Speed Racer was downstairs in his kitchen trying to figure out what the group would eat for dinner. It had been an hour since he’d left Kate and Alicia in the room at the end of the hall, and he’d been in the kitchen half that long seeking an answer to the problem. Jay, who had come downstairs with Speed after getting his sleeping arrangements, was in the living room watching TV and trying to debunk the Twilight Zone episode that was currently on.
Speed opened the fridge to look inside and see if there was anything instant that he could warm up. He thought his mom had mentioned something about buying some TV dinners a few weeks back, but he couldn't seem to find them there in the fridge. He also looked for leftovers from previous dinners his family had eaten, but there weren't any of those, either. Speed didn’t know what to do, since he couldn’t cook and there was nothing to warm up. Too bad my mom’s gone, he thought.
Just then, Kate walked into the room. She noted Jay watching TV, and turned to see Speed in the kitchen, rummaging through a cupboard over the counter next to the fridge. “Hey,” she greeted him.
“Hey,” Speed responded in a muffled voice, as he had his head inside the cupboard. Jay was engrossed in the TV and thus didn’t pay any response to Kate’s greeting, although he could hear her.
“What are you doing?” Kate asked, upon seeing Speed up on his tiptoes, digging through the cupboard.
“I’m trying to find us something to eat, for dinner,” he explained, emerging from the cupboard with an unopened bag of potato chips. Speed studied the bag for a minute, then put it on the counter and shut the cabinet door. He rested his hands on his hips and sighed, slightly exasperated at the fact that he couldn’t find anything to make for the four of them.
Kate looked at Speed inquisitively. “Can you cook?” she asked.
“No,” he replied, shaking his head. “Can you?”
“No,” Kate said. “Even if I could cook, I don’t know what there is to make.”
“Hmmm. I wonder how we’re going to eat,” Speed remarked, thinking aloud and mulling it over.
There was silence as both of them thought about this. What could two people who had no idea how to cook a dinner do to have a meal that night? Speed didn’t know, but Kate was formulating an idea.
“Well...I have a thought,” Kate began, breaking the silence. Speed looked up at her, interested. “Maybe we could get a pizza,” she suggested, and shrugged.
“Yeah, maybe we could,” Speed pondered, stroking his chin and contemplating the idea seriously. He was already thinking about how he’d pay for it, and about how much it would cost to get a pizza big enough for four people when something else occurred to him.
“How are we going to get to the pizza parlor, though?” he asked, remembering that his car had been on the hijacked plane. This question was really more of a verbalized thought, and it slipped out before he could stop it.
Kate didn’t know anything about the circumstances that landed Speed in her friend's kitchen, and frowned in confusion. “What do you mean, how are we going to get there? Don’t you have that really nice white sports car...?” she asked, somewhat incredulously.
“Oh, that. It’s on the hijacked plane,” Speed answered, without thinking twice about his reply.
“Hijacked plane? What...?” Kate trailed off, completely baffled. Speed remembered then that she hadn’t been in the living room at Alicia’s house when he’d explained his situation to Alicia and to Jay.
“Never mind,” he replied. Kate frowned a bit more while she thought about his remarks. Just our luck, she thought. His car is on a hijacked plane. Now what? However, she decided she couldn't be too critical, as this type of thing tended to happen often on the TV show. Besides, there had to be something they could do.
Her face relaxed, and she smiled a little. “We could always call and have them deliver,” she suggested and shrugged.
“Well, I don’t think they will...” Speed hesitated, taking a few steps in the direction of his phone.
“Of course they will. They must,” Kate responded. She walked past him and took a seat in the chair that was next to the table the phone was on. Speed studied her for a moment, wondering what she was thinking. Kate looked around her for a moment, as if she were searching for something she’d dropped, then looked up. “Where’s your phone book?” she asked Speed.
“Phone book? Oh, yeah,” he remembered. “It’s on top of the fridge.” Speed walked over to the fridge, got it down off the top, and brought it over to her. Kate swept the dust off the cover and opened it up, flipping through it and looking for pizza parlor phone numbers. She finally found one under “restaurants”—it turned out to be the only one listed. “We could try these guys,” she said, and set the book on her lap as she turned to the phone to dial the number. Speed watched, to see if she’d get through. His phone was kind of old, and sometimes the dial tone didn't engage when a person picked up the receiver to make a call.
Kate picked up the receiver and lifted a hand to dial the number. She immediately hesitated when, instead of buttons on the face of the phone, she saw a dial. She furrowed her brow in thought, thinking, Wasn’t 1967 the year push-button phones came out?
