Book & Stuf

I only had time for a short story this week. “The Pizza Prophet” by David Belisle is actually listed as a novella, and it is hard to describe. It was a satire on wise guys, a commentary on gullibility and tongue-in-cheek funny.

The action takes place in and around Lead Pipe Joe’s Pizza Parlor, a longtime staple in the neighborhood. Sixty-nine year old Kosma Stankowicz is one several delivery drivers working for Joe’s. He’s a good husband, loyal employee and devout man who wouldn’t dream of questioning the will of God.

One afternoon, a limo belonging to Jimmy “the Weasel” Fratianno arrives. Jimmy plans to have his 23-year-old son Tommy take the open position at Joe’s. Tommy isn’t interested in working. He’d rather play on his iPad and sweet talk pretty girls.

His father wants him to become a tough guy and affect Philly mob swagger and dialect the way he and his “bodyguards” Rocco and Carmine do. None of them have even been to Philly or met a real mobster.

Shop owner Mutazz Muhkitmukmuk (blame Mr. Belisle) agrees to hire the kid. The poor man has five daughters, Iyeetah, Valveetah, Faheetah, Lastweekah and Ilykah (again, blame Belisle), so Tommy is immediately interested.

Kosma likes to think of himself as a philosopher and sage. Soon he is explaining the “ideology” of bringing food to the masses. He shares his belief that each slice of pizza is an integral part of the whole pie, just as each person is a special part of the whole population. Nothing he says makes sense to Tommy, but that doesn’t bother Kosma.

At the same time, Devine, the large and in-charge hooker, is ordering a pizza to be delivered to the street corner she’s working. What happened next sets off a series of laughable incidents.

A runaway sign causes a car to swerve and nearly hit Kosma’s car. The close call causes Kosma to momentarily collapse. While everyone is trying to help Kosma, Manny Dingo the pimp grabs a bag of money from the armored truck in front of the bank and hides it inside of a pizza delivery bag.
When Kosma recovers, he takes the bag to the customer, who just happens to be Devine the hooker. He thinks that she is The Devine One, sent to guide his prophesies. From then on, the pizza bag/stolen money go on a wild trip around the city, surprising and pleasing everyone who opens the bag. Kosma does his best to interpret the things Devine tells him — usually with hilarious results.

It is obvious from page one that this book was not written as serious fiction, so the punny names, unlikely events and zany characters work perfectly to create a strange but happy ending.

Sometimes it’s good to take time for an utterly goofy book. School’s back in session, so you’ll need something to read while you are waiting and waiting and waiting due to student activities. Just get into your public library and check it out.