The Complete Revelation of Mick and Keith
Sushi to Go
For Aziraphale and Crowley
“Everything you can imagine is real.”
And then, it started.
Important things to know:
- Angels are real.
- Demons are real.
- Cichlids are a mythical type of fish that are purported to populate freshwater lakes and rivers in Asia, Africa, and both Central and South America. The mythical history of these fish breaks down due to the fact that they obviously did not build airplanes to fly themselves from one lake to another and therefore can’t be related. So the only credible explanation for the structural similarities in these fish is that way back in history, when France still had kings and the United States was still waiting to be discovered by the people already living there, the continents of Terra were all linked together. This is obviously complete Dodo droppings and you would be well advised to stay a long way away from anyone arguing such patent nonsense.
It began, or part of it began, near a motel in Salt Lake City. Several people had a very bad day. It was the sort of bad day you often dream about after you have seen a vivid and violent movie coupled with Cajun food. This bad day differed for most of the participants because they never awoke from the dream. Sensational movies, serious documentaries, and both good and bad books were written about this bad day.
Two young men were arrested and charged with crimes they did not commit. One of the young men never said anything, not even to his lawyer. The other young man confessed to everything the police told him he had done. The police had told him what he did so many times and showed him so many pictures that he had come to believe, convinced by his nightmares, that he had, in fact, done the crimes. He dreamt of the slaughtered cheerleaders, the blood-stained money. He dreamt of the motel manager in his sloth and the crisp, clean mini-market across the dusty street, and the once pretty, now dead, cashier. Most of all, he dreamt of the little girl, that one that had come to the motel with her uncle. Once the dreams started to produce prolonged insomnia, the confessing young man went on to confess to every sin he could remember. That same young man’s lawyer later tried to use the fact that the confessing young man also confessed to being James Earl Files’ back-up shooter to make the point that this client was no longer dealing with reality in any coherent fashion. The judge disallowed this evidence, and the confessing young man and his friend were subsequently given due process and multiple life sentences. No one on the jury was bothered by the fact that none of the physical evidence placed the young man at any of the murder scenes. He had confessed, and that was the main fact presented at his trial. Later on, almost no one would remember that the young man’s lawyer had been out of law school for less than one year and had never argued a capital case before.
This is called justice.
Somewhere twenty-four hundred kilometers east, Mary Smith put down the Courier-Journal newspaper in disgust. She and her husband John had become involved with The Innocence Project after John had picked up a copy of The Innocent Man by John Grisham that one of John’s students had left in his classroom. Neither of them realized at first that the novel was a non-fiction account of Ron Williamson’s life. Williamson spent 11 years on death row, more than once coming close to the last terminal show, before being cleared by DNA evidence.
Mary had been motivated to enter Brandeis Law School and had finished with the distinctions that only come from ignoring everything else in your life save the winning of distinctions. John had remained a History Professor and continued pointing out death tolls, casualty counts, the logic of blood debts, the cyclical nature of violence, and the long-term consequences of this or that war with surgical precision to whichever of his students managed to stagger into his seminars.
Mary stood and smoothed her red, orange, and yellow sundress before walking through their apartment to the bathroom. She inhaled the cold, crisp, winter morning air breezing through one open kitchen window of the fourth floor Cherokee Road apartment. She remembered how that same breeze would carry the smell of coffee and Indian food from the streets below. Stopping just before the open bathroom door, she cast a critical eye over her husband.
“We are going to be late,” she said.
John finished the stroke of his razor before turning to her, one half of his face still covered in shaving cream.
“Right, let’s go,” he said.
Mary rolled her eyes.
“Just my luck,” John said, turning back to the mirror and eyeing his work. “I find the one woman in the whole city that takes less time to get ready than me, and I have to go and marry her.”
Mary folded her arms and continued looking at her husband.
“A sundress in winter?” John asked.
Mary smiled as she stepped backward and flashed him her woolen under wear.
