MINCHIATE: XII The Hanged Man

Waiting

“Can I get you something else?” The waiter asked, his expression full of sympathy, yet amused. I’d been at the table for almost an hour and Kyle hadn’t yet arrived. The restaurant boasted a century of continued service.

“More water, please,” I smiled.

I glanced at my wristwatch. Kyle is often late, but he’s never stood me up. He’s my brother, I know what to expect. 

I gazed out the big floor-to-ceiling window and watched the people and cars zipping by in the rush-hour bustle. 

My cell phone lay on the table, by the dim Tiffany stained-glass table lamp lit up in hues of reds, greens, yellows and blues. My eyes darted from the window to the phone’s dark screen. No news is good news, I thought. 

A brand new 1920s black Cadillac stopped in front of the restaurant. I frowned, confused. Something felt odd about the car, its shiny newness seemed real, not like the restored hot-rods at the antique car shows Kyle likes. 

The doors opened. Two men jumped out. They wore three-piece suits, one dressed in gray, the other in a pinstriped navy blue. Their hats hung low on their heads. My heart raced as they pulled out a submachine gun each. 

They stood legs apart, pointed the guns at the window and fired. I heard the rat-tat-tat of the machine guns, and saw them blazing, yet the glass remained intact. No one on the street screamed or ducked; no one in the restaurant panicked. In the line of fire, I was unscathed.

The men climbed in the car and sped away.

Was I dreaming? A car honked somewhere and brought the restaurant itself back to reality. 

I glanced around, wondering whether others had seen the gangsters. For the first time, I noticed a line of bullet holes on the back wall, gaping in the ancient and faded wallpaper. These were not recent, but no one had bothered to cover them.

“Hi, so sorry I’m late,” Kyle slid into the chair; he was flushed and sweaty and out of breath, “what did I miss?”

“Al Capone’s gang just shot up the place.”

“Wait, you saw them?”

“What do you mean?” 

“I came here once on a date,” he took a sip of my water, “I was looking at the street when an old Caddy stopped. Two old-fashioned gangsters pulled out their Tommy guns and shot at the window.”

My jaw dropped. 

“No one else saw a thing,” he said.   

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