600 DEGREES WILL KILL ANYTHING
next time you want to stick a cock in your mouth, make it a gun instead!”
Those were the first words I ever heard Jackie say. She was
fighting with her sister in the middle of the dining area. I put down my slice
of pizza and just watched her. Jackie’s stumpy body dripped with sweat and
grease, but in a sexy way. She had a sinewy effect about her, and her hair was
stretched into a tight bun, causing her eyebrows to sit high on her forehead.
My heart skipped a beat as I got up from my booth and approached her for an
Later that week, Jackie became my boss at The House of Pizza, a
filthy shack just off State Street in downtown Ukiah. Nestled along highway 101
like a pearl on a strand, Ukiah is one of Northern California’s most faded
jewels. The House of Pizza sat near the center of town, its perpetually damp
walls adorned with outdated holiday décor and badly painted window displays of
weekday lunch specials.
I came into work one day and Jackie was already fuming. “What
happened?” I asked, expecting the worst.
asshole Tim, you wouldn’t believe what he did.” Jackie was scrubbing a crusty
fry basket; she was the only person who ever cleaned those things. “Some
customer wanted his leftovers in a take-out box so I brought him one, and when
I opened it, cockroaches scurried out. The customer totally freaked and
demanded to talk to Tim.” She was obviously anxious to report the story. “As
soon as the customer left, Tim screamed at me for ten minutes. ‘Always check
the boxes before you give it to a customer’.” Jackie did a great impression of
was his solution, to check the boxes first?” I asked, while putting on a dirty
apron. “What did you tell him?”
told him it’s his fault for not fumigating this dump, and he went nuts. You see
that big stain over there?” Jackie pointed to a wall in the dining area,
directly above the jukebox. “Tim threw a full cup of Coke at that wall and it
went everywhere.” She made an explosion sound and mimed the effect with her
hands. “There were at least a dozen customers here and most of them just walked
out.” Jackie was starting to scream. “Who can blame them?” A defiant wisp of
hair escaped her bun and bounced around her ear until she tucked it away.
guess I’ll go clean it up.” I offered and headed towards the stained wall.
that. There’s no way any of us are cleaning up after Tim’s tantrums anymore.
Just because he owns the place doesn’t mean he can act like a total psycho.
Besides, there’s a bigger problem in the men’s room.” Jackie motioned me
towards the bathroom hall. I walked into her, hoping to initiate some kind of
flirty contact, but she just stared at me with blank, authoritative eyes.
way.” I answered. “I can imagine what’s in there and I’m not cleaning it.”
such a fucking baby.” She rushed past me and marched back into the kitchen.
“When Rob gets back from deliveries, you get him to clean it.” Jackie threw the
half scrubbed fry basket back into the grease bin just as the phone rang.
of Pizza.” She answered. “Excuse me, sir?” A shocked expression crossed her
face. “Sir, please stop yelling.” Shock gave way to rage, yet her voice
remained calm. “You ordered your pizza an hour ago? Hold on, let me check.”
Jackie quickly flipped through the order pad. “I’m sorry sir, but I don’t see
any order slip for your pizza. Are you sure you called House of Pizza?”
Jackie’s face contorted even more. “Okay then, we’ll get right on that.” She
slammed down the phone and screamed, “I don’t need this today.”
small clan of hippie-burnout regulars in the far corner of the restaurant
turned from the fuzzy TV screen and looked at Jackie. One particularly grizzled
derelict asked, “Anything we can help you with, Jackie.”
I can’t handle, Virgil.” Jackie shouted. Despite her renown temper, Jackie had
a high tolerance for the TV burnouts in the corner.
was that phone call all about?” I asked.
asshole says he ordered a pizza an hour ago, but I’ve been here all day and we
haven’t had a call in hours.” She seethed.
if on cue, the phone rang again and Jackie’s eyes blazed with rage. “That
better not be the same guy.” She whisper-warned before picking up the phone.
“House of Pi...” I could almost hear the yelling coming from the other end of
the phone. “Sir, I told you not one minute ago that there was some confusion
with your order.” She paused while the customer ranted. “I understand, sir. Yes
sir. We’re making it now and will deliver it soon. Yes, of course, no charge.”
slammed down the phone and growled, “Fuck this guy.” She stood motionless for a
few seconds, thinking of what to do next. When inspiration finally hit, she
sprinted to the tiny employee radio player and twisted the dial to the local
country station. The Oak Ridge Boys squeaked out of the thin speakers, as
Jackie grabbed a dirty soup pot and a pasta strainer from the kitchen sink and
marched out into the dining area.
are you doing?” I shouted above the music, somewhat afraid of her answer. She
turned around and smiled, then disappeared down the dark hallway where the
bathrooms were located. I headed to the back of the kitchen and hummed along
with the blaring music, “Tonight I'm
gonna meet her at the Hungry House Café...”
then, Rob returned from his deliveries. “Where’s Jackie?” he asked, obviously
stoned. In addition to money, Rob also accepted weed for delivered pizzas.
turned down the music. “She’s in the bathroom, doing god knows what.” When I explained
the phone call and the pasta strainer, a look of genuine interest crossed over
his face. Unlike me, Rob was very open about his attraction to Jackie, often to
the point of harassment.
better go see what’s up.” He said, but before he could get to the bathrooms,
Jackie reemerged from the darkened hallway. She was holding the soup pot as far
from her face as possible.
hi Rob. I left a pasta strainer in the men’s toilet. Will you get it for me?”
