WHEN I WAS TEN YEARS old, I discovered the origin of my name. I was distraught, and ran to my mother asking, demanding to know why she would name me after a murderer—the first murderer in human history.
Is that what she thought of me?
Or did she not know?
It was a hot day and I'd just gotten out of school, my backpack heavy on one shoulder, stomach rumbling from the stickiness of the summer heat.
I remember she looked at me. Took a breath. Pulled her cigarette from between her lips, and stubbed it out. I knew whatever she was going to say was important.
She looked down at ten year old me, glanced at my faded Power Ranger book bag and said:
"Well I didn't think you were an Abel."
Why the fuck do you say to that? And who says that, to a kid anyway? I didn't think you were an Abel?
I mean, maybe I wasn't! But how the hell do you look at an infant—your infant, and think...you're definitely giving murderer?
I take a drag of my cigarette, looking up at the sun with a squint. It's a hot day, it feels just like that day. The air so humid and muggy it seems to stick to your skin and itch.
Fucking hate days like this.
"It'd probably be cooler if you put that cig away," Ezra calls from behind me. I smirk as he plucks it from my fingers lifting it his mouth.
Ezra is one of the only people I find half way tolerable in this world, and the little shit knows it. It's probably why he is a little shit, if I'm honest.
Ezra rakes his fingers through his jet black hair, shaking his head. "Fucking burning," he mumbled, wiping the sweat off his brow.
"Told you to wear sunscreen," I tell him. I keep telling him if he doesn't wear sunscreen his going to suddenly start decomposing at 30.
He says he forgets. I tell him, when he looks 80 in his 40's he'll remember.
He scoffs and shakes his head, stubbing my cigarette out on the brick wall, before carefully throwing in the trash.
We're on our break. The restaurant is booming, and I came out here to escape the heat of the kitchen, not that's its really any cooler out here. If I had to smell that Pate for a moment longer I think I would've thrown up.
It happened sometimes. Some nights a make a dish so much I can't stomach it anymore. My nose starts turning at the smell. Maybe that makes me a bad chef or whatever but I don't think I care much.
People like the food, it's why they keep coming because I charge out the ass for it.
"Did you hear the trade going on at the Vitale table," Ezra asks me gently.
I raise my brows. "I was a bit busy smothering myself with smell of spiced chicken liver, sorry."
He scoffs. "Listen it sounds like they're moving in on the Irish. Could mean big trouble for business."
"What's trouble for business is messing with our best customers," I warn him. "They come here for privacy, and you ease dropping is, like, fundamentally the opposite of that."
Ezra let's put an exasperated sigh, for which I elbow him for, because who the fuck is he sighing at, anyway?
He elbows me back, rolling his eyes. "I'm just saying."
He's just saying. The quiet, rare breeze tears through the alley, lifting Ezra's unbearably tight shirt up a bit somehow. It stays, exposing a hint of his belly. Of course he doesn't bother to pull it down.
Flour is is somehow caked on his pants even though he doesn't even work in the kitchen. No one will mention it of course. Guests will tip him extra for that 'southern' drawl he doesn't really have, and the fact he insists on wearing a fucking 2T wife beater to show off his ridiculously toned chest.
He's charismatic and he's pretty.
But worst off, he knows it.
Reason two why he's a little shit.
"Just say less," I grumble, glancing away.
"Breaks over," he sighs, pushing off the wall. "You going home after close again?"
I nod, pulling my phone out looking through my notifications quickly. 8:23. I'm not going to be able to get home until after close mostly likely.
2 in the morning it looks like.
"Well fuck that, I'm going home at the end of my shift," he informs me, putting his hand on my shoulder. "I'll put takeout in the fridge for you."
I nod. "Chinese?"
"Yeah sure. Shanghai's like always."
And then my break is over and it's back to work, cranking out dish after dish for mobsters while we pretend we can't hear their plans for murder.
Hey...it pays well.