By Henry Osborne
Love, Hoagies, and Danny DeVito.
You have a date with your childhood crush, Sandie. It’s next Saturday, at the Rusty Truck. You’re stoked. So stoked, in fact, that you don’t even notice a little Danny DeVito scurry out from under the Subway bain. It charges while you’re lathering marinara sauce on a meatball sub, bites your ankle, and scurries away. The bite hurts like a bitch. You yelp.
Fucking balls, you mutter in front of a customer and her daughter. The mother looks terribly offended. You apologize, but she just huffs and asks to speak to your manager. After their meeting, Scott, your manager, scolds you in front of a bunch of customers. It’s the lunch rush, the booths are full, the line wraps from the till all the way outside, and everyone looks so embarrassed for you.
Later, when Scott is done bitching you out, you go to the employee bathroom and inspect the bite. It’s ragged, bloody, swollen, and weeping puss that soaks into your sock. You swing your leg up on the sink, wash the bite off, and wrap some paper towel around it so you don’t bleed into your shoe. The worst part is that you haven’t had a Danny DeVito booster shot since grade seven. Who knows what diseases a Danny DeVito might have. Rabies. Gingivitis. It’s best to be safe. Besides, you don’t want to be sick on Saturday.
You catch the bus to the clinic after work and ask the nice lady at the front desk if any Danny DeVito shots are left. You show her your ankle and she winces.
That looks terrible, she says. Unfortunately, they’re fresh out of Danny DeVito shots. And don’t bother looking anywhere else for one. There’s a worldwide shortage of shots, don’t you know? Danny DeVito infestations bloom in the summer, during their mating season. Also, the shots have become popular among the dieting crowd since weight loss is a common side effect.
Yes. You’ve heard. You watch the news.
On your way out of the clinic, you see Sandie strolling by. You duck into an alleyway, hide your face with your jacket, and wait for her to pass. You’re so quiet. You don’t even breathe. There’s nothing less sexy and ickier than a guy infested with rabies or gingivitis. Sandie passes you by. Her brown locks bounce on her shoulders and her sun dress flutters in the breeze. She looks especially cute and you’re so relieved she doesn’t see you. You exhale. You’re feeling a little hot and your ankle’s sore. Is it gingivitis? Maybe, but you’re probably just being paranoid. You catch the next bus home.
By the time you get back to your apartment you’ve got full-on chills, sweats, and aches. It feels like the worst growing pains ever. You curl up on the blow-up mattress in your living room and smoke some pot from an apple bong to take the edge off your aches. It’s probably the gingivitis setting in. You wrap yourself in your sleeping bag and watch cartoons for a bit. This wasn’t how life was supposed to go, working at Subway into your mid-twenties, sleeping on the floor of a dingy one-bedroom apartment, smoking shake out of an apple, and fighting off a Danny DeVito infection. What’s next, scabies? All this makes landing a date with Sandie even more extraordinary. Why would someone like her want to be with a loser like you? You fall asleep with ThunderCats playing in the background.
"The worst part is that you haven’t had a Danny DeVito booster shot since grade seven. Who knows what diseases a Danny DeVito might have. Rabies. Gingivitis."
Your vision’s super blurry, your joints are a little achy, and you have an insatiable hunger for hoagies, but at least you don’t feel sick anymore. You reach for the apple bong you left beside your bed for a little wake n’ bake, but it’s not there. Instead, you find a pair of glasses. You put them on and everything looks clear again.
Weird, you’ve never worn glasses before.
You get up, shuffle to the mini fridge, and dig out some of your leftover, eternally wet Subway ham and a half jar of pickles, and devour it all. When you’re done, you go to the bathroom and take a leak.
While washing your hands, you catch a glimpse of your reflection in the mirror. You scream. You’ve shrunk a full foot, have a cul-de-sac haircut, and have gained nearly fifty pounds. You’ve transformed into a Danny DeVito. This is so embarrassing. You’ve heard of adverse side effects associated with Danny DeVito bites before, but nothing this extreme. There’s no way you can show up to your date with Sandie like this. But you can’t reschedule either because she’s driving back to Oregon for the fall semester on Monday.
You spend the rest of the day in your bachelor pad, googling things like: “turned into Danny DeVito, why?” and, “what to do if you’re a Danny DeVito?” But all you find are news articles about the rash of Danny DeVito infestations across North Dakota and Wyoming, and gossip pieces about Danny DeVito’s newest movie that he’s co-starring in with Joaquin Phoenix and Anna Kendrick.
You bus to the clinic and ask for a cure for your Danny DeVitoness. The intake nurse recognizes you and squeals. Then she blushes.
I’m sorry, she says. We don’t see many celebrities come through here.
It’s okay you say.
She turns to her computer, clacks something on her keyboard, then asks for your name, address, date of birth, and the reason for your visit.
You give her your information. As she clacks it into her computer, you ask if she’s a fan. She looks up from her screen, smiles, then gushes to you about how you’re her favourite character actor, how your role in Matilda saved her life, and that she thought you were simply delightful in Batman Returns.
