Art by Cesar Toscano
"Hello, this is Gary's Pizza Place. I'm Drea. What can I get you?"
Remi looked over the menu on her laptop to see what she wanted.
"Okay, I'll take the personal pan pepperoni pizza and six hot wings."
"Okay, will that be pick up or delivery?"
"Alright, name, please."
"The address is 3801 Willenberg. Is that correct?"
"Yes, that's correct."
"Okay, the total is $23.20. We will send a text message to follow the order and driver. Thank you for ordering."
Remi checked the time; it's been about two hours since she talked on the phone and got the text. Rechecking her phone, the text message sent said it was ready and delivered by the driver, Caleb. But, Remi had yet to receive her food. She called Gary's, but the line was busy. Guess she wasn't the only one not feeling like cooking.
A ring of the doorbell made Remi jump. The walk to the door felt like an eternity. Finally reaching, she opened the door and was stunned by a handsome face. He had brown hair and a mustache that surrounded his full lips and gave shape to his round face. His dark brown eyes shined as he stood on the front porch, the light beaming on him. Remembering his name was Caleb, the name sounded nice, and to see the face, it made her more flustered.
"Sorry about the wait. I was in your neighborhood but had to make other stops before you. You are Remi, right?" Caleb asked as he looked at her.
Remi forgot her words for a second, "U-u-um, yeah, I'm Remi."
she cleared her throat. He smiled at her for being embarrassed, and she stupidly smiled back.
"Here's your pizza and wings. It's $23.20."
Placing the food on the side table, "Do you guys have the card reader machine or do I have to get cash?"
"Cash," he states.
Feeling flustered because her wallet was on the couch, she didn't want to be rude. She gestured to Caleb to step inside.
"Don't worry, I'm not a crazy person trying to lure you in." Remi joked.
Caleb said something under his breath, but Remi didn't catch it. She quickly went to get the exact change, returning to Caleb and handing it to him. He stood there for a minute, and Remi felt goosebumps rise from how he looked at her before he turned around and left. "Ookay..." Remi said as she locked her door and watched through her window. She saw Caleb get in his black car, but she swore he turned his head towards where she watched him. Ducking onto the ground, making sure that Caleb didn’t notice her peaking. It would be noticeable because her lights were on. Feeling like a kid, she got on all four; to ensure she wasn't in any eyesight and scrambled to where her food was placed.
"Gary's food was really good." she finishes. Putting the leftovers in the fridge. That night she slept peacefully and dreamed of a specific scenario with the pizza delivery guy, Caleb.
"All I'm hearing is that you need to get laid," Angela states as she talks to Remi on the couch as they have girl's night.
Remi rolls her eyes as she sips her red wine. Lately, she didn't want to admit that she's been dreaming of Caleb, but she trusts Anglea; that's her best friend. "Should I have asked for his number?"
"Yes, babes," Angela sips her wine, "Your desperate."
"Ange-" The doorbell rang, stopping Remi from finishing her sentence. Both looked confused because neither ordered anything.
"Are you going to answer it?"
"I'm not dumb; come with me."
As Remi walked to the door, Angela got up and grabbed a lamp on the table. Unlocking it, Remi was shocked by who stood in front of her. "Caleb?" "I see this was the wrong house."
Caleb noticed Remi's shocked face and Angela holding a lamp.
"Are you doing another delivery?"
Remi realized what she had said. He's literally holding a pizza warmer and has the uniform on.
"I mean.." "Yeah, I am. I must've got the wrong house. Sorry about that." Caleb says as he turns around to leave.
Remi can see Angela in her peripheral, edging her to ask about his number, but it would look weird because he was already walking fast back to his car, probably embarrassed.
"Well, you missed your chance again." Angela places the lamp back on the table and pats Remi's back. Remi and Angela return to the couch as they continue drinking and watching their iZombie marathon. Remi couldn't focus on anything. The only thing that clouded her mind was, what house was Caleb delivering to? The house on the right of her was occupied by a family. They recently went out of town, and Remi only knows that because she's been collecting their mail and packages. The house on her left has been vacant since she moved in. He could be delivering within the neighborhood, but Remi couldn’t get over that it wasn’t long since she ordered from Gary's. Shouldn't Caleb remember her house?
After having a long day at work at High Waters Inc, Remi decided to go to the local bar to relieve the stress. The atmosphere was lively people sat around talking with friends, others played pool, and the loners sat at the bar island, where she was headed. She wore her work attire of black flats with dress pants and a lilac blouse. Remi settled on the chair close to the bathroom, it was isolated, and that's what she needed. "What can I get you?"
