is pitiful because by the looks of the cheesy commercial, you’d think I’d be chopping peppers and sliding a pile of ‘tasty’ hand-made dough and veggies into an oven on a peel.

After my 39th pizza I believe, the epicure in charge of the New York Times restaurant critique department James Steel, walks in (which only strengthens my point of how people have no idea of what is in their food). He wasn’t at all what I expected. He had silver-gray hair, but looked young. With a pencil on top of his ear and a bluetooth in it, his importance radiated around the room, for everyone looked at him in fear without even knowing who he was. He took in a whiff of the ambiance and raised his eyebrows and lips in disapproval. My manager bursted through the kitchen door knocking over a bowl or two.

“Make him the best pie you know how” he shouted anxiously.

Immediately I stretched out the dough, flipping it as high as I could so he might see. I threw on vegetable after vegetable, and slid it into the death-trap-broiler we call an oven. When the pie was finished and bubbling it received my manager’s approval, and he told me to take it out myself for that “Pizza maker hand-delivering it to the customer” kind of feel. When I passed through the double swinging doors, I realized how few times I had seen the front of the house. It wasn’t much maybe twenty tables, and a waiters podium with a sign that read ‘Please Seat Yourself’. There were three waiters I could see. One was wiping a table that a kid had spilt his soda on; another was sitting in the corner bored; and the other was delivering the replacement drink to the spilt one. One foot after another. the pizza was slowly warming the tray, almost burning my hand, I was getting more and more nervous as I saw my job hanging in the already unbalanced balance. I walked closer without seeing an ice cube that had fallen from the table that the child had decorated with cola approaching my foot.

I didn’t fall, but I flinched enough for a large drop of searing hot pizza sauce to drip onto my arm. My initial reaction was to fling the pizza from my hands to wipe the burning substance off of my arm. This is what I did and the pizza unfortunately landed on the epicure’s foot causing him to shriek briefly and scuttle to the bathroom to soothe his possibly cooked foot. When I returned to the kitchen after a long, slow, shameful walk, I saw my manager giving me the most angry, disappointed look possible. He didn’t even have to tell me I was fired; he gave me my last paycheck and pointed to the alleyway door.

I lied. He did say something.

“Don’t ever come back!” yelled my manager angrily.

With nothing but my paycheck and a lowered self-esteem, I started for the bus stop. A flock of pigeons were startled by a nearby street-sweeper and flew up into my face; I dropped my paycheck, and a gust of wind picked it up and carried it across the street. I hastily followed it as it turned corners and crossed streets, almost in an organized way. I chased it almost catching it with a few leaps into an alley. There were only two things in this particular alley: an entrance to the ‘Driftwood Tavern’ and a rusted old dumpster. The check then did something unexpected. It precariously landed on the Tavern’s doorstep, perfectly facing me like I had placed it there.

After a quick thought and glance at the strange thing that had happened, I went to pick the check up when a short, old man came out of the dingy bar.
“Need a hand?”, asked the man.
“With the paycheck, no I think I got it”, I replied surely.
“Not with that, with your life” He stated hushed, as if so no one else would hear.
“Excuse Me?”, I questioned.
“You know your life isn’t the best, Mr. Jameson”, he reported.
“How do you know my name”?, I asserted.
“I can make it better”, The man continued not paying any attention to what I was saying.
“How so?’’ I asked.
“Let’s not get in to that”, he quickly stated.
“Are you in or out?’’ he asked, as if he were in a hurry.
“Not interested,” I replied.
“It’s the Chance of a Lifetime, just seal it with a handshake,” he informed.
“Not interested,” I repeated, and started to walk away.
“You could have anything you ever wanted,” he added.
I started to walk away when he mentioned...
“You forgot your check, Conner.”
I walked back to the door where he was waiting with my check.
“Thanks,” I said nervously.
As I reached for the check he grabbed my hand and shook it.






















