Every morning I arrive at Santino’s with a smile on my face, ready to work.
It’s only been 12 weeks since I inherited the restaurant from my late father, and things are running smoothly. A large lunch crowd keeps us on our toes, while the dinner rush is more like organized chaos. Santino’s has been in my family for generations, and as a dedicated Italian I am delighted to be a part of it. My father would be proud.
Mother always teased me, “who knew that little Lorenzo Santino would actually do something with his life.”
After repairing the store front with proper glass (damn vandals) I changed our logo and font. I also painted the door red. One pane of glass has our name, and open for the lunch. The other, mirrors the same but open for dinner. “We have to let the locals know our hours, because if we piss them off we’re done.” I always told my staff.
Today, the lunchtime rush never came. Odd, for a Sunday. I had to send a busboy home. Only Shannon, my head waitress remained. I played maitre d’.
Mikey had collected his belongings and was on his way out the new, shimmering red door.
“Mikey, heard anything? Where is everyone? Only a few tourists today?” I asked.
“Sunday boss, don’t know. Maybe church still? Pastor Greg loves to ramble,” he replied, walking out the door.
Discouraged, I cleaned up. One bad day in the restaurant business is often a sign of things to come.
“It’s only one day, Shannon, we’ll manage – can you stay for dinner? I’ll pay you over time.” I asked her, looking bleak.
“Of course, I need the money. Matthew can look after the kids tonight,” she said.
We set everything up for dinner. The square tables were offset to diamond shape. I placed the chairs neatly along each table, forming the perfect ninety degree angle. My crushed white table clothes were immaculate. Crystal polished bright, only the best at my restaurant.
Our in-house band had arrived early to set up, seemed the night was going to go smoothly.
As we opened for dinner, a large, daunting figure was waiting by the door. He didn’t acknowledge my presence. To him, I was invisible. He signalled to the car across the street, and that’s when I saw him. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
“Shannon! Shannon!” I boomed. “Don Giovanni is here, look sharp!” – I stood tall, straining to look confident.
Giovanni was a slender man, but he could still command a room. With his towering menace of a guard, they were a nightmarish duo. The man in black pulled The Don’s seat for him, while I fumbled with the menu. Giovanni simply grabbed it, ignoring me entirely.
We served Giovanni all night, well past 1:00AM, he was having a great time with his associates, and who was I to tell a syndicate boss to leave my lowly restaurant.
As I sat up from my chair to get another bottle of wine for my guests, a glint in the night caught my eye. As I turned around, I saw the glistening onyx of a custom Thompson. Several feet from the door, standing there in all black, was Satan himself. In the flesh. Scars replaced facial features. A true monster of the night.
“Come lo sapeva? eri tu!” (“How did he know? It was you!”) Giovanni cried out.
Antonio “Six Guns” Esposito launched an endless barrage, spraying wildly into the restaurant. All I could hear was screaming. I shut my eyes, holding my head. I fell behind the bar, glass exploding as if detonated by TNT. The brand new window-pane crashed loudly to the ground with the force of orchestral cymbals.
A nonstop hail of lead tore the shop the pieces.
Crunching over the glass, sombrely walking towards the men, Esposito reviewed his operation. As I stood up, the sound of pistol shots rang out. Esposito disappeared into abyss from which he came, and then I saw her…
Shannon was nearly cut in half. Her satin white dress, now apple red. Her body lay softly in a bed of roses. That’s how I chose to remember it. Her porcelain white face, brimming with light. She still looked beautiful. Exquisite.
“And these are the events as you remember them?” Lieutenant Freedman asked.
“Yes, everything.” I said.
Freedman stood up, and casually removed his sidearm…