Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Flash Fiction - Wave of Destruction

Francis threw the big, round dough into the air. His hands were covered in flour. He caught the dough and pulled it tight in the pizza pan, then spread tomato sauce across the dough. He reached into a bowl, taking a pinchful of spices and carefully spread the seasoning across the pizza. He grabbed into a few other bowls for more seasonings, adding more flavor. Then he brought out the mozzarella cheese from the refrigerator, picking up pieces of cheese with two fingers to get the cheese spread around thin and evenly. He bent down near the table and looked straight on at the pizza ready to go in the oven, scanning the surface intensely.

"Just stick it in the oven already!" yelled Jonny, Francis' boss, "we ain't making paintings here!"

"Yeah but..." Francis tried to explain. He slumped his shoulders and turned back to the pizza, hoisting it up into the burning oven.

"We got orders to fill. Move it, move it, move it." Jonny banged the side of the oven and left.

A few minutes later, Francis pulled the fresh-cooked pizza out of the oven and put the pan down on a thick, wooden stand. Francis, himself, carried the pizza out of the kitchen directly to the corner booth where 3 men sat. Francis put the pizza down in the middle of the table.

"Here you go Mr. Zito," said Francis.
"Beautiful, Frankie, a real work of art, but call me Nick. You, my friend, can call me Nick." The other men grabbed for pieces of pizza and began wolfing them down. "This here's my good friends Vincent Sindone, who some call The Beast, and Anthony Morales also known as Tony Eggs. Please have a seat."
Francis looked around nervously. Jonny was yelling at another worker in the kitchen.
"Sit down, man," said Tony Eggs, "when Little Nick tells you something, you listen."
Francis straightened his apron and sat down.
"Frankie you make a mean pizza."
"Thank you Mr. err Nick."
"Why don't ya go it alone, ditch this joint, make some real money."
"Well sir, I'd like to, but..."
"But what?" snapped Nick, his large belly rippled when he talked. "You ain't got the money?"
"Well, I'm saving and I hope..."
"You got the money, I'm putting it up. I'll meet you tomorrow at my lawyer and we'll draw it all up." He handed Francis a piece of paper with an address.
Jonny stormed out of the kitchen, looking for Francis, and saw him sitting at the corner table. Yelling, he pointed right back at the kitchen. Francis stood up and threw his apron on the floor.

The next day, Francis showed up at the law offices of Tepperberg, Stephens, and Moller. As promised, Nick was waiting with his two associates. Nick sat sunk into a chair behind a desk. "Frankie," said Nick, "glad to have you join us."

He explained how his lawyer had already prepared all the paperwork for a pizzeria located on the boardwalk by the waterfront. Without going into detail, he mentioned that it was all ready, full stocked and that the previous owner had sell due to some personal issues. Francis signed all the contracts, grinning widely. Nick ripped off a small piece of paper and wrote a figure down on it. "Here sign this too, Frankie."

Francis signed the small piece of paper. "Frankie, this is an IOU, you owe me, and you are giving me your word, YOUR WORD, that you won't bail on me."

"Yes Nick, absolutely. Francis signed the IOU to Little Nick.

Frankie's Pizza and Pasta takes off. People come from all over Brooklyn to eat there. Francis stood back and looked out at his bustling operation. Tables were filled. Staff ran around to fill and deliver orders. Then a tall man walked in. It was Tony Eggs. He looked around for something to eat, helping himself to a glass of Coke on the house. Frankie went into his back office and walked back out with an envelope, handling it to Tony Eggs.

Francis had got used to regularly giving Tony Eggs their 'cut' of the money.

Until one Saturday night in August.

The staff came to work on Sunday morning to find the first floor of the Pizzeria completely flooded and the windows broken. Glass just went everywhere. They thought a strong wind was responsible for breaking the windows, and letting in water. Or a rock came through the window.

Then Francis played the surveillance footage.

The surveillance video had captured a rogue wave. It came up over the breakers and went straight into and through Francis' restaurant’s first floor windows. Initially it broke through, shattering the windows and bringing a bunch of water in and then more water piled up again. The windows shattered. I mean  and the room filled up with water pretty quickly.

Francis shook his head and said, “I’ve seen how big the waves get out here they crash at the sea wall. But that’s concerning, it has a clear 30-40 feet of concrete.”

The houses up high were still safe from the might of the Wave of Destruction. Many were out looking down at Frankie's Pizzeria from their beachfront homes.

Francis had to act fast. The pizzeria was quickly stripped of its carpets, and dehumidifiers ran to get out any excess water or mildew out.

The damage was estimated to cost anywhere between $10,000 and $15,000.

Francis's dream was devastated.

No one came down anymore.

Business got bad.

Tony Eggs showed up, but Francis had to turn him away, empty handed. Tony gently patted Francis on the shoulder.  But a week later, when Tony Egg showed up again. Francis smiled and tried to explain. This time, Tony grabbed Francis by the collar and pushed him up against the wall. He hoisted him up. "You better pull the money together."

Francis closed down. Locked the doors and he ran.

Days went by. There was a knock on the door of Francis' apartment.  Tony Egg stood at the front door. No one answered. With a quick kick, he broke the door down. Vincent Sindone,  The Beast, stood behind Tony and followed him into the pizzeria.

Tony grabbed Francis and dragged him out to the car waiting outside. The car drove away.

Francis insisted on trying to explain. "It broke the window! Then a bunch of water came through, letting even more water pile through. I'm telling you Nick it was a huge wave. It took everything..."
"Shut up, Frankie," snapped Nick.  Tony Egg crowded Francis in the back seat next to Nick.
"Ok," said Francis, wiping sweat from his forehead.
"Hey, you look sick," said Nick, "chill out."

Tony took out a piece of paper and showed it to Francis. "Remember this?" he asked. Francis stared at the paper he had signed, the IOU. Suddenly Nick grabbed the paper in both and tore it up. 

"Don't worry about it, just try get me the money whenever you can."

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