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Pizza, Pickles, and Photos

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Nick leaned back in his uncomfortable wooden chair and took another sip of his drink. It was another Saturday night at Ed and Jack’s house. Which meant sitting around, drinking and talking about whatever random bullshit came to mind.

The three of them went way back. Nick had known Ed—technically Edwin, but he preferred Ed—since middle school and Jack since college. They were all in their mid-twenties now. They were good guys. Ed a bit of a loudmouth, Jack a bit stubborn. But they always had his back, and he always had theirs.

It was a nice house too, if a bit small. A simple 2-bedroom 1-bath bungalow. There was a living room area to the left of the front door, a dining room area to the right. A small kitchen beyond the living room and the hallway to the bedrooms and bathroom beyond the dining room. A big fireplace rested in the center of the whole house, which was great in the winter, although it did block line of sight across the otherwise open living space.

Despite the good friends and the good house, Nick had problems with the weekend routine they had fallen into. One was the seating arrangement. The living room had a futon and a loveseat-sized couch. Definitely enough seating for three guys, but the issue was both Ed and Jack had girlfriends and Nick did not. So it always ended up with the couples on the larger pieces of furniture and Nick in a rickety wooden chair borrowed from the dining room.

He didn’t resent his friends for having romantic partners—hell, he was happy for them. Maybe even a little jealous. But, and this was his more major problem with their weekends together, he couldn’t help but feel like a fifth wheel, especially when Jack and his girlfriend Christie started drunkenly making out or when Ed and his girlfriend Ayako snuggled up to have private, whispered conversations among themselves.

But he had nothing better to do. So he sat and sipped his drink—a hard cider with a shot of whiskey added to it. A 90s alternative rock Pandora station played in the background. Ayako had ordered pizza, which should be arriving soon. So, that was something to look forward to.

As if on cue, the doorbell rang.

“Coming!” Ayako shouted as she rose from the futon and walked to the door.

Nick craned his neck, but to no avail—the front door opened inward and toward the living room, so he couldn’t actually see anything. But he heard a female voice on the other side of the door. She complimented the brand of cider that she could see on the kitchen counter—it was Nick’s, but Ayako accepted the compliment.

Ayako completed the transaction and shut the door.

“Hey, a pizza delivery girl,” she commented to the room, hooking her thumb at the door. “Always nice to see.”

Ayako worked in IT, a predominantly male field, and tended to be more sensitive to these kinds of inequalities.

“Yeah, because that’s where the wage gap comes from,” her boyfriend needled her playfully. “Pizza delivery.”

Ayako chuckled.

“You butthead,” she insulted him with a smile. The two of them had been dating since middle school, so they had the comfortable rapport of an old married couple.

“Wait, you only got one pizza?” Jack piped up to say.

Indeed, Ayako only held a single box.

“Yeah, but it’s an extra large,” she explained. “And a supreme. They were having a special.”

“Honey, Jack can take down half an extra large by himself without breaking a sweat,” Ed explained. He wasn’t wrong. Jack was a big dude and his appetite grew as he got drunker.

“Well, he’s gonna have to go just a little hungry tonight,” she said unapologetically as she set the box down on the dining room table.

They all rose to get their paper plates and pizza, but quickly resumed their normal seats in the living room. They listened to a Blur song in the background as they ate. Nick had just finished his drink and had risen to fix another when the doorbell rang.

“I’ll get it,” he offered, a little puzzled as to who it could be.

It was the pizza delivery girl. Or, at least Nick assumed her to be. She wore the uniform of the pizza place—black polo shirt, black slacks and a baseball cap with the store’s logo. Her name tag said “Allison”. Interestingly, she held several boxes of food.

“So, I just got fired,” she declared. “And there’s no way in hell I’m delivering this next order. It’s yours if you let me have a drink with you.”

Nick was not sure what to say. It was a strange offer. But she was very cute. Pale skin, petite build, a nice but not excessive amount of black eyeliner around her big brown eyes. But he felt like he couldn’t invite her in, since he didn’t live there. Luckily, her offer had been heard by the rest, and they were completely unhesitant about accepting.

“Fuck yeah!” Jack shouted from the couch, amidst cries of agreement from the others.

Ayako quickly appeared and ushered Allison in, showing her to the dining room table where she rested the warm boxes. Jack eagerly examined the spread. There was a box escort numaraları eryaman of a dozen wings, breadsticks, a medium Hawaiian pizza and a medium pepperoni pizza.

“Oooh, wings,” he exclaimed as he dug in.

