7Very soon now, Benito thought to himself as Antonio approached the target. His moustache tingled with anticipation. So very soon…
Mr. Scott ogled his meal as the waiter placed it in front of him. He tucked his napkin into his shirt. “Dig in, Gordon. The food here is excellent.”
Gordon wasn’t particularly hungry. The pain was back in full swing; he wished more than ever that he had gone to get the Tums. Was it too late to ask the manager for directions?
“Mmm, this is good,” said Mr. Scott through clumps of spaghetti. “Could have done with a little more flavor though…”
At the same time, the old lady snapped her fingers. She looked at Antonio, seething with rage. “I asked for no spice, god dammit! You people are inept!”
“So.” Mr. Scott swallowed. “When are we going to have the money by?”
Gordon barely mumbled. “End of next week.”
“I can’t hear you, Gordon.”
“End of next week.”
“Fantastic. Now, I–” He coughed loudly and held the napkin to his mouth. “I–” Another cough. And another.
Gordon looked up.
The man’s eyes bulged in terror as he continued to hack. “Gordon–”
The old lady turned around. “My god, how spicy did they make your spaghetti?”
Mr. Scott ceased to breathe, and his head hit the bowl. It shattered on impact, blasting puttanesca in every direction. The collision of forehead against porcelain sent out a sonic boom that spread in waves across the restaurant, startling the customers and sending a cold shock through Benito’s body. Slowly, agonizingly, the manager looked up from behind the bar. When he realized whom the poison had taken, his lower lip began to vibrate, and the restaurant proceeded to collapse around him.
All was deadly silent. Even the old woman had nothing to say. Antonio moved forward, ever so slightly, and tapped Mr. Scott on the shoulder. No movement.
Gordon Walsh saw fields. Wide open spaces, rolling pastures, grass and picket fences. Cows, chickens, and the farmer’s daughter. The silhouette of the silo against the pink-gold sunset. A world full of life and vivid color.
Gordon was insignificant, unreligious, cowardly and small, but the Lord’s love for him had remained steadfast; in his sickness, he had prayed to the toilet bowl, and the hand of God struck down the devil. Now heaven was too close for him to wait any longer. His heart swelling with untamable joy, he stood up and ran out the door of DiRossini’s. Benito followed soon after.