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About the author:
Rob Ziser is currently residing somewhere along the Eastern seaboard. When he's not writing he can most often be found in the kitchen, cooking up some high falutin', fancy pants dinner for his darling wife. Currently, he's at work on his next novel, which we're told, has something to do with man's search for inner peace. And donuts. Inner peace and donuts…
Here is a short sample from the book:
“What about that one?”
“Not this again” said Romeo.
“What? She’s cute.”
“And look at those boobs.”
“Oh, hush,” said his mom, waving him off. “Yoo hoo, excuse
She called to the cute girl with the nice boobs to get her
attention. Mrs Monty was always doing stuff like that to him. Her and her traffic cone colored orange hair. Why she dyed her hair that color Romeo could never figure out.
“Will you stop?”
“Don’t mind her. She’s crazy.” He twirled his index finger
around his temple, illustrating just how crazy his mother was. “Fine, fine, I’ll stop. But you’re never going to find a girl. Not
here in this town. Not with that attitude.” “I do okay.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means I do okay.”
“You should get out of here. Move to the city and paint.” “I can’t make money from painting.”
22 Rob Ziser
“You could paint houses,” said Monty, chiming in.
He was funny. Which was a great quality for a twice
And that was basically Romeo Montefalco’s entire family. It
was just the three of them, small and tight. They walked together with his mom woohooing girls and his father cracking jokes, as the sun hung a little bit lower in the late summer sky, and the street fair drew to a close.
All along the route people were breaking down and cleaning up. Packing away their tube socks and t-shirts, folding up their french fries and funnel cakes. Rolling up their tents and sweeping up their spots.
“Do you even know what you want?” asked Mrs Monty, returning to her favorite topic.
“I got some idea,” said Romeo.
“What does that mean?”
“It means I think I’ll know it when I see it.”
“Her. I think I’ll know her when I see her.”
“Aaaaahhhh…” sighed his mother, dismissively waving off
her only son like she’d done a thousand times before. “Aaaaahhhh… yourself,” said Romeo, smiling and waving
her off in return.
“Aaaaahhhh…,” said Monty, playfully, waving them both off.
Just because it’s what they did. It was one of their things. Then he added “Come on, we don’t want to be late.”
Soon they were thick in the middle of a large crowd, all standing in front of a stage at the center of the fair.
Several stellar events had happened up on the stage that day. Earlier there was a pie eating contest. A skinny cashier from the local Grab ’n Go took the title by eating nine blueberry pies in nine minutes. He then refunded at least eight of those pies in three minutes. The mess was epic.
After that, some of the kids from the summer rec drama
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group did a few select scenes from Suessical the Musical. Which was fine till the Cat in the Hat took a tumble off stage left and broke his ankle. Then a local tribute band made up of two pastry chefs and a trio of bakers called Macaroon Five rocked the house with their spot on rendition of “Sugar”. Now it was time to announce the winner of the cheesesteak competition.
“Come on, let’s get closer, over there,” Mrs Monty said, as she pointed to a choice spot near the stage.
Then Monty tapped her on the shoulder and directed her attention just to the right of where she wanted to go.
Close to where she wanted to go, too close for her liking, was Cap and his wife. Seemed they’d already taken up a spot right near the choice spot she was eyeballing.
“What do you want to do?”
“Well, I don’t want to go over there anymore,” she said bitterly.
“How about there?”
“I guess… Honestly, what are they doing here?”
“Same thing as us I suppose.”
“Oooh… I loathe them.”
“I know you do.” He knew because that’s what she always
said when she saw them – I loathe them… He grabbed her hand. “Come on. Let’s go this way.”
Romeo stayed put but called after them. “How long you gonna keep up this silly feud?”
“It’s not a feud,” replied his dad. “We just don’t like them.” “A lot!” said his mom, as they walked away.
“Yeah, a lot,” added his dad. “Besides, they started it.” Romeo shook his head. This whole Monty’s versus Cap’s
thing had been going on for years. It all started when Monty’s opened, about a decade ago. At that point, Cap’s had already been around for a while. Long enough for them to comfortably call themselves the Sultans of Steak. Long enough for them to
24 Rob Ziser
think they were the team to beat. That was the first year the town held the street fair and consequently, the first time they’d held a food competition.
It was the Mayor’s idea. Of course, he was only a councilman back then. But, to his credit, the whole thing took off and quickly became a summer ritual. Which, word has it, inevitably led to him being elected Mayor. Monty’s, the newcomer, won. Which pissed off Cap’s to no end. And thus, the feud…
It was silly. There was certainly enough room in town for both of them. Not to mention the other dozen or so places that either specialized in cheesesteaks or sold them on the side. All this thanks to the Mayor. His love for cheesesteaks was legendary. He grew up in Philly after all. And that had led to the proliferation of places in town. But this feud that his parents insisted wasn’t a feud was getting feudier every year.
Romeo supposed that this was just one of those idiosyncratic facts of life that he’d have to learn to live with. Even if he thought the whole thing was dumb.
In any event, he felt he should catch up. There was a good chance that Monty’s would win the contest. They did last year. Plus all the accompanying perks that went along with it. He should probably be with his folks when and if that happened again.
Problem was, he’d lost them. There was a sea of people now, all gathered around the stage. And his parents were nowhere in sight. He looked to his left and saw a few familiar faces. When you own a popular restaurant in town you get to know a lot of the locals. Then he looked to his right and…
There she was.
Ant stood directly across the street from him. She was not quite next to Nikki, and more than a few steps away from her parents. So it wasn’t immediately apparent that she was with anyone. She was just standing there, her attention to the stage, with the late summer sun bathing her face in the light they call magic hour. Long chestnut hair, olive skin, full pouty lips that
Romeo & Antoinette 25
glistened ever so slightly…
Romeo couldn’t take his eyes off of her.
Then, for no apparent reason at all, she turned in his
direction, and caught his eye. That was pretty much all it took. He smiled, then she smiled and everyone else, everything else, just faded away.
It lasted seconds, maybe less. But the impact hit him like a roundhouse to the heart. It was more than her face, her eyes, her boobs. Damn his mother… It was something deeper, more intense, more connected.
Who is that? he asked himself. And what is that noise?
Something else was happening too. At the same time. Something in the air. Something he could hear. Something off in the distance. A voice he recognized, kind of, but it seemed so far away from where he was in that instant that he couldn’t quite place it. He didn’t want to place it. He wanted to stay right where he was. Lost in her eyes.
But that voice…?
It was his mother, calling him. Again, and again. “Romeo… Romeo…” It seemed distant and unimportant. He willfully ignored it.
Then he heard the whistle. It was the whistle that brought him back. Ripped him back to reality. It was the same whistle he’d heard almost daily since the day he was born. It was his father’s whistle, and it had come to be a sound so Pavlovian to Romeo that he simply couldn’t ignore it.
“What?!” he said. His head snapping around to face them.
His parents had backtracked to come get him. They were just a few feet away. “Let’s go,” said his mom impatiently.
When he looked back she was gone.