John Tang

At the Pizza Joint on Ocean Ave.

Posted in Short Stories and Excerpts, Sketchbook by Jt's Item Roster on April 21, 2012

At the pizza joint on Ocean Ave. David asked the owner if he could post a flower on their window. The owner said of course, while David’s daughter, Ana, said thank you. Ana wore a lavender cotton shirt and plum-colored sweat pants. She also brought her scooter and helmet, and carried it. Out of kindness David wondered where possibly the best place to post a flyer. Her daughter went further into the restaurant, in fact, to the very end of the spinach-green wall.

“That’s too far,” David said. “No one’s going to see that.”

At the entrance he already strips of tape lain out on the edge of the window sill. He palmed the flyer down against the window, took a strip of tape and stuck it on the flyer. Ana did the next three, one for every corner.

“Thank you,” she told the owner, a blond older woman, with harsh skin, and spoke Italian softly, when addressing the chefs. She wore a dark blue flannel sweater and sweatpants.

“That’s no problem.” The owner said. “You’re very welcome.”

“We appreciate it,” David followed up.

“Could I ask,” she said, “what’s it for?”

“My daughter’s school is having a carnival.”

“That sounds wonderful.” The owner

“Okay, thank you,” Ana said, strapped on her helmet.

David and Ana opened the glass door as a tiny golden bell rung above their heads. They left the pizza joint, Pizzeria Sophia, on Ocean Ave. The lights were romantically dim, highlighting the peachy-hues and spinach-green off the walls. It was filled with marble tables and leather seats, with all the amenities, from napkin dispensers to parmesan cheese to powdered pepper. On the window, in blue and white, the flyer read, Come one, come all, friends, families, to Lakeshore Alternative Elementary School.


For this vignette, I tried to practice clarity of images. At times, most times, I think so much about philosophy, the placement of things, a legato voice, so on and so forth, I forget the simple basic craft to unfolding action, the essential skill to creating a movie in people’s mind. John Gardner in The Art of Fiction says the mistake that amateur writers make is logical assessment of images. You can’t write: “David asked if he could put flyers, when he closed the door behind with his daughter.” Well, you can write that, but the lines is easier to follow if you write, “As he closed the door, with his daughter behind him, he asked the owner he could post a flyer on their window.” That’s still a bit jarring, but the gesture is easier to follow.


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