"I'll have an Old Fashioned."
Remi watched as the bartender made her drink. She got out her phone and started to look over social media. She saw Angela posting about picking outfits for her date tonight. Remi smiled and liked the first outfit she showed. It was a simple black dress with a slit, and she knew it would look good on Angela, and knowing her, she would pick that one anyway.
"Here's your drink."
Taking a sip, her taste buds awoke from the bitter-sweetness that the drink provided, and she had a content smile at the feeling.
"I thought that was you."
Remi's head swings over to the person sitting in the booth facing the bathroom. She didn't notice anyone there because their back was hidden from the height of the booth.
"Did I surprise you?"
Remi uneasily says, "Yeah, you did, Caleb."
"Sorry about that. I heard your voice when you were ordering. I thought it would be rude of me not to say hi." Caleb says as he walks over and occupies the seat next to her.
Remi was disturbed. It's unnatural how Caleb keeps popping up where she was. This wasn't the first time. She's been seeing him everywhere. Last week, she went soul-cycling with Angela. They went into the Sunrise Nutrition store to get after workout smoothies, and Caleb was in line.
"I'm not trying to freak you out, but isn't that Caleb, the delivery guy?" Angela nudges Remi.
Remi looks to where Angela saw him at the register as the clerk rings him up. Remi couldn't believe it, because it was the day after he came to her house and said he had delivered to the wrong place.
"Yeah, that's him. Should I say hi?"
"If you want to."
Remi gets annoyed by the no help Angela was being. Without realizing it, her feet were moving towards him anyway.
Caleb turns around to see Remi switching on her feet, looking like a toddler that got in trouble. He smiled at her.
He met her halfway.
"I think it's crazy that we keep meeting," Remi confesses. "It's like fate bringing us together."
Caleb nods, "Yeah." "I jus-" "Remi I-"
They both laughed.
"You go first." Remi suggested.
"Remi," sighed, "About yesterday, I purposely came to your house. I felt something that day when we first met. It was as if we were perfect strangers. You know?"
Caleb admitted. "Yeah, I get it."
"We should go out sometime."
Remi nodded, and she was about to get out her phone but left it in Angela's bag when they went soul-cycling. About to tell him to wait, he cut in. "I don't want to rush, but I'm going to be late for work."
"No, it's all good. I don't want to be the cause of you getting fired."
Caleb smiled at her, and she did the same back as he left. Remi thought that encounter was purely coincidence, but the next one was odd. She was at work, and the front desk lady, Mallory, called her phone telling her she had a package. She was already confused because she never had anything delivered to her job. When she reached the desk, she felt goosebumps rise on her skin when Caleb was at the desk talking to Mallory.
"Oh! There she is."
Mallory points in Remi's direction. Remi and Caleb's eyes lock on each other. Remi was thinking about how Caleb found where she worked but saw his attire; it was a delivery uniform. Going towards them, she kept eyeing Caleb. Caleb goes to hug her, and when their bodies connect, she hears him sigh. Remi was ready to let go, but he held on for another second and then released her.
"I didn't know you work here. I saw your name and had to see if it's the Remi I knew."
Remi felt many feelings but weirded out was the one at the surface. "Oh," Remi didn't know what to say, "What's the package?" Caleb handed her a bouquet of roses, "I guess you have an admirer."
"Is there a card?"
"I think so, but I have to go."
Remi watched as Caleb left. Examining the roses, she spotted the card, and read it, From The Perfect Stranger :) Remi looked up in enough time to see Caleb pull off in his black car and not a delivery truck. Apparently, Caleb works as a deliver for Wes’s Delivery, the brand name he had on his shirt. What made Remi unsettled was Caleb using his vehicle and not the brand's truck?
"He was cute." Mallory grinned.
Remi nodded and went back to work, but Caleb's sudden appearance took up most of her thoughts. The one that freaked her out the most was when she had the weekend off. Deciding to stay in, she heard music from the family next to her. They returned from their trip and threw a party, so many cars were parked outside. Remi is known for being nosey, and she peaked to see what was happening across the street. Remi swore she saw Caleb's black car parked facing her house like he was watching her. Remi felt like she was back to that day when he caught her observing him.
After all those strange encounters, Remi has been looking for any signs of Caleb. Caleb being in the bar right now made Remi uncomfortable. She felt their shoulders touch, making her jerk slightly over to the side, not wanting to touch him. Remi wanted to drink in peace, and now she had to deal with him. "I didn't know you were in here," mumbled Remi, "When did you come in?"
"I was already here."
