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The New York ‘Street End Cafe’
By Marian Wood
These New York City streets are always busy. The city high-rises, the yellow cabs and the hustle and bustle of the people. I have lived here all my life and could not imagine being anywhere else. It was on this day that it happened, he happened.
Sitting in my office at the top of the New York Studio building, I struggled to concentrate on my paperwork. Being the office assistant, I did not have much of a voice around here. However, I hear things, things I shouldn’t hear. Things they would be afraid if they knew that I knew.
The top office was usually quiet, and I was often alone. People rarely spoke with me. This meant I was an expert at watching and reading people. Shut away in my own bubble, I was happy this way, until now.
Arriving at the New York office today, the street was busy as always. People going about their own business not aware of the dangers above them. Not aware of the secrets held within these walls. I had always kept my business to myself, so no one really knew me. They didn’t know the books I read, the television programs that I enjoyed or the man that had ripped out my heart and left me broken.
* * * * *
The two men raced through the New York City streets. Both businessmen, both worth a lot of money. Where there is money there is greed, and Royce and Henry certainly fit the description. Fast cars, women and gambling, could life get any better? Today was no exception, but today things had turned ugly. Business was business and when a client refuses to pay, they have to be made to pay. There is no not paying.
Six months ago
David was a loner, trying to scrape a living. Needing money to invest in his new venture, he needed to borrow money. All the major New York banks had refused him, saying he was too much of a risk. Sitting in the bar, downing his third “Bells” of the evening, he heard the two men talking. Trying to develop their business empire, they now were looking to invest in something. Henry was short, round with fluffy grey hair. Royce was tall and bald.
The thought of going to a stranger disturbed him, but if he did not get the money that he needed he was scared that blonde Janice would leave him. Janice liked to be looked after, she wanted to have a comfortable life. Getting his business off the ground was important. He wanted to open a café on the New York street side. However, the bank did not agree that selling coffee was a lucrative business.
David had done his accounts and created his business case, he just needed someone to believe in him. Today was the day; he approached the two men with his folder under his arm.
“Hi, excuse me, sorry I couldn’t help overhearing you discussing investing.”
Royce looked at Henry. “Yes, sorry we were, what is it to you?” Henry smirked.
“I’m wanting to open a café, but the bank has refused to lend me a few thousand towards a deposit.”
“How much are you needing?”
Looking at Royce he said, “About fifteen thousand dollars.”
“Whew, what are you wanting that for?”
“To buy the café on the corner of Wells Street. Surely the New York office workers will be in for their Cappuccino and Lattes.”
“So, how are you going to repay us?” asked Royce.
“From the business of course.”
“We want 20% of the profits, plus fifteen thousand dollars.”
David thought about it. “I don’t know.”
“Well, you either buy a café or you don’t,” Henry said.
Thinking about this David then said, “Okay, let’s do this.”
“Right, meet us here tomorrow, 7pm and we will have your cash. Just bring your passport with you.”
The next night, David anxiously met them, worried that he was making a big mistake, but determined to start his new business.
Royce pulled his paperwork out of his briefcase. “Proof of ID?”
David found his passport and Henry took a photograph of it. He then took out his pen.
“Here’s the forms agreeing that you will pay us back weekly.”
David hesitated and then signed as Royce stood with a case full of cash.
Taking the money, David thanked them and walked out of the pub.
A few weeks later David opened ‘Street End Café.’ A smart New York coffee shop with cake, sandwiches and coffee to go, aimed at the local office workers. Janice had been excited too. She loved baking cakes and really believed this could be a thriving business. Royce and Henry had become regulars. David and Janice were happy as their dreams were coming true.
New York Today
I listened to the men talking; something had happened. I had been in the café this morning; their Mocha coffees with the sprinkles are amazing. So, what had gone wrong? There was talk of someone being shot. An accident apparently, there was whispering but I could feel the guilt. I purposefully got up and walked out of my office to hear the short stout man say, “She asked for it.”
