Shut Up, Little Man!

The Burned Pizza Incident at the Pepto Palace : Stories and anecdotes : Shut Up, Little Man!

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The Burned Pizza Incident at the Pepto Palace —

For about an hour there was no sound coming from next door. Silence from nextdoor was very unusual. I thought that Pete and Ray had either knocked each other out or had finally killed one another. Later, we heard the familiar sound of a siren in the neighborhood, only this time it came closer and closer until it sounded as if it was idling outside our building. Naturally curious, Mitchell and I stepped out onto the walkway that linked our apartment to the other apartments on our level. Sure enough, a large red fire engine had parked in front of the Pepto-Bismal Palace, its siren spinning a bright red lightbeam across the facades of the houses across the street. Mitch alerted me to a faintly perceivable smoky smell in the air. A fire! Looking around rapidly to locate the source of the smell, I caught a glimpse of black smoke billowing out of Pete and Ray’s open kitchen window. The firemen hustled up to Pete and Ray’s door, banging loudly, and calling out for them to open the door. To no avail. Finally, a moustaschioed fireman forced the front door open. Mitchell and I were wide-eyed and curious, if not a bit anxious and concerned, standing but ten feet away from where the firemen entered. I quipped that Pete and Ray were trying to fully perfect their domestic version of Hell by adding the smoke and flame.

Several other fellow dwellers of the Pepto-Bismol Palace were now on the walkway with us, as were several on the second tier walkway above. A young black girl saw that it was coming from Pete and Ray’s place and in an endearing little voice called out: "Shut up little man." Then, someone from the walkway above called down: "Shut up, little man!" Mitchell yelled: "Shut yer fuckin’ mouth!" Then, bluehair cried out from above: "Shut up, little man!" Mitchell and I again: "Shut up, little man!" And, suddenly, in unison all the families and freaks at 237 Steiner were standing out on the walkways, smiling and laughing and shouting out a communal chorus: "Shut up, little man! Shut up, little man! SHUT UP, LITTLE MAN!" to the bewilderment of some of the firemen who had come to help the first. This was a moment of true solidarity.

For some reason, perhaps because we were separated from Pete and Ray by a thin wall, it had not occurred to Mitchell and I that other people could also hear them fighting. But, it now was more than obvious. Then, as the firemen began to come out of Pete and Ray’s little Inferno, our neighborly "Shut Up Little Man" choir was quieted by our collective curiousity. The last fireman exited, nodding his head back in forth in obvious disgruntlement. Angrily, he turned on his heels and yelled back into Pete and Ray’s apartment: "Next time you sons-of-bitches decide to cook a pizza don’t get all drunk and pass out!"

No End

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