It began, or part of it began, a little less than three kilometers west of Mary Smith in her sunset colored sundress. In a shotgun house on Samuel Street, Jobab Jabes Miller loaded rounds into the magazine for his Tariq 7.65mm pistol. Jo did not think while he did this. Jo had not thought much since his family had gone away.
Every now and then, Jo would come out of his reverie and realize he had washed dishes or been to work at the Thoroughbred corrugated box factory or been out for an evening’s walk and had walked clear outside of the county. Then, and only for a brief time, did Jo wonder about how little conscious thought was required to get through the day.
Jo had thought even less since resolving to join his family.
Jo wrote out the following note and left it on the living room coffee table.
I do not want to be famous.
I just want to be with my family again.
–Jobab Jabes Miller
Jo stood, walked to the coat rack beside the door, then stopped. He went to the mirror on the mantel and turned it around. He walked into his wife’s room, where he never slept anymore, and turned her mother’s full-length mirror to face the wall. In the bathroom, Jo covered the wall-mounted medicine cabinet mirror with a towel. As he travelled through the house, he pulled all the blinds down and drew all the shades. Jo paused for a moment in the darkened living room and stared down at the hardwood floor that he and his wife stripped and refinished the weekend after they had moved in.
His wife always maintained that was the same weekend that they had conceived their son.
Jo tried to imagine his son kicking his little soccer ball in the room, turning the never-used and well-scrubbed fireplace into a goal. Jo tried to remember showing a younger, toddling version of his son how to kick the ball, using the inside soles of the feet. Jo tried to remember the sound of his wife’s voice.
Jo could not remember anything.
After stepping out onto the porch, he came back in for his coat, picked up the Tariq, placed it in his coat pocket, and left the house again. He did not bother locking the front door.
On the porch, he picked up the two-thirds empty gallon jug of purified water he had bought a week ago. He poured out what remained of the water into the street, between the parked cars.
“Baruch atah Hashem Elokeinu melech haolam, dayan ha’emet,” Jo said aloud once. He repeated it over and over in his mind as he capped and returned the plastic gallon jug to the porch.
Jo had tried hard in the last few weeks to remember all the rituals, to remember everything he was supposed to do. He felt a great deal of pain whenever he tried to remember, so he had stopped trying to remember anything. His wife had been part of the Chevra Kadisha. She had sat with many, but no one had sat with her or their son when it was their turn.
Jo had tried to gain access to them in the county morgue. Taharah must be performed. The Chevra Kadisha had tried, even though they told him it would be a futile effort. The police, the coroner, the laboratories, all had to do their work. It had been weeks before their bodies were laid to rest in Saint Michael Cemetery.
Returning to the sidewalk, Jo turned right, away from his grey stone house, and headed southeast down Samuel Street in the midday mists. He paused before crossing Spratt Street while a large Ford pick-up with a set of double rear wheels accelerated by him, drenching his pants with freezing ice water. He hurried across the road and covered the last block to Texas Avenue. There he turned northwest and tried not to look at the obelisk crowned with a cross that stood just inside the cemetery gates at the end of Texas Avenue. Even in the icy rain, the American flag fluttered in the wind.
Jo stopped, brought himself to military attention, and saluted the flag. He then made the sign of the cross as he entered into the cemetery.
It began, or part of it began, on the third day of the year.
One Angel and one Demon sat in Café Mimosa drinking mimosas. The restaurant did have a liquor license to serve alcohol, but they did not make mimosas. At least, they did not make mimosas like these. These mimosas gave you the sense of having one perfect moment with each sip. This did not matter. There are a few advantages to being a Demon. For instance, there was always a table with a view and the wait staff never noticed them. Both the Angel and the Demon preferred it that way, especially since that cock-up at the motel in Utah, which had gotten so very out of hand.
