Meet me tonight at Guido’s

A light read for you to enjoy

It has been a week now since Derek passed on and I think I am finally getting over the loss. Derek was without doubt my best friend, we had grown up together, gone through school together, we both supported the same football team, we liked the same music We had done just about everything together, I missed him terribly!

Today had been my first day back at work, my wife had said that it would help and, as always, she was right. Catching up on everything in my office had taken most of my day and concentration. I was now tired and ready for the journey home while I sat looking out of the office window and waited out the last five minutes before it was time to leave the office. It felt good to be getting some  semblance of life back again.

I heard my door open but took little notice as I knew it would be my secretary letting me know that she was leaving for the day. Instead she came to me and handed me a small UPS package, then informed me she was going.

It was the usual sort of package, I receive several during the course of the day. They normally contain paperwork relating to one contract or another that I oversee from this office. I ripped the tag and expected to find the usual papers or drawings held within. All I found was a postcard that had a photo of Bury St Edmunds Abbey on the front. I turned it over, curious to see who it was from. I nearly fell off my chair when I read the short handwritten message on the reverse.

“I’m not dead. Meet me tonight at Guido’s Pizzeria. Tell no one. Derek”

I sat totally stunned staring at the writing. It was Derek’s handwriting alright, he had an unmistakeable scrawl that I think only we could decipher, even then, I struggled sometimes. I read the words again then noticed that no time was stated. Did this mean he would be there now, or did he intend to be there at what would have been our usual time to meet at Guido’s? We only ever met there on Thursday evenings around 9pm after we had been in the snooker hall for a couple of hours and the girls had attended their yoga class.

It was 5pm and I had decided to walk across town to Guido’s right now. It would only take about fifteen minutes. Driving across town, then finding somewhere to park could take at least an hour plus the walk might help me clear my head a bit.

What the hell was going on?

I arrived at the pizzeria to find it almost empty. Well it was Monday evening and most people were either on their way home or still thinking about leaving off work and then making their journey home through the evening commuter traffic. The walk had done little to ease my mind, in fact I had a hundred thoughts racing through my head at the same time, a bit like the commuter traffic on the motorway.

I entered the eatery, I knew at this time of the evening they would be happy serve me just a coffee, so I ordered and took a table near the back wall, out of sight from the door and with only slight views from the big windowed front of the pizzeria. I sat searching the few faces in Guido’s for Derek but I didn’t recognise anyone seated at the other tables, like me, they sat sipping from coffee mugs perhaps waiting for the rush hour to subside a little before making their journey home or perhaps waiting for their meal to arrive.

Guido’s was a popular haunt both day and night for the office workers in the city. Guido, real name David, had once worked the offices selling sandwiches or pies and other lunchtime treats and had finally built up enough savings to live his dream. Though Guido’s was not the best decorated or refined establishment to eat, it did have David. He had made many friends whilst doing his rounds as a sandwich boy and in return they all stopped by to support him, even if it was only for a coffee at the end of the day.

My coffee was brought to me by Guido himself, he then sat and looked at me.
“Did you receive a postcard?”
I again almost jumped off my chair
“Yes, what the hell is all this about?”
“I Dunno, I got one about an hour ago. It just said look for you when you turned up.”
“Here I am” I stared Guido straight in the eyes hoping for something to explain away these fears in my head.
“So, what did yours say?” asked Guido.
“Just that I should come here and that Derek wasn’t dead. It was in Derek’s handwriting so he either wrote it before his death or he is now on his way here. God knows…..” I stumbled to the end of the sentence, feeling at a total loss.
“What do we do now?”
“I’ve no idea” I replied “This is all too much for me to take in”

We both sat in silence, me sipping my coffee, Guido staring at the floor. There was nothing else we could say to each other.

Time passed, my coffee disappeared and I was thinking that I should either phone my wife or get out of here and start making my way home when the door opened and in walked Derek as full of life as I had ever seen him.

I did not know what to do or say, it was only four days ago that me and everyone else that knew Derek had been to his funeral, now here he was as bold as brass, walking towards me and Guido.

“Evening chaps, coffee please Guido”
Derek spoke as if this was simply another quick get together after work to plan some surprise day out that we sometimes sprung on the girls. They loved these surprises of course but today was more than a bit different.

Derek sat where Guido had left, he looked straight at me and said
“Well, that’s me then”
“That’s you what? What the hell is going on?” I was full of questions but this was all I could say.
“I had to do it this way, otherwise I’ll be a gaol bird for the rest of my life”
“What are you talking about?”
“I set it all up, Angie knows and is already on her way out of the country. Do you and Bev want to join us? Then we could talk about this to our hearts content. I have tickets for you here.” He handed me a paper pouch with two flight tickets to Singapore tucked inside with mine and my wife’s names on the tickets.

Derek’s coffee arrived, Guido sat down again

“I dunno” I replied
“The flight leaves in the morning and I can’t change them. This is a one time offer”
Derek sipped his coffee
“I fly later tonight via Amsterdam and Berlin, you fly direct in the morning, if you decide to come I’ll meet you at the airport”
“But how will you know? what…….”
“Just decide!”
Guido looked puzzled at me, then at Derek
“Guido, can you do me a small favour?” said Derek
“Yes of course”
“Can you put flowers on my grave once a year, or at least have some sent?”
“Yes but why, your not dead?”
“ Don’t ask, will you do it? I’ll make sure it won’t cost you anything”
“OK” Guido looked more confused than I felt.
“Right gents, time to go” Derek handed me a folded piece of paper and stood up to leave.
“You can contact me on this number for the next hour, talk to Bev now. I’m going.” He took my hand, pulled me out of my seat and gave me the biggest hug I’d ever received from him.
“I have to go” and he departed our table and walked out of the door without looking back.

So, here I sit overlooking a beautiful beach somewhere on the coast north of Mombasa; with a very cool refreshing drink by my laptop as I fill you in on some of the finer details. Seems Derek had been doing some monkey business at the bank he worked at. He had squirrelled away a vast fortune in a little under eight months, faked his death and had gone on the run. After a quick phone call to Bev, my wife, who said “What the hell, let’s do it”, I called the number Derek had given me and he answered and said we might have to ‘hop’ around a bit but life could be really good if we wanted it to be. We caught that flight to Singapore.

On our arrival there was someone holding a board with our names on it. We approached him, identified ourselves and he gave us an envelope. Inside were two more flight tickets, this time to Mombasa in Kenya and a thick wad of 100 US dollars notes along with a note saying “Sorry, not able to meet you personally but here’s some joy money. More where that came from. See you soon. Derek”

©2010 Trevor Litchfield
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”Meet me tonight at Guido’s” by Trevor Litchfield is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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I hope you enjoyed this, it has been fun writing something this long for a change, maybe it was just the prompt and the time I’ve taken to come up with this story but once I sat down to write it, it took very little time to complete.

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1 Comment

  1. I did enjoy the ride, Trevor, gripping and full of questions… Penx

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