Pizza: Ruth and Ellis

A Short Story by
Dan McClenaghan

Ruth was growling through another diet, trying to take ten pounds off her butt, but Ellis (basing his comment on years of observation of his wife’s unnecessary battle against her curvy build) said, “Those first ten pounds are probably gonna come off your boobs, Babe, and I’m pretty sure the whole starvation thing isn’t worth it.”

SONY DSCFor this he earned a banishment to the garage, where he used his cell phone to make a call out, and he now sat there in his lawn chair, a cold beer in the chair arm’s cup holder, awaiting the delivery of his large pizza from Tony Pepperoni’s. But before it arrived, Ruth glowered out with an armload of laundry, a dark cloud of relentless hunger hovering over her head.

“Hey, hey, hey,” Ellis said, jumping up. “Let me get that for you, Ruthie girl.” He took the jumble of colors from his wife’s arms and stuffed it into the washing machine.

Ruth, ever the cynic, said, “What are you up to?” gazing around the garage.

“Nothing, nothing,” Ellis replied, measuring some soap. “You go inside and get yourself a stalk of celery and kick your feet up and relax.”

“You’ve got food hidden out here, don’t you?”

Ellis denied the allegation, as an ancient Honda Civic with the plastic Tony Pepperoni sign affixed to its roof pulled up at the curb. He caught Ruth’s gaze laser-beaming out the open door, and he turned and said, “Oh shit,” as the guy with the fragrant box walked up the driveway. Ellis met him halfway, paid him, took the pizza, and as he turned around, there was Ruth. “Gimme that,” she said.

“But your diet,” Ellis protested.

She grabbed the box, Ellis refused to let it go, so the couple shuffled into a push and pull cha-cha that took them out onto the front lawn, each of them displaying a muscular determination to gain possession combined with a finessed restraint aimed at maintaining the structural integrity of the box and pizza. Stray neighborhood dogs wandered in and hung like hyenas on the outskirts of the struggle. Clete and Juanita rolled by and pulled in their driveway next door.

“What the hell are they doing? Clete asked.

“Looks like some kind of tango,” said Juanita, as Ruth gave a tug and Ellis countered the move, planting his foot, swinging in and digging an elbow into his wife’s ribs, making Ruth grunt and step on his foot and move her weight forward, causing Ellis to fall on his ass, without letting go, drawing Ruth down to her knees, her arms extended in order to maintain the horizontal alignment of the box that held the pizza that she was determined to have, those ten extra pounds on her butt be damned.


About Dan McClenaghan

I write stuff.

I began with my Ruth and Ellis/Clete and Juanita stories in the early 1980s. At the beginning of the new millennium I started writing reviews of jazz CDs, first at American Reporter, and then (and now) at All About JazzI’ve tried my hand at novels, without success.

I’ve been published in a bunch of small presses, most notably the now defunct Wormwood Review. This was in the pre-computer age, when we whomped up our stories on typewriters, then rolled down to Kinkos to make copies, which we stuck in manila envelopes, along with a return envelope with return postage attached. Times have changed.

Aside from the writing, I am married to the lovely Denise. We have three wonderful children and four (soon to be five) beautiful grandchildren; and I am a two-time winner—1970 and 1971—of the Oceanside Bodysurfing Contest. Kowabunga!

Photo credit: Marc Wathieu via a Creative Commons license.


Comments (2)

MillieApril 6th, 2014 at 10:51 am

Joy! Joy! Joy!

Dan, please put all these Ruth and Ellis and Clete and Juanita stories into a book. I promise I’ll buy a copy!

My mornings are always better and my coffee tastier when K-B puts these into the blog!

kbgressittApril 6th, 2014 at 10:54 am


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