Those Killer Nights
Four restaurant employees are stalked by a killer in a pig mask. If only the innocent can survive a horror movie, none of these employees are safe!…
Written by Gregory Patrick Travers
The golden, foamy lager crashed against the inner rim of the pint glass as Michael, or Mikey as he was known in the kitchen, stopped the mugs’ momentum mid-slide down the bar. He was no longer equipped with the patience to sit through another one of Banksy’s flair performances she put on so often. Yes, usually Mikey would be more than happy to sit at the wood and watch the young brunette’s firm, supple breasts bounce around loosely in her black tank top whilst she shook a Martini, or stare at her tight, plump butt as she bent over to grab a beer from the cooler—but it had been one of those long, killer nights, and Mikey just wanted his alcohol.
Ten hours in a hot kitchen, with only a couple two-minute smoke breaks, party after party with a short novel of order modifications for each seat, Chef yelling, “Hurry up!” at everyone and yet no one in particular while he stood by the expo station with his arms crossed, causing Mikey to walk the thin line between wanting to impress his boss and wanting to punch his boss in the teeth for doing nothing but yell useless motivational tripe all night long, while much needed physical assistance went undelivered…No, all Mikey wanted, all he had to show for his troubles, was that golden trophy of beer poured fresh from the taps.
A single drop of water over the cool, foggy condensation seduced him as it slid down the spine of the glass, onto the bar.
He lifted the mug to his lips, swallowing more foam than beer in the process, but savoring the moment nonetheless. Resting his drink down on his faded coaster, he wiped his wet mouth with his sleeve before lifting his eyes up to Banksy, whom was standing behind the bar, staring back at him with her hand firmly pressed against her hip, as if waiting for some sort of an explanation.
“We’re all dead,” he said.
This statement made the other two servers sitting beside him at the otherwise deserted bar–a boy, Donnie, and a girl, Brianne–peak with a newfound interest in the conversation.
It was a somewhat regular occurrence to find the four of them sipping drinks at the bar after the last table of campers had long since gone home, and Tony, the evening shift dishwasher, had finished cleaning the mountain of dishes left for him by the serving and kitchen staff who had clocked out long before. The only other staff member who stuck around so late after closing was the dorky floor manager, Dave, who would be frantically typing away the final cash-out by himself in that tiny closet they called an office for at least an hour or so after the doors were locked for the night.
But, as usual, the four of them had forgotten all about Dave…
“What do you mean, ‘we’re all dead’?” replied Banksy, offended.
Mikey sighed, “It’s common knowledge that people like us do not survive very long in horror movies. The characters that drink, do drugs, and have a lot of sex are always the first to get axed.”
“That’s like everyone here,” said Brianne, playfully stirring her sour kiwi Martini that she had ordered more for fashion than for flavour. The pink of the drink matched her new pink sweater perfectly.
“Exactly,” Mikey replied. “We’re all dead.”
“Wait,” Donnie said, joining in, “I thought the black guy always dies first in scary movies? Or do they not play the part of the helpless victim in movies anymore?”
“Nah, they’re too busy playing that part in real life,” griped Mikey.
Banksy laughed, “Mikey, you’re dead for sure, you racist fucker.”
Donnie agreed, “Mikey would totally be the first to die.”
“Hey, fuck you, Donnie!” Mike fired back. “If I’m not mistaken, didn’t you cheat on your girlfriend with Brianne over there?”
Both Brianne and Donnie tensed and squirmed in their stools, obviously uncomfortable with the new chosen topic of conversation.
A victory sneer spread across Mikey’s stubbly face as if his co-workers’ embarrassment had tossed fuel onto his proverbial fire. “Yeah,” he continued, “Adultery is a death wish in a horror movie. You cheat, you die–simple as that.”
“I would definitely be the one who survives at the end,” said Banksy in a performative saintly cadence. She closed her eyes, grazed her fingertips over her ample chest, and smiled innocently.
“Oh, whatever!” laughed Brianne, rolling her eyes. “You know that’s not true. What about the whole Dave situation?”
