“Can I please speak to the manager?” Mary asked.
The cashier, a teenage girl with beautiful long hair, glanced up from the sparsely filled reservations book. The lunch hour had just passed and the restaurant was empty. Some waiters were cleaning up the tables and mopping the floors.
“Is he expecting you?” she asked.
“I talked to him a minute ago and he asked me to come immediately.”
“Alright then. The room at the back,” she motioned with her to the corridor, “he must be waiting for you.”
“Thanks so much,” said Mary, and headed towards the room.
“Come in,” Steven said when Mary knocked on the door. He was a middle-aged man with sharp features.
“I’m Mary, we talked earlier today on the phone,” said Mary.
“Ah yes,” his eyes glued to the computer screen. “You can start right away.”
As the day continued, the restaurant slowly filled up with people. Mary, now dressed in her uniform, was serving one of the customers, when she noticed a man enter the restaurant, all dressed up in their culture.
Seeing no one had gone to help him yet, she went over right away.
“Hello sir, you’re most welcome. What can I offer you?”
“My name is Derrick. English no.”
Without saying a word Mary went straight to Steven.
“Well… He’s here now,” Steven said. “I bet he doesn’t have any money. Just serve him some leftover food.” Mary nodded quietly, and went to the kitchen to fetch a plate some previous customers barely ate from. When she brought the plate to Derrick, he began pointing at it, and trying to make clear to Mary that this wasn’t what he ordered.
Steven must have been listening all along, he quickly rushed to the table, pushed Mary to the side, and told Derrick to just leave if he doesn’t like their food.
Derrick shrugged, and took out his wallet to clear the bill for the tea he already drank. Mary noticed his wallet was filled with money. She made eye contact with Steven and could tell from the look in his eyes he was planning something.
Derrick got up got ready to leave, but then Steven stopped him, a big smile on his face, and took him to one of the best tables they had, his arm around his shoulders. Mary watched the scene but she wasn’t able to do anything since she wanted to keep her job. Derrick just quietly followed Steven along, sat down at the table, as Steven tried to please him by bringing all types of foods to his table. Derrick was enjoying his meal in peace, but then Steven spilled a glass of water on Derrick’s jacket. To Derrick, it must have looked like an accident, but Mary could tell Steven had done so on purpose.
“I’m so sorry, it was an accident. Let me have it dried,” said Steven, as took Derrick’s jacket off and rushed to the bathroom with it.
“Follow me,” he whispered to Mary. She obediently followed, too scared to lose her job.
“Take everything!” he said to Mary in the damp bathroom, as he removed the wallet from the coat. “But make sure to count it.”
When Mary was done counting, Steven grabbed the money, and handed her a few bills. “That’s for keeping your mouth shut.”
“I can’t take it! It’s not right!”
“I’ll fire you if you don’t! Just take the money, soon this whole scene will be over,” he said, hiding the wallet behind some cleaning products on the shelves.
As he was closing the door behind him, Mary decided to grab the wallet and return it to Derrick. Better be honest and without work, than an employed thief, she thought.
When she returned to the eating area, she saw a police car park outside the restaurant.
Derrick had just finished eating. The cops entered the restaurant, and Steven immediately rushed to them.
“Arrest these two!” he said, pointing at Mary and Derrick. “I’ve got proof they tried to steal my money!”
He showed the police a recording he had made of Mary grabbing the wallet from behind the cleaning products in the bathroom. The cops took out their handcuffs and approached Mary.
“Let her go. She’s innocent, and he’s guilty,” Derrick said, pointing at Steven.
“You speak English?” Steven said in shock. “He’s lying! Don’t believe him, I’m the owner of this restaurant, I know!”
“Just stop,” Derrick said. “The money is fake. Show it to the police, they can tell.” He continued telling he is a journalist from Congo who had come to investigate the restaurant. He removed his work ID and showed it to the police. The police then arrested Steven, and later, Derrick made a lot of money publishing his article. Mary was offered a position in the company where Derrick worked because of her loyalty.
19 June, 2023