MY NAME IS SIMON CROSS
I presumed that he might have seen me roaming around the neighborhood but I didn think much about it and quickly took my seat at a fancy table surrounded by two empty seats near the glassy wall beside the closed door, away from other customers who didn see me come inside since they were utterly engrossed in their own business though some of them were dining and munching spicy grubs in haste behind me, they didn seem to notice my presence in the restaurant except for a young Italian waiter who came to my table few minutes after I have fully settled myself comfortably on the soft chair, in order to take my order.
”Hello sir, what would you like to have for the afternoon? ”, he inquired in English using an Italian accent while stretching forth a fashioned paper towards me. I received the menu from him and peered at the fancy dishes that was being served to customers scribed and listed on it, from the lowest price to the highest.
”A sushi dish and some crabs will do ”, I replied pointing on the listed food items on the menu before handing it back to him.
”Alright sir. Your bill will be a hundred and eighty dollars ”,
”Im already aware of that ”,
”Okay sir. Anything else? ”, he asked smirking at me,
”Nope. Thats all ”, I answered thinking that he would go away but he stood waiting for something which I presume to be the payment for the meal. With this thought in mind, I reached out to my right pocket to get my wallet but I changed my mind instead which greatly surprised him. His face turned pale the moment my fingers returned back from my front pocket to the table and I could see he wanted to shriek in anger which he fought hard to suppress in order not to attract attention from the other customers. Then he peered around looking for something or someone whose presence in the restaurant seems to be out of reach or should I say unwanted.
”Sir…. ”, his voice stopped abruptly, swallowing a hard lump of concealed anger.
”What do you want from me? ”,
”Your payment ”,
”Why now? Isn it too early to request for payment before providing the food? ”, I inquired feeling the intrusive stare of the other customers bearing hard on my face but I kept my cool.
”My sincerely apologizes, sir. But thats our restaurants policy ”,
”And you want me to oblige, isn that right, Mario? ”, I queried, not yielding to his demand while he became puzzled wondering how I knew his name but he instantly changed his perplexed countenance to a beggar.
”Please sir, don make it hard for me and just comply with my request ”, he pleaded but I remained adamant.
”I can do that and besides, your demand is completely ridiculous ”
”How so? ”,
”You haven brought the food to the table yet you ask me for the fees ”,
”That has always been the rule here before I came to work here last week ”,
”Is that so? ”,
”Im afraid so ”, he replied feeling satisfied with his convincing words. I paused a bit thinking of what to do next and a clever thought came to my mind.
”You know what? ”,
”Not at all. What is it, sir? ”, he asked with glimmering eyes, presuming that I would agree to his outrageous demands.
”I need to hear what your boss has to say about this ”,
”Excuse me? My boss? ”,
”Yes, the owner of this place. Or I would really appreciate it and overlook your impoliteness if you go inside and bring in my food which I have ordered ”, I replied with a stern look across my face and he kept quiet, looking a bit confused with nothing to say. He began to scratch the back of his head in an awkward way with his right fingers which made me chuckled slightly and gazed at the floorboard searching for some hieroglyphics that was absolutely not part of the stylish carpet.
”He…. huh…. didn turn up for work this morning ”, he stuttered winking his eyelids in fear.
”Then I won pay unless you do as I say ”,
He was about to retort when someone from within intruded with a loud voice which completely arrested all the attention of the oblivious customers including myself.
”Mario! What the hell is going on?! ”, the intrusive voice thundered from within which got him speechless and a cold shill ran through his spine while the other customers were now fully aware of the presence of the Mr. Wong, the owner of the Chinese restaurant whose entire life has been partially assimilated to speak English to any man with English root due to three decades of dwelling in the city away from his original home. Most of his fellow countrymen living around the street respected him a lot, not only because of his affluency, but because of his connectiveness with the bigger triads as well as his educative status in the neighborhood since he was privilege to learn both the English and the Italian vocabulary more fluently than his counterpart. Above all, he had only one daughter who got married to a Jewish singer four years ago and now lives alone in Manhattan with her son who haven set his eyes on his grandpa ever since they went back after the funeral of her dead brother who was a soldier two years ago, through which I came to know the personal lifestyle of the sixty years old Chinese fellow.
The revered movement of his gigantic statue and his bulging stomach as he walked out of the inner kitchen to the main hall, fully dressed in white outfit and black pants where the spellbound eyes of the other customers watched him eagerly, made me figured that the new waiter was in deep trouble and had lied to me that he wasn around in order to hide his impoliteness but he stood in front of me looking like an ensnared prey waiting to be devoured by a hungry predator. The bright light emitted by the glassy chandelier illuminated Mr. Wongs outfit as he walked his way through the crowded table of bewildered customers and neatly avoided the obstacles from the left side of the main hall until he got to where Mario stood trembling with utter astonishment and peered at him before looking at me.
”Whats going on here, Mario? ”, He asked again but received no reply from the young waiter who had already developed a cold foot ever since his eyes fell on his boss while I waited to hear what he has to say to cover up his lies but Mario couldn reply and was dumbfounded which got Mr. Wong infuriated by his silence. His gaped mouth was about to utter a response when I interrupted him with a saving excuse which he would thank me later for.
”He was about to go get my meal when you called out from the back room ”, I said looking at the perplexed face of Mario as he tried to comprehend what I was trying to do.
”Thats a lie. I clearly saw him standing here for more than thirty minutes ”,
”Sorry for that, Mr. Wong ”, I replied looking at his printed name on a golden emblem, sewn on the white tunic, ”The faults all mine for keeping him standing for so long with stories about my young niece ”,
”Is that true, Mario? ”, Mr. Wong asked the young fellow who nodded in agreement to my false story.
”Then hurry and go carry out his order, the customers are watching ”, He whispered and moved aside for the frightened fellow to make his way to the kitchen through the midst of the guests.
”Phew, I hope he didn upset you, Mister ”,
”No, he didn ”,
”I sincerely hope so. Hes a good boy but hes still yet to get used to attending to customers ”,
”Perhaps he needs more time to get used to how things work around here ”