Today is the day. Today, I get murdered. Looking at the bright side, at least I know I am getting murdered today. Thousands of people would literally pay their lives to know that.
I wake up to my last text from her, confirming the time and place of the whole thing. I don’t really want to go but I guess there is nowhere to hide. It’s happening one way or the other. It’s a fancy restaurant though, so that would make a good last meal. Do I deserve this? Of course not. Wouldn’t have been murdered if I do.
Having about three hours till our date, I decide to make my final moments here a bit more productive. I click on the thumbnail of the last episode of Imposter Factory and the good old Netflix video player starts buffering on my TV screen. As I get comfy on my couch, I can feel a thought creep onto me. What if the restaurant thing is just a distraction? What if she’s going to do it any other time? Worse, what if she’s going to do it now?
I quickly grab my phone. Her last text is still up there. “If you’re late, I’ll kill you”, followed by some laughing emojis. Yes, it’s funny. It’s funny because it’s happening anyway. At least, I get to finish my series. I put my phone back and rest my back on the couch. The episode has already buffered.
By the end of the episode, I had no idea what was going on on the screen. It’s not easy to focus when you’re expecting a bullet through your head at any moment. I couldn’t focus for two straight minutes without compulsively checking my phone. It’s the same text. It’s the same reassurance that it’s not happening before the restaurant.
I need to get ready.
An hour later, I am going out of my car and looking suspiciously left and right as I cross the street to the restaurant. I see her car parked. Is she in there already? And why haven’t I parked on the same side of the street as the restaurant? Murdered for being late, though. That would look good on my death certificate. I have to admit it’s better than an inexplicable bullet in the head while watching TV. At least, I get a good-looking death certificate.
I enter the restaurant. I don’t look around. I know where to find her. In the deepest left corner of the restaurant stands our table. This has been our table for almost three months now. It has been mine for a year or so before she joined me. What’s so special about that table is that you can clearly see everyone in the restaurant, yet no one can see you unless they are, like, a meter away. This made it a perfect spot for my (and eventually, our) favorite hobby: making fun of people. The only downside? It’s a fancy restaurant, so we pay for it in the end.
However, I don’t have to be a meter away to know she’s there; her bag, resting on the floor next to the table, always gives it away. Ok, it’s showtime. The smile on my face as I walk towards her is building up normally. My only concern now is not to draw up much attention to what’s going to happen here. I shall not die with a fuss. My death certificate cannot bear that.
“Late as always?”, she looks up to me from her phone. Ok, this is it.
“According to my very trustworthy watch, I’m half an hour early.”, I reply and sit down in front of her.
“Well, I didn’t specify eight O’clock according which time zone. According to my time zone, you’re half an hour late.” She snarks.
I know I want this death so much, but I can’t just walk into it. I have to fight back at least for it to be realistic. I can’t have that on my death certificate.
“Yeah? And what’s that time zone of yours?” I snark back.
“The I-miss-you zone. It’s pretty standard now. You should switch to it or you’re gonna end up late for everything. You don’t want that, do you?”
Cheesy as always. I love that about her. I miss her too, yet I can’t ignore the fact that the moment I sat down on that table, she reached into her bag and fetched something out of it. It was a gun. Having it in her hands and checking it is indeed loaded, she looked up at me again and smiled. I can’t say I have indeed seen the gun myself, but with her left hand constantly under the table, that was my only feasible guess.
“So what are you having?”, she fetches the menu with her right hand. The left remains under the table with the gun pointing directly at me.
“Whatever takes at least an hour to prepare and two hours to eat”, I reply, “or, you know, until the two old dudes are done.”
I point with my eyes to the table to my right. She takes a look and laughs.
“You can’t make fun of old people!”, she whispers laughingly. Is this it? Do I get killed for ageism?
“They sure look too ‘incoherent’ with their colorful t-shirts and baggy pants, but you can’t do that to them!”, she continued. That wasn’t it.
“Yeah, I get you. It’s perfectly normal to look like you just got out of a gay bar at their age. Yet, it’s simply indecent to point that out.”
Our ping-pong of politically incorrect sarcasm went on back and forth until the waiter showed up. She had been laughing her guts out when he did. So, he smiles at us.
