Prose » James Bezerra »


The Red Baron

“Did you know,” Leslie asks as we lie naked in the bed, sweaty and passing an American Spirit back and forth between us, “that Red Baron Pizza was not named after the Red Baron, but by the Red Baron? He learned about pizza during the war and tried to make it back in Germany when he got home.”

I’m naked. She might not be, technically, her rumpled black panties still hanging around her thin and pale ankle — which clicks in a strange but soft way when she walks and which she swears doesn’t hurt and which she doesn’t even notice anymore — which is dangling over the edge of the bed.

“Who was he again?” I ask because my brain is still fuck fuzzy, and that’s great because it had been awhile and so some of my higher brain functions have gone snowblind from the sensory overload of her wet skin on my skin and that kiwi smell in the tangles of her hair.

“He was that pilot. In World War I. Who shot all of those people down.”

My brain starts to clear a little, like the sky over France on a cold spring morning a long time ago and Leslie puts the cigarette out and half curls across me and drapes one leg over my body and she nestles into me as though she loves me and there is something so very sweet and yet so odd because it was just minutes ago that she was the opposite of sweet, that she was salt and sweat and muscle and flesh and fold and grunt and teeth on my lips and twitch and slick and a little bit mean in the way her hips moved and I’d thought there in that moment just before she came that she might be able to break me. Yet now her ear is pressed so delicately over my chest above my heart which is still thudding heavy and her small breasts are pressed so casually against my ribs. And so now it is so odd. The contradiction. Like the pretty blue cobalt sky clearing over the torn black scar of a French battlefield on a chilly but otherwise perfect spring day.

“I thought he died,“ I say. As I move my mind back into my own body and notice how sticky I am on my hips and thighs while I let the tip of my finger trace up and back along the line of her spine.

“Oh I’m sure he did,” she says while wiggling her toes. “He’d be, like, a hundred and thirty years old now.”

“No, I thought that he was shot down or … no, he was shot but he landed his plane, I think. I don’t think he survived the war.”

Leslie’s whole body engages in a small shrug and her skin rubs her sweat into my sweat and I think about what we taste like together. I can tell, somehow, from the way her body slackens and her skin cools, in just the tiniest way, that she has closed her eyes and is drifting away from awake, “Maybe he didn’t.”