Chapter 24: “You read her Like Water for Chocolate?”


Outside Scaramouche @ 1 Benvenuto Place, just off Avenue Road, there was a giant Hummer. The driver parked across the way on Edmund Avenue. The windows were tinted dark. Soon, Joseph Buonfiglio stepped out, wearing a smart suit and a new toupee. The toupee appeared to be new, as he was adjusting it a lot. Nadine Buonfiglio emerged from shotgun, looking classy and elegant, and she surprisingly smelled fresh and clean. And their daughter, Charlotte Buonfiglio, emerged via the back seats. She looked like a Hollywood starlet from the 1940s, which was the intended look. However, mother and daughter were under-dressed in the slightly chilly weather. Nonetheless, the trio cut an impressive set of figures. They crossed the street and walked toward the restaurant, which was only a few blocks away from their former neighbourhood, Corso Italia.

In the warmth of the restaurant, a waitress led them to their table in the heart of the action. On a Monday night, the place was bustling with energy and frenetic in pace. After settling in, the same waitress, a tall blonde named Lisa, took their orders. Joseph ordered smoked salmon carpaccio and elk. Nadine selected lobster ravioli and chicken. Charlotte, after a while, chose goat cheese salad and filet mignon. Nadine, being the oenophile, selected the perfect wines for each and everyone’s courses, except for Charlotte, who much to her annoyance was the designated driver. She ordered San Pellegrino instead.

Midway through the family meal, Nadine, after knocking back half a bottle of Malvasia, said, “I’m so glad that we went out. It’s nice to have a lovely family dinner.”

“Our old house is a short drive from here,” Joseph said as she sliced his buttery elk. “Why don’t we check it out on our way home?”

“We don’t have time,” Nadine replied. “The snow will be falling shortly.”

Charlotte took out her cell phone and dialled a number. “I have to check on Savannah,” she said.

“Is she with Lionel?” Joseph asked.

“Lionel is working tonight. I left him with his mom.” After a few rings: “Felicia? This is Charlotte. How’s Savannah? … What book did you read? Goodnight, Moon or one of those Caillou things? … You read her Like Water for Chocolate?! Isn’t that a porno book?!”

Like Water for Chocolate is a Mexican novel about a girl who can only express herself through cooking because her mom won’t let her get some booty because she herself needs to be taken care of until she dies,” an exasperated woman at a neighbouring table said, under her breath but loud enough for people to hear.

“Shut up, bitch!” Charlotte snapped, not even looking at the woman. Back on the phone: “Sorry, Felicia. There are so many rude people here. Look, I’ll be back around 10. I’ll see you then.” She hung up. “Some people,” she muttered.

“Anyway,” Nadine changed the course of the conversation. “You won’t believe who I ran into recently.”

“Who?” Joseph asked.

“Dr. Claire Breedlove.”

Joseph and Charlotte’s faces were blank. “Who again?” Charlotte asked.

“You probably don’t know her, but guess who her patient is.”

Joseph and Charlotte shook their heads.

“It’s Graziano,” Nadine said, tucking into her chicken.

Dinner suddenly stopped. “Seriously?” Joseph asked.

“As a heart attack.”

“Oh, that fucking ass-hole. Nadine, how did you know?”

“I hired a private detective. Only it wasn’t Lionel, Charlotte. No offence.”

“None taken,” Charlotte said, sipping her San Pellegrino. “I know the rules: don’t hire anyone you know to investigate people.”

“Well,” Nadine continued, “after the run-in at the cemetery, I was not going to take any chances. His name is Enver, some dude from Albania or Kosovo; I wasn’t really sure where. Anyway, he’s been tailing the bastard and the bitch doctor for weeks. Neither of them suspects a thing. At least, the doctor didn’t at first.”

“Good for you, honey,” Joseph said.

“I learned from the best, darling.” Nadine took another bite of chicken and moaned in delight. “This is some good shit.”

“What have you found out?” Charlotte asked.

“Well, he is living in one of those high-rises along the Waterfront. Enver hasn’t found out who he’s living with, but I bet that it’s a ‘kept’ relationship. He sees the bitch doctor every Friday afternoon at 2PM, at some office in North York. And he’s been hanging out with some roided-out Ukrainian faggot. Enver tells me that he’s on the brink of a breakthrough.”

“Oh, Nadine,” Joseph smiled. “You’re the best. I can’t wait for the day when that scourge of humanity no longer walks the face of the Earth. It’ll be the best Christmas present ever.”

And then a sinister smile appeared on his face. “I have a good idea. As soon as we get all the information, let’s kill the little fucker. Hopefully, between Saint Lucia Day and Christmas.”

“Daddy, what do you have planned on Saint Lucia Day?” Charlotte enquired.

“You’ll soon find out, Charlotte. It’s going to be big.”

“Oh, fabulous!” Nadine cheered. “A Christmas assassination. Just the thing we need to get back in the spirit of things.”

“I agree,” Charlotte said. “That piece of shit has held this family back for far too long. I’m glad that I don’t have to see his malignant ass any longer. And I’ll be even happier when he’s dead and gone. Besides, I have the perfect shoes for dancing on his grave.”

“It’ll be just like that summer in 2000, when we lost both of our parents, Joseph. That was tragic, but it made our family stronger. And we never have to hear from their overbearing asses ever again.” Nadine had slumped a bit in her seat. She picked up her glass and sat up again.

“I propose a toast,” Nadine said. “Here’s to life, preferably without a certain rotten old bastard walking the face of the earth. Cin-cin, cent’anni!”

Cin-cin, cent’anni!” The glasses of all three present members of the Buonfiglio family clinked gently, a contrast to the otherwise horrendous statement that flowed from Nadine’s alcohol-basted mouth. What they didn’t realize was that everyone in the restaurant had overheard the conversation, and mouths were agape in shock and horror.


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