Banksy’s smile dropped like an anvil and her eyes flashed open. “Sssh!” she scolded. Then in a whisper, she said, “He’s in the office right now. Are you dumb?”
The two boys at the bar glanced at each other with curious grins.
“What exactly is ‘The Dave Situation’?” Donnie chuckled.
“It’s complicated,” answered Banksy.
“It’s not complicated at all,” told Brianne. “Dave writes the Front of House schedule, Banks wasn’t getting the prime shifts, so she fucked him. Now she’s lead bar every Friday, Saturday.”
Banksy hung her head in shame while the two boys threw their own heads back in laughter.
“Thanks, Bri…” Banksy scowled at Brianne.
“Sorry,” Brianne replied.
Banksy appeared displeased with the blonde’s flimsy apology. She retaliated with a shot from the hip, saying, “Well, listen to this! Donnie got Bri pregnant and she aborted it!”
The laughter at the wood stopped on a button. All eyes turned to Donnie, who, by the incredulous look smeared across his face, clearly had not been informed of any of this until just that moment.
“That’s not true,” he said, consulting Brianne, “…is it?”
Brianne sunk in her barstool, ashamed, while Banksy stood tall and proud next to the spirit bottle display.
“It is…” Brianne admitted regrettably. She turned to Banksy with a furrowed brow, and said, “How could you say that?”
Banksy stepped back and put on her “innocent” look. “It’s not my fault!” she said, “If you hadn’t told them how I fucked Dave then—”
Her defence was cut short by a sudden scream originated from the back of house. It sounded like Dave. It wasn’t an angry scream, like Dave had when Mikey forgot to put a chicken breast in the oven and the rest of the food was up in the window ready to go, nor was it a surprised scream, like when a server came barreling around the corner with a stack of plates and nearly trampled over Dave whilst he stared down at the reservation clipboard constantly in his hands. It was a terrible, fearful scream that made the four bodies at the bar freeze and listen. They remained still and silent, waiting for something to follow…
“What the fuck was that?” Mike finally whispered.
Banksy’s eyes swelled with worry, “You don’t think he heard us talking about him, do you?”
Mikey continued to listen for a sound, hoping he would see Dave come around the corner to bust up their gossip circle and tell Banksy that she was about to get some serious shift cutting–but there was nothing.
“Someone has to go back there,” said Mikey.
“Are you nuts?” whispered Banksy. “It’s not me.”
“Well, it’s not fucking me, I’ll tell ya that!” stated Mikey.
Brianne got up from her seat, annoyed. “Holy fuck, geese, fine, I’ll go!” she said, throwing her arms in the air. “What are you guys so afraid of? It’s Dave, for Christ sake! He has a cat!”
“Two cats actually,” Banksy corrected.
Brianne stormed off around the corner, leaving the remaining three at the bar to wait for her findings. Her words started to endue a placating effect on the trio. It was ‘just Dave’ after all. It was fully possible, knowing Dave’s chronic over-sensitivity, that the scream they heard was actually just a loud whimpering sob the floor manager had released after overhearing the real reason Banksy had slept with him.
A few minutes went by without a word exchanged, but Brianne did not return.
“Where is she?” asked Banksy, the tremors in her cadence a sign that she was again starting to think the worst.
“She’s probably just trying to scare us,” Mikey deducted. “To get back at you for that abortion bomb you just dropped on us.”
“Fuck you,” barked Donnie, “Stay out of my business.”
Mikey kissed his teeth, “Bite me, bread runner. Banksy over here made it everyone’s business.”
Another loud scream from the back of house poured into the lounge. This time it was a girl’s scream. Brianne’s scream.
Again, the three at the bar froze, listening for something to happen.
“Okay, I’m officially freaked,” sobbed Banksy, crossing her arms to quell the goosebumps running down her exposed shoulders and arms.
Mikey scoffed at Banksy’s anxiety and popped off his stool, shaking his head. “She’s fucking with us,” he said assuredly. He made a stark bound for the kitchen.
