I - LYLE: ORIENTAL SPECIALTIES
When I first started working here I thought to myself ‘This is gonna
be a piece of cake.’ It wasn’t that long before I discovered how wrong I was.
It had been a month since The Centre’s shutdown and so far this was the first job I was able to get. Having a
father (or fathers) as the Chairman of a worldwide secret company can ease a lot one’s concern regarding the future.
I myself was comfortably standing at the number 2 spot, calmly waiting for the bonebag known as my father (my third one, I
should mention) to either drop or fall from the stairs. Accidentally of course; I could never kill my own father. Not personally,
I mean, I’d have to hire someone.
Anyway, the shutting down of The Centre opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me to use. And enjoy. And
that is exactly the right word to describe it: enjoyment. I enjoyed having to schedule to keep up, no Jarods to pursuit, no
remarks from Miss Parker. I enjoyed everything. I even enjoyed the fact that now I would have to be my own financial supporter.
It was interesting at first, then it got annoying and, finally, desperating.
But, as everyone says, nothing ever lasts forever. And one day I was having a dinner at a Chinese restaurant when all
of a sudden there it was. The perfect job for me.
The restaurant was located a few blocks away from my house. It was a nice place, a family place. The food was excellent,
the environment relaxing, and the waitresses… Oh my, the waitresses.
I was about to have a nice dinner, reading a panflet about dental hygiene while waiting for my meal when, out of nowhere, a riot began. I saw the cook walking out of the kitchen with the owner of restaurant
yelling at him.
I couldn’t get a word of what they said; my sister is the one that speaks Japanese. Besides, they were probably
yelling at each other in Chinese. So, unless she could speak Chinese (which I think she does), I can only what they’re
saying. Of course, I must not forget the most important thing: the chances of my sister helping me are very slim. Very slim
However, being unable to comprehend their exact words, did not elude me from understanding the basic meaning of the
whole conversation: either something had happened and the cook was leaving, or he was being escorted out, because of something
he did. But what?
Now, I’m not the gossip type. I value my privacy too much and, as a result of that, I try to maintain a low profile
as low as I can. However, it only took a second before I realized something. I was in for a long, long wait until they found
themselves a new cook. That is, unless I did something about it. And that’s what I did.
I got up and went straight to the manager. He was a mid-sized man, with broad shoulders and dark brown dyed hair. I
could tell the hair was dyed because... Nevermind that, I just know, okay? Blame my sister if you want. Or my mother, may
she rest in peace. After all, “baldness is inherited from the mother’s side, Jerry.” Nice TV show.
Back to the point.
I looked at him, the manager, straight in the eyes and said:
“Where’s my food?”
No time for niceties. Like I always say, you must always have a tight grip. Otherwise, you’ll be the court’s
jester. And he, in response to my question, proceeded to open his registry book and checked something.
He started flipping through the pages and then found what he was looking for. “Here it is. Mr. Lyle, table five.”
He paused for a bit, perhaps for emphasising, before continuing “Soon.” And then closed the book with a plastered
smile on his lips.
“What you mean ‘soon’?” I saw the cook walking out of here.”
“Yes, yes. Long-Su. He left?”
“I know he left. That’s what I said. What about my found?”
Now, if this was a nonsense stories like any other, or a nonsense story per se, I could let this discussion go on for
at least three pages, but I was not in the mood so I put an end to it.
“Nevermind that, I’ll get it myself.”
I left him there and went to the kitchen. I wasn’t willing to wait that much, but when I entered the kitchen
I was surprised with what I saw. It was like a cyclone had passed by, creating a hybrid made of havoc and mayhem and food.
Lots of food. Not a good comparison, but it’s as good as it can get.
“Fuck!” was all I could tell. It took me awhile to get to my senses but, once I did so, I realized what
I had to do and quickly left the kitchen to get someone to help me clean up that mess. (Gee! Talking about long thoughts.)
