Position Vacant: Pizza Delivery Driver

This story is designed to stand alone, and there is no necessity to read the first two stories in the sequence of stories, but if you would like to, you can read THE CHRISTENING and FLYING PIZZA, here and here.

“This is a very detailed CV. You do realise that you are applying for the job of a pizza delivery driver?”

“Yes, I do. I just thought that you deserved the ‘full picture’. I thought you might like to know who I am. Obviously, I haven’t put everything in there, it would take years to read everything,” said the tall young man with the chrome helmet under his arm. He hoped that the pizza shop owner would not ask about the nine-month employment time gap.

“Do you have a car?”

“Bike.”

“Motorbike?”

“Bike, bike.”

“Can you handle multiple deliveries on a pushbike?”

“Yes, sir. I’ve been doing this for a long time.”

Mike, the pizza shop owner, looked at the young man and marvelled at how long a long time seemed to the young.

Mike used to work ‘nine to five’ in an office in the city. Five days a week, home by seven, dinner and a few drinks, fall asleep in front of the telly. Rinse, repeat, with a bit of alcohol oblivion on the weekends. Rinse, repeat.

It didn’t feel like it at the time, but when the racks in the storage room collapsed and crushed Mike, it was the making of him.

Mike’s union (he was the only paid-up member in the office) went to bat for him and got him a huge settlement — including pain and suffering.

Part of the deal was that Mike would not come back to the office, which was okay with Mike.

It was never his dream, but when the local pizza shop went under (the third time a pizza shop had folded at that location), he took out a lease, which included all the fixtures and fitting.

Why Mike thought he could succeed where so many others had failed, was never explained.

Mike decided that the personal touch was required, so he obtained a list of all the property owners in the area — it was a long list. He personally invited each homeowner to sample his wares — handwritten invitations.

Mike remembered names and faces, and so his business grew — quite a bit faster than he initially thought.

Home deliveries were a must for a pizza shop to thrive. Mike’s delivery drivers were loyal and hard workers.

“The job doesn’t pay much, but our customers are generous tippers if you deliver promptly. I’ll give you a week’s trial — okay with you?”

“Yes, sir. Okay with me.”

For some reason (Mike had not been sleeping well lately) Mike didn’t notice the wings stuck to the young man’s leather jacket until he turned to walk away.

Nice gimmick, he thought. The customers will love it.

Christopher Dawson (he liked to be called Raphael) had taken the last nine months off work. His previous job working for Fallen Angel Pizza had ended badly.

He was, in effect, hiding out. Two potent forces were looking for him. One force was the state police, which wasn’t as big a problem as you might think. If needs be, Raphael could deal with that problem.

The other force was the one that worried him.

Like all good, well-structured stories, Raphael’s life had always had a subplot — sometimes more than one.

In reality, the subplots were the central narrative of his life. His role as a pizza delivery driver was a cover, as the spy world would have it.

Raphael wasn’t a James Bond, he was more of a Simon Templar. Damsels in distress were his forte.

In the old days, the name and address of a woman in danger would be delivered to him, and he would do his best to save her.

Free will was his biggest enemy. He could not force anyone to leave a dangerous environment. In fact, he wasn’t allowed to.

Raphael didn’t mind these restrictions — they added an impressive ‘degree of difficulty’ to what could have become a tedious job.

All this changed when a customer of Fallen Angel Pizza was murdered by her live-in lover.

This was one death too many for Raphael. He thought he had more time to convince her to leave. He was wrong.

What Raphael did next meant that he was now on his own — no support, no new names and addresses.

He was a little surprised that they hadn’t come for him. It would have been better if they had. Being cast adrift was infinitely worse.

Raphael had spent the last nine months living in an abandoned cottage by the ocean, waiting for a knock on the door.

When the knock didn’t come, he left his comfortable hideaway and decided to reenter his old life, albeit without his usual supports.

How hard can it be to find a woman who needs help? He thought.

His chrome helmet, with the wings riveted to the side, was gathering dust on a shelf near the front door. It glinted in the light every time he walked it. His bike was in the shed at the side of the house. The old wooden doors were no match for a determined thief, but when he went out to look at his reliable steed, it was just where he’d left it. A tiny spider had built repeated webs on the frame. There were new rust spots and a lot of dust, all of which was quickly repaired.

Raphael wheeled his bike out into the light and got to work.

Raphael’s trial week went by uneventfully. His new boss never officially told him he was employed, but Raphael knew he had a new home.

By week three, he noticed that many of the delivery dockets had his name scribbled on them. He overheard the girl who took the orders, “Raphael is very busy, if you want him to deliver your pizza, it will take a bit longer — okay then as long as you understand.”

By week five, Raphael was beginning to doubt his initial confidence about finding a ‘damsel’.

One delivery address kept popping up, but the door was always answered by a male. He was gruff but always tipped. Not generously, but tipped nonetheless.

These deliveries always left Raphael feeling uneasy.

