Sunday, June 24, 2012
the quiet restaurant. The last customer had long departed, and the night shift had finished their work, and gone home to their families. Thinking about the empty house that awaited her, Marita was in no hurry to leave. She poured herself a generous tumbler of tequila, and leaned against the wall.
On the table in front of her, next to the half empty bottle of Patron Silver, stood the ashes of her late husband in a tall gold and white urn. The funeral director had delivered it earlier in the evening, tisking at the lack of ceremony and decorum that accompanied Marco's send off to the here after. She probably should have planned some type of memorial, but honestly, couldn't see the sense, or the expense, of it. Neither she or her husband were very religious, and they belonged to no church. She might of held some type of gathering at the funeral home, but knew that the few people who would come would be employees of the restaurant, who felt a business obligation to pay their respects. None of them knew Marco very well anyway, and had he been able to tell her, he would have surely scolded her for what he perceived as a waste of hard earned money. No...it was fitting that she should be the only mourner here at Su Casa. The restaurant had been their life, and they had sacrificed everything to make their dream a reality.
The tequila began to make her feel weepy and emotional. Marita sat down and held the urn in her arms. "Oh why, Marco? Why now? We were so close to having it all work out!" she wailed. "How will I make it work without you?"
Admonishing herself for being weak, she plopped the urn back on the table, and went to retrieve the register receipts from the day's sales. Quickly glancing through them, she already knew that the profit margin would be dismal, and paying the bills this month would be a struggle. The crowd today was a bit heavier than what was usual for a Saturday night, probably because of the morbid curiosity of the patrons regarding her new role as a widow. But if business didn't pick up soon, she wasn't sure how much longer Su Casa would exist. The enterprise she and Marco had poured their blood, sweat and tears in to, would end up just another casualty of bad economic times.
It hadn't been for lack of trying. They had hired a live mariachi band for the evenings, purchased new festive uniforms for the wait staff, and had even invented "fiestas" of all kinds to entice the customers in. Coupons in the paper, BOGO offers...nothing had worked! In fact, according to the statements from the accountant, they were actually losing money on a monthly basis! It all came down to the fact that the restaurant had no liquor license, and people expected margaritas and Coronas with their Mexican food. For the past fourteen months, she had petitioned the Town Council for approval of a license to serve alcoholic beverages, but had continued to be turned down, time after time. Town rules stated that the vote needed to be unanimous, and in the case of Su Casa, it had not been. Apparently, there was always one hold out who regularly voted against the issuing of a license for their business. Damn that Tessa Peppers!
Several weeks before, in a rage over another "No" vote, Marita had come up with a plan to ensure that the next vote would swing in their favor. After endless battles with Marco, she had finally convinced him that her way was the only way, and he had agreed to set her plan in action. Now he was gone...struck down like a dog in the mud by a senseless act of violence. The idiot of a Sheriff could offer no information, and the priest, who stood inside the church 100 feet from where it happened, was just as clueless. But Marita was no dummy. Was it possible that Marco's murder was connected to the plan to get the liquor license? It was a long shot, but a genuine possibility. She would need to take some precautions...move carefully and wisely under the guise of grieving widow. She poured another shot of tequila, sat at the table, and made her plans. No matter what it would take, she wouldn't lose Su Casa.