Battling curiosity and fear, Donnie and Banksy followed Mikey toward the back of house—not too closely, of course.
Inside the kitchen was empty and eerily silent. Now that the hood vents weren’t humming, Tony’s dish sprayer wasn’t spewing, and the cooks and servers weren’t yelling obscenities back and forth at each other between the pass window, it didn’t take any effort at all for Mikey to hear Banksy whispering, “Holy fuck…” over and over as she traced heels behind him.
He turned around and glared at her.
“Sorry,” she whispered. “But seriously…Holy fuck!”
They passed the expo station and hot line, chrome counters looking naked now that the cutting boards and sanitizer buckets had been removed and the stainless steel covers over the mise en place fridges hid the panel of half-full inserts that Mikey hadn’t cared to stock or change over into clean inserts for the morning guys. “Those guys don’t do shit anyway,” he had been heard saying on more than one occasion.
Mikey paused at the office. The door was open, revealing the narrow quarters, out of date computer and strewn about papers containing memos and department nightly checklists, but there was no sign of Dave or Brianne.
“Dave, where you at?!” Mikey called out. But there was no reply.
“This isn’t funny, Bri!!” Banksy yelled, attempting to stifle the quaver in her voice.
Mikey stood at the foot of the office and deliberated for a moment. He looked down the length of the prep-hall, past the prep tables and the meat slicer, to the prep fridge door. It was open, though only slightly.
“There,” he said, pointing to the fridge with an air of vindication. “I closed that door before I left. They’re probably both in there, hiding, laughing at how fucking stupid we are.”
Mikey slipped his grip around the doorknob on the office door and pulled it closed. As he did, a large and heavy object fell from behind the door and landed on the linoleum floor with a hard thud. Mikey opened the door again to see what had fallen. Banksy glanced down and screamed at the top of her lungs.
It was Brianne, laying on her side–dead. Her throat was slit from end to end and hanging open loosely, like an unzipped backpack. Blood flowed freely and heavily from the wound, staining her new pink sweater a dark crimson that shimmered under the office’s buzzing florescent light. The blood cascading from the gashed flesh began to pool on the ground, spreading fast around her face, which stared back up at them, lifeless and ghostly porcelain. Strands and clumps of Brianne’s blonde hair soaked in the burgundy mess like a frayed mop head. But this wasn’t a broken bottle of wine that Banksy could call Tony the dishwasher out from the pit to clean up—this was their friend. And she was dead. Someone had murdered Brianne…and, whoever it was, the killer was still somewhere in the restaurant.
The boys took in the corpse with curdled expressions, looking away and gripping their stomachs.
“Holy shit,” coughed Mikey.
“Aw, fucking gross, dude,” whined Donnie, gagging.
“It was Dave!” yelled Banksy, her hand running through her mane of frizz as she paced back and forth with tears in her eyes. “It had to have been! He killed her! He killed Brianne!”
Donnie and Mikey glanced at each other with uncertainty, expressing unspoken doubts that Dave had the necessary balls or the demons one would need to succeed in such a violent act. And yet, until their floor manager had been accounted for, he remained the prime suspect, simply for the fact that he was the only one other than themselves left inside the restaurant. The doors were locked at the front and the back exits; no one was getting in from the outside. Whoever the killer was, it was someone who was in the restaurant before it closed.
Mikey rendered his own theory. “Maybe it was Donnie!” he shouted, extending a stiff, accusatory finger at his co-worker. “Did you do this? Huh? Did you kill Bri ’cause she aborted your kid?”
“Are you completely fucked?” Donnie replied, indignant at the charge. “I was with you at the bar the whole time. How could I have killed her?”
“Maybe you hired someone,” Mikey fired back. “I’m not stupid, I watch Forensic Files! You hire someone to kill Bri while you sit at the bar with us so you have an air-tight alibi, am I right?”
Donnie was started to get angry, “No, actually you’re fucking wrong!” he screamed. “I just found out about the abortion tonight, you genius.”