The man who took delivery always had a beer in his hand, but so what? Lots of people drink beer after work and pizza seems to demand either red wine or beer.

The uncertainty of not knowing where to look was playing on Raphael’s confidence.

On dark days he considered going back to hiding out at the oceanside cottage. It was full of books, and there was enough wood in the shed to last several winters. He never needed to go out. Maybe he could write his memoirs?

The dark days passed, as they always do, and Raphael settled into a routine. He liked his boss and enjoyed his regular customers.

He was becoming quite a celebrity in his community. People would toot their horn when they saw him zooming along on his bike — chrome winged helmet, leather jacket (in all weathers) and pristine white wings fluttering in the breeze.

Raphael’s instinct about the ‘beer in hand’ customer, was spot on.

When a human interest article appeared in the local paper, it got picked up by the national daily.

Page five had an article about a seaside town with an unusual pizza delivery rider. The report had an action shot of Raphael riding his bike — gleaming helmet, wings and all.

“I think our murder suspect has surfaced Inspector,” said Sergeant Wilson holding a copy of the newspaper that someone had left in the lunchroom.

“Get your coat, Sergeant. It gets cold down by the ocean at this time of the year,” said Inspector McBride.

Flying Pizza

It isn’t necessary for you to read the FIRST STORY in this sequence of stories, but you might like to. Each story is designed to stand alone, but you will see the sequence as you go along. PART ONE was called THE CHRISTENING and you can read it HERE.

SCENE:

A shopping strip like any other. Fallen Angel Pizza does not have a verandah. The shop is sandwiched between a cafe and a shop selling printer ink. This shop has a notice in the window warning that it will be closed until next week — death in the family. Fallen Angel Pizza is just setting up for the evening trade when Inspector McBride and Sergeant Wilson park their car on the opposite side of the street. A young man is sweeping the footpath as the two policemen enter the shop.

“So, why did you call your business Fallen Angel Pizza?” said Sergeant Wilson.

The Inspector gave him a glance. Inspector McBride liked to be crisp and precise when questioning members of the public. He too was intrigued by the name, but knowing the answer was not likely to lead to the killer. It was too late to shut down this line of enquiry, so he let it play out.

“I didn’t. I mean I did, but only because it was less paperwork to leave the name the way I found it when I bought the business. They charge you for everything these days. Besides, the punters love the name. It does attract a few nutters but. Still, nut bags have to eat, I guess. The crazy ones tip better so the drivers like them,” said William Dundee, whose ancestors had emigrated to Australia only moments before they would likely have been transported. William Dundee had never been to Scotland, but he spoke with a strange approximation of what he thought his ancestors sounded like.

“Do you have contact details for all your delivery drivers?” said Inspector McBride.

“All my delivery drivers?”

“Yes. All of your drivers.”

Dundee held in the smile until he could no longer.

“I’m not Pizza Hut, Inspector. I only have two delivery drivers at the moment.”

“Do they both wear wings?” said the Sergeant.

This time Dundee did not bother to contain his smile.

“Only one. Christopher Dawson. But he likes to be known as Raphael. He wasn’t always into angels until he started working here — or so he says. Mad bugger, but a good worker. Customers love him. He makes about three times what I pay him in tips. Rides around on a bicycle with wings on his helmet which would make him look like Mercury if it wasn’t for the wings glued to his leather jacket. I’ve never seen him without that jacket. Blood good job of sticking those wings on. They seem to grow out of his jacket. Must have taken him forever to get them just right.”

Dundee scribbled something on a scrap of paper and handed it to the Inspector.

The Inspector glanced at it before putting it in his side pocket.

“Thank you for your time, Mr Dundee. We may need to speak to you again.”

“It all seems a bit too easy,” said the Sergeant as the two men stepped into the street.

“I’m not sure what this is, but I’ll feel better when we’ve spoken to this Dawson character.”

“Are you hungry Inspector?” said the Sergeant.

“Good thinking,” said the Inspector.

The two men sat in their blue unmarked car and consumed a pizza while they waited for Christopher Dawson to arrive at work.

The sun was going down, and the strip of shops was bathed in a golden glow that made them appear way more interesting than they actually were.

Eating pizza and the glare from the sun made the two men almost miss the arrival of the winged deliverer.

He was quite a sight. Winged chrome helmet, leather jacket despite the warm weather and best of all, two perfectly formed wings sprouting from the back of his jacket. The golden glow bounced off the pristine white feathers giving them a golden pink hue.

“How do you reckon he keeps those feathers so clean?” said the Sergeant.

“Save that question until we find out if he likes killing people, will you, Sergeant.”

SCENE:

The rear of Fallen Angel Pizza. An alleyway with a wire fence on one side bordering the railway line. Two plain-clothed policemen are questioning a pizza delivery driver.

