No Trouble

“I don’t want any trouble,” Will said as he sat down across from West in the booth furthest from the door - West’s choice of location, not his. The tattooed stranger raised a single dark eyebrow at this greeting and remained silent, his hands folded on the gleaming tabletop. Will cleared his throat and chewed on his bottom lip. “Sorry, let me try again. My name is -”

“I know what your name is,” West said in a voice free of emotion. He cast a casual glance around the restaurant, taking in the spotless white tables, orange floor tiles, and the bar made of reclaimed wood, before bringing his dark blue eyes back to bare on the young man across from him. “Nice place you got here.”

We have here - it’s not just mine. But I guess you know that too.”

West didn’t bother to reply; instead he raised a single finger which brought the waitress rushing over on click-clacking heels. Linda Thomas, the only waitress remaining on staff from the crew that opened the Under two years ago, flashed her boss and his guest her most seductive smile and awaited their orders.

“Lemonade, no ice,” West told her, his blank expression giving no indication that the mother of three’s charm had any effect on him at all. Will asked for the same but tacked a “thanks very much” on to the end of his order.

While they waited for their drinks to arrive Will’s eyes alternated between the sea salt and lemon pepper shakers resting against the navy blue wall and the tattoos which climbed in a zigzagging line up West’s interlaced fingers. He was continually drawn to one in particular, on the left index finger, which depicted a Gaelic cross with a capital A carved into its base. The image was tickling a long forgotten memory but he was unable to pin it down. Was it a news report back in college that…?

“Here you go boys,” Linda said brightly as she leaned down to place their sweating glasses on the table. Will noticed that there was one less button done up on her shirt since their order had been taken but only nodded his thanks before returning his attention to the man across from him.

“So… what can I do for you?”

“You have it the wrong way around,” West replied. He lifted the glass to his lips and took a long sip, his eyes never leaving Will’s face. He saw Will’s eyes trace the path of the barbed wire ink that wrapped around his left forearm but made no comment. He returned the glass to it‘s circular stain and finished, “It’s what I can do for you.”

“How’s that?”

“I hear your cook has put you in a rather tight spot,” West said, the corner of his lips threatening to inch up into a smile.

A slight pause. “I’m not sure I know what you mean by that.”

“I mean,” the stranger said, cocking his head to the left, “that somehow that fat monkey managed to convince the sheriff’s daughter to run off down south with him and now your menu is in the hands of a dishwasher and a waitress who have more enthusiasm than talent.”

“So you’re here to offer to bring him back, like a bounty hunter or something?” Will shook his head and laughed, finally starting to relax. “I’m not sure Ricky was a good enough cook to be worth that kind of bother. Besides, we don’t exactly have the cash lying around to pay for that kind of service.”

“You’re getting close,” West said after another taste of his lemonade, “but still no cigar.”

“Well how about we stop beating around the damn bush and you fill me in? I don‘t have time for silly games or your enigmatic bull -”

“I’m here to take that chubby Casanova’s place and make your dishes the talk of this dull little town.”

“So you fancy yourself a cook then?”

“Perhaps,” West said with a grim smile, “a demonstration is in order.”

The End

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