“Yeah, sure!” Mikey scoffed. “That’s just what you want us to believe. I bet you knew about it all along and—”
“Guys!” Banksy yelled. “SSSH!…I think I heard something coming from the fridge.”
The boys glanced back at the fridge door, cold air streaming out from darkness into the prep hall like smoke from a cigarette.
“Someone’s in there,” Donnie whispered.
Mikey called out, “Dave? Is that you?”
The fridge submitted no response.
“Come on,” said Mikey, taking a step forward. “We’re going in.”
“I’m not going,” Banksy said right away.
“Yeah, fuck that,” said Donnie.
“Fine,” said Mikey, “Banksy, you stay out here. Donnie, fuck you, you’re coming, you pussy.”
Donnie groaned, “Fine. Fuck…Gonna get my ass murdered in there…”
In tandem, the two boys cautiously tip-toed toward the fridge, the floor beneath the soles of their sneakers still damp and slippery from Tony the dishwasher’s final mop of the night. Mikey gazed down at the moist, slick tile and shook his head with stern disapproval. Even in such a dreadful situation, he reminded himself to give Tony shit as soon as possible for his amateur dry job. The kid hadn’t even bothered to put out a wet floor sign.
At a glance, Mikey noticed one of the chef knives was missing from the knife rack. He nudged Donnie and pointed to his discovery, “I guess we know what the killer used on Brianne…They just got sharpened today, too.”
Mikey stepped to the rack and slid off a knife for himself. Donnie watched from his position and his feet remained cemented until Mikey once again started for the fridge. Banksy remained by the office door, sobbing next to Brianne’s twisted corpse at her feet.
When the two boys arrived at the fridge door, Mikey peeked inside through the crack, rigid and hesitant in his procession. An absence of light and a smoke screen of condensation obscured his ability to see at any facilitative depth. He flicked the light switch beside the door and was reminded by the resulting lack of illumination that the bulb had burned out a week ago; the always dependable ‘chef’ had forgotten to order a replacement bulb on the last inventory. For the hundredth time that night, Mikey cursed his boss under his breath.
“It’s burnt out, remember?” added Donnie a breath too late.
“Yeah, yeah,” grumbled Mikey, knowing they would have to storm the fridge blind. “Pardon me for assuming something works around here.”
Mikey bent at the knees, braced, and swung open the fridge door, prepared to use the knife in his fist to filet whatever psychotic sack of meat leaped out at him.
But no deranged killer emerged from the void.
Donnie watched Mikey for tells of what to do next, and frowned as Mikey, still servile to his curiosity, stepped inside the fridge. Reluctantly, Donnie followed, shivering upon entry. Now that the door was opened wide, the prep hall light illuminated a portion of the fridge’s contents, but the deeper innards of the cooler still remained an inky screen behind swirling tendrils of chilled air. It was like peering horizontally down a water well.
“Come on, Mikey,” urged Donnie, maintaining a depressed volume in case there were ears among the shadows. “Let’s go, man. Let’s call the cops.”
From out in the prep hall they heard Banksy shriek a terrible, blood-curdling cry. Suddenly, the fridge door slammed shut, engulfing the boys in an unbreachable blindness. The two of them rushed back to the sealed off door and tried to thrust it open with the full weight of their bodies, but it was no use. The door was forced closed from the outside and wouldn’t budge.
Someone had locked them in.
Banksy, paralyzed with overwhelming terror, stared down the length of the prep hall, her vision blurry through accumulating tears. Standing by the now-closed fridge door, a wiry form in all black, wearing a blood-speckled, plastic “Pig-Man” Halloween mask, was the killer. In one of his leather-gloved hands he held the missing chef knife covered in blood. Brianne’s blood.
“Please, God…” Banksy whimpered, tightly lacing her fingers to beg. “Don’t hurt me…don’t kill me, please…I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die…”
The killer stared back at her, tilting his head slightly as if analyzing or perhaps appreciating some sort of painting on the wall of an art gallery. Then, he raised the bloody knife to his chest and stepped toward her. Banksy screamed and turned to run, but slipped on Tony’s poor dry job and fell hard to the prep hall floor, knocking the soft of her crown off the edge of one of the prep tables on the way down.
