He made everyone look up from their meal, both female and male. He wasn’t good looking; far from it but he had a certain something. He was dressed in a blue shark-skin suit, and, strangely, a claret shirt. It wasn’t this sartorial stew that drew attention though.
His face was fairly pointed and his mouth, unsmiling, seemed a little deformed, as if it had little in common with the rest of his face. Whatever it was, it had an effect. People stopped eating to watch him walk by; although his walk also was a little unnatural. He seemed to glide instead of taking steps. He was sat at a table toward the dimly lit rear of the restaurant. He scanned the restaurant, his eyes like black marble holding the gaze of the other people till, one by one, they dropped theirs.
The Maître d’ availed himself immediately. He arrived at the table; flicking a quick hand across the tablecloth and removing two almost invisible specks of something in one go.
“I feel carnivorous this evening”, said the man. “I think a plate of bresaola will do me for starters. I’ll make my mind up on the main course as I chew.” The Maître d’ nodded.
“A bottle of sparkling water also,” he said, “I like the way those bubbles go to my head.” Once again the Maître d’ nodded and, avoiding the seated man’s eyes, made his way to the kitchen. He sent a waiter with the bottle of water.
The restaurant noise resumed its previous level. Couples enjoying a romantic for two, a rose placed between them. Business associates enjoying heated debates over targets hit and missed. Ernest salesmen continuing their sales pitch between forkfuls of tagliatelle.
The order arrived. Placing the plate of cured meat in front of the man, the waiter, no doubt briefed by the Maître d’, asked if he’d considered his main course.
“Still thinking,” said the man. He hinted at a smile, allowing a glimpse of that strange mouth. The waiter felt a small shiver run down his back but couldn’t put his finger on why it should be. Returning a professional smile, honed during 25 years’ service, he made his way from the table.
The discussion at a table of hard-nosed marketing execs started getting heated; a little too much wine or possibly after-dinner cognac getting the better of two of them and the argument promised to get out of hand.
The man polished off the starter in less than a minute, all the while keeping his eye on events in the restaurant. The Maître d’ was standing at the table, imploring calm with his hands held outwards but to little avail. The shouting reached a crescendo, one of the men, with a fat sweating face and cheeks flush from the booze, was now on his feet and waving his arms around, occasionally pointing a shaking hand at one of his colleagues; a crew-cut kid with the face and neck of a bulldog.
“You’re just an overblown tele-salesman,” shouted the sweating man. “You’ve seen nothing! We’ve been through the mill, busting our ass studying what we do. You arrive, make 50 phone calls and hit a lucky. What do you know about market analytics or product lifecycle? You just kiss the right ass in the right place and think you’re God’s gift.”
Crew-cut raised himself out of his seat and leant over the table. Then there came the sound of breaking glass.
Mr. Waving Arms held his hand to his cheek, blood seeping through his fingers. Grabbing a serviette to hold against the man’s face the Maître d’ led him by the arm, pointing to the men’s service area. As he quickly returned to the table of still-arguing marketing execs, the man in the shark skin suit, alone in the semi-dark, smiled to himself, revealing a huge set of triangular teeth. He breathed in the smell of blood, and glided from his chair.