In the Colosseum, Tonight

500 Word Noir Project

Suggestions: Roman Gladiator Pit, 2 Somms, Bag of Chili Cheese Flavored Corn Chips

Word Count: 597…pushin’ it…

In the Colosseum, Tonight

“YOU’RE THE KIND OF DICK WHO’D ASK FOR WEINGUT KELLER RHEINHESSEN REISLING IN A MAGNUM!”

Two flushed thumbs are facing off, squirming in their tuxes: Kevin DeGromme and Brian Cartouche, this evening’s sommeliers. 

Brian was yelling. The thumb called Kevin shouts back, “Bro, you’re the kind of dick who doesn’t get that the fucking Rheinhessen region is fucking implied with fucking Weingut Keller-”

“Oh! Oh! Whoa! Whoa, bro! Excuse me if I’m not an insufferable asswad too insecure to hear the full name of a wine, because he’ll take it personally, because he can’t get it up to fuck his wife!”

Brian pushes Kevin. Kevin falls into one of the gilded chariot bar carts. Bottles smash.

The lion gets up and starts to pace in its cage. Its weight shakes the platform on which it’s been placed.

I see Tonio reach into his toga, and move behind the Ambassador’s throne.

I see the lion cage door inch open from the vibration of the beast’s pacing.

Tonio draws a gun from his sheet.

I set down the plate of fois gras and walk to the side exit.

Assassination plot, terroristic lion release, love triangle a gladiator-pit themed dinner party in the house of a celebrity chef…I’d hate to say I saw it coming.

 

A week ago, I saw Somm Brian, having sex with Somm Kevin’s wife, Kimmy (sous chef) in one of the linen trolleys. 

That was the first clue.

 

Three days ago, I was in the warehouse, dusting bordeaux glasses with Fern. 

“I’m over this shit after Saturday,” Fern ranted. She knocked over a glass with her elbow. It shattered easily.

“If we’re serving billionaires, why stock all this cheap shit?” Fern cursed. She bent to pick up glass shards. Her shirt rode up and revealed Animal Liberation Front tattooed across her lower back.

I had what you’d call a bad feeling, maybe two.

 

Two days ago, I was polishing silver.

Alejandra, the dishwasher, hollered over the crash of water, “So, how d’you feel about serving a war criminal?” 

“Which one?” I start.

Alej shouted,“The one coming up. The Ambassador. He killed a lotta people in my old country. He had Tonio’s whole family murdered.”

I looked across the washroom at Tonio, the old head waiter. He was sharpening knives.

“Tonio’s gonna kill ‘im,” Alej yelled cheerfully.

Tonio nodded gravely.

I took this incident as an auger. At least.

 

Yesterday, I walked in on Head Chef doing lines in the bathroom.

He slammed me up against the stall, a vein bulging on his forehead, “I didn’t almost die in Afghanistan, fighting for your freedom for you to look at me like that, you miserable, replaceable, worthless, faggoty-ass loser piece of shit!”

That foreshadowed nothing, but it hurt.

 

I’m halfway across the ballroom when the lion roars.

 I grab a dinner jacket left unattended on the back of a chair and shrug it on over my toga. 

I punch the side door open. 

The alley is full of greasy puddles.

The door closes heavily behind me, as a shot rings out.

The sky unleashes a torrent. I hunch into the suit jacket. Something bulges. I pull a bag of Frito’s chili cheese corn chips from the inside pocket.

“My lucky day,” I say.

My sandals slosh as I wind deeper into the city. Red-blue flashes and sirens splash out of the rain. I crunch the chips in my mouth and taste nothing. My feet slap the sidewalk with the rhythm of an old rumination.

Got to get. A new job. Got to get. A new job.

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