Ed and Christie had risen as well to check things out.

“So, about that drink?” Nick offered.

“Fuck yes,” Allison sighed. “I need one like you wouldn’t believe.”

Nick led her to the kitchen area.

“We’ve got cider, some Bud Lites in the fridge, some whisky, Coke… probably some vodka somewhere.”

“And pickle juice?” Allison queried, pointing to the open jar on the counter.

Nick chuckled.

“Yeah, it’s a chaser Ed likes for whiskey shots,” Nick explained.

“Ooooh, you guys are gonna do pickle-backs!” Ayako exclaimed from the dining room. “C’mon, everyone, I’ll get shots for everyone.”

She scurried into the kitchen and began filling up cheap plastic shot glasses with whiskey or pickle juice.

“The key is to get the good, crispy pickles,” Ayako explained to their guest. “Not the cheap sour ones.”

In no time, she had twelve shot glasses filled, divided into pairs of whiskey and pickle juice. Everyone in the house gathered for the round. Ayako raised her whiskey shot in toast, waiting for everyone else to do the same.

“To Allison!” she declared.

“Call me ‘Allie’,” she gently corrected.

“To Allie!” Ayako immediately amended.

They shot back the drinks in unison and immediately chased it with the shot of pickle juice.

Allison made a face of disgust that slowly transformed into an impressed look.

“I don’t really like pickles, but it’s impressive how it wipes out any taste of the whiskey,” she said.

“I know, right?” Ayako exclaimed.

The others had begun to disperse back to the living room, but Nick remembered how Allie had complemented the cider earlier.

“And you’re welcome to a cider as well,” he offered as he popped the cap of one for himself.

“Sure,” she said. And then, turning to Ayako, the seeming leader of the group, who was still in the kitchen washing the shot glasses, “if I’m not imposing…”

“Not at all!” Ayako declared. “Stay as long as you want. These boys are boring. We’d love to have someone new around.”

“Well, I can’t promise I’m all that interesting,” Allie admitted, taking a small sip from the bottle Nick had just handed her.

“Hey, anything beats hearing Ed’s story about falling off the second story balcony of that frat house again,” Ayako whispered, trying to not be heard by her boyfriend.

Nick took a swig of his cider and then carefully poured in whiskey, filling it back to the top. Allie watched him do this.

“Man, you guys don’t fuck around,” she said.

Nick chuckled, a little self conscious now about his drinking.

“Would you like some in yours?” he offered.

“Sure,” she replied, taking a long pull from her bottle. Nick filled it back up with whiskey. She took another sip and winched slightly.

“It’ll get better as the whiskey mixes in more,” Nick explained.

She nodded in understanding.

“Thanks,” she said to him with a soft smile. Nick grinned back in welcome. She had looked cute before, but was even more attractive with a smile on her face.

“Oh, let me get you a chair,” Nick offered. The rest had already resumed their normal seats and he grabbed a second wooden chair from the dining room and set it next to his.

“Oooh, let me introduce you to everyone,” Ayako said excitedly as they all got seated. “I’m Ayako, and this is my boyfriend Ed. I’m a programmer at Intelidign Systems. He’s a supervisor at a tech support call center.”

Allie nodded politely to them both.

“That’s Jack and Christie,” she continued. “Jack’s an assistant manager at Staples. Christie’s a CNA, she works at a retirement home.”

More polite nods from Allie.

“And that’s Nick. He’s at the call center too. But he works on the training side of things, not the floor.”

Allie nodded to him, another smile on her face.

“So, how’d you get fired?” Ed asked. His tone was bemused, not accusatory, but his girlfriend still slapped his arm in reprimand at his lack of tact.

“I’d rather not talk about it,” Allie said with an embarrassed grimace. She took another swig from her bottle and added, “at least not right now.”

“Fair enough,” Ed replied.

At this point, she seemed to notice the presence of the work uniform’s baseball cap on her head. She tore it off in disgust, tossing it to the floor.

“Last time I wear that hideous thing,” she declared.

Nick, and the rest of the room, were a little surprised by her appearance. Underneath the cap, her jet black hair was styled in a very short, almost boyish, pixie cut. It wasn’t something Nick normally went for, but it somehow fit her very well.

“Wow, I love your haircut,” Ayako complimented.

“Thanks,” Allie said with a shy smile.

“I’ve thought of doing something similar, but I don’t think Ed ankara bayan escort would go for it,” Ayako sighed.

“Hey, I love your long hair,” Ed said defensively, running his fingers through her straight black hair. “Nothing wrong with that.”

