Antonio strode through the steam-bathed kitchen. “Puttanesca, no spice,” he said to the chef, who nodded and barked out the order to his sweating staff.
The cooking steam wafted through Antonio’s mouth and nostrils, filling his sinuses with the smell of tomatoes. He put his hand in his pocket to grip the small vial within. This is crazy, he thought. All the same, he knew where his loyalties lay. Benito had given him a home, a bed and a job, seemingly out of the kindness of his heart.
But what if the poison didn’t work the way it was supposed to? Or what if the coroner came upon it in the autopsy? Would the police uncover the identity of the culprit? And killing a customer, regardless of age, called for some ethical considerations as well. Could he ever justify the act in his own mind?
The waiters circled around reading off orders, loading dishes onto platters with the grace of ballerinas. “Puttanesca!” The cook placed a bowl of spaghetti on the counter, and Antonio moved toward it as if it were a landmine.
He glanced around. Nobody was looking. He pulled out the vial and removed the cap, holding the serum just above the dish. How much did Benito say he supposed to put on? He wasn’t sure, so he dashed the entire contents of the container across the spaghetti and returned the empty vial to his pocket.
It was done, he said to himself. So why did his doubts remain?
His heart froze. When he turned around, he saw that it was the bartender who had called for him.
“The grandma you’re supposed to be waiting on is complaining that our service is awful. Get her dish and go!”
Antonio nodded clumsily.
While his eyes were diverted, another dish of puttanesca was placed on the counter. Mr. Scott’s waiter came by and grabbed the first one he could see.