They had left Salt Lake for River City after the mess at the motel. The Archangel Chrétien and Under-lord Mania had arrived to clean it up, and they were not pleased. Chrétien had taken them aside and told them, in a low, confidential tone, that management was not pleased. Mania took them aside and said that management was, in fact, well pleased. He even went on to add in a manic breath that it was ‘…important to see the big picture, and to be a team player in the context of this new world of customer-centric services, and that management wanted them to touch base with the humanity relations officer downstairs to talk about a generalized program to up-skill everyone in order to enable more win-win solutions of a similar nature…’
The Angel, called Mick, liked Vietnamese food, and sat eating Pho Tai. The rare beef was medium well done and the noodles were under-cooked. The Demon, named Keith, sat toying with the last piece of Nigiri from his Osechi Ryori special. The Demon was almost everything but a traditionalist. Keith liked to maintain appearances. It was all he could do with a name like his.
Neither one of them liked Chinese food.
This had been a major problem when they had been posted to Shenyang as advisors to Lin Tse-hsü, during the collapse of the Qing Dynasty. The dynasty did not collapse so much implode after the loss of the First Opium War, and the subsequent Taiping Rebellion placed Hóng Xiùquán in power. The Angel and the Demon had both received medals of commendation and a hundred years of solitude for their efforts. Mick had taken up oil painting and studied under Jacques-Louis David. Keith had spent most of his time hanging around with Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg, telling him stories about the good old days, which had not yet happened, and handing Herr Gutenberg tools whenever he asked for them. When Mick and Keith met up again, just in time to work for the newly elected President Andrew Jackson, neither one of them could explain why their side had been so happy with their work.
“What do you think went wrong in Utah?” Keith asked.
“It was the kid, the little girl,” Mick said.
“Oh, the cheerleaders got what they deserved—”
“No, the little girl, the one that came in with her uncle,” Mick interrupted. “That was it—that pushed it over the line.”
“Yes, you’re right,” Keith agreed, stuffing the last piece of Nigiri sushi into his mouth. “My people have never been keen on hurting children.”
Mick gave Keith a long cold stare, something that Angels are particularly good at.
Keith ignored him. If there is anything that Demons are good at, it’s ignoring Angels. That, and both looking and sounding so much like a used car salesman that they can often not only sell you a stolen used car, but also the car you drove up in.
“I’m sorry,” Mick said, “I had this silly little idea that your people were behind those little fiascos called the Holocaust and the Inquisition?”
“Which ones do you mean specifically?” Keith asked, feigning innocence while snapping another drink into one hand, and waving his dirty dishes out of existence with the other. “There’s been more than one of each you know.”
“You know damn—” Mick coughed. “You know the ones I mean.”
“Yeah, yeah, sure,” Keith replied, sipping his drink, “we always get the rap for those. Look, xenophobia and religious zealotry are fine things generally, but hurting children is never good for long-term evil. You need adults for long-term evil. Seriously, look at what the kids did that grew up in the kind, loving arms of the Hitlerjugend.”
“I doubt that many people would agree with that argument,” Mick said, looking over at a young mother and her daughter waiting for their take-out. A little old Asian lady with mid-neck-length black hair was handing them their order. Her face was set in a tight, but friendly smile.
“Maybe,” he said. “But some of those boys in the Deutsches Jungvolk were the first ones to join the Hitler-Jugend in the 1920s, and by the Creator what they did in Poland, France, and Russia in the ’40s.”
“I’m just glad all that’s over,” Mick said.
Keith choked on his drink.
“Over? You think that shit’s over?”
“Hey, isn’t that Mōt over there?” Mick asked with obvious relief, pointing to the slender, pale man who looked even paler for having a Middle Eastern complexion and thinning grey hair, walking through the back door. “Death’s Scion, I think,” the Angel added.
The little old Asian lady’s natural tan and smooth manners looked rather young in comparison to the newcomer.
“The Angel of Death? Which one; Michael, Samael, Abaddon, or Azrael?”