Crumpled on the floor, dizzy, and head throbbing with pain, she could hear the slow clop of the killer’s heavy black boots approaching. Above her, the florescent lights burned her eyes like the lamp in the dentist chair until the shadow-washed face and lumpy snout of a pig entered her line of sight, looking down on her…examining, analyzing….enjoying.
In a moment, he stepped away, the slow clop of his boots on the tile receding down the hall. Banksy wanted to get up and run, her body screamed to get up and run, but, whether from panic or injury, she found herself paralytic, as if she were in one of her nightmares. She prayed that if this was a dream, that she would wake up without another moment’s hesitation and be safe in her bed with her many pillows and stuffed animals.
From behind her, she heard a mechanical click, followed by the familiar hum of the meat slicer starting up.
Banksy started to cry even harder when she heard the ominous clop of the killer’s boots returning in her direction. The tempo between weighted steps translated the monster’s patience and brazen confidence that Banksy wasn’t soon going anywhere.
What would he do to her? she wondered in despair.
Sharp pangs shot through her scalp as the killer grabbed her by the roots of her hair and dragged her across the floor, toward the slicer.
“Please…” she begged, choking on the mucus sliding down her throat. “Please don’t kill me…”
But Banksy’s pleas were drowned out by the squeal of the razor-sharp slicer blade whirling around and around at deadly furious speeds….
Mikey frantically withdrew his cellphone from his pocket and utilized the flashlight feature. The ensuant glow emanated enough light to illuminate the immediate periphery and no more. He handed Donnie the knife in his hands, who reluctantly received it.
“What the hell am I supposed to do with this?” Donnie demanded in a horse whisper.
Mikey began scanning the food racks with his minimal light as if he were an intrepid explorer putting a lamp to ancient hieroglyphics etched in the walls of an Egyptian pyramid. “I’m going to find something to wedge that door open, and when I do, you’re going to jump out and stab the fucker in the heart.”
From out in the prep hall, the hum of the meat slicer could be heard starting up. Mikey recognized the sound immediately, as he had become well acquainted with the machine’s idiosyncrasies over the myriad occasions that he was forced to operate the chrome behemoth to slice leftover prime rib roast into sandwich servings. He was well aware that the spheric blade slid through fibrous meat like a hot knife through butter.
Donnie’s voice tightened, rising in pitch, “I can’t kill somebody, dude! You do it!”
Mikey, having failed to find an appropriate tool on the steak rack, quickly moved on to the rack containing the sauces. Banksy’s garbled appeals for mercy seeped through the sealed fridge door as if to remind him of his purpose. “Will you shut the fuck up?” Mikey chided Donnie as he searched. “Banksy’s in trouble! We need to get out of here! I’m not letting her die without getting at least one on-shift handjob from her in the staff bathroom. I’ve laid far too much ground work for it all to go to waste!”
“Oh, fuck!” screamed Mikey, stumbling backward and knocking a two liter Cambro of spicy seafood sauce from off its rack. The container separated from its lid as it crashed to the floor and syrupy sauce that looked not unlike the blood they had seen flowing from Brainne’s neck wound oozed into a shallow pool around their sneakers.
Donnie gripped the knife in his possession with two hands and held it out in front of him. “What is it?” he blurted out in a wet sob.
Mikey regained his footing, squelching through sticky seafood sauce, and used his phone flashlight to examine something shiny on the floor beside the sauce rack. At a closer look, Donnie discerned the shine was a glinting effect caused from the reflection of the flashlight off one of the larger plastic portion bags, which was tightly pulled over something the color of raw chicken and egg-shaped.
“It’s fucking Dave, man…” Mikey croaked.
