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Bugout! A Novel Coronavirus Novel Ch. 121

Flashing green, white and red, the bright neon Just Gina’s Pizza sign cast shadows on the sidewalk. Gina took comfort in the colors of the Italian flag. She felt secure in her Italian heritage. The food, of course, meant everything to her taste buds and concern for her waistline. But the music, language, history and all she learned about peasant culture from her mother, father and immigrant grandparents helped shape her outlook on life.

Immigration meant something special to Gina, even if most Italian-Americans nowadays spit hatred at dark-skinned new arrivals the same way her dark-skinned ancestors faced hatred when they stepped off the boat at Ellis Island. Gina viewed her kin and the new arrivals as sharing life as people of color and almost cousins.

Life felt so different now.

OK, she wasted serious time being married to Vic. And Sal came on like a full-blown terrorist attack. Betsy and her mother had caused her undue worry. Now they all were gone.

Too hard on her mother because of Vic’s bullying, Gina would carry severe daughter’s guilt to the grave. Still, she needed to put all her misplaced emotion behind her and live her life, an activist life, in which she would help people who needed help.

Love wasn’t entirely out of the question.

Gina liked William but wasn’t sure where if anywhere to go with that attraction if you could call what she felt an attraction. Gina wasn’t sure what she felt about much of anything, anymore.

With Chanise helping out at the pizzeria, even without the Blessed Mother, business was picking up. The two damaged women got along better each day, better than either thought they could and would, the way true friends of every race should get along. Gina trusted Chanise. She hoped the feeling was mutual.

Picking up her cell phone when it rang, Gina propped the device between her chin and shoulder. She kept rolling pizza dough.

This is she, she said.

After a minute of stunned silence she stopped rolling the dough.

Yes, I’ll be here, she said.

Yes, thank you, she said.

Gina stared at the wall where the Blessed Mother used to hang out.

You look like you just saw the ghost of Muscles Marinara past, Chanise said, as she bounced in wearing her DEFUND THE POLICE baseball cap.

Nice hat, Gina said.

Seriously, you OK?

The Pizza King lawyer just called, Gina said.

Chanise frowned.

Oh, no, is the corporation pressuring you even more to sell now that the Pizza King died?

The lawyer said the Pizza King’s daughter, Ashley, his sole heir and some kind of flower child, is giving me the pizza empire. Ashley said she’s sorry her father tried to run me out of business. She hopes her gift makes up for all the hurt he caused. All I have to do is change the name of the business.

To what?

Pizza For The People.

Chanise laughed.

As the new boss you can afford to buy a bigger sign, she said.

Astounded and delighted, Gina clapped her hands, sending flour clouds into the air as she did a little dance behind the counter.

Good thing I’m wearing a mask, Chanise said.

Gina forced herself not to run to Chanise and give her a big hug.

Will you manage all the pizzerias?

I will if you ask William to manage security, Chanise said.

William’s a good man, Gina said.

And you’re a good woman, Chanise said.

Pizza for the people, Gina said.

Holding out a bag with a new baseball cap inside, Chanise grinned.

Defund the police, she said.