Santorini’s sallow eyes flicked up from the menu. “How’s business, Katy? Still taking classes at night?” Santorini had taken his customary booth, near the back, and with a thick, sturdy wall behind him.

“Let’s just say that when I’m done with classes, you won’t be seeing me here anymore,” Katy said with a smile. “What can I get started for you, Mr. Santorini?”

“I can think of a few things,” he laughed. “What’s the special?”

“Boss…” one of the two younger men, the one that had been practicing his stony face since coming in, spoke up. Katy had seen him relaxing for a moment, even cracking a secret smile, when he thought no one was looking. “I don’t know if…”

“What?” Santorini said, turning to look at his companion. “You don’t know if what?”

The poor kid’s facade was crumbling, his cheek twitching desperately as he tried to keep his expression even. “If you don’t get one of your usuals, it might me…I dunno…dangerous!”

Katy had alwys been struck by how Santorini commanded the room even when he was just sitting there; now, the full force of that was turned on his poor little bodyguard. “What, you think someone’s gonna try to poison me with the greasy spoon special? What’s the matter with you? If anything, they’d do my usual!”

“Look, boss, I’m just trying-” the facade was gone, and the young man looked about to cry.

Santorini had already turned away. “Bah,” he said. “I know what you were trying to do. Heart’s in the right place, brain’s not.” Then, looking back up at Katy: “I’ll take the special, whatever it is.”

“All right; one special.” Katy didn’t write it down; five years of waitressery had given her a mind like a steel trap when it came to orders. Phone numbers, dates, birthdays…that might fall through. But she’d never forget a meal, even if it were being served her in a retirement home. “What about you?” she said to the younger man, the bodyguard.

“He’s having what I’m having,” said Santorini with a grin. “If it’s poisoned, I’m taking him with me.”

“Right, two specials,” Katy said. “He can work for you in the hereafter, hmm?”

“Ha!” Santorini chortled. “Good idea. Like the pharaohs of old Egypt. You hear that, Spinelli? Normani? When I croak, I’m having you buried with me to continue to protect and serve in the afterlife. Can you think of a better reward for your loyal service?”

The two young gunsels looked nervously at one another as Katy took the remaining orders and drinks. Then Santorini and his guest began discussing something animatedly in Italian, and Katy slipped into the kitchen to give the orders to Hal, the cook.

“You’re due a break,” Hal said. “This’ll take a hot minute to put together anyway. Go have a cigarette or something, Janice will take out the drinks.”

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