Donnie winced like a kicked puppy and stepped closer with one eye squeezed shut while Mikey used the phone light to scan more in-depth the floor manager’s blue, asphyxiated corpse. Someone had suffocated him with an eleven pound portion bag. Even in the crude luminosity and beneath an obscuring plastic film, the look of terror on Dave’s face was unmistakable. Over-dramatic, even in death, but now definitely crossed off the list of suspects.
Donnie’s stomach turned. He was going to be sick. “I gotta get the fuck out of here,” he gagged. He made a sudden blitz for the fridge door, charging at full speed and throwing the entire weight of his shoulder into his effort. This time the door swung open with ease, and Donnie, having accumulated such momentum, barreled out of the fridge like a freight train, losing his footing and slipping on a streak of splattered blood running diagonally along the tiles. His feet swept out from under him and he hit the floor hard.
Lying on the floor with him, staring back at Donnie with vacant, unseeing eyes, was Banksy. But it didn’t look like Banksy anymore—her identifying features were no longer recognizable. The entire left side of her face had been split open and bubbled with chunky bits of muscle and flesh. Her lips and nose had been reduced to ribbons of shredded skin garnishing broken teeth and cartilage.
On the table above them, the slicer’s motor snorted and the machine trembled as a piece of bone wedged between the blade and the guard prevented the blade from continuing to spin.
Donnie sat up and shuddered with revulsion at the horror before him. Streaks of crimson varnished the eggshell-white walls of the prep hall as if a cadre of punk kids with too much creativity and not enough parental guidance had ran through the restaurant with a can of red spray paint and a chip on their shoulder.
Donnie wished it was only kids. And that the shower of red on the walls was only something as harmless as paint.
Stepping out from the fridge, Mikey boiled with anger, enraged to see Banksy had been taken from him. He helped Donnie to his feet, looking away from his crush’s mangled remains.
“Oh, fuck…” Donnie whispered under tears.
Mikey raised his head to see what had Donnie so alarmed. At the opposite end of the prep hall, standing next to Brianne’s colorless cadaver, was a crooked-framed man in a pig mask almost as bloody as the walls. He was dressed in black and held his gory kitchen knife in a leather-sheathed fist.
For a lingering space of time, the monster that had butchered Brianne and Banksy stared back at the boys wordlessly…as if to introduce himself or take credit for his work. Then, in a sudden blur of motion, the pig-mask dashed around the corner and disappeared into the dining room.
At this, Donnie, kitchen knife still in hand, made an immediate break for the employee exit in the opposite direction. Mikey scurried after him and grabbed Donnie by the collar of his polo shirt before he could turn the corner. “Woah! Hold up! Where do you think you’re going?” he demanded.
“The fuck out of here for starters!” Donnie said plainly, almost offended he had to explain himself.
“Nah, fuck that!” Mikey replied. “This motherfucker just killed Banksy and Brianne!”
“And Dave,” reminded Donnie.
“Yeah, him too… The point is this asshole ain’t walking out of here still breathing, you understand?”
Donnie frowned. He believed that what Mikey was suggesting was a death wish. But Donnie also knew that Mikey would wring his neck himself before he was granted permission to run out on the fight. And so, like Donnie had done so often in his life, he relinquished his control on the matter and put the ball into a court that was not his own.
“Well then,” said Donnie, resigned. “You’re going to need a knife because this thing is staying with me.” Donnie held his own knife with the care of a newborn.
Mikey reached behind the nearest prep table and drew out a large curved machete. The day prep used it to cut the raw prime rib into slabs. He swung the heavy steel through the air as a survey of the weapons utility…Mikey liked it.
“Come on,” riled Mikey, inhaling sharply through his freckled nose. “Let’s go kill this pig-faced fuck!”
The two boys cautiously stepped out into the dining room, weapons at the ready. His eyes alert as a feral forest critter, Mikey gripped his machete with white-knuckled ferocity, expecting the killer to jump out from under a table or fall from the rafters at any moment. Polished wine glasses and cutlery sat patiently atop fresh white linen tablecloth, prepared for the busy lunch rush that was sure to unfold the following day. But there was no sign that a maniac in a pig mask was, or ever had been, lurking the immediate vicinity.