Ayako shrugged in defeat.

“So, I got a question,” Jack piped in, his mouth full of pizza. “I’ve always wondered: what’s with the bubbles in the pizza crust?” He lifted an affected slice in demonstration.

“Jack,” Ayako chided, “she said she didn’t want to talk about work.”

“It’s okay,” Allie said to Ayako. Then, turning to Jack, “it’s just old dough. The yeast never gets perfectly mixed in, but when the dough gets old, the clumps of yeast start to rise. Making those bubbles.”

“Huh,” Jack hummed in interest as he eyed the slice.

“You can prevent it by docking the dough. You take this roller thing that has a bunch of little metal points and run it over the dough.” She mimed this from her seat. “The holes let the air out, so you don’t get big bubbles. Not everyone does a good job of it though. So you still end up with bubbles, if the cooks are lazy.”

Now everyone in the room hummed in amazement. With nothing else to say on the topic, Allie changed the subject.

“So, how did you all meet?” she asked.

Ed took the lead on that and Nick began to zone out. He knew it all already and had heard Ed tell it countless times too. Nick had known Ed and Ayako since middle school. They had met Jack in college. Jack met Christie through a friend from work. That’s all there was to it, but Ed managed to draw the story out with as much detail as possible.

Allie listened politely. When she finished her drink, Nick offered to get them both another of the same, and she agreed.

As he walked back from the kitchen, Nick took the opportunity to take in Allie a little more, from a distance. It amazed him how her short hair revealed the pale skin of her slender neck. And how it showcased her cute ears. He had never thought of ears as cute before, but there was no other way to describe it—she had cute ears.

She thanked him for the drink and he returned to his seat next to her. Ed had just got to the part where they all dropped out of college—except Ayako.

“Yeah, I was an English major for all of one semester, before I dropped out,” Allie added. “I might go back when I know what the hell I’m doing. But until then…”

She shrugged and the room returned with nods of agreement. Nick had been an English major too, and had dropped out for much the same reason. He had no concrete idea of what he wanted to do with his life either. He just knew that he sure as hell didn’t want to train call center drones for 40 more years.

Ed continued what felt like their entire life stories, mostly uninterrupted. Allie listened and Nick stole sideways glances at her, especially when she laughed politely at Ed’s jokes, which had long since failed to amuse anyone else in the room. Ayako cheerfully refilled Ed’s whiskey and Cokes as he went through them—she was an incredible lightweight and the one whiskey shot would keep her tipsy the rest of the evening. She lounged on her back on the futon, her feet against Ed’s thighs. Ed rambled more and more as he got drunker.

Jack and Christie fought their boredom by making out. They started with just heavy petting and kissing, but Nick knew they would get into sloppier open mouth kisses and intense groping as the evening wore on.

Ed was in the middle of a side rant about the management structure at the call center when he declared that he needed to pee. Ayako rose as well to fix him another drink. Nick saw his chance and, when they were both out of the room, he dashed to the futon, taking Ed’s place. He beckoned for Allie to follow and she did, going as far as to take up the exact position Ayako had been in. Allie was a good deal taller than Ayako, so her sneakered feet rested squarely in Nick’s lap. She shared a mischievous glance with him. She was drunk. She was cute. But, beyond that, she was cutely drunk—a unique state that was greater than the sum of its parts.

“Hey, what are you two playing at?” Ayako chided them as she came back into view.

“You didn’t call ‘ass-backs’,” Nick explained matter-of-factly. Her reaction was inscrutable.

Ed came back in, still adjusting his pants, and saw his normal spot taken over.

“You didn’t call ‘ass-backs’,” Nick repeated.

Ed nodded his head solemnly and rested his hand on his girlfriend’s shoulder.

“He’s got us there, babe. We have to respect the ancient tradition of ‘ass-backs’.”

Ayako frowned but followed him to their new seats.

“At least keep your shoes off the furniture,” she scolded Allie.

To this, Allie used the toe of one foot to pop off the heel from the other. Nick removed the shoe as she repeated this with the other foot. He rested both shoes beside the futon. Taking a chance, he began to massage her black sock covered feet, working at the balls elvankent escort of the heel and making his way up to the arches. Allie sighed in pleasure at this, closed her eyes and relaxed into the futon.

“So, Ed, Ayako tells me you fell off of a second story balcony once,” Allie said with a grin. Her eyes were closed, so she couldn’t see the sharp look shot to her by Ayako. Nick grinned at her ploy.

