Dumpster Pizza – Alex Antiuk

        “Who said starvation isn’t fun?” Mark said, with a big yellow-toothed smile on his face as he laughed like a loon.
        We had gone on a hunger strike for no reason other than we had nothing better to do.
        “I agree! Should we head to the dumpster good-sir?”
        Mark nodded and put on his sneakers. He always slipped them on and believed there was nothing worse in the world than having to actually tie them. I had heard a number of stories about why Mark did this, including that one time as a child he stepped in dog poop and his mother still made him tie his dog poop covered laces. But knowing Mark, I also knew it was just as likely he did it because he just didn’t want to tie them.
        Mark and I flung open the door to our garage, strolling out into the blinding sun. It was almost 100 degrees outside and our town was solely made of asphalt. There was not an ounce of grass anywhere to be seen.
        We lived in a small town, but big enough to have all the various fast-food chains. I always thought it was the perfect size and Mark agreed. We had both graduated high-school last year and instead of going on to bigger and better things as our parents requested, Mark rented a garage from this old man with really bad teeth and I took up residency on his couch.
        “Does the sun feel extra hot to you?” I said to Mark. We were walking slowly. Our bodies didn’t move like they usually did. 
        Typically, our feet would sprint around town. We would cut through people’s dirt lawns in order to get to the taco place or the pizza place or the movies. But today we took a long, official path through the lone sidewalk. 
        Mark nodded and I noticed his eyes were glossing over and he was swaying. 
        We hadn’t eaten in 2 days and hadn’t drank any water either. We were sticking to what we believed a hunger strike should be. Mark said he’d heard the monks who did this didn’t drink water so why should we? I agreed and threw out all the bottled water we bought at the big-box store Mark’s mom had a membership to.
        “How far do you think we are?” Mark asked. This was unlike him. He always knew exactly where he was in town.
        I put my hand above my eyes to block out the sun and looked around. The pizza place dumpster we were headed towards was located across from the movie theater.
        The dumpster was a treasure chest filled with cheese and pepperoni. It was where we always ate when we ran out of money and we thought what a perfect place to break our fast.
        There would be copious amounts of left-over lunch pizzas in the trash. We knew the pizza place was always slow between 2 and 4 PM and because it wasn’t a mom-and-pop shop that actually cared about making sure every dollar was saved, they actually threw out pizza because they had some kind of standards to uphold.
        Their corporate policies made us both the most well-fed poor men in the whole state.
        “There!” I screamed. We both saw the shiny, big glass window with a neon pizza slice in front of us. We were about to step into a wonderland of scurrying rats and endless amounts of cooking oil.
        Mark and I both looked at one another before we took off in a sprint. We knew we were close to also being the two happiest people in the whole town.
        “I wonder if they’ve thrown out the pineapple one today?” Mark screamed, while we ran past the glass window, and through the drive-thru.
        I smiled, too hungry to say anything. This hunger turned my brain into a big pool of nothing. My thoughts weren’t able to become words and all I could think about was how glorious the dumpster looked.
        It was big and shiny and smelled like heaven. I was running so fast and my brain was moving so slowly that I didn’t know if I would stop or if it would stop me. Thankfully, Mark grabbed a hold of me and said, “We have done it.”
        We both stood in awe of it and Mark said, “Let’s do it together…” I placed my hand on the plastic lid and Mark did too.
        “Three, two, one…”
        It didn’t budge. 
        “What is happening?” Mark said to me. I noticed his legs were shaking and he was yanking at the dumpster with every inch of strength he had left. I joined him and together we were pulling and trying to rip it open with more determination than I had ever put towards anything in my life.
        “They locked it…”
        Mark placed his hand on the side of the dumpster and pulled up the shiny, giant lock and silver chain. It was the biggest padlock I had ever seen and I couldn’t believe it.
        “What do we do now?” I asked Mark as he twisted and turned. He was rummaging through his pockets but I knew he had no money. I didn’t even bother to put my hands in mine because I also knew I didn’t have a cent.
        We stood pondering beside our treasure chest for a few moments, and I began to wonder what was the point of it all.
        There was nothing in the world worth fighting for but what lived inside this dumpster.
        It not only brought the necessary nourishment I needed to survive but it gave me the joy every day at lunch to want to continue with my day. Without it I was no one and I knew Mark felt the exact same way.
        “Hm…” Mark said to himself. He paced back and forth. He placed his hand on his chin and I wondered what he’d come up with, while I began to feel all hope was lost. And there was nothing left to do but lay on the asphalt, take off our clothes and burn to death under the cloudless sky. It would be a fitting end to my life and I would be proud to die beside not only my best friend but the one thing in this world I trusted. It was the only thing I’d ever been able to count on and if the dumpster was no longer going to allow me to be with it, I’d prefer to die beside it.
        “I’ve got it!” Mark screamed. 
        I turned toward him with the speed of an Olympic sprinter.
        “We will continue our hunger strike until they unlock this dumpster permanently.”
        I nodded and knew life had once again become worth living. I smiled my biggest smile of the day and made two fists with my hands and said out loud, “We don’t need food… We need freedom!”
        Mark agreed and we both felt like the world was ours once again, until Mark unexpectedly said, “But… How is anyone going to know we’re on a hunger strike? It’s too hot out to stand here until they close and throw out the garbage.”
        I looked at him and agreed, and said, “I guess you’re right.”
        “Should we just go steal hotdogs from the gas station?”
        Mark smiled and nodded his head firmly, before he began to march and said, “We officially have a new purpose in life. I declare this hunger strike over!”