Friday 1:00 p.m.
Kurtzman’s Deli bustled with activity. Suits glued to phones quick-ordered at the harried hair-net behind the counter, while waitresses scurried back and forth between tables, dishes of food teetering on arms swerving around the lunch rush. Couples laughed and argued between bites.
Tony sat in a corner booth, back to the wall. He picked at his pastrami sandwich, eyeing the pickles on the side with suspicion. A cheerful voice, three tables over, caused him to look up. A half-smile played on his lips as he watched one of the waitresses, Cindy, taking the orders of a some frat-boys.
She’d swept her raven-colored hair back in a ponytail, which highlighted the pink streak running through her tresses. The short, tight uniform skirt revealed toned legs stretching to a tight ass that he just wanted to grab. He knew from long surveillance that her emerald eyes danced with amusement when she talked to customers, and he dreamed about them burning with passion for him. If he could just figure out how to talk to her…
“Hey!” Cindy’s voice rose in protest above the cacophony. Conversation died as the diners turned to watch one of the college punks retract his hand from her rear, shit-eating grin on his face.
Tony burst from his booth, sandwich in hand. He came up behind the jackass and swung, mashing the sandwich in the guy’s face so hard the kid tipped back in his chair and hit the floor. “Keep your bitch hands to yourself!”
Chair legs screeched as the other two stood up ready to go at it. Tony sneered at them. “What?”
The boys paused as they noticed several men in the room stand, eyeing them like tigers stalking prey. The offender didn’t realize why his friends paused. He scrambled up and threw a right-cross that sent Tony sprawling to the floor. “Think you can do that to me, you little guinea grease-ball?”
One of the others grabbed a shoulder decorated with a stray slice of pastrami. “Uh…Chet? We should get out of here, man.”
The nervous tremor in his friend’s voice sunk into Chet’s skull and he looked around to see hard-looking men striding toward him. A frizzy-haired man with a bushy mustache and cook’s apron slapped a rolling-pin in one hand. The pin pointed at Chet and a voice boomed, “You get out of my shop! Nobody touches my waitresses or Mr. Abbatiello!”
Chet sneered and shook off his friend’s grip. “Whatever. This place is a dump anyways.” The three of them backed-up to the door, Chet behind his two buddies. “The little tramp liked it,” Chet yelled. He turned to bolt out the door and stumbled back as he met a hard obstacle.
Chet cocked his arm back to swing, but stopped as he craned his neck up to see unsmiling granite punctuated by glittering cold eyes. The death-stare flicked over to Tony on the floor and back to the condiment-covered Chet so fast Chet wasn’t sure it happened.
“Heh. Chet…” Tony called, “…meet my friend, Bernardo.” He waved at his partner. “Bernardo…Chet’s an asshole.”
Bernardo grunted and his paw shot out to grab Chet by the throat. He dragged Chet out of the shop, ignoring the frat-boy’s struggling. He eyed the two standing in open-mouthed amazement and pointed down the street. They understood and the sound of their feet slapping pavement echoed in the neighborhood.
Cindy knelt by Tony when the behemoth disappeared out of sight. “You okay?”
Tony rubbed his jaw, wincing as he hit a tender spot. “I’ll live.”
Mr. Kurtzman held his impromptu weapon in one hand and reached down to help Tony up with the other. “I apologize, Mr. Abbatiello. Those…punks won’t be allowed back in here again.”
Tony waved off the apology. “Not your fault, Saul.” He brushed off his track-suit and fussed with his hair. “I look okay?”
Cindy smiled at him. “I think you look…cute.”
Bernardo strode back in, his knuckles a conspicuous red. He tapped Tony on the shoulder, following it with a grunt.
Tony grimaced. “I’ve got to go,” he told Cindy. “Would you like to maybe catch a movie or something?”
She wrote something on her order pad, ripped it out, and handed it to Tony. “Call me sometime.”
Tony accepted it with a grin and followed Bernardo out of the shop. “Things are lookin’ up, Bernie.” He raised an eyebrow when Bernardo sighed, but no explanation followed.
Click the button to catch up with the rest of the story. Sorry I’m late again. I’ll endeavor to try to get back on schedule next week.