Mikey, as he had so many times running bill call on a Saturday night, used eye contact and two beckoning fingers to wordlessly signal Donnie to where he wanted him to go. One scrupulous step after the other, the boys ventured back toward the lounge. The closer to the front of the restaurant the boys established themselves, the more there was a mutual feeling among the two that the killer had fled. Then, as they ever so cautiously peeled around the corner from the dining room into the lounge, the tempered glass at the front doors thundered three times.
The boys froze like deer in headlights.
Another three wallops on the front doors penetrated the dining room in an impatient succession. Bam! Bam! Bam!
Sharing a wordless glance, Mikey and Donnie broke from their positions and rushed through the lounge in long bounds, leaving footprints of spicy seafood sauce on the vacuumed carpet with each heavily-planted heel. In a whirlwind of relief and anticipation, the two boys careened around the corner and the hostess stand at angles contradictory to the laws of physics, and there, upon their arrival in the lobby, they saw the person waiting at the door, hand pressed against the glass, gazing inside the vestibule, looking for any sign of people still in the building as he continuously brushed stylish black bangs from his youthful face.
It was Tony, the dishwasher.
Both Mikey and Donnie let out a sigh of relief. Even though Mikey was not a fan of Tony’s faineant millennial work ethic, at that moment he could have kissed the kid on the lips.
“Dude, what is going on in there?” Tony asked when Mikey had unlocked the door and he had stepped into the vestibule. “I came back because I forgot my wallet and some guy in a pig mask comes ripping out of the restaurant and takes off down the parking lot! I mean, I know you guys like to stay and drink after work but shit…What kind of freaky shit are you guys up to in there?”
“Oh, thank god, he’s gone,” said Donnie, putting his hand to his chest to placate his thumping heart.
“Listen to me, Tony,” said Mikey, balancing himself with a hand on Tony’s shoulder. “That guy in the pig mask just murdered Brianne and Banksy.”
“Dave too, goddammit!” Donnie added.
“Whatever, Dave too! Jesus, fuck!” Mikey yelled back.
Tony’s eyes went wide, the corners of his gaping mouth tightened and curled upward. “No fucking way,” he said. “You guys are fucking with me, aren’t you?”
Donnie shook his head like a dog coming in from the rain, and sobbed, “They’re dead…All of them….dead.”
“Come on,” said Mikey. He motioned Tony to follow them back into the restaurant. “We’re calling the cops.”
Tony did as instructed and followed the two back to the bar. “Where are they?” he asked, glancing around with a curious wonder that Mikey thought to be inappropriate given the severity of the situation.
“In the back,” Mikey answered flatly as he went for the phone at the hostess stand. “Stay with us. Don’t go anywhere.”
Donnie moved behind the bar and pulled down an unopened bottle of Bacardi 151 from the third shelf of the display. He twisted off the cap and seal, and slammed a shot glass down on the wood beside it.
“What the fuck are you doing?” called Mikey from over at the phone.
“What does it look like?” Donnie replied. “I’m taking a shot!”
“Don’t they count that stuff?” asked Tony.
Donnie rolled his eyes. “Tony, don’t be a fucking idiot,” he said. “There are three dead bodies back there. I think they might have some bigger fish to fry.” He tried pouring the shot but his hands were trembling, getting the expensive rum everywhere.
“Jesus, you’re shaking,” said Tony. “Here, let me pour it for you.” He took the bottle from Donnie and poured the 151 into the shot glass. Donnie threw it down the hatch and cocked the glass hard on the bar, signaling for another. At the same moment, Mikey joined them at the wood.
“Are the cops coming?” asked Tony, pouring Donnie another shot of 151.
“They said, like, fifteen minutes,” Mikey answered.
“Thank God…” Donnie sighed.
“Yeah,” said Tony. “I thought I wasn’t going to have enough time to finish the job…”
Donnie turned to Tony with a twisted expression, “Huh?”
