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(that is, not far)

it was nothing more than
your run of the mill pizza joint.
squeezed between a furniture store
and an antiques shop
with a sole rusty car parked out front.
flat roof and one of those fluorescent OPEN signs
but the E was burned out.
inside, furnished without much but
a glass fridge for drinks
a couple booths with plastic card menus and
half-empty (no, not half-full) salt and pepper shakers.
only Joey Rossi behind the counter
gnawing on a straw instead of
the cigarettes his wife told him not to smoke
because they stank up the shop and
turned your lungs black.
doing his crossword for hours on end
until a customer would amble in.
scratching out
his mistakes.
the smell of
oily crust and canned tomato sauce
had embedded itself in him
so that he carried it with him wherever he went.



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