Thank you, you say. You know, that monkey bit me right on the penis during filming for Batman. You pause. What the fuck? Was that your memory? Or was it a Danny DeVito memory? Slightly more panicked than before, you describe your condition to her and ask for help.
She nods her head to the waiting room. You glance at it over your shoulder. It’s a sad white room with clumps of confused looking old people, a whimpering girl with grass stains on her soccer uniform and a ragged scrape on her knee, and a 40-something landscaper with a bloody wad of newspaper wrapped around his left hand and a sandwich bag containing what looks like a severed pinky. You shudder, then turn back to the nurse. She says she’ll get you in the queue, but you’ll have to sit in the waiting room with everyone else. Before you leave to sit, she asks for your autograph.
Sure thing, you say. You pull a Subway napkin out of your back pocket and scribble a signature you’ve never seen before on it. You push it towards her, and she’s ecstatic. You head to the waiting room, and she shouts a joke about Nurse Rachet from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. You feign laughter. If you had a nickel…
It’s almost three hours before a nurse calls your name and shows you to a room. You sit down on the visitor’s chair beside the hospital bed. It’s another thirty minutes before the doctor arrives out of breath, clipboard tucked under her armpit. She closes the door behind her, sits in a Caster chair, then wheels over to you as she flips through the papers on her clipboard.
Hello, Mister DeVito.
Your chart says that you woke up like this.
Yes, after a DeVito bite.
She nods and scribbles something on your chart. And you would like to not be like this, she says.
Well, she says, unfortunately, there’s no cure for ADT.
Acute DeVitotosis transformation. Or just DeVitotosis. It’s an infection caused by the bacteria present in a rabid DeVito’s saliva. Luckily, this infection isn’t as uncommon as you’d think. It should resolve itself within four to eight weeks.
Four to eight weeks?! But you have a date on Saturday.
The doctor smirks. With whom, she asks, Rhea Perlman? She chuckles and nudges your shoulder.
You’re serious, you say.
She clears her throat and straightens her back. Yes, well, unfortunately there’s nothing to be done. Instead, you should take advantage of your symptoms. This is a great opportunity to enjoy life and do things you wouldn’t normally do. Take some time off work, drink martinis, make a movie. Hell, you could even do some good and visit sick kids at a children’s hospital.
But you can’t afford to take time off work, and while martinis sound pretty nice, sick kids make you depressed. You’ll have to find a cure before Saturday, perhaps through alternative medicine.
You’re halfway through the Thursday evening shift at Subway when Scott calls you into his office. It’s a cramped maintenance closet with a desk covered in loose papers and an old computer. It smells like BO and meatball subs.
He tells you straight up that he’s firing you. When you ask why, he cites your poor effort level and declining quality of work. On top of that, your inability to reach the olives and banana peppers at the back of the bain makes the sandwich construction process too lengthy. Plus, he knows you’ve been sneaking slices of ham and roast beef, which is theft. The time you spend taking selfies and signing autographs for customers constitutes as wage theft. These are just some of your unsavoury behaviours that distract from Subway’s mission statement to promote health, well-being, and mindful food choices.
You can tell Scott’s not being fully honest with you. This is because you’re Danny DeVito, isn’t it? This is because he hated your performance in Twins. If that’s the case, this dismissal probably violates a thousand labour laws. He’s dismissing you because of an illness. An illness you contracted at work!
No, of course not, he replies. This has nothing to do with you being Danny DeVito. If anything, that helps your position here.
You want to grab him by his big stupid ears and scream in his face, but you’d probably be arrested. Instead, you tell him that the Subway mission statement is a lie.
Subway is terrible for health and well-being, you say. The bread is essentially cake, and the ham is somehow eternally wet. The turkey smells like ass, and you, Scott, are simply terrible!
Scott bitchslaps you across the mouth and tells you to be silent, to not take Subway’s name in vain.
You want to hit him back, but you just glare at him. He’s nothing compared to you. How many movies has he been in? Zero. You’ve personally been in at least 67 films and have a shitload of awards to show for it. You have a Golden Globe and a primetime Emmy from Taxi on your nightstand. What does Scott have on his nightstand? Probably a photo of him shaking Josh, the regional manager of Subway’s hand, and a tub of Vaseline. He’s a piece of beef jerky shoved into a Subway polo. You could call your agent and within thirty minutes five tall, muscular men would descend upon Subway in an Apache helicopter, kick in the door, and headbutt Scott into a fine paste. But you won’t do that because you’re not that kind of guy, even though Scott’s the worst.
You’ll be hearing from my lawyer, you say as you storm out of his office and slam the door. It’s a hollow threat. You have no lawyer and Scott knows you have no lawyer, but the principle of the whole thing feels good anyways. Besides, your agent could get you a lawyer if you really wanted one, but you don’t feel like it right now.
On your way out, you steal the entire bin of sliced roast beef cold cuts. You stuff the sweet slices of meat in your mouth as you stomp down to the bus stop and wait for the route 69 bus.
"Scott bitchslaps you across the mouth and tells you to be silent, to not take Subway’s name in vain."