“Oh, yeah! Craziest night of my life,” Ed began excitedly. “So, this was freshman year, like, two months in. And I knew a guy who was rushing this frat, Delta Upsilon…”

Nick tuned Ed out as he rambled on. He had the feeling that Allie was doing the same. Her eyes still closed, she smiled contentedly to herself as he rubbed her feet. Nick gazed down, drinking in the sight of her silky-looking short hair, her cute ears and, especially, her soft smile. He had an overwhelming urge to kiss those soft pink lips. But he resisted the temptation and remained patient.

As Ed came to the climax of the story, where the bannister broke and the hedge below miraculously broke his fall, Nick noticed things really heating up on the couch across from him. Jack and Christie had progressed to under-the shirt groping and she had begun to rub his erection over his jeans.

“Well, I think it’s bedtime for us,” Jack declared as Ed concluded his story.

“One more round,” Ayako demanded. “I want to finish off this whiskey. Get it out of the house. I want vodka cranberry next weekend.”

They all rose to obey her command, and Nick was forced to break Allie from her reverie. She stood, a little unsteadily, and followed Nick to the kitchen. Ayako lined up ten shot glasses for them with whisky and pickle juice, but there was still a scant amount of whiskey left in the bottle.

“C’mon, do another shot with us,” Allie pleaded to Ayako. She eyed the bottle with uncertainty.

“She’s a turbo lightweight,” Ed explained. “She probably can’t handle another tonight.”

“I’ll tell you how I got fired…” Allie offered.

Ayako silently accepted the deal as she emptied the bottle into a fresh shot glass, which she raised.

“To Allie,” she said with a smirk.

At this, they all took their shots and then their chasers of pickle juice. Except for Ayako who, in her haste, had forgotten to pour herself a chaser.

“Fuck, it burns,” she whined, flapping her hands.

“Here, just drink from the jar,” Allie suggested, sliding the container to her. She drank deeply and then coughed.

“Fuck, I swallowed a seed.”

They all, even Ed, chuckled at her folly, which she politely ignored.

“Well, it was nice meeting you,” Christie said to Allie in parting as she and Jack made their way down a hallway to Jack’s bedroom. Allie returned the sentiment as they walked off.

“So, there’s a bathroom down there?” she asked Nick, gesturing down the hall.

“Yep. Straight shot, end of the hallway.”

When she was out of the room, Ayako elbowed Nick in the ribs playfully.

“So, she’s a real cutie, eh?”

Nick smiled. Ayako was always trying to set him up with female acquaintances of hers. It was normally pretty annoying but, in this instance, he would be happy for her support.

“Yeah, I think I really like her,” Nick sighed. “She’s not getting on your nerves, is she?”

Ayako chuckled.

“No. She’s… playful. I like that.”

“Well, I’m glad to have your approval,” Nick said with a grin. She elbowed him again.

When Allie was finished in the bathroom, Nick took a turn himself. He returned to the living room to find Ayako and Ed seated on the loveseat and Allie lounging on her back on the futon.

“C’mere,” she beckoned, bending her legs at the knee to make room for him. He sat and she tucked her feet under his thigh. No more foot rubbing, but he did rest a hand on her shin. The fabric of her work pants was coarse, but he could feel smooth skin beneath as he rubbed affectionately. Her polo shirt had pulled up slightly, revealing a tantalizing strip of the pale skin of her stomach.

“So, full disclosure,” Allie began, talking to the room as a whole, “I wasn’t technically fired. I quit.”

“Why?” Ayako asked.

Allie sighed deeply.

“My friend sent me some pictures she got off of a friend’s friend’s private instagram. My boyfriend making out with some skank at a party he was at last night.”

“Damn, that sucks,” Ayako commiserated.

“But why did you have to quit your job?” Ed asked.

Another deep sigh from Allie.

“My boyfriend—my EX-boyfriend—was my boss. The manager of the pizza place.”

“Fuuuuck,” Ayako groaned. “I guess that’s why you don’t shit where you eat.”

“Yeah, hindsight’s 20/20 on that,” Allie scoffed. “So I broke up with him and quit at the same time.”

“How long had you been together?” Ayako asked. She loved to gossip about relationships, whenever she got the chance.

“Well, we first hooked up almost a year ago. But we’d only been dating officially for about three months.”

“So fucked up,” Ayako declared.

“And the really fucked up thing,” Allie continued, “is that I wasn’t at that party last night because he specifically scheduled me to work that evening. He said nobody else was available.”

“What a scumbag,” Ayako said.

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