Without any questions, Rob complied.
strainer in the toilet? What the hell did you do?” I asked, not caring if the
few, scattered customers could hear me. The burnouts turned their attention
from the TV again and looked at Jackie with bemusement.
for one thing, I took care of that problem in the men’s room.” She said
defiantly. “But damn, this really stinks.” Jackie finally reached the kitchen
and slammed the soup pot down on one of the stovetops. The smell filled the
kitchen almost immediately and I knew what she had done.
filled that pot with shit?” I asked. “Go put it back.” She wasn’t listening so
I tried to bargain. “For Christ’s sake, put it back and I’ll clean the
late, man.” Jackie said, a little too casually. “That fucker will never yell at
me again, not after this.” She took a ladle full of pizza sauce and poured it
into the soup pot. Rob returned from the bathroom with the pasta strainer and
brought it to Jackie.
poop pizza?” He asked, as if this was a common occurrence.
yeah, this guy was the worst.” She said, with scary disdain. “If anyone ever
deserved one of these, it’s this guy.” She walked to the radio and turned it
back up; the little speakers buckled from the volume.
looked into the soup pot. The sauce had mixed with the crap, creating a lumpy,
reddish-brown gravy. “Oh god, this is way too gross for me.” I said, and choked
back a few dangerous gags. Jackie and Rob looked at me with suspicious
disappointment as I walked back into the dining area. Except for the burnouts,
the restaurant was now completely empty. I passed by the meager arcade just as
the faulty pinball machine spontaneously awarded yet another free game, but I
wasn’t in the mood to play it.
smell was starting to fade so I headed back towards the kitchen just as Rob was
hitting on Jackie. I stood out of sight, in order to hear.
had another dream about you last night.” Rob admitted to Jackie, while she
masked the true nature of the pie with layers of crushed garlic.
don’t want to hear it.” She answered, barely listening.
were standing right here.” He continued, unaffected by her lack of interest.
“We were making a pizza together and then I lifted up my shirt and you ran your
hands up my chest and then you peeled off my nipples and put them on the pizza
as extra pepperoni.”
the fuck is wrong with you?” Jackie protested, her voice easily piercing the
distorted music. Rob giggled and asserted the dream was genuine. I walked out
of hiding and approached Rob.
nipples.” I summarized. “That’s sexy.”
“Fuck you, eavesdropper.” Rob stated, and stood behind Jackie.
She finished smearing the “sauce” over the crust and was sprinkling cheese. Rob
leaned over and spit repeatedly onto the pizza.
can’t believe you guys are doing this.” I said meekly. “It’s one of the most
disgusting and depressing things I’ve ever seen.”
need to shut the hell up.” Jackie warned, and I did. She turned to Rob. “Hey,
do we still have any of those old roach traps?”
yeah, they’re mostly in Tim’s office.” Rob answered, and quickly shuffled off
to collect the traps. I watched Jackie as she carefully placed the ordered
toppings on the pizza, and then covered everything with a heavy blanket of
returned with several faded and dusty cockroach traps. He eagerly opened them
up and emptied the contents onto the counter. A dozen dead roaches fell out,
each one landing on their backs; their stiff, brittle legs stuck straight into
the air. With a malicious glee, Jackie grabbed a cleaver and started to chop the
roaches into little pieces. She then scooped up the insect parts and sprinkled
them over the entire pie. After some final cheese and seasonings, Jackie
stepped away from the counter.
think this is good enough.” She said, satisfied with the pizza’s level of
disgust. I walked over and looked at the pie. On the surface, it appeared to
look normal, maybe a little darker than usual. The stench of over seasoning
wafted up to my nose, accompanied by a sharp sting of fear.
pizza could really make that customer sick.” I asserted. “We could actually
hurt him with this thing and get in trouble.”
scoffed, “Don’t worry, big baby.” She slid the pie onto a wide pizza spatula
and turned towards the oven. “Just remember...” She motioned with her eyes to a
sign above the oven. It was a taped piece of paper with the words, “600 Degrees
Will Kill Anything” crudely scrawled on it. Tim put it up there one day as a
declaration against the expense of sanitation. Why pay out minimum wage to wash
germs away when they’ll die just as well in an oven?
slipped the pizza into the oven and wiped her hands off on her apron. The pie
immediately filled the restaurant with its mixed stench of crap and oregano.
The burnouts began to inquire. Jackie reminded them Saved By The Bell
would be on again soon and they quickly lost interest.
When the poop pizza was fully cooked, Rob
offered to deliver it, but Jackie insisted on doing it herself. She boxed up
the pie, smiled at us and assured she would be back shortly. As she left, Rob
watched her drive away and then turned to me and admitted, “God, I want her.”
I joined him, looking out the window and wistfully added, “Yeah,
I know what you mean.”