“No, the other one, he’s the adopted Scion of Death and god of Near-death Experiences. I wonder what he’s doing here?”
“Probably came to see the cats next door,” Keith said.
“That is a tasteless stereotypical comment and not the sort of thing that I want to—”
“What? There is a vet’s office next door. Didn’t you notice it? I parked right in front of the sign that said Fairleigh Pet Center Parking Only.”
“I haven’t seen Mōt in ages,” Keith said, waving him over to their table.
The Angel frowned.
Mōt waved back and picked up his take out.
“Hello,” Mōt said as he came up to the table, sat down, and looked at the traffic on the street outside through the Cichlid fish tank. “Are you here for the show?” he asked, unpacking his take-out order.
“Show?” Mick asked.
“Yeah, what show?” Keith demanded. “We’re usually the show and I ain’t talked with my agent about a show today.”
“Oh, it promises to be fun,” Mōt said airily. “Should bring out reporters and policemen and everything. I was going to go across the street and watch from the other side of the large glass window, but here is good enough.”
And Keith grinned as he remembered just what Death’s Scion had been put in charge of.
It continued, or part of it continued, in the back seat of a Yellow Cab somewhere between the River City International Airport and Café Mimosa. Rían Hunter sat in the back seat of the cab alternately flipping through his notebook and trying to consign the NO SMOKING sign to the purifying flames of pyrokinesis. Neither industry was working out for him. He had never been much good at reading in the car, and reading his own handwriting was sometimes a wasted effort when he was standing still. Now, after almost three years in Irvine, California, he longed for the relative freedom of smoking in public again, even if it was only outside. He looked out the window at the near freezing drizzle. There were few places on Terra that could compare to the Ohio Valley for weather that was not quite a snow, or rain, or ice storm. The sky slid between grey and bright white, depending on the cloud patterns. Hunter thought about how nice it was to be back home. Home, in a city where the cabbies ignored you and never tried to give you a copy of their script. That fact alone almost made up for the schizophrenic weather.
Hunter tried to focus on his notes from his one telephone call from Mary Smith, and cussed himself for not remembering the printout of the long and detailed e-mail that John had sent. Hunter would not even allow himself to think about having left his laptop back in his campus office. He had been in the air over Arizona when he had remembered. The phone call from the airline phone to the GTA with whom he shared the office had cost him $24.00.
Hunter tried to focus and read:
Thomas A. Pierce, 39, Pleasure Ridge Park. Pierce was involved in gang-related activities and drug trafficking until his arrest at the age of 19, on rape charges that were later reduced to aggravated assault. After serving 5 years, his life was apparently straight. Ten years later, while he was working as a janitor, a murdered woman and her murdered son were found in the back seat of Pierce’s car by the building’s security guard. Chava Sarai Miller and Seth Abel “Sam” Miller, ages 33 and 5—their deaths caused by multiple stab wounds. Pierce was convicted 1 year later mainly because of his prior record rather than any actual evidence. Pierce was later released after four years on death row. Pierce’s conviction was overturned after another death row inmate’s confession forced a reexamination of the physical evidence, for which the Innocence Project had been arguing for three years.
Hunter reread the mini-biography again, and thought about what a miserable experience that must have been. The Smiths had contacted Hunter soon after Pierce’s release to discuss the possibility of Hunter writing a non-fiction account of this man’s experience. Hunter was not big on non-fiction, but his Irvine thesis fiction project was not going how he wanted it to, and he was seriously considering throwing it out, in favour of just about anything. One of the many things he wanted to do in life besides write was found a Neo-Gonzo Journalism school of thought and work. Perhaps a non-fiction work might be the perfect springboard to start with after all.
The cab stopped in front of Café Mimosa at a little before noon. The clouds had parted, taking the misty rain with them, and allowing the sun a brief visit to the asphalt and concrete. Hunter paid the driver, stepped out of the cab, and lit a cigarette. Smoothing his “Han shot first!” t-shirt and adjusting his well-worn blazer, he turned to face the sunlight, letting the smoke linger in his mouth before making a slow controlled exhale.