“You must be having a joyful night”, he remarks. I can’t confirm or deny that. I am too concerned she would pull the trigger any time now. On the other hand, she certainly is having a joyful night.
“So how can I make it more joyful for you?”, he concatenates.
“Anything with shrimp!” she replies, laughing. She still remembers my advice. They take too long to prepare any shrimp dish here. Why? It’s easy to figure out if shrimp is not fresh. A shrimp dish that is not fresh would certainly end up in a negative review on their Facebook page; a negative review they cannot afford, being this fancy.
“We’ll have two creamy shrimp and mushroom pastas.”, I tried to handle the situation.
“No thanks!”, she replies, still laughing.
By the time the waiter leaves our table, the two old dudes have left theirs as well. But soon, the two old dudes become a man and his wife, a lonely guy in a suit, and even a family of five. We left no one behind, even the waiter, who after thirty minutes, comes back with our pasta.
Being her usual self, the moment our food had arrived, she jerked both her arms up like a cheerleader. It is a weird ritual, but it allowed me to actually see what is in her left hand. Her left hand is empty. It’s not the gun.
“Bon appetit!”, the waiter wishes, after laying our dishes.
“You too!”, she replies, as usual.
It’s the food. It must be the food. Oh no, poison would never look good. I cannot have any mention of toxicity on my death certificate. It has to be something else. I have to survive this. As I was bombarded by these thoughts, she suddenly lifts her fork and puts it in my dish.
“What are you doing?”, I ask.
“What? I’m tasting yours”, she replies confidently. She takes a piece of shrimp and some pasta from my plate. It’s not the food.
“But it’s the same thing.”
“Don’t be such a Jew!”, she took another. It can’t be the food. I can’t figure what she is planning. Maybe, it’s not to happen in the restaurant. One last meal before going away. She’d give me that. I know she would.
One hour after the waiter incident, we are outside the restaurant. This would usually mean the end of our date. We would get into our cars and go home.
“Today was fun!”, she shouts as we walk to her car. We are holding hands.
“As always!”, I shout back. What is she planning?
We reach her car.
“I guess that’s it then. See you tomorrow?”, I ask, assuming I’d live till tomorrow.
“Wait. I got something for you.”
Ok, that’s it.
She leans into her car and grabs something from the driver seat. Please, let it be a gun. A fast death would look good on my death certificate.
“There you go!”, she hands me a small box. It was wrapped in silver wrapping. Why would she hand me her gun wrapped in a box?
“Do I open it?”, I ask.
“If you want to.”
I carefully remove the wrapping, making sure not to trigger the gun.
“If you like it…”, she starts as I was taking off the last bit of wrapping.
“…put a shrimp on it.”, she finished. It’s not a gun. It’s not the gun. In my hand, instead, is a wooden shrimp figurine.
“Only shrimp takes forever. Only shrimp lasts forever.”, she adds.
We kiss. For one perfect moment, I forget all about being murdered. For one magical instance, I am free to ponder beyond any death certificates. Here, there are no guns, no poison. I am finally at peace.
“I…I really don’t know what to say, but…”, I fall at loss for words.
“You don’t really have to say anything.”, she assures me, “Look. I might not sound like it, but I know what’s going on in your head. I know it can get really intense in there at times. And I know I can’t stop it altogether. What I do know, however, is that you don’t have to have any thoughts about me. If anything, I wish I can elevate some of this mental labor off you, not add to it.”
“I hope I could promise you that”, I hesitated, “but, I promise you that.”
“Good. Good. Now, back to the real world. I gotta go home. I have some work due tomorrow morning. See you tomorrow?”
“Try and stop me.”
She smiles and gets in her car. I watch her car as it gets smaller and smaller, and as it finally morphoses into a dot of light. I cross down the street to my car, with the shrimp figurine in my hand. I take a second look at it.
Maybe she’s right. Maybe I’m stuck in my head and I need to get out. I shouldn’t let myself wonder about the possibility that the shrimp figurine is a tracking device. Or even worse, whether this was all a distraction from the bomb that she got someone to plant in my car. No. Nope. Not today. Maybe some other day. Maybe tomorrow. Yes, it’s tomorrow. Tomorrow is the day. Tomorrow, I get murdered.
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