I snatched one of the waitresses and brought her to the kitchen. I must say that, at first, she wasn’t in the
mood of coming. She babbled something. It could be something like “It’s not my job.” Or “My mother
told me never to go with strangers.”. Or she could have been just insulting me. But, of course I wouldn’t know
either way. Like I said earlier, I don’t understand Chinese. But, when it comes to get the work done, I always have
something to use, something I call the universal translator. Or, in other terms, my 9mm. Standard Centre use. Not that I use
it that much nowadays. Only in cases like this one. Fortunately, they don’t happen very often.
So, I took my gun out and pointed it at her head. She stopped babbling. Good. And began shrieking. Not good. Not good
at all. The customers started to panic. Something was happening. But what? Oh, wait! Maybe it was me. Strangely as it may
sound, I forgot that I’m no longer the terrible Mr. Lyle, Vice-Chairman of the powerful The Centre; I’m just...
Mr. Lyle from table five.
I also realized that, no matter how much I tried, she wouldn’t come to the kitchen with me. I only had one option
left. If she wouldn’t obey anyone except the manager, I’d have to become someone superior to the manager: the
With that in mind I went outside and found the owner still discussing with the cook. I decided to end the conversation
there by putting a bullet on the owner’s head. Actually, I fired three shots but I only hit one. Too much wine I guess.
I asked the cook if he could do me the favour of finishing my meal.
He refused to do it at first but after a brief argument he came to his senses and realized how wrong he was. Perhaps
it was that bullet on his kneecap or the words “I’ll eat your daughter alive if you don’t go finish my meal
now.” Whatever it was, it worked. And, from what I discovered later, he didn’t have a daughter. I guess he didn’t
remember that at the time.
Having a gun pointed to his head sure helped to clear this thoughts. I drove him to the kitchen and told him to stay
put. Then, I went to the manager and informed him of the recent events.
“Do you know who I am?”
He was still in shock from what had happened previously. Pale as a corpse, yet still breathing. All the customers had
left the scene, but he stood there. Like the captain of a sinking ship. I asked again.
“Do you know who I am?”
He checked the registry book. Even though he knew exactly who I was, it was an habit he found difficult to get rid
“You’re Mr. Lyle, table five.”
“Wrong. I’m Mr. Lyle, owner of this restaurant and your new boss. Do you understand what that means?”
“Yes sir, Mr. Lyle.”
“Good. Then tell someone to go to the kitchen and help long Long Su to prepare my meal. And no poisons. I’m
allergic to death. Understand?”
“Yes sir, Mr. Lyle.”
“Excellent. Now go.”
He told two waitresses to go to the kitchen. It was in Chinese so I could only suppose that’s what he said. It
didn’t matter. All that mattered was that half an hour later I was granted with a delicious stewed lamb with orange.
I always liked orange.
Now, two months later, after handling some paperwork and buying the place, I’ve assumed the management of the
restaurant. Of course I had to kill a few people in order to accelerate the process but, all things considered, it worked
out just fine.
I thought of a few attractions to help bring new customers. Two of my former co-workers, namely my sister’s and
my father’s (the wrinkled one) were hired two weeks after I took this job; one as a comedian, the other as a blues singer
and guitar player. Fridays were comedy nights, Saturdays were called the blue evenings.
Tonight was Friday and the show was about to begin. I had just finished enjoying my meal with the also delicious company
of one of my waitresses – her name was Sue, a very good looking American of Chinese ascendance – when I noticed
the presence of two ex-workers from The Centre – my sister’s collaborators Sydney and Broots. They didn’t
see me. Good It’s better this way.
I enjoyed the show very much. I even laughed a few times (not that I understood the jokes) and applauded at the end.
After that, I took a short coffee and a scotch and left with Sue.
“Where are we going?”
“My place. Do you like it?”
It will taste even better, I thought. The meal was good. The dessert promised to be even better.