Irvine is great, Hunter thought, but smoking outside is bliss.
Hunter turned a second time and looked inside the old familiar restaurant. The front area was empty, and so was the Sushi bar. One old, pale, Middle Eastern-looking man sat at a table in the raised, closed-in area that had been the smoking section before the city enacted a restaurant and bar smoking ban. Hunter had some choice feelings on that subject, but time in Southern California, which was rapidly burning down from a lack of National Guardsmen being in the country, had softened his stance somewhat. The Middle Eastern-looking man was visible through the window, but the two men accompanying him were obscured by the large Cichlid fish tank that sat atop the low wall surrounding the former smoking area. Later, Hunter could never accurately describe the other two men.
Hunter was hot-boxing his second cigarette when his phone rang.
“Hey Mary,” he said after looking at the caller ID.
“I’m sorry, we are going to be late,” Mary Smith said. “John just finished shaving and has now decided he doesn’t like the tie and shirt I set out for him.”
“No worries,” Hunter said, “I’ve got five more hours on this layover before I got to catch another plane up to Hancock International.”
“Sorry,” Hunter said. “That’s the airport in Syracuse.”
“It must suck having an entire continent between you and your girlfriend,” Mary said. “Then again, I wonder if it wouldn’t help John dress faster.”
“Nah, no way,” Hunter said. “Besides, you’d just come home to months of dirty laundry.”
Mary laughed, passed on some gossip about mutual friends, and hung up.
Hunter smoked another cigarette, ogled a few bouncy teenaged joggers, and went inside the restaurant. Settling into one of the tables on the raised platform in the front of the restaurant, by the large window, he ordered hot tea and five different sushi rolls, then settled down to wait, listening to the contemporary piano music playing in the background.
It continued, or part of it continued, in the middle row of small gravestones in the far southeast corner of the cemetery when Jo bent down to scrape the ice off one long gravestone.
The Miller Family
Jobab Jabes │ Chava Sarai │ Seth Abel
Jo tried to think of something to say. He had been trying to think of something to say for days. He pulled his wedding ring off his finger and placed it between his wife’s first and middle names. He stood and wondered why he had not thought to bring an offering to his son’s memory. He stood there a few more moments before taking the Tariq out of his coat pocket and ejecting the chamber. As the metal of the pistol turned cold and bit at his fingers, Jo picked up the round off the ice and placed it inside the vertical depression of the t of his son’s name. Then, with a snap and click, Jo chambered another round and put on the safety.
Jo stood looking from the ring to the bullet and back again before turning away from his family. He made his way to the north side of the cemetery and made his exit through a hole in the fence he had found one day when he and his wife had been walking in the cemetery while she was pregnant.
It was a cold bitter grey two kilometer walk and Jo barely noticed it.
Jo entered Café Mimosa through its back door, travelled along the long hallway that passed the storage room and kitchen, and passed through a second door that opened behind the former smoking section. A few of the tables in the former smoking section had customers. One young man was talking about something that required expansive hand gestures, while his young lady companion looked bored.
A Middle Eastern man with thinning grey hair caught Jo’s attention for a moment as he stood waiting for his take out. Jo wondered if the grey haired man of was of Syrian or Jordanian extraction.
When the waiter asked Jo where he wanted to sit, Jo froze.
What am I doing here? he thought.
Jo shook his head and pointed to a table between the Cichlid tank and the front window section.
With only a curt nod, Jo sat down at a table with a good view of the Smiths, Hunter, and a fourth empty chair. He turned his back to the Middle Eastern man and immediately forgot him.
Jo nodded for both water and tea, sending the waiter away. He made a pretense of looking through the menu, knowing full well he would not order anything from this unkosher kitchen. Laying the menu down in front of him, Jo slipped the Tariq 7.65mm pistol onto his lap, pushed off the safety, and covered the pistol with his napkin.