You’re not sure why you’re in this strange bachelor pad with camping chairs instead of a couch. Why are you wrapped up in a sleeping bag on a blow-up bed, smoking pot from an apple core? Shouldn’t you be in your mansion in Hollywood? Where’s Rhea? Where’s your family? Shouldn’t you be filming today? Where are Joaquin and Anna? What’s Joaquin up to?
You take another toke from the apple and have a mini coughing fit. Then your phone buzzes. You check it and see that someone named Sandie has texted you, saying that she’s looking forward to your date. There’s a smiley face emoji beside it.
Thick, hazy memories come floating back. Yes, Sandie. You were going on a date with her, weren’t you? Yes. You used to like her quite a bit, and you still do. It’s all a little too confusing at first, stirred up in a weird stew of Hollywood, cold cuts, and Joaquin Phoenix, but it comes back to you slowly.
You aren’t Danny DeVito. You’re …. Well, you’re not sure who you are, but this is where you live. This is the apple you smoke pot with, this is the single-room apartment you sleep in, and this is the TV you watch ThunderCats reruns on. You’re a loser, and you’re going on a date with Sandie tomorrow at 6:30 pm at the Rusty Truck.
You try typing out a message to Sandie, but your fingers are stubbier than you’re used to, so you keep deleting and retyping the words you fuck up. Looking forward to seeing you too, you respond. You send a smiley face afterwards. You think about telling her you’ve been a little under the weather and that you’ll have to reschedule, but before you can she replies that it’ll be a fun night, this time with a winky face and a peach emoji beside it. Oh fuck. Shit’s getting real. You delete your unsent message and type out a new one, saying yes, it will be fun, then panic send a bunch of eggplant emojis. She responds a few moments later with a laughing face and several more peaches. This time with the little water droplets beside them. You smile. Then you go into the alarms app on your phone and set up one to go off every hour for the next 24 hours. You aren’t Danny DeVito, your alarm says. Date with Sandie (totally hot) at the Rusty Truck. 6:30 pm.
You arrive at the Rusty Truck at 6:25 pm and your phone reminds you who you are and why you’re here. Each message feels stranger than the last, like it’s coming from some far away, glistening dream, but they reassure you that you’re in the right place.
The maître d' shows you to your table, a zebra print banquette by the front window. You open a tab that, you assure your waitress, your agent will pay, then you order a martini to settle your nerves. Who knows, maybe Sandie won’t care that you’re Danny DeVito. You’re funny, famous, and rich. Fame sucks sometimes, but maybe Sandie likes being heckled for autographs?
Waiting feels like forever. Your waitress brings your drink and you down the whole thing in two minutes.
Finally, 6:30 rolls around.
At 6:45 the chair across from you is still empty.
By 7:00 your heart aches so much that if you weren’t three martinis deep, you’d almost be in tears.
You want to text Sandie to ask where she is, but you don’t have the heart. You drink until nighttime. When the kitchen closes down, you migrate to the bar. The bartender asks for an autograph, so you scribble a little note on a Subway napkin, toss it to him, and order a Cosmo.
It’s past 8:30 when Rhea Perlman pulls a barstool up beside you.
You can’t stop staring at her, this short, frizzy-haired goddess.
So, you look different, Rhea Perlman says to you.
She inches her barstool closer to you. Relax, she says, it’s me.
It takes you a moment, and then you realize it’s Sandie. Sandie’s Rhea Perlman now. You want to ask her what happened, but you know exactly what happened, it’s so obvious. So, you just tell her you’re glad to see her and don’t say anything about her being Rhea Perlman.
Likewise, she says. She’s sorry for being late. She was too nervous after she transformed, and honestly, she was planning on blowing your date off, but she felt like she had to if you were still here.
You two sit together, drink Cosmos, and talk. It’s so easy. It’s like you’re kids again. You talk until the lights shut off and the bartender tells you it’s time to leave.
So, she asks as she pulls on her coat and gets up from the bar, what should we do about this? She motions between you and her.
You look at her. She’s wearing this silk, iridescent purple and green cocktail dress and she’s so fucking glamorous, simply fucking glowing. You realize that you’re meant to be together. It’s written in the laws of the universe, the laws of space and time. You are Danny DeVito, and she is Rhea Perlman, and you are destined for each other. There’s no one in the whole universe you’d rather be with.
You tell her you have an idea and reach out your hand. She takes it and you stumble out of the Rusty Truck together down to the bus stop. In the hazy summer evening, you hold hands and make out while you wait for the route 69 bus to take you back to your apartment.
Henry Osborne invented the English language, Hotmail, and cherry flavoured Pop Tarts. He was the first person to swim butterfly across the Pacific Ocean and is personal friends with Tupac Shakur. He has written and published many books, including, but not limited to, Moby-Dick, The Meaning of Relativity, Harry Potter, and Frankenstein. Currently at the end of his very long and illustrious career, Henry works as the editorial director of GOOEY Magazine – a title he won in an arm-wrestling competition with people much weaker than he is. He presides over GOOEY's meagre staff, ensuring they feel appreciated and that they properly execute his vision. He’s one of the smartest people alive, has been the finalist for the Miss Universe beauty pageant twice, is positively swimming in money, and is very good at lying.