Table For One
As the smartly dressed man walked into the restaurant the girl at reception smiled . She had him checked out in seconds .
No wedding ring , expensive wrist watch , an expensive pair of shoes and teeth that sparkled when he smiled .
“Have you a booking sir ?’
She asked .
“Yes , the name is Mr Allan Goodwood .“
She ran her finger down the customer list and then back up to the top .
“I can’t seem to find your name on the list sir .”
She said .
The man placed his finger on the page and pointed .
“Look that’s my name right there .”
Sure enough his name stood out in big bold letters .
“Oh I beg you pardon sir , I never sat it . I must get my eyes checked .”
“Don’t bother . As a matter of face you have beautiful eyes . Its just the light here at reception . Maybe you could ask for something a little brighter . “
“Thank you sir . You’re very kind .“
As she gave the waiter a wave she said ,
“May I take you coat sir ?”
As she hung up the coat she could feel the warmth and the quality and was aware that he was a man of good taste in clothing .
The waiter approached and the girl at the front said ,
“Mr Goodwood would like a quiet table . Could you assist please Ramon .“
“This way sir “.
Mr Goodwood followed the waiter who seemed to dance as he walked across the floor . The pianist near the bar played some soft Jazz and the atmosphere was gentle and warm . The waiter stopped at a small table near the managers door and invited the customer to relax .
“Please take a seat . I hope you enjoy your evening sir “
He sat down at a table for one by the door and looked at the menu .
The waiter stood there looking up at the ceiling and then to the floor and then out the window at the traffic passing by .
“Could I have a bottle of red wine before my meal ?”
Said the gentleman .
“Sure . I’ll go get that sir .”
Came the reply .
“I haven’t decided yet what I’m going to have as a main meal .“
He said to the waiter who made his way to the bar .
When the waiter returned to the table , Mr Goodwood said ,
“The piano player is very good . I’d like to request a song if I may .”
“By all means . What would you like ?”
The waiter replied .
“Some enchanted evening .”
Came the reply .
The waiter opened the bottle of wine and poured a small amount into the glass and left the table and went and spoke to the piano player , who affirmed what was said by a nod of his head .
There was a crowd who walked through the door . They all wore business suits carried brief cases and carried brolly’s even though it wasn’t raining .
The called for attention and were assisted by the girl at the front reception .
After checking their booking she took their coats and other personal baggage and placed them in safe keeping . An extra waitress appeared from the kitchen and made her way to the party and brought them to their table .
She was trying very hard to accommodate them as they were being quite demanding and very arrogant in the manner of which they spoke .
Another waitress appeared from the kitchen carrying a tray heavily laden with ice cream sundaes in tall glasses and other glasses with drinks .
As she made her way to the table who ordered it she tripped over the legs of a young university student who sat with both his legs sprawled out on the floor right in front of the waitress who screamed as some of the glasses smashed .
What a mess as cocktails and ice creams splattered everywhere . Some even ended up over the lanky layabout who spat out ,
“You stupid silly bitch . Look what you’ve done .“
All his friends laughed aloud and the waitress scurried away into the kitched fighting back the tears .
The silence that ensued was broken by the pianist who began to play and sing , Some Enchanted Evening .
Suddenly from the kitchen a group of two kitchen staff came to clean up the mess . Quickly order had returned again to the restaurant .
Three men stumbled in and almost hit the floor in the process . They had trouble standing and smelt like then had been swimming through a vat in the brewery . They confronted the girl at reception with hic ups and burps .
“Ah scuse , mm ex , excuse mmm me . We would like , hic , a tae a, table .“
The girl tried to keep calm and replied ,
“Do you have a booking ?”
One of the drunks replied .
“We aaj , where do ah mmm, what’s the problem ?”
The girl spoke soft and friendly and said ,
“I’m sorry sir but if you don’t have a booking , we cannot give you a table as we are fully booked up tonight .”
“Now, jerst , just you , les , listen to me , ahem , how would you leg , a like this cow ah ,. mmm , ah counter reallocated to the pavement out front ?”
The girl pressed a button under the counter and two bouncers appeared from the back and made their way to the three drunks .
“So what’s the problem lads ?”
Said one of then bouncers .
One of the drunks replied ,
”No ah prob , hic no problem big fella . We ah , just are a little bit hungry like , hic , and want ah , we would like ah some ah something , .We want a meal .“
The waitress who had dropped the tray was sent from the kitchen to as table by the door where she sat watching the commotion with a drink compliments of the management who were sympathetic to her dilemma .
The manager approached her and gave her a few words of encouragement before addressing the three drunks at the door .
“Good evening gentlemen . I am the manager of the restaurant and notice you have a little problem . How can I help ?”
One of the drunks replied ,
“Yu.. you , cud , would you jest , ah mm get us a table ?”
The manager tried to explain that they needed a booking but the drunks continued to argue until the bouncers were told to remove them from the restaurant .
The customers all applauded and order again was restored .
The waiter asked Mr Goodwood if he had decided what he was going have .
Mr Goodwood smiled ,
“I think I’ll try the Spaghetti Roma with meat sauce and mozzarella and a side salad thank you .“
As the waited was writing down the order one of the drunks appeared on the pavement outside . Suddenly from his hand a petrol bomb was thrown in the window of the restaurant . Flames began to spread fast but miraculously a fire engine was passing by and had to fire extinguished in a matter of minutes .