Jo watched the lawyer, the professor, and the writer, and waited.
It continued, or part of it continued, back in the former smoking section of Café Mimosa. Mōt had just finished catching Mick and Keith up on the story.
“Well, I’ll be Angelic,” Keith said, while Mōt went to order more Crab Rangoon from the little old Asian lady. “That is one pretty messed-up setup.”
“At least this one isn’t our fault,” Mick said. “That’s a nice change.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t be too sure about that,” Keith said while washing his hands with liquid hand sanitizer. “I’m sure people will blame us one way or another. You know, that old stand by—why didn’t the Creator step in and make it stop, or my personal favorite, the devil made me do it. I really love that one. I mean, there is only one devil, the supreme spirit of evil—Mr. Lewis C. Furr himself. We Demons do all the heavy lifting and he gets all the credit. I mean seriously, I have never once heard a sermon about me and I’ve been working around here for close to the last quarter million years!”
“Pardon,” Mick interrupted, “it has only been about fifty thousand, thank you.”
“We were working on the last bunch and besides,” Keith said with an expansive gesture, “I personally came up with the idea of the dinosaur bones. I waited a long time for that to pay off.” Keith’s grin widened to the point that his lizard tongue was visible. “Did you see the gun?”
“No,” Mick said, putting his hands in his pockets and looking at the table. “I don’t have to, I know it is there.”
“Shame you can’t get involved,” Keith said, “and me, I don’t want to.”
It ended, or part of it ended, when Mary Smith picked up her beeping cell phone and read:
S2S CRAFT PDS CID TBL MTFBWU
Mary took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and forced herself to calmly put down the phone.
“What’s the matter, dear?” John asked, his eyes looking about the restaurant.
“Stock market crash?” Hunter asked in that sort of way that people do when they think that a yes answer will provide a lot of entertainment. He leaned back in his chair and added, “Shit, I got nothing to lose.” Hunter picked up his birthday Zippo off the table. The engraving read A.R.P. circled by an extravagant heart design.
“Pierce is not coming,” Mary said, pronouncing each word as if it were a death sentence.
“What?” Hunter exclaimed, slamming his chair down. “Not coming? What?”
John took a deep breath. He had taken that same deep breath several million times before in his graduate seminars, just before two graduate students were about to fight over whether or not Richard Nixon was or was not a worse president than G. W. Bush. John continued to look around the restaurant. John wondered again why it was that no one ever argued about John Fitzgerald Kennedy; the man who blundered two wars, brought the globe closer to nuclear annihilation than anyone else in history, and sold generations of Americans on the idea that America had to protect the entire world, J.F.K. was clearly the worst president since Andrew Jackson. John’s eyes settled on Jo Miller.
Jo Miller saw John Smith look at him and dropped his eyes to the table. He intently stared at the teapot that emitted a faint aroma of green tea. Jo gave the engraved picture of a Chinese Cloud Dragon descending from the skies all the intense passionate attention that a sycophant gives its object.
“Great, that’s just great,” Hunter said, doing a drum riff on his skinny stomach. “I could have been in Syracuse already. What the Hell? He get pinched for something?”
Mary shrugged and tossed Hunter her cell phone.
“What’s this fucker’s phone number,” Hunter demanded, randomly punching buttons on Mary’s phone. “Geez,” he said, staring at the screen, “I think I just dialed up a nuclear strike on the Kingdom of Norway.”
John leaned forward and took Mary’s phone away from Hunter and handed it back to her.
“Got some Scandinavian issues?” Mary asked, her eyes narrowing.
“As a matter of fact, I can’t stand those pretentious peaceniks—”
“Shut up,” John said. “The both of you.”
Mary turned her head at an angle and looked at her husband.
Hunter tossed his arms up and locked his fingers behind his head.
“Mary,” John said, “look at the table just in front of us.”
