This last week at the writing group we were asked to think of someone we saw daily but really knew nothing about. I chose a waiter who serves me regularly (only coffee though). They were to be our main protagonist in a fictional story from a choice of genres. I chose ‘crime’. We then had to chose five words from Annette’s mass of flash cards. My five words were: aluminium, judge, sodomite, quarry, chloroform……. just as well I had settled on crime…
this was my story…..
All summer I saw him every day without fail, the waiter at one of my favourite cafes in town. I guessed he must be the owner or simply never got a day off. He was always there with a ready smile and the cutest blue eyes that twinkled with a suggestion of a promise much spicier than any of the food he served. He was forever dressed in black sweatpants that swayed temptingly as he served; and a black t shirt that hugged his body drawing more than the occasional glance, and not just from me.
Then one day he was gone and there was a waitress serving my coffee and croissant. She had neither the twinkle or the full sweat pants to compete. I thought that perhaps he had finally got a day’s holiday and thought nothing more of it. The next day he was still absent from my morning’s break.
By day three there was still no sign of him so I decided to ask the waitress, who now seemed to be his permanent replacement, where he was.
“Haven’t you heard?” she asked in a conspiratorial whisper.
“Heard?” I repeated her final word.
“Yes. He’s gone.” She replied adding more mystery than I thought was strictly necessary.
I simply raised my eyebrows in silent reply. She needed no more encouragement to go on.
“He wasn’t all he appeared, you know,” she began. “He was living a double life: By day a charming waiter, by night a disgusting sodomite.”
“Are you saying he was gay?” I asked her. It seems my gaydar must have faltered.
“Yep, queer to the bone. You’d never have guessed though, right? He looked so normal.” She was getting into her story now.
“As normal as you or I,” I replied, annoyed at her obvious bigotry.
She ignored the inference. “Right, but they never get away with it, you know?”
“Get away with it?” My hackles were rising.
“Hang on, I’m getting that look from the manager,” she told me nodding at the woman behind the bar; someone I’d never noticed before, though I can’t imagine why. “I’ll be back in a minute.” She said and waltzed off to serve another table but returned within minutes dropping the local paper in front of me. “Page five,” she said winking and heading off again.
I turned to page five and there was a stark photo of the waiter, who I now could see was called Ruben accompanied by the headline: “Smalldole Quarry Murder – Judge Implicated.”
My mouth must have fallen open as my heart sank. I read the story. It seems Ruben had been picked up in a notorious local cruising spot and allegedly drugged with chloroform while he was performing a lewd act. Don’t you just love journo-speak for a blow job. The recipient of said BJ was a prominent judge, allegedly of course, who also allegedly had dragged Ruben’s lifeless form back to his car and to his home to take all manner of advantages before finishing him off with an aluminium pole.
The judge had, allegedly, been caught red-handed dumping Ruben’s body in the quarry mentioned in the headline.
It was apparent from the final lines of the story that said judge had previously got away with similar crimes and had been under suspicion for some time. He had been under police surveillance, which purportedly had watched his every move but had not been quick enough to intervene to save poor Ruben.
As I dropped the paper back on the table the waitress reappeared. “Just desserts, right?” she said half smiling.
I could hold back no longer and told her just what a bigoted harpy I thought she was. I dropped enough coins on the table to pay exactly for the coffee and headed for the door. The rest of the café had come to a standstill as the waitress stood there aghast at my outburst. Slowly one of the other customers started clapping, to be joined by the others one by one. I was getting around of applause.
“Marie, I think you’d better get your coat.” The manager leaned over the bar and called to the waitress.
I stood in the doorway watching as she grabbed her coat from the hook, had a short and meaningful exchange with the owner before heading my way and towards the door.
I stood aside to let her out. “Just desserts,” I commented to her as she pulled the door open.