Remi nods, wishing he stayed in the booth. She wasn't in the mood to start a conversation, especially with him. Today was a stressful day for her. Being the manager of departments was already a lot of responsibility, and today's meeting was not it. Everyone seemed like they were doing their work wrong, and she was the one who had to go in and fix it.
Remi felt Caleb's eyes on her. Studying her. Remi met his eyes, and they sat there staring at each other. Remi broke it off first and sipped the last of her drink. Caleb kept watching her when her lips met the tip of the glass. He followed as she finished the drink and set it down. "I see you like watching." Remi taunted.
Caleb retorts, "I know you do." A shiver ran down Remi's spine. The air around them was suffocating, and Caleb ensured Remi couldn't get up to refill her lungs. There was no purpose for her to still be there. She finished her drink and went to get up; when Caleb reached to grab her but missed as they were interrupted.
Remi turned her head to the voice to see her co-worker Malcolm.
"Hey, Malcolm. What are you doing here?"
Malcolm approached them, standing in the middle where Remi got up, and Caleb remained seated, watching.
"I asked the night clerk where to find you because there's been an issue with a file."
Remi would've said she'll fix it in the morning, but she was glad for the distraction from Caleb. "Okay, let's go then."
Malcolm went first, and Remi collected her belongings. She could feel Caleb looking at her when she finished. About to follow Malcolm, Caleb grabbed her arm successfully, stopping her.
"Who does work this late? Are y'all really going to work? " Caleb accused Remi was shocked by the question, " I don't think that's any of your business. Now please let me go."
Seeing that he wasn't budging, Remi snatched her arm out of his grip and went toward Malcolm, who was waiting for her
Remi has been paranoid ever since the bar encounter with Caleb. She's been looking over her shoulder when she goes to the store, at work, and home alone. Remi tried calling and texting Angela about it, but she hadn't picked up, making her worry. Trying again, she calls Angela. Remi anxiously dials, "Come on, Angela, pick up."
Hearing her voicemail, she gets agitated and dials again, but a minute later, she receives a text from her, saying she's out of town to visit family. That's immediately a red flag. Angela's family is the worst. First, her dad is abusive, and her mom passed, she wouldn't willingly go see her family. Remi would've visited her, but she's in the process of moving, and her dumb friend has been holding off on telling her the new location. Angela likes to be grand when new things in her life happen, and she was going to throw this big scavenger hunt welcome wagon to her new place.
"Remi, get a hold of yourself." she couldn't help to think that her situation was one out of a film, the stalking delivery guy. He obsesses over the girl he met. He watches her every day, learning about her until he takes his first victim. The best friend. But his plan is to single out his actual target and claim her. Remi admits, "And I'm the target.
Remi spent the following days at home figuring out what happened to Angela and lurking out her window to see if Caleb would make an appearance. "You're going delusional, Caleb did not do anything to Angela, and he's not going to do anything to you." Remi tries to convince herself as she lays down in bed. Having called off work too many times, an email was sent that if she's a no-show tomorrow, she'll lose her job. At work, every sound made Remi jump. Malcolm noticed her staring at the same file she had opened on her computer. Tapping her on the shoulder, "Remi?"
Remi jumped back, making her chair push into the shelf behind her and the office went silent at the commotion. All eyes were on her, and she felt like they were scrutinizing her. Tearing back the layers of skin she wore on her body and seeing her worst fears.
"Remi, are you okay?" Malcolm asks with concern.
Her hands were shaking, her mind kept returning to Angela and Caleb, and she couldn't focus. Shaking her head, no, tears ran down her face.
"Malcolm, can you take me home?" she knew she wasn't in any condition to be driving. "We could get fired if we leave in the middle of the work-day."
Remi nodded, getting up anyway and heading toward the elevator. Malcolm kept calling out to her, which grabbed more attention of the two, but Remi wanted to go home. Standing outside as she waited for the cab, she called in the elevator. Remi kept looking out the window on her drive home, thinking every black car was Caleb. She hated that Caleb installed this much fear in her. She had liked the guy, but now with the many strange encounters, Caleb gave her creeper vibes. Now, Angela missing, and when she called the cops about it, they asked if she's been in contact, and Remi told them that she texted. Remi explained her whole situation and Angela's family problems, but they said they couldn't do anything about it until her life was threatened. Remi felt hopeless
Unlocking her door, she stepped in. The atmosphere was off, she could tell. Grabbing a knife from the kitchen, she noticed they weren't there. Panic rose. Remi knew Caleb was there; she felt his presence. Building up her courage, Remi shouted, "Caleb, come out!"