Hunter watched as Mary’s face settled into the grim determined hardened lines of bureaucracy. It was the face often referred to as expressionless, despite the fact that it contained more expression then anyone ever wanted to see. That face contained everything but the hope there was anything to be done about your case. It was the face that functionaries the world over had refined to show nothing more than grim determination to be rid of their interlocutor. It was the face Franz Kafka inked ten thousand words to capture.
John nodded towards Jo for Hunter’s benefit.
“That there,” John said in a whisper, is “Chava Miller‘s husband.”
“And little Sam’s father,” Mary added, almost to herself.
“The guy with the funny name?” Hunter asked, pitching his voice into a low register while not looking away from Mary’s face. “The one that lost his family?”
“Does he still think that Pierce did it?” Hunter asked.
John said nothing.
“Well Hell,” Hunter said. He looked out the window and saw the same bouncy teenaged joggers returning from their turnabout. “We only live once,” he muttered as he stood up, and turned for Jo’s table.
John began to stand up and restrain Hunter, but heeded to Mary’s grasp on his arm, and in mild astonishment, he sat back down.
Hunter jumped down the two steps that led to the raised platform and made a straight line for Jo Miller.
Jo Miller sat still, his hand gripping the pistol through the dinner napkin on his lap.
“How the Hell are you, man?” Hunter said, pulling out a chair and flopping into it. His elbow hit the untouched teapot, sending it over off its cradle.
Hot, steaming tea rushed across the table, flooding over the edge, landing in Jo’s lap.
Jo screamed in pain, attempted to stand, and fell backwards.
The Tariq discharged.
Hunter sat stunned, his ears momentarily deafened by a low continuous hum. The sulphurous stench of rotten eggs mixed with putrid vapours of burning potassium nitrate irritated his eyes and nose. Looking down, he saw Jo Miller fumbling underneath one of the tables behind him.
Hunter slowly stood up to see Jo Miller recover the Tariq and point it at him.
Hunter sat back down, instinctively placing his hands, palm down, on the table. He looked at the Cichlid fish tank, and into the eyes of a gigantic Electric Blue Jack Dempsey Cichlid. Its face was enormous, and when it yawned at Hunter, it revealed rows of tiny sharp teeth. Hunter thought about Greedo.
I’m gonna get shot, Hunter heard himself in the darkness his own head.
Hunter watched in heart pounding silence as Jo Miller picked himself up off the floor.
Jo’s left hand, his dominant hand, was badly scalded by the contents of the emptied teapot. Jo held the pistol trembling in his right hand, while his left was coddled into his stomach.
“Dude, I’m sorry man, really sorry,” Hunter said.
Jo said nothing. He motioned from Hunter back to the Smiths with the Tariq.
“You want me to go back there?” Hunter asked.
Mary, her hands trembling, dialed 9-1-1 on her phone. As soon as the operator answered, Mary punched the volume down to its lowest level.
The operator said hello twice and fell silent.
Mary punched on the speakerphone and slid the phone back up on the table. She stared as the call timer seconds changed on the phone’s screen.
Hunter slowly stood, keeping his palms pointed towards Jo Miller, and turned back towards the Smiths, who sat wide eyed at the table. Hunter noticed the contemporary piano music for the first conscious time since he came into the restaurant and tried to square it against the man pointing a gun at his back. He completely failed to do so.
The Smiths sat, one watching Hunter walk back to them, the other watching Jobab Jabes Miller hold a gun to Hunter’s back.
Mick, Keith, and Mōt sat watching the scene.
Mick wondered why this sort of thing seemed to happen whenever Humans were around each other for more than five minutes.
Keith wondered how he could get the building to burn down. Insurance agents brought out the very best evil in their customers. It was a knack that he had spent a couple of years trying to cultivate while working for The Sun back in 1710. Since that time, he had helped in low visibility but singularly important ways to grow the firm into the Royal & Sun Alliance Company.