However, she wasn’t quite sure of this fact, so she decided not to say anything for fear of sounding stupid. Even if push-button phones had come out that year, they would've been too expensive to own. Anyway, it wasn’t like she’d never seen a dial phone before. She'd seen them, and even fiddled with them in antique shops, but she’d just never really used one. It made her nervous and at the same time excited.
Speed seemed not to think this was the reason she hesitated as he reached over and took the receiver out of Kate’s hand, holding it up to his ear. Sure enough, there was dead air. He reached over with his other hand and jiggled the cradle. The familiar buzz of a dial tone sounded from the receiver into his ear, and he handed the phone receiver back to Kate. “This phone’s kind of finicky,” he remarked, somewhat apologetically. “Sometimes you have to jiggle it to get it to work.”
Kate gave a half-smile and a nod, taking the receiver from Speed and putting it up to her ear. Inwardly, she was glad that he hadn’t seemed to notice the fact she was hesitating over how to dial the number. She’d have felt so...stupid. It’s not that big a deal, Kate told herself. It's just like all the times you fiddled with these things. Just dial the number.
She reached up a hand and stuck a finger into the hole marked “5”, turning the dial and starting to input the number for the pizza parlor. Kate put in the remaining six numbers and waited. There was the soft chime of ringing, then a click as someone on the other end of the line picked up the phone.
“Hello, this is Jed’s Pizza...can I help you?” a gravelly voice with a Brooklyn-sounding accent on the other end of the line asked.
“Yes,” Kate responded. “I’d like to place an order.” She hesitated for a moment, then added, “Do you take orders over the phone?”
“We can do that,” came the reply. “What’ll it be?”
Kate hesitated. “Uh, hang on a sec,” she replied, and took the receiver down off her ear, covering the mouthpiece with her hand. “What do you want on the pizza?” she asked Speed. He shrugged. “I don’t care,” he said.
Jay, who had apparently been listening to the conversation while he watched TV, contributed his opinion. “Tell them to put olives on it,” he said, from across the room. Kate glanced at him for a moment, then gave a nod and put the phone back up to her ear.
“Yeah. Can you make me a pizza with pepperoni and olives on it?” she asked. There was a pause as the man on the other end of the phone got an order blank and filled it in.
“Okay...I think we can do that,” he said. “Be by in 30 minutes to pick it up.” The pizza man was about to hang up, but Kate stopped him. “Okay. Well, I wanted to ask one more thing, about the pizza,” she said.
“What’s that?” the man on the phone asked.
“Well...I was wondering if you guys could deliver it,” Kate answered, feeling awkward and at the same time slightly strange for having to ask that. Usually when she called the pizza parlor, she’d have to specify the opposite, that she was coming to pick it up instead of having them deliver it. Either that, or she'd have a choice.
“Deliver??” The guy on the other end of the phone repeated, half in disbelief. Kate could’ve been asking him to get naked and do the hula. “Deliver? We don’t deliver,” he stated. This made Kate feel even more awkward.
“Well...” Kate hesitated, not knowing what to say. She felt herself get hot. Speed had been watching her the whole time, and saw her face flush in embarrassment. “Kate. Give me the phone,” he said, reaching out a hand. Kate glanced quickly at him, then said into the phone, “Hang on a second.”
The pizza man sighed in exasperation as Kate passed the phone receiver to Speed. He got on the phone.
“Hello,” he said into the receiver.
“Hey, who’s this?” the pizza guy asked, then added, “Hopefully you have more sense than your friend.”
“Sorry about that. She’s here from out of town and she’s not used to this,” Speed explained, without missing a beat. His prowess at making things up off the top of his head probably came from all the times he’d had to outwit madmen and other kinds of criminals on short notice.
“Well, someone should tell her that pizza parlors don’t deliver,” the man at the parlor replied, a bit gruffly.
“Yes; well, can you do me a little favor?” Speed asked, coolly disregarding the pizza man’s comment. “I don’t have a way to get to the parlor, so I’m going to send someone else to pick up my pizza.”
“Whatever. As long as somebody gets over here to get it, I don’t care who it is. Who’s the pizza for?” the pizza man asked. “What’s your name?”
Speed gave his name. Kate could hear the pizza man’s cry of excitement through the phone from where she was sitting, some distance back. “Speed Racer?? No kidding! Hey, what’s up?” the pizza guy asked enthusiastically.
Speed was surprised, but grinned at the pizza man’s sudden reaction. “Not much,” he replied, a little sheepishly.
“Hey, congratulations on Daytona,” he said.
“Thank you,” Speed replied.