The bottle of 151 shattered over Donnie’s head, covering him in shards of glass and soaking him from head to toe in the highly flammable alcohol. Tony stood there with a grin, holding the busted bottleneck in his left hand as he pulled out a Zippo from his jacket pocket with his right and, producing a click and a spark, put a flame to Donnie’s shirt.
A bouquet of wild flames erupted, licking upward, engulfing Donnie’s entire body in a massive and untamable fireball. He screamed in agony as his arms flailed and flapped in a panic, knocking down more bottles from the display, which smashed onto the bar floor and created even more fire. Donnie dropped to the floor, dead, body lit up like a cottage summer bonfire.
“Four down…One to go,” said Tony, glaring past the flames at Mikey. Tony reached behind his back and pulled out a pistol he had hidden in his waistband under his sweater. He pointed it at Mikey and motioned with it towards the kitchen. “Back to the kitchen where you belong,” he ordered.
Inside the kitchen, Tony ushered Mikey onto the hot line. They walked past the grill and flattop before Tony turned Mikey around and pushed him up against the steamer door. He raised the gun and put it to Mikey’s forehead saying, “I wanted you to see me without the mask. I wanted you to know who killed you—so you would know that you deserved the punishment you got!”
“What the fuck are you talking about, Tony?” said Mikey. “What did we ever do to you?”
Tony frowned, “The fact that you even have to ask that question just shows what a selfish arrogant prick you are, Michael. What do you whores and drunkards do to me? Let’s see, hmmm…how about everything! The whole time I’ve worked with you, you all have treated me as nothing but a slave! I am a dishwasher, Michael! A dishwasher! But for some reason, you people think that means that I am available for every puke, piss or wine spill you need cleaned up! Am I the only one who knows how to use a fucking mop? Huh?! I’m not a janitor, I’m not an exterminator—so why am I mopping up shit in the bathroom? Why am I setting mouse traps in the garbage area that snap on my fingers and cut my hands? And do I get a thank you? No! Do I get a raise? Nope! Sorry! I make the least amount of money here and I do the most amount of work! How does that make any sense at all!”
Mikey scoffed, “You? Do the most work? Yeah, right. Okay, buddy.”
Tony snarled and clubbed Mikey across the side of the head with the butt of the gun. “You shut the fuck up right now,” he growled. “You, Michael are the absolute worst of all of them. You put chef knives in the cutlery bin, you give me inserts that still are full of sauces, you throw plates wherever you want and without any consideration of the way they are organized, you wait an hour after close to give me all your dirty pans which are burnt to a crisp! Every! Single! Time! And for all this, Michael…you are going to die here tonight! And may the devil have mercy on your soul!”
Mikey smiled. He knew something Tony did not. While Tony had been going off on his self-righteous tangent, Mikey had felt his back grow extremely hot against the steamer door. This signaled to Mikey that the appliance must have switched on when Tony had pushed him into it moments ago. It was an incredibly high temperature in that metal steam box; Mikey had seen his fair share of greenhorn cooks procure second degree burns from taking too long to remove their portioned vegetables during the rush; not him, though; he wasn’t a fucking idiot.
“You forgot one thing…” said Mikey.
“And what’s that?” asked Tony with an arrogant sneer.
Mikey jerked to the side and batted the gun out of Tony’s hand. Then, with his other hand, Mikey opened the door to the steamer and forced Tony’s head inside the chamber of scalding water vapor.
Tony convulsed and howled, trying desperately to break free from Mikey’s grasp—but Mikey held his ground and did not falter. In just a few moments, the screams tapered off and Tony’s wiry body fell limp. Mikey released him and watched Tony drop to the floor, face burnt red and disfigured with blisters. Still, the look of fear on Tony’s face was unmistakable.
Mikey snorted up a ball of phlegm from all the grill smoke and cigarettes that had built up in his lungs and spit a large goopy brown glob on Tony’s still sizzling face.
“You forgot that I’m a line cook,” said Mikey. “And we ain’t got no souls.”