If I get really lucky, Keith brooded; maybe I can take out the vet’s office too.
Stories about hurt puppies always depressed people, and depressed people could spread evil almost as quickly as the Streptococcal pharyngitis went through a pre-school. Keith inhaled the old familiar malodors of death and decay.
What an ingenious little species of creatures, Keith thought. Pack chemicals tightly together, apply fire, and projectile death results. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.
Mōt wondered about nothing in particular. He had given up speculation for Lent last year. By the time Lent was over, he found he had not missed speculation at all and vowed to give it up permanently.
Mōt noticed the little old Asian lady walking up behind Jo Miller, two hands tightly gripping the handle of a cast iron wok. The wok looked every bit as old as the Qing Dynasty. Mōt sat passively as the little old Asian lady raised the wok up over her head, charged Jo Miller’s back, and connected the wok to the back of his skull.
Jo Miller went down.
The Tariq discharged.
Hunter screamed in pain, hit a table, and then the floor. The bullet had passed through the lower right portion of his gluteals, shattered a portion of the large glass window, and buried in the side of the Burritos as Big as Your Head building across the street.
“Well,” Mōt said, turning to Mick and Keith, “the work of the little g god of Near-death Experiences is done here.” Mōt stood up and headed for the back door.
The little old Asian lady was screaming at Jo Miller and kicking his limp body in the back.
“What, you’re just going to leave?” Mick yelled at Mōt.
Mōt smiled and waved as he headed out the back door.
“God damn it!” Hunter screamed, “that fucker shot me in the ass!”
John Smith cautiously opened his eyes. His hands were covered in shards of glass and small cuts. He looked over at his wife.
“Mary?” he screamed, louder than he had meant to because of the dull pounding sensation in his ears.
Mary turned her head to him and nodded. Her face was pale and her eyes seemed to have sunk far into her skull.
“Some fucking help down here!” Hunter demanded.
“Say something, Mary,” John said in what he hoped might sound like a soothing voice. His ears throbbed.
Mary opened her mouth, but only a small shard of glass fell when her lips parted.
“Close your eyes Mary,” John said, before leaning into her and with gentle breaths blew glass dust off her face
“John,” Mary said with her eyes still closed.
John stopped and looked at his wife.
She opened her glittering eyelids.
“I love you John.”
John slowly put his arms around Mary as she began to cry against his chest.
“The bullet—Is—IN—MY—ASS,” Hunter screamed, clutching at the hole in his backside. “No hurry or anything!”
Two of the sons of the little old Asian lady came running out of the back kitchen and dragged their mother screaming away from Jo Miller’s limp body.
A third son ran to Hunter carrying almost every clean white towel in the kitchen. He stopped just short of Hunter and just dropped the towels on him.
It ended, or part of it ended, when the police showed up, followed by paramedics. The unconscious body of Jo Miller was taken into protective medical custody. They said he would most likely live, but declined to comment on whether or not he would talk again.
The little old Asian lady almost went in for homicide when one of the police officers told her that there would have to be an inquiry into her assault of Jo Miller. All three of her sons held her back, and the offending officer was glad afterwards that he had no idea what she said to him.
Hunter settled down after a shot of something that he later wanted to take back to California with him.
His last recorded comment on his witness sheet was “And tell that damned waiter I want my sushi to go.”
Everyone in the restaurant gave a statement; everyone, that is, except Mick and Keith. Keith waved off each approaching officer with “We’re not the witnesses you’re looking for.”
Later, the Café Mimosa burned down. The fire had nothing to do with the above related events. It was just something that happened. History is full of stuff that just happened. Even later still, the Café Mimosa reopened down the street from its original location. Again, that’s just something that happened.
 Text Messaging Abbreviations:
S2S: Sorry to say
CRAFT: Can’t remember a freaking thing
PDS: Please don’t shoot
CID: Crying in disgrace
TBL: Text back later
MTFBWU: May the force be with you