The flickering candle stationed in the center of the rectangular, linen-lined table was comforting.
I stare directly in front of me to eye a plate of cod and a side of mashed potatoes. I was a vegetarian. The glare of the fish that maintained its eyeball despite being dead was not comforting.
To the left of my dinner plate was a fork and spoon – the sharp tongs darting out of the body of the fork was not comforting either. The spoon on the other hand, the curved and smooth edges of the spoon, that was very comforting.
I am good at identifying how I feel about certain objects and people before I really even interact with them. Dead fish: Unsettling. Symmetry in a dinner table: Satisfying. The same rule can apply to people. Middle-aged woman sitting at the bar with a lonesome expression on her face: Trustworthy. Man cradling his chin with his forefinger and thumb while staring at a person across the dinner table: Untrustworthy.
That skill is vital in my line of work.
To the right of my dinner plate is a knife. Sharp, serrated, jagged, and acute. I take my bony hands and halfheartedly lift it to jab at the cod. I’m sure this little guy never thought that his life would result in some young woman picking and prodding at his lifeless corpse; that being said, I don’t think that fish are sentient. Still, the feeling stings.
My eyes wander around the room for another suspect; a group of teenage boys sat around a table throwing their non-alcoholic drinks into the air for a toast: No. The bartender aggressively shakes a cocktail while glancing at his order list: No. Woman sitting alone at a table scanning the menu while simultaneously scrolling through Instagram: No.
“I am not sure what happened to your fish Sir,” I overheard a waitress consult an annoying diner. “We will be sure to get a new one out for you!” Guess I wasn’t the only one who felt bad for the cod.
“Fine,” the arrogant eater responded. He had a full beard – one that seems uncomfortably long – and wearing a navy blue dress shirt and sporting a badge that was not legible from my perspective. His tan dress shoe nervously pounding against the ground; with each thud I heard his silverware rattle. He bit his lip while fidgeting with the base of the candle stationed in the center of the rectangular, linen-lined table. That’s the guy.
– Maggie Di Sanza