The Riveting Lives of Russell and Sal

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Chapter 16

Another week crawled by and Sal still hadn’t heard from Russell, which made him even more suspicious about their relationship. Sure, Russell had gotten his phone taken away, but he had to have it back by now. Sal had texted, and even called to see if Russell wanted to spend New Years Eve together. But his texts went unanswered, and his call went straight to voicemail. So Sal ended up spending his New Year’s Eve at home with Tyler and Brenda.

“We should get a pizza,” Tyler suggested, while they all sat on the couch in front of the TV.

“That’s a great idea,” Brenda said. “Sal, do you want pizza?”

“I guess,” Sal said, still lost in his thoughts of Russell. There was no way he hadn’t gotten his phone back by now.

Brenda went in the kitchen to call in the pizza while Tyler flipped through channels on the TV like it was the 90’s. “Anything special you wanna watch?” Tyler asked.

“I don’t care,” Sal said.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah. I’m just tired.”

Brenda returned from the kitchen. “You can’t go to sleep yet. It’s only 6:30.”

“I’ll be fine. I just need a Coke.” Sal got up from his chair and headed for the kitchen.

“Bring me one too,” Tyler called after him.

“And some wine for me,” Brenda added.

Sal grabbed two cans of Coke and poured a glass of wine. When he returned to the family room with drinks, Tyler had on a sitcom about office workers while Brenda dug through her purse for her wallet, to get money ready for the delivery person.

About a half hour later, the doorbell rang.

“I’ll get it.” Sal took the pizza money from Brenda. He lumbered over to the door, opened it, and gasped.

“Russell?”

“Did somebody order a pizza with extra sausage?” Russell winked, holding up a large pizza box.

Sal tilted his head. “We didn’t order sausage. We asked for pepperoni.”

“Must you take everything so literally? Here’s your pizza. Now where’s my money?”

Sal handed Russell the money, then took the pizza box. “What are you doing though?”

“Filming a porno. What does it look like I’m doing?”

Sal took in the green hat on Russell’s head, with the logo “G.D.’s Pizza” emblazoned across the front, along with a matching green polo shirt. “You got a job? Delivering pizzas?”

“Just started yesterday.” Russell smiled. “Now I can save up money for college.”

Sal bit back a snarky comment on college and the rising price of tuition. “How’d you manage to get a job so fast? Don’t you need work experience for that sort of thing?”

“Not if you know a guy. My pastor recommended me to his brother, who owns the place.”

“Wonderful.” Sal paused for a moment. “Do you still like me?”

“What? Of course.” Russell frowned at him. “Why wouldn’t I?”

“Because you haven’t answered any of my calls or texts.”

“I told you- I got my phone taken away.”

“I thought you’d have it back by now.”

“Yeah, and I should. But my parents caught me coming home late, the night I snuck out to see you. So I won’t be getting my phone back any time soon.”

“I’m sorry I got you in trouble,” Sal said.

“It wasn’t your fault.” Russell gave him one of those half-smiles he missed. “You’re worth it.”

“Is everything going alright?” Brenda had entered the kitchen, and blinked when she noticed Russell. “Russell?”

“He got a new job,” Sal said.

“That’s wonderful. Congrats!”

“Thank you.” Russell checked his watch. “I better get going before I’m missed.”

Sal walked with Russell outside, to the delivery car. “I almost forgot to give you a tip.”

Russell thumbed through the bills. “No, you gave me enough for a tip.”

Sal ignored Russell’s comment and, after glancing down both sides of the street, pulled him close, giving him a long, slow kiss.

Russell fell back against the car. “I’ve missed that.”

“Me too.” Sal took Russell’s hand in his. “At least we can see each other again Monday.”

“I can’t wait.” Russell gave Sal a tender kiss on the lips. “Good night.”

“Good night.” Sal stood back, watching Russell start the car and drive away. He tried to keep himself composed once back inside the house.

“That’s nice Russell got a job,” Tyler said, looking over at Sal, who had sat down on the reclining chair next to the couch.

“Yeah.” Sal forced back a grin.

“You’ve certainly perked up,” Brenda said with a note of suspicion.

“Because the pizza’s here. I’ll get plates!” Sal jumped up and rushed towards the kitchen before anyone could notice his reddening face. I really need to do something about this blushing problem. That could be my New Year’s Resolution!

After they all finished eating, Sal announced he was going up to his room.

“I’m going up to my room,” Sal announced.

“Have fun,” Tyler said.

Once in his room, Sal went straight to the computer, opened his favorite search engine, and typed in “how to keep from blushing.” “The internet is great,” Sal said to himself as 1,690,000 results popped up. He checked out a few of the links that had come up, wondering if all the different websites had copied off each other, for every single webpage gave the same advice:

- Don’t think about blushing.

- Drink lots of water.

- Draw attention to the fact you are blushing.

Sal groaned at all of these useless suggestions. Especially the last one, which caused him to pound his fist on the desk so hard his pencil cup tipped over, spilling its contents onto the floor. “Internet, you have failed me!” He closed the web browser and revved up Turbo Pug.

Several minutes to midnight, Sal went back downstairs to watch the New Year’s Eve Ball drop. Maybe, miles away, Russell was watching it too. If only he was here for me to kiss. At least I got to see him tonight. Sal thought about how Russell had showed up at the door earlier. And… wait. He furrowed his brow, rubbing his chin. “Did somebody order a pizza with extra sausage?” Russell had said. Extra sausage… Sausage… The underlying meaning behind Russell’s words struck Sal like a fork to a power outlet. His eyes widened as he covered his mouth. Oh God. I thought he meant… His face heated up.

“I need water!” Sal leapt out of his chair and raced to the kitchen. He yanked the refrigerator door open, snatched a water bottle, opened it, and chugged it down.

“Are you okay?” Brenda asked. Sal jumped, spilling water onto his shirt.

He wiped his mouth on his sleeve. “I’m fine. Just thirsty.”

“You’ve been acting weird tonight.”

“Really? I must be on some sort of Coke high. I mean, not coke coke but Coca-Cola coke. Yeah.” Sal took another swig of water.

Brenda’s eyes narrowed. “You know you can tell me anything, right?”

“I know.” Sal avoided Brenda’s stare by glancing over at the Live, Laugh, Love plaque hanging on the adjacent wall. “Nothing’s wrong. I’m just, excited about the New Year.”

Still looking suspicious, Brenda walked out of the kitchen, leaving Sal behind. That was a close one, he thought, gulping down the rest of his water. Loud cheers erupted from the TV, and fireworks boomed outside.

Dammit, I missed the countdown. Sal’s mind returned to Russell’s sausage comment. He opened the fridge and took out another bottle of water. “A new year, a new water bottle.”

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