I wondered what she had asked for. It was then that I heard the sirens outside. Racing back to the window I saw the ambulance and police cars. The New York street was a sea of people and now the police were putting their tape around the café. It had been emptied and now someone was coming out on a stretcher.
I now sat back in my chair, unsure of what to do next. Did I tell the police? After all, ‘she’ could have been anyone.
* * * * *
The men stood now, both in sweat by the water cooler. Had the office assistant heard them? They did not know. So, what next? They had gone to the café to demand their share of the takings. David had not been pleased to see them. Things had not been going as well as he had hoped.
Business had been slow and now paying back his loan plus 20% of the profits, he knew that he could not pay them back as quickly as they had wanted. Arguing with the two men, Janice had quickly came to his defence. A few moments later there was a roar in the street of a motorbike and then what sounded like an explosion. Janice now lay on the floor with blood pooling around her chest.
Royce and Henry looked at each other, both thinking, what the heck? Royce was stunned, he knew exactly who that was. Henry meanwhile hadn’t a clue. He believed that it was something the mouthy blonde had done. Not wanting to get involved they had rapidly left, leaving David to phone the police.
* * * * *
It was a hot day in New York as Paul Harris fired up his motorbike, he knew where he would find him. That man had been messing with his Catrina for months. He had no hard evidence, he just knew after seeing them together a few weeks before. She had been distant for a long time, so he had followed her, suspecting the affair. Seeing her kissing the bald man had hurt and led him to seek revenge.
Now he needed to do something. He had acquired a pistol and knew how to use it. Having watched the two men, he knew where they were most weekdays around lunchtime. So, today he was going to get rid of him and get his wife back.
He thought he had got him, but he was shocked as the blonde waitress fell to the floor. He swore and continued past. This was not good, why had she got in the way?
* * * * *
That day the police came and spoke with everyone, wanting to know if anyone knew anything. I was upset to hear that Janice had been killed. We had been friends, she was in her late twenties with her whole life ahead of her. On learning it was Janice, I now told the police what I had overheard.
They thanked me and went to find the two men. About an hour later there was a knock at my door.
“Come in,” I said nervously.
In walked Henry, alone and looking tired. “We need to talk.”
“You overheard Royce and me talking. It’s not what you think.”
“What, that you two shot her?”
“It was a man on a motorbike, it was some girl’s husband. We think he meant to get Royce, not Janice.”
“So, this is Royce’s fault.”
“Yes, but to be fair he did not know that the husband is a loon.”
“So, are the police now looking for him?”
“Yes, Royce recognised the bike. Hopefully, they will soon bring him in.”
I was stunned. “This really is horrible, poor Janice, and what about David? They haven’t been there long?”
“Well, I think for a start we owe him his café. Long story but we helped him buy it.”
“My god, so you helped him buy a café, then got his wife killed.”
“Yes, but by accident. Royce will be more careful in the future.”
“He had better be, Janice was my friend. I felt a lump in my throat now. I knew that I was going to miss her friendly smiling face every morning. Coffee and a Janice-made muffin set the day right. They hadn’t been there long, but wow they were a lovely couple.
It was a few days later that Royce returned to work. The news of the shooting was all over the New York newspapers, and Janice had been confirmed dead on arrival at the hospital. David was devastated and the café was temporarily closed. I hoped it would reopen soon, but losing his wife to a drive-by shooting was not something he was going to get over straight away.
The media had leaked about Royce’s involvement, and David swore that he wanted no more to do with him. The business was completely signed over to him and I’m not sure if Royce will ever get over the guilt. Yes, he loved to make money any way that he could, and he loved women, but he did not mean for the blonde café owner to be killed.
* * * * *
The dark-haired man sat in his New York prison cell wondering to himself why his wife was more interested in the tall bald man. Was life really that bad? He sat and he thought of what he was going to do when he was released, feeling no remorse for the blonde lady. All he cared about was getting even with the bald man. He was not going to get away with this.
Please visit Marian’s website at https://justmuddlingthroughlife.co.uk