Marian Wood: Night at the Paris Beaubourg Restaurant

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Night at the Paris Beaubourg Restaurant

Marian Wood

The Restaurant

Sitting at the quiet table, I watch the world go by. A busy restaurant now silenced in the cold of the evening. The overpowering scent of petrichor fills my senses as the rain dances on the pavement. Relaxing, I stretch my feet and toes, and then put my arms around my neck and yawn.

I jump as Miles creeps up behind me and puts his hand on my shoulder. Sitting opposite me, I watch as he sits and holds his head with his hands.

Miles has always wanted his own restaurant, a qualified chef, this was his dream. It was nights like tonight that could change that.

Things could have gone worse. Witnessing the repercussions, I’m glad that we are here to tell the tale.


First dates are always awkward, Whitney knew nothing about the man she was supposed to meet. The Paris Beaubourg restaurant was exclusive, she had read that the food was exquisite. Pushing back her blonde hair, she pulled up her favourite red top wanting to give a good impression. Looking at her watch, her stomach was churning, he was now late.


He knew that he shouldn’t be walking to the restaurant, he had people he should be meeting with and deals he should be doing. With a need for a companion, he ignored the vibration in his right-hand pocket. Excited to be meeting Whitney, he had arranged for a table at the nicest restaurant he knew. Making a good impression was essential. She didn’t need to know all of him, just the best of him. He had good points. He was handsome, could be kind and knew how to treat a lady. His friends he hoped she wouldn’t ever meet.

Managing two lives was not going to be easy, but in his conversations with Whitney he knew she was special. He turned off his phone, he didn’t need the endless calls about tonight. Surely four of them could do the job alone, they didn’t need him.


Watching the young woman alone at the table, I wondered about her evening. I do this with all of our customers trying to play out their lives in my head. She had been sitting alone for a while. From her booking, I could see the table was booked by a Mr. Hemming who was now ten minutes late. I hoped she had not been let down. It’s happened to me many times, but never in a top-class restaurant surrounded by other customers. Feeling concerned for her, I poured a glass of wine and took it to her table. Telling her it is on the house, I wished her a good evening. She smiled back at me pleasantly and nodded, thank you.

Continuing to serve tables, I was relieved when I saw a young man approach her table. Leaving them alone, I could see they had only just met. Then picking up the menus and wine list, I walked to the table. As I saw the man’s face, my stomach lurched. I recognised him; my heart went to the young woman.

The Gang

A few weeks ago, a gang of youths had been here, rough and ready for a fight. They had eaten dinner but got very drunk. Words had been seen and Miles had asked them to leave. This man had appeared to be the ring leader as he had spat at Miles as they left and had said they would never be back again. We were glad of this, as other customers were upset by their unruly behaviour. What had been really strange though was the money left on the table after they departed. Not many customers leave a £200.00 tip, especially after an already expensive meal. Something had been wrong but we decided not to report it. It happened and that was it.

Watching them, they seemed relaxed and happy, things were going well. The young woman was laughing at his jokes and kept playing with her hair. Nerves, I could see that she wasn’t relaxed, but I couldn’t hear what was being said.

10:00 pm

Serving other customers, racing between restaurant and kitchen, I had a good view of everything. As two youths walked in, I stopped them and asked if they had a reservation. As the short blond man pushed me hard into the wall, I knew he meant business. Hearing the shouted profanities, I reached for the phone behind me and dialled the police. Things were going downhill fast. I willed Miles to not get involved, but he usually did.

Hearing his deep voice, my stomach started to churn. The three men were now fighting and the young woman was crying. From my position, I could see everything, and there was now a sound like an explosion. Other customers were now crying, and fear could be heard. I couldn’t see the shooter but one of the youths was lying on the floor and the fight had stopped.


As the police and ambulance services walked in, I felt relief wash over me. A female officer went to speak with the young woman. The police found their shooter who appeared to know the three gang members. As a hand tapped my shoulder, I looked around. There was Miles to check I was alright. Hugging him with relief, our next task would be giving statements and tidying up.

The young woman passed by me with the policewoman. She nodded a thank you as she walked out.

I have had quite a few first dates but never one that’s ended with someone shot. I looked up at Miles’s calm brown eyes. We are both single but I can’t tell him my thoughts. Exhaustion taking over now, I knew we were both in for a long night.

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