DINNER FOR TWO

Mark Johnson
4 min readJun 28, 2023

They say pride goeth before the fall; in this case, it was coming sooner. Mickey had struggled and skimped his way out of personal debt with his business making it a thriving and profitable one in less than ten years. He had kept his neck, having ties with the mafia to go utterly legit after his grandmother had passed.

Dreams of becoming a made man faded with that last talk to his dying grandmother. Being of Italian descent, she was, at the time, the only tie he had to the old country he was born in, the States, and as a child growing up would sit at his grandmother’s feet and listen to the stories she’d tell of the rich culture and land of Italy.

The family always had hopes of getting the family to go and see Grandma’s old stomping grounds, but as the young Mickey would soon understand, as he got older, his family was different. His family was deep into the mob; his father was an enforcer, meaning he did the dirty work the bosses would order but wanted nothing to do with it. This built a wedge between Mickey’s parents as his mother forever wanted her husband to leave the life, and every time being close to deciding on going, he’d be reeled right back in. He’d turn back to the mob as tough times hit the family or the need to provide for a growing family.

Things soon caught up with Mickey’s father as many jobs he was sent to land him in prison for life. Mickey’s mother did her best to keep Mickey from the lifestyle, but the elders always had their way and found Mickey, a young strapping boy, and enticed him to life. In a flood of confusion and riffs on loyalty, Mickey found his way out and was in the position to run his own business. He took over a dying restaurant he had started working in when he was a kid, washing dishes, mopping floors, emptying trash, or whatever was needed. At that time, he’d work evenings after school only to eventually drop out to work at the restaurant full time, learning everything he needed to know about running a business and life by watching and doing as the owner did.

The owner was his grandfather’s age; he had seen and done many things. He was also like the town’s conflict manager, as people would come to him openly and in private for advice. As he grew older, he took Mickey under his wing and groomed him to take over the business, as he had no children of his own who wanted it.

Over the few years seeing after the ultimate demise of his mentor, Mickey made the appropriate plans to take over the business and revive the restaurant somehow some way in his memory. In those several years, Mickey worked hard to turn a stable profit. Soon the remodeled and revamped restaurant became a hot spot, and the media noticed this was the unsuspected element that was the seed of Mickey’s downward spiral.

It started one night when the boss of the family that Mickey’s father was tied to came in with a stunningly gorgeous woman at his side. To Mickey’s surprise, the woman was a girl that ran around the neighborhood as a teen as he did, realizing it was the boss’s daughter all grown up. Mickey couldn’t take his eyes off her. Mickey knew the boss, having met him on short runs with his Dad to the leisure hall. Boss Martola, as the neighborhood called him, would always hand the young Mickey a chocolate caramel-filled candy when he saw him.

Mickey, now in his mid-twenties and flying high after years of toiling in the restaurant he now owned, walked up. During that time, Boss Martola’s daughter Gwen was off at school abroad and back in the States. Their eyes met as she walked in the door with a twinkle. Mickey greeted her father warmly, shaking his hand firmly with a welcoming smile, knowing he was the reason for his father doing a life sentence. Boss Martola then turned and introduced his daughter Gwen to which the two smiled as they greeted each other, each flashing back to their special memory of the other.

Mickey then, on his own, looked and secured his guests a table, knowing what would be acceptable and impress the two. Going further, Mickey ordered the first course of the restaurant’s best as they looked over the menu. Throughout the night passing, glances were shared by Gwen and Mickey. The biggest question of all was, why was the boss coming to see him now?

--

--

Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is a University of Chico graduate, a lover of the creative arts, avid photographer, with an undying entrepreneurial spirit.