This was written for my challenge, Old Typewriter. Enjoy!
Food Court Front
Tori woke with a start, his alarm blaring, and he rubbed his eyes after hitting the alarm clock soundly to shut it up. Work again. Early again. Too early, but there was nothing for it. He got ready quickly and ran out the door, sun just beginning to rise in the sky.
He got to work, clocked on, and began setting up the food court as he did every morning when he opened. He filled the hot dog wells, put out the white cutting boards, and checked to be sure the people closed properly the night before. He found a mistake, and wrote a note about it quickly before grabbing his shopping list and heading out to the floor.
Tori gathered up all the supplies the list said the department needed for the day, and pushed the full pallet to the front of the store to pay for it on the company dime. As usual, he was done quickly and had time to set up the lobby before the cashier supervisor arrived. He moved the tables quickly, paid for the pallet of supplies, and started the prep-work.
Becca arrived on time, and the two chatted aimlessly as they got everything set up and ready to go for the day. Salads made, sauce mixed, pizza dough warmed up, pressed out, and made into pizzas with all three flavors on them, hot dogs warmed, buns and sauerkraut added to the steamer, thermometers calibrated, temps taken, and cash registers counted in... Before they knew it, everything was ready to go, the store's doors opened, and they had a slow trickle of people coming in.
The morning passed quickly, Tara, the department manager, arrived at 11am, and as the day picked up, production did too. Pizza flavors sold out suddenly, and they tried to beat the clock and not run out of anything. They knew if they did, John, the store manager, would wander up and ask for a slice of whatever was missing.
As it happened, he didn't have need to stop by that morning, and Tori was relieved. Whenever John came by and asked, “Can I get a slice of pep?” in a certain tone, Tori knew he had another message waiting for him in a gym locker. It was the code they used, but nobody else seemed to know, and for that, Tori was grateful. He hadn't wanted his other job, he hadn't wanted to move across the country and relocate with the man, but he'd had no choice. It was that or prison, and he wasn't about to go there.
John's real name was Giovonni “Johnny the Plumber” Rizzo. He'd had a run-in with his Family Boss back in New York, squealed, and been relocated through Witness Protection. He dyed his usually dark hair white, grown a thick mustache, which he also colored, and allowed himself a little weight gain to add to his disguise.
It was deeply unlikely anyone from his old family would follow him to California, and it was equally unlikely any of them would set foot inside a PriceCo store, where he found work. He'd taken his young nephew Tori, otherwise known as “Nate the Wrench,” with him. The boy had a knack for that life, and John couldn't bear to leave him behind to be snatched up in the raids that followed his talks with the FBI.
John had always been in a middle position of power, as his mob-ties went, and he didn't like too many people telling him what to do, so when the position opened up to move up in the company, and in the process he could move from California to Colorado, he jumped at the chance. And he'd taken Tori with him, setting him up in an apartment with a roommate.
The two of them acted like they didn't know one another, and Tori even found himself working other jobs for a while, to keep the distance there. But after a few months of living in the new city, Tori grew tired of his fast food job and left a message for John in their usual drop box. “I can't do this anymore. I need a better job, or I'm going to lose it.” He printed the simple message out on his computer, and followed it up by filling out an application online to get into the PriceCo family. John pulled strings, and Tori found himself in a new position within the week. It wasn't much of a change from the fast food place he'd been at, but the pay and benefits were better.
It was only three months after his new job started that a familiar face walked in the store. John lost it, disappeared for the day, and left a note for Tori to find in the locker at the gym the two used. And as usual, John had typed his note on an old typewriter, as he refused to join the modern age and get a computer already. He insisted it was harder to track what was written on the typewriters, but Tori was sure he just didn't know how to cover his tracks electronically.
The note said simply, “Venetucci was here. Get rid of him,” and Tori knew his time had come. John had been grooming him to be his personal hit man before everything went down between John's daughter, Maria, and the boss' nephew, Tony. Maria had come home with a black eye, and Tori wondered if the boss ever knew his progeny's temper and lack of self control was the reason the whole Family went down. Probably not.
It didn't take much time to find Venetucci, break into his house while he slept, and smother him with his own pillow. The man was old, there were no signs of a break in, and the stupid Colorado Springs police didn't even do an autopsy to determine it was a “natural causes” death. Apparently the man had sleep apnea and refused to wear his oxygen mask, so it was only a matter of time, according to his doctor.
That had been the first of many jobs John had given him, and he had been passed a note saying pizza was the code for new work. Whenever John wandered up to the counter and hollered into the back, asking if he could have a slice, Tori knew a new order was waiting for him. He stopped wondering what the people might have done to John, and just went with it, after a while. The pharmacist who asked too many questions, the Italian delivery truck driver in April, one of the managers who was always butting heads with John from a business standpoint...
Tori's mind wandered that afternoon while he scrubbed dishes clean. He wondered if John asked for slices of pizza when he wasn't there, just to throw the trail off, even though nobody seemed to notice anything. Tara joked about it, but there were days when they were perpetually out of pepperoni when her worry over it all shined through. Tori finished the dishes and smiled at the clock. His shift was almost over.
It was then that John suddenly walked up and asked if he could have a chicken bake, which were sold out for the first time that day. Eric, the mild-mannered kid's eyes went wide and he fell over himself in a panic, unable to answer the question. Becca, who just finished putting her apron back on after taking a break, peeked into the oven and answered, “They're almost out. One more minute!” John nodded, looked Tori in the eye, and smiled a knowing smile. Tori nodded, grinned back, and John walked away.
That night, when Tori found time to go to the locker in the gym, nothing was there. He stood there, almost confused until he heard footsteps approach him from behind. He saw the shadow on the wall creep in, wire wrapped around both hands, and Tori waited for him to come closer. Tori ducked suddenly, swept the legs out from under his assailant, whose eyes changed from dangerous to panicked and Tori threw back his head and laughed. He was hardly even surprised it was Eric who had come after him.
Eric's head hit the bench between the lockers, Tori jumped up quickly, and pressed the middle of his shoe against the boy's throat. He didn't wait for answers before ending him. He didn't need to ask who sent him. He knew. The boy kicked, only a little, and gurgled a bit before the fight left him and he lay still.
When he left the gym, he didn't go home. He had work to do. So John wanted him out of the way, did he? Tori wasn't one to be pushed around, and he couldn't wait to see the look of surprise on John's face when he realized what was happening: Tori would be the last person he ever saw.