Remi looks over her one-story home, the house may look small on the outside, but the floor plan is pretty big. Many passageways can be taken and places to hide. Standing out in the middle, she felt like prey. Remi goes towards the living room, knowing that it has the best advantage point. Walking towards it, she sees a body lingering on the couch with timid steps, thinking it’s Caleb waiting for her she lets out a horrid scream. The body that sits there isn’t Caleb but Angela.
Angela was placed on the couch like a doll. Her brunette hair sprawled out, and her arms were placed on her thighs like she was a present. Angela's appearance is what made Remi sick to her stomach. Angela's eyes were gouged out, and a bruise of a rope mark was on her neck. Her skin was peeled away like someone had taken a potato peeler and skinned away the layers; some pieces still hung off her body. Her pinky and middle finger were cut off. Remi's eyes filled with tears. Remi went to hold her in her arms.
Her voice was raspy, "Angela. I'm so sorry. What has he done to you," she held on tight, "Caleb, you're a son of a bitch. Angela had nothing to do with your sadistic feelings towards me."
Caleb's voice was right behind her as he taunted, "She had every part." Without hesitation, Remi's world was consumed by darkness as her eyelids closed from Caleb hitting her against the head. Coming in and out, of consciousness Remi felt her body being moved. Hands traced her skin, making her jerk awake. When she tried to move, her arms and legs were tied to the chair she was on. "You're sitting nice and pretty." Caleb joked.
Remi was in the living room. Her back was facing the tv, and the couch was in front of her, where Angela sat lifelessly. Caleb stood staring at her. Caleb asked Remi, "Do you want to play a game like Angela and I did?" Remi didn't answer, which ticked Caleb off.
"You have a pretty mouth," Caleb stands in front of her and leans down, "I want you to use it."
Remi uttered, "What game was it?"
Caleb smiles at her and pats her on the head, rewarding her. "What do you like most about yourself?" Caleb asked as he walked to Angela's body. "She didn't answer me, which I felt was really rude. So I asked again, and she told me her pinky finger." Remi watched as he picked up Angela's hand, and he smiled. "So, I cut it off. And I see why she liked it, it's small. Her finger was really short for an average pinky, and it was fat and meaty. She had on nail extensions with pink nail polish. My urge was to put it in my mouth and suck on it. I'm human, and that's precisely what I did. The blood from the cut made it juicy, and I enjoyed it."
Remi felt the acid in her stomach rise into her throat, making it painfully sting. Swallowing it down, she snapped, "You're a sick bastard!" Caleb rushed over to her and slapped her. "Don't talk to me that way." The slap was so intense that Remi felt dizzy, the sting from her left cheek throbbed and made water rim her eyes. "
That bitch, flipped me off. I took her middle fingers. Her screams filled my ear, it was getting annoying, so I got the rope and choked her out. That made her shut up."
Caleb grabbed Remi's face, and she whimpered as he said, "Then I took her skin, the peeler was laying around, and I made sure I took my time. Angela's skin was smooth. I wanted to put it in my mouth and let my tastebuds relish in the flavor." Remi spat at him, "You are fucking disgusting! Were you eating her?” Caleb shakes his head, "No, no, no! That’s not what papa says. He told us we have a gift; we see what others can’t, the softness or lumps of the skin, if the fingers are boney or thick, and the shape of their body and the urge to lick or bite. Taste the juices that fills them and savor it on our tongues.” Caleb kneels in front of her, “He said, we couldn’t keep it to ourselves we should share our gift with the world.”
Remi yells, "You’re killing people to eat them. You’re a cannibal."
Caleb gets up and paces around the room, his hand pounding against his head, murmuring. Caleb stops and goes toward Remi. "My papa taught me his craft. Until I took over. His name is Gary. He had my mom, Drea open the restaurant. I've been the delivery boy for as long as I can remember. He told me it was time to step up and do my duties. Continue the tradition."
Caleb goes onto his knees to be the same height as Remi. "I found my girl. Remi, you are unique. Every other girl was like Angela; they looked at me like a monster, so I took her eyes. But, Remi, when you look at me, I feel loved. I felt that spark we both have. You even told me that it was like fate. Me and you. To have you, I need everyone else out of the picture."
"Your family is sick! You take people and kill them to make food. I ate a fucking human, and everyone else ordering from that damn place is too!" Remi ranted, "And you think I'm going to be yours, like your sick mother. She watches as your dad kills people and makes food out of them. I rather die than live a life like that."