The fire hadn’t taken hold and there was very little damage to the restaurant .
The manager tried to keep everyone calm and promised everyone that all meals were his treat and asked the waited to provide a bottle of wine free on all the tables .
Another group of people walked in .
They were welcomed inside and quickly shown to a table .
Waiters were kept busy bringing bottles to all the tables .
In the kitchen the Chef was frantic .
“Is that mousse ready yet . Where Hows that pumpkin soup going , Come on you gumbies lets get things moving . I need five more salads and six more pastas on the boil now ”
Through the back door of the kitchen in walked the health inspector .
“Hello everybody . How it cooking ?”
He said as he showed his identification to the chef .
“You’ve got to be kidding . It’s the busiest night of the week John?”
“That’s right and I don’t need a booking . So I need to see your cool room and pantry . I also want to look at all of your PPE .“
“If its not to much to ask, could you just come back tomorrow ?”
The inspector smiled and then spoke harshly to one of the kitchen hands .
“Your hair needs to be tucked in and tied back . Where are your gloves . I’m not impressed so far .”
The Chef was starting to get a little wound up and said ,
“Hey don’t harass my staff .”
“ I’d keep the tone down if I were you Chef . You know I have the authority to shut you down and fine the restaurant . So don’t tell me what to do . Ok ?
The Chef took a deep breath and replied .
“Listen I know you have a job to do . But so do we . Its really busy tonight and you know me , I’m always here to help . So would you consider a meal and drink on the house , my specialty and come back next week . How does that sound John ?”
The inspector nodded and winked ,
“Well look I’m seriously considering you offer here Chef . “
The Chef replied ,
“Hey give me a break . Look its almost tomorrow . I’ve got five tables waiting and a long list of people to feed ?”
The manager walked into the kitchen and said ,
“Hey Chef what’s the hold up . People are getting a little grizzly out there ?”
“Oh well s you can see John’s here and needs to have a look around .”
Suddenly the Chef clutched his chest and fell to the floor .
The manager ran out from the kitchen and screamed out ,
“Hello everyone excuse me . Is there a doctor in the house .
“Yes . I’m a doctor .”
Said Mr Goodwood who stood up .
“We have an emergency in the kitchen . Please come quickly .“
Mr Goodwood hurried from his table to the kitchen where he immediately went to work . He asked everyone to stand back and applied his hands on the Chefs chest and began CPR .
The Chef responded instantly and sat up .
“What happened ?”
He said .
“Oh you just had a little rest . Its been busy tonight . Maybe you should go home . What do you suggest ?”
Mr Goodwood looked directly at the manager .
“Ok I’ll just call my casual relief Chef .“
Mr Goodwood assisted the Chef to a chair and said to him .
“You’ll be ok .“
The health inspector made his way to the back door and said ,
“I’ll call back again some other time then .”
As he made his exit the girl from reception burst into the kitchen . She was very upset and screamed .
“Quickly there’s been a bad accident on the road outside . A man on a motor bike has been hit by two cars .”
Everyone ran out from the kitchen in a confused state of panic . The restaurant was empty of people except for Mr Goodwood and a thief who had his hands in the till .
The thief ran away stuffing money into his pockets but in his hurry to escape he ran straight into a lamppost and fell unconscious to the ground with blood pouring out from a wound on his forehead .
Mr Goodwood walked over and placed his hand over the wound that closed up instantly , no one saw and in the same instant the thief opened his eyes and said ,
“Thanks Mister , you saved my life .”
Mr Goodwood looked back deep into his eyes . Then he went through his pockets and took out the stolen cash and said ,
“You’ve got to pay for services rendered . “
“Hey that’s too much .”
The thief said and the answer returned .
“How much is your life worth ?”
”Not a lot “
Said the thief and Mr Goodwood continued ,
“What about your soul . How much ids that worth ?”
“Who are you ?”
Said the thief , Mr Goodwood replied .
“Just someone doing a job . You’ve bee given a second chance . Don’t mess it up ok ?”
The thief got up and walked away . He nodded to Mr Goodwood who turned around and made his way over to the scene of the accident .
He assessed the situation very quickly .
He spoke with confidence and assured the bystanders all was well .
“There’s no need to call an ambulance I’ve everything in hand . Just call two tow trucks and inform the police .”
The casualties were now all sitting up . All seemed to have recovered .
The tow trucks and police arrived with lights flashing in the night .
As a police vehicle pulled up it almost collided with Mr Goodwood who was making his way back inside the restaurant .
There was a homeless man standing in the alleyway that ran behind the restaurant . He was watching all the commotion but remained aloof to the eyes of all those around .
Mr Goodwood looked over and gave him a wave then returned inside .
The manager poured praise on the doctor and said ,
“If there is anything I can ever do for you , free meals , anytime you want .”
Mr Goodwood replied ,
“Well there is something you could do for me . There ‘s a man in the back alley . Could you bring him inside and give him a meal at my table . ”
“But this is a table for one .”
“I know . You’re a good man , just do as I ask .”
Outside a white stretch limo pulled up at the front door . Mr Goodwood stood up and said ,
“Well Martin , its been real nice , but that’s my ride and I’ve got to go .”
He walked out the door and got into the limo that pulled away into the heart of the city .
By Paul McCann