Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

On His Way to Breakfast

On His Way to Breakfast

Peter Barnett

(Episode 30)

 Peter Barnett woke in the high rollers suite of the Lakeside Casino and rubbed his face.  His head hurt something awful.  He staggered into the shower, dressed carelessly and made his way down to the café for some coffee.  Each ring of a payout bell was a little mental whip hoisted in the hand of one of the Devil’s minions.  Or that’s how it felt, as he passed through the casino on the way to his breakfast.

‘Everywhere you went in this place, you had to pass through the casino in order to get there!  Not by accident’, Peter Barnett was sure.  He made the café, only to sit down and place his order – when he thought to walk back into the casino again and check his standing.   (The poached eggs Benovicchi looked interesting, though more than likely a little tough for the come and go hash cooks their café hired to master.  Nevertheless, this was a kitchen.  And the personnel here had mastered it.  Or, anyway, he would taste and see if they had.)

These black out spells were driving him crazy.  For example, he couldn’t remember this morning whether he was up or down.  ‘He had to stop this drinking, while he was gambling.  …Maybe even when he wasn’t’, he thought, touching his head gingerly.

He walked back out to the accounts window to check his stats.  And what he saw made his bowels churn and his genitals shrivel.  He was sixty thousand down!  This couldn’t be right.  He wasn’t that bad of a gambler, drunk or not.

The pasty guy behind the counter must have seen lots of shell-shocked looking faces before.  Because he didn’t register any emotion outside of what could have been a slightly complacent smile.  “Bad news?” He asked.

“Only if you hate prison,” Peter groaned.  “Just kidding!”  He quickly amended, managing a sickly smile, glancing upwards at the security camera which rolled 24/7.

The pasty guy laughed politely and drifted back into his slightly complacent smile.

‘Maybe this will all look better after breakfast,’ Peter thought.

He was just biting into his Egg Benovicchi, thinking that fry poaching really gave an egg the kick that it needed if it was going to rise in people’s memories above all of the innumerable other breakfast eggs they’d had and that maybe they should give this recipe a tryout at the Campaign Cafe at home – when he got that call from Carmella.  “I keep telling you Carmella, not to bother me midday when I’m in all these meetings involving city business…” he started saying without listening, when Carmella just went right on talking, interrupting him for once.

“Well, the café needs you here,” Carmella was saying.  “Between the tourists and the gawkers and the press and our normal crowd, I’m busting a gut trying to keep up with it all.  I haven’t even had a chance to count the receipts.  It’s all sitting in a big pile of money in our back office!  I need help!”  Camella barked.  “The city’s doing fine.”

‘No it’s not,’ Peter was thinking.  He rubbed his forehead.  ‘This Egg Benovicchi wasn’t really all that it was cracked up to be’, he finally decided, putting down his fork.  He was feeling a little sick.

“Alright.  Great.  Fine.  Just give me a couple days to tie up things, and I’ll fly up there in a jiffy.”

“A couple of days is not ‘a jiffy’.”

“Listen.  I’m wearing a lot of hats here, and I can’t say much more than that.  But if you don’t want one of those hats to look very black, you’d best give me a couple more days.”

Carmella didn’t know what that meant.  And it was probably best she didn’t.  So she let it go.  “By the way”, she added.  “I hired a new guy.  Pretty much sight unseen.  Says he can cook.”

‘Sight unseen’, was pretty much the way Peter liked it.  And if he hadn’t heard anything, that would have been that much better.  “Sounds good,” he said.  “One day trial.  Cash out after the first month unless he pans out?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay.”  Peter nodded.  “Look I’ve got to go.  The town council is filing in now.  Expect me in a couple days or so.”

“Okay.”  Carmella sighed.

“Love you.”  Peter disconnected.  ‘Two days to win back the town’s sixty thousand.’  He swallowed the remainder of his coffee.  ‘He’d better get back to work.’

Photo by Google Images

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