The place down the street got burned out early this morning. A professional job, by the looks of it. No one heard a thing. Like I said, there’s a quiet war going on. Glass, debris, all over the street. Nobody got hurt. This time. Nobody wants to talk about it. Too many people to point fingers at. We sit in a state of dread, in the midst of wolves, not knowing where the next bite will come from. Bikers, triads, the mob and dirty cops.
Ten in the morning, on a Sunday again. I’ve been here an hour already. Still no cops have showed up. I don’t know whether to take this as a good thing or not. Normally on a Sunday, I wouldn’t start til four, but we keep losing staff to the biker bar down the street, so I’ve been doing doubles, sleeping on a cot in the back between shifts. They want us out. I think of the blown up bar down the street. Could be edgy here for a while. Heck of a time for the back door bell to ring.
Taylor. I let him in, checking the spyhole first. “Morning”
“You all right?” He looks worried, for a second, but covers it quickly. “You’re here early.”
“Doubles on Sunday for the past month. I guess you saw the mess down the street.”
Back out to the bar. Pour him a cup of coffee. A quick look. “Just milk.” Move my newspaper out of the way.
“Has that been going on for a while?”
“It’s always been rough down here. It’s gotten worse in the past year or so. The city’s organized crime squads took out a few of the higher ups. The rest seem to be fighting it out for whatever spots opened up. Down here, unfortunately. I’m scared it’ll get worse before it gets better. No one got hurt. This time.” I go quiet. What can I say, it really does scare me. Who the hell wants to get blown up at work? My fear must show. He gets up, making his way into the kitchen.
“Nothing’s going to happen to you, Christine.” A hand on my back, his voice right in my ear, as he passes by.
Lights come on in the kitchen. Sound of the fans kick in, the wumpf of blue flame on the stove. “I’ve been here a week. I never see you eat anything.” Sounds of rummaging, through the pass through window by the bar. A head disappears under the counter.
“You’ve actually SEEN the cook, right?” I don’t think the guy has ever changed his apron in the four years he’s been here. An incredible cook, a great guy. No one ever complains about the food, and he’s actually managed to not kill anyone yet, but I look at him, and the idea of eating anything he’s made goes right out the window.
A laugh from the kitchen. I don’t know why guys like to feed us, but for some reason they do. I should be thankful he didn’t figure me for a steak and eggs kind of woman. Toast. Bowl of fruit. Smart man. A great heap of eggs and steak and potatoes, something else unidentifiable, for him. We sit quietly, almost knee to knee, at the bar, until Matty comes in the front.
“What the hell’s going on out there, Taylor?”
He explains what I’ve just told him. I wonder if they would have bought the place, if they had known. Hell, I can’t feel bad, it’s not like I had anything to do with it. It was a done deal by the time I was let in on it. And nobody asked.
“This is the last thing we need. I’m sorry, I was rude. Good morning, Christine.”
Matty sits down on the side across from us, after pouring a coffee. Taylor gets him a plate. I move to get up, figuring to leave them alone. Taylor’s puts his hand on my knee, I’m to stay, it seems, and keeps talking to Matty.
Copyright © 2 Jan 2006 xxxevilgrinxxx