“Now what’s this about sending someone else to get your pizza? Are you having car trouble?” the pizza man asked sympathetically.
“...Of sorts,” Speed replied.
“Yeah, I heard you were supposed to be in China for some race, but didn’t show up. Whatever your car trouble is, it must be really bad,” said the pizza guy.
“Uh huh,” Speed agreed. Yeah, my car trouble's bad, mainly because my car is gone, he thought.
“Well, you just tell me who it is who will be by, and I’ll give the pizza to him at a ten percent discount,” the pizza guy offered.
“Okay, thanks,” Speed said, slightly surprised, and smiled again. “I’m going to send over a guy named Sparky, Sparky Jones. He’s a friend of mine,” Speed detailed. He smiled as he thought to himself what Sparky’s reaction would be when he called him up. Sparky expected Speed to be in China right now.
“Alright, we’ll do that. We’ll give the pizza to Mr. Jones when he gets here, and tell him it’s for you, okay?” the pizza guy said.
“Alright, thanks,” Speed replied. The two men exchanged goodbyes and Speed hung up the phone. He smiled, clasping his hands behind his head, satisfied with the way the conversation had turned out. Man, it paid to be a celebrity. However, he wasn't quite used to his fame, and people’s reactions to him still sometimes surprised him.
“So, I’m assuming that phone conversation went well,” Kate commented dryly. “I could hear that guy yelling from over here.”
“Yeah, well, he’s a fan, I guess,” Speed replied, a bit whimsically, and shrugged. He came back to the matter at hand. “I’ve got to call up Sparky,” he said. Speed picked the phone receiver back up, and Kate got up from the chair by the phone, to give him a place to sit. He sat down and dialed the number. Kate marvelled at how quickly he was able to do so. There was a soft chime of ringing, then a click as Sparky picked up.
“Hello?” he answered, in his slightly squeaky voice.
“Sparky?” Speed asked.
Sparky nearly had a heart attack. “Speed?!” he exclaimed in complete shock. “What are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be in China??” he asked, surprised.
Speed grinned wide, amused by Sparky's reaction. “It’s a long story,” he replied. “I’ll explain it later.”
Continuing on, Speed said, “Look. Sparky, there’s something I need you to do for me.”
“Uh huh,” Sparky replied from the other end of the line, nodding his head.
“I ordered a pizza from Jed’s Pizza Parlor, on G Street, and I need you to go pick it up for me because I don’t have my car with me right now,” Speed explained.
“You don’t have your car? What happened to it?” Sparky asked, shocked further.
“Like I said, it’s a long story,” Speed replied. “I’ll explain it all when you get here. Just for now, go over to Jed’s and get the pizza. He knows you’re coming over, and he’s given a ten percent discount on the pizza. I’ll pay you back when you bring it over here.”
“Okay,” Sparky said, completely dumbfounded over Speed calling him up. “I’ll do that,” he added.
“Groovy. Thanks, Spark,” Speed replied. “Bye.”
“Bye,” Sparky said, and hung up. Speed hung up the phone receiver and sat back in his chair, sighing contentedly.
“So...Sparky’s coming over?” Kate asked tentatively, wondering who else she was going to get to meet on this crazy adventure. Kate liked Sparky. He was always one of her favorite characters. But she secretly hoped she didn’t have to meet Trixie, as Trixie was not one of the characters on the show that she'd liked much.
From the couch in front of the TV, Jay spoke up. “Isn’t Sparky that guy in the green shirt, with the red hat and the squeaky voice?” he asked. Speed sat forward, surprised and wondering where Jay had gotten his information.
“How do you know him?” he asked, curious, and at the same time a little suspicious. Sparky was someone that to Speed's knowledge, Jay had never met nor seen before.
“Hey. 'Speed Racer' is a TV show, remember?” Jay reminded him, a bit defensively.
“Oh...yeah,” Speed remembered, and sat back again in his chair. “I forgot, about that whole 'parallel universe' thing you brought up,” he added. The whole idea of his world existing as a TV show in Jay's world, that Jay and his friends watched and knew, was going to take some getting used to. Speed had a feeling there would be more surprises like this.
Just then, Alicia came downstairs and walked into the room. “Hey, what’s up?” she asked. Jay was engrossed in the TV again, and Kate was standing next to Speed's chair with her arms folded.
“Not much,” Kate replied. “You’re just in time for dinner. We’re having pizza.”
Alicia shrugged. “Cool,” she said, and took a seat next to Jay on the couch. Kate sat down at the dining room table, and the four of them waited for Sparky to arrive.
On to the next chapter. ---->