That night, the monster inside O’Reilly awoke. It spread its wings, believing it could fly, but, of course, it could not. So it started thrashing around down there in O’Reilly’s innard rooms, smashing picture frames, knocking over lamps, carving its initials into the walls.
So pitiless is the night. You write one little constructive critique on a friend’s blogsite about her decision to take in yet another homeless cat and suddenly, in the dark, you’re Benedict Arnold.
Or maybe you inartfully suggested your friend’s thing about cats is a warning sign of highly contagious mental health.
Or perhaps you went and said it’s one thing to have seven cats, but quite another to have seventeen – not one of which you like. Not even the one who has apparently fallen in love with your raw toes.
And yet, you are the complete idiot.
Seeking solace, you stuff one little pizza—well, one little extra-large meat-lovers pizza—into your face before bed. In the night, its pepperoni eyes burn like flares. It sees you but you cannot see it.
The best you can do is feel it. And you do feel it and you hear it loudly barking at you in long, jagged belches, not unlike a backfiring Datsun 210.
For the rest of the night, alone and questioning the existence of a cat God, you become hopelessly tangled in the sheets, waging, a familiar fight to the death from the porcelain chariot. You just barely, survive, recalling from history classes past the Greek king Pyhrrus whose battlefield victories were more costly than defeat.
In an agonizing moment of clarity, O’Reilly saw how much alike were pizza and betrayal. In the waking hours, each is easily taken for granted. Pizza: saucy, seductive, cheesey good looks.
What harm could it do? It practically begs to be snorted whole up your nose—though you resist, for the last thing you want is to become a posthumous anecdote in an emergency room.
Yet it is also flexible enough to be sliced any way you like. If you don’t think you can handle eight pieces, slice it into six and devour without guilt or digestive huzzah!
As for betrayal, well, first there is your naively solemn or solemnly naïve promise-to-self: never do that again. Which holds firm like an iron straight-jacket. Until an empty voice in the night, down in the bile ducts, starts nagging:
I want. I need.
Wanting is one thing, but, Dude, needing is a need. If that need is not satisfied, you could fade away like that waddling, ex-governor of New Jersey, or that vampire ex-mayor of New York, or the fat, golf cart-eating troll (that’s right, golf cart-eating) known on global wanted posters as the Sand Trap of Democracy.
And somewhere, a long-dead folksinger moans from the grave the all-too-familiar pizza dirge “Oh the dreadful wind and rain and extra pepperoni.”