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I awoke in a luxe apartment. A kitchen that could rival that of a Crate & Barrel, a shiny, black grand piano, a TV as big as the windows of Marshall Fields®, a leather couch, and a huge stain-glass table. I was on the floor (which was hardwood), and extremely hungry; I was about to go into the kitchen when the old man walked in.
“Do you like your apartment,” he asked me with a strange smirk on his face.
“This is mine?” I asked.
“Yes, you remember, right. You agreed to this in the alley,” he asked again with a smirk.
“You tricked me,!” I exclaimed.
“That’s not what I recall,” he stated. “You shook my hand fair and square, those are the rules.”
“Rules? What rules?” I asked.
“Let’s not get into that now,” he stated.
“There’s a lot you’re not telling me,” I declared.
“Coffee,?” he asked, changing the subject.
“Sure?” I replied. “You’re freaking me out.”
“Don’t you get it. You can have WHATEVER you want, that’s what I’ve been telling you!” he exclaimed.
“Really?” I asked.
“Yes! Ask for something, anything!” he coaxed.
“Ok, a strawberry shake, I guess,” I nervously replied.

Almost immediately a strawberry shake appeared on the granite countertop beside me. It tasted great, and made me feel almost, more in shape. I felt amazing. Like I could run a marathon.
“Another please,” I asked anxiously.

Before Long I had drank probably twenty strawberry shakes; I had a boat, 10 billion dollars, and the apartment had three more floors. The old man had this grin on his face like he was extremely happy for me or something. I don’t know what I wanted next; the pacific ocean, a private jet, a whale for the ocean?
“Yes, yes, keep wishing,” said the old man.
“Why are you so excited for my wishes,” I asked the old man.
“I’m..umm...just happy for you, very happy,’ sputtered the old man. “Get some rest, you’re tired,” he said quickly.










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When the old man left I scoured the apartment for some clues as to what was going on. I checked cabinets, drawers, and found nothing. Then I came across a bookcase by the piano; I checked all the books and still nothing, but when I put the last book back I saw the corner of a book hanging off the top of the bookcase. When I got it down I saw how big it was (after it fell on me and probably broke a rib or something). The cover of the book read: RULES.

I read the first few pages and was petrified. Just then the old man came through the door.
“So you’ve been snooping in my book,” he noted.
“Uhhhh.....,” I muttered in fear.
“If you haven’t figured it out already then I’ll tell you; Those strawberry shakes are slowly making you age slower so you can....”
“Make more wishes; I saw it in ‘your book’. You’re using me to get anything you want. You can’t wish, but I can,” I informed the man.
“So you understand how this will go. You stay here until I find another person, and you never leave,” he added.

Immediately I sprinted for the door, which he blocked, so I ran to the kitchen to possibly find something to get me out of this mess. I found a knife block but none of the knives would come out, so I just took the entire block and threw it at him. He dodged it with ease. He bluntly came over, and gave me one punch to the gut that rocketed me across the apartment. I soon found myself by the piano sprawled out like a run-over cat ,I felt like one too. I knew I couldn’t beat him physically, so I would have to use the one thing that he had overlooked, I read the rules.
“You can’t kill me, you need me,” I informed him. “You can’t survive without someone to wish things for you. You can’t personally get anything for yourself; you’ll die without someone who can wish. You made a deal with the devil a long time ago and this was his condition: You get some sucker to wish things up; you get some, he gets some, you dispose of the body. No harm done. but so you don’t walk out at any given time, you are bound to always have someone wishing,” I continued.

His expression assured me that I had hit something he definitely overlooked. While he took his long pause to think, I took my chance. I tackled him into the stained-glass table.











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I like my new job: Manager of ‘Papa Luigi’s pizzeria extraordinaire’. They realized that they needed to hire someone who knew the place. The previous manager disappeared after conversing with an old man outside a bar. No the old man didn’t die, but he was out long enough for me to get away. The doctor was astonished when I went in for an appointment. He said that some remarkable combination of strawberries and various herbs had slowed down the aging process and was recommended, and even prescribed it to patients. The strange thing is between my turning ‘Papa Luigi’s’ into a multi-billion dollar franchise, and getting weekly checks from the Science Industry for a new strawberry enriched aging vaccine, things turned out rather well. The old man was right about one thing: it was The Chance of a Lifetime.





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