Caleb takes his hand as he begins choking her. Remi tries to wiggle around to make him stop but tightens his grip. Remi sees a shadowy figure approaching from the side from her blurry vision. When they stepped into the light, it was Malcolm. He was holding a skillet, aiming it at Caleb. Within an instant, Caleb was on the ground.
With his hands off her, Remi takes in air and starts to cough, "Please help me." Remi pleaded. Malcolm went over to untie her from the chair. Remi turned her head to where he was untying the knot, "Why are you here?" Malcolm's fingers felt like they were moving at a millisecond as he scrambled to get Remi free. "I came to check on you after you left work. I felt guilty and should've taken you home. I tried calling, but you didn't answer, and I got worried."
Finally getting her hands free, Remi worked on one foot while he took the other. "I got it. Let's get out of here." Remi finishes the last knot, and so does Malcolm. "Where did he go?" Remi looks over to the spot Caleb was in where Malcolm hit him. "I don't know." They look around the area. Malcolm hands the skillet to Remi, "We're going to have to run for the door." Malcolm states. Remi starts to run, and Malcolm is behind when Caleb bum-rushed him against the wall. He punches Malcolm in the face making him go limp. He takes out his pocket knife and holds it to Malcolm's neck.
"Remi listen to me, put the skillet down, or I will kill him. More blood on your hands."
"No, the blood is on your hands." After she said that, Caleb chuckled, "Your right."
He takes the knife and cuts Malcolm’s neck, and blood flows out as it leaks out of his body and gets on Caleb's hand. He throws Malcolm's body on the floor, laying in between them, and Caleb takes his finger, puts it in his mouth, and sucks on it like it's the best popsicle he's ever had.
"I prefer females, but I guess males aren't that bad." Caleb approaches Remi as she hurls her guts out, "Caught you." he whispers in her ear and stabs her in the back. Remi screams out in pain. The skillet fell to the ground, and Caleb begged, "Don't be mad at me." As he punches her, knocking her out.
"Hello?' "Hi, this is Gary's Pizza Place. My name is Remi. What can I get you?" Remi, read off the script placed in front of her. Caleb watched ensuring she didn't try to say anything more. Remi thought Caleb's mom, Drea, was willingly doing it, being a part of the sick business, but she was forced just like her. When Remi regained consciousness, she watched Caleb bone-saw down Angela and Malcolm. Gary, Caleb's father, help him as they took the skin apart from the body. It reminded Remi of when she watched the show iZombie about the job of a zombie medical examiner, sometimes they would even steal pieces and save it for themselves.
They blended most of the organs, added tomato sauce, and watched as Caleb spread it onto the dough. Gary showed Caleb how to prepare the tongue into a slice of meat on the pizza. Remi never felt so disturbed by the process. Remi witnessed the making of Gary's pizzas, which threw her back to when she ate her personal pan pepperoni pizza and got hot wings. The bile rose, and she threw up again. Remi looked over to Drea. Her face was beaten to a pulp; she looked unrecognizable. Gary was more violent than Caleb. Gary kidnapped Drea when she was pregnant with Caleb. Gary obsessed over her. He felt an instant connection and it grew more because of the baby. Gary true intention was to use the baby for a new recipe, but when Caleb was born, Gary didn’t have it in him to kill him. He took him in and raised Caleb to become what he was. A deranged cannibal. Gary didn’t kill Drea because he was in love with her. In a sick way he created a family. Now Drea sits here because she can’t escape. Drea stayed alive for Caleb but seeing what he became she rebels daily, and Gary makes sure that she knows her place.
Remi was her replacement. She sits here because she doesn't want to die. Even though she admitted that she would rather die when she was tied up. But now, seeing the process of how she would die made her change her mind.
Caleb told her, "You would be alive when I kill you. They, Malcolm and Angela, have the glory of being dead." He darted out his tongue and licked her lips. "And you would taste wonderful."
"Uhm, are you still there?" The person ordering on the phone asks.
Remi forgot, and her eyes quickly went towards Caleb, who watched her and raised his eyebrow in questioning, prompting her with his hand to continue. "Yes, sorry about that. The connection messed up." Remi gives a breathless laugh.
"Okay, I'll take a family-size sausage pizza. That will be all."
"Okay, that will be $30.13. Pick up or delivery."
Taylor Trotter is a current student at Columbia College Chicago. She is getting her Bachelor's degree in Creative Writing, and she is working on her debut novel. When she's not writing, she's podcasting. Taylor has a podcast called Why Not Talk About It, where she discusses topics about life, college, reviews, and adulthood.
Want to see more of Taylor Trotter visit her website https://www.whynottalkaboutit.me/