Sergeant Wilson would like to remove his jacket because he is hot from standing in the afternoon sun. The delivery driver does not remove his leather jacket. A train goes by, and the delivery driver turns to watch it. The feathers from the delivery driver’s wings brush the face of Sergeant Wilson. The sensation is a pleasant one.

“Have you ever delivered to the flats on the Hemingway Estate?”

The Inspector knew that he had.

“Yes,” said the winged delivery man.

“Two Fridays ago?”

“I’d have to check the date, but I think so.”

“Did you happen to notice anything unusual?”

Christopher Dawson hesitated before answering.

“The front door to number twelve was open and I had a sinking feeling that I was too late.”

“Too late for what, Mr Dawson?”

“To save her. I knew she was in danger, but I thought I had more time.”

“More time for what, Mr Dawson?”

“To save her.”

SCENE:

Police interrogation room. Inspector McBride and Sergeant Wilson sit across a metal table from Christopher Dawson. Mr Dawson is still wearing his jacket. Mr Dawson has been given an official caution, and the tape machine is recording. Three paper cups containing water sit untouched on the table. No one even considers lighting up a cigarette.

“You said earlier, when we spoke to you at the pizza shop, that you needed more time to save her. Who were you referring to?”

“The woman who was murdered.”

“Did you kill her, Mr Dawson?”

Inspector McBride liked to get the question out of the way early on. Other officer preferred to wait.

“No Inspector. I haven’t killed anyone in a very long time.”

The Inspector wanted to ask what he meant by that statement, but he felt it would push the interrogation off track, so he let it slide.

“But you were there?”

“Yes. I found her and I knew my mission was at an end.”

“Mission?”

“You must know that a woman is killed every day of the year by someone she lives with. Three hundred and sixty-five women every year. It was my mission to convince this woman to leave before the inevitable happened.”

“Why was it your mission?”

“She had important things to achieve and being dead would mean that she couldn’t achieve them.”

“You’re a strange one, Mr Dawson. If you don’t mind me saying so?” said the Inspector.

“I don’t mind at all.”

“If you found her like that, why didn’t you call the police?” said the Sergeant.

“She was dead. My involvement was at an end.”

“How did you get out of there without leaving a trace?”

For the first time since they had met, Mr Dawson smiled.

SCENE:

The coffee room at the police station where Inspector McBride and Sergeant Wilson are stationed. The room is large and half empty. The floor hasn’t been swept, and empty coffee cups are spilling out of the garbage can in the corner. Sergeant Wilson would very much like to light a cigarette, but those days are gone.

“The men in white coats went over his flat with a fine-toothed vacuum cleaner and came up with nothing. We could do him for not reporting the crime scene but a good brief would get him off. We have nothing on him. He has to be one of the strangest blokes I’ve come across and I’ve arrested football players so that’s saying something. Still and all, I can’t help liking the bloke. Wouldn’t trust him to have my back, but I like him all the same,” said Sergeant Wilson while chomping on a chocolate croissant.

“There is nothing in her file about living with someone. Someone must have come across her partner. Interview her workmates again. She must have talked about her partner. Women love to brag or complain about their other half.

SCENE:

The back of the shop — Fallen Angel Pizza. Two plain-clothes police are talking to the pizza shop owner. Several men in white jumpsuits are swarming over the body of a dead young male. Trains periodically travel past, making it difficult to carry on a conversation.

“So what did Mr Dawson tell you before he left?”

“He said that there was a body at the back of the shop and that I should ring you blokes because you don’t like it when someone gets murdered and no one says anything.”

“Was that all he said?”

“No. He said that he was sick of not getting there on time, which didn’t make any sense to me because he was always punctual. The customers loved him.”

“Anything else?”

“Yes. It freaked me out a bit. He stood in front of me and it seemed to me that his wings got bigger, which is nuts.”

“What did he say?”

The pizza shop owner didn’t want his best delivery driver to get into trouble, but he told them anyway.

“He said he hadn’t killed anyone in a long time, and he thought that this time he might be in trouble. I didn’t ask him what he meant and I don’t want to know.”

The pizza shop owner would have to go to the station and make a formal statement, but that could wait until tomorrow. There were pizzas to make.

A search of Dawson’s flat revealed that he had packed up and left, which came as no surprise to Inspector McBride.

“We need to be very careful about the way we write this one up,” said the Inspector and the Sergeant agreed.

Before going home, they bought half a dozen beers and sat in the park near the Fallen Angel Pizza and ate a delicious pizza, with the lot — on the house.

When the beer and pizza had been consumed, the two men travelled home to their loved ones.

They slept soundly and never mentioned a word of the case to the ones closest to them.

The boyfriend was never charged because he was dead and it’s hard to cross-examine a dead bloke.

The file was closed with a brief explanation that said, the main suspect is deceased. No further action required.

The dead boyfriend’s file mentioned the bloke with the helmet and wings as being the likely murderer.

It also said that after an exhaustive search, no trace of Christopher Dawson aka Raphael has been found.