I was running a place down on Miracle Mile in the Gables back in 07, an extravagant wine bar with a list more than 300 bottles long, almost 40 of them by the glass. The type of place where you serve Camus Conundrum as your "White Meritage" and receive "Allocations" on small batch wines from the vintners. Well, one day just after the lunch rush while the business men and society ladies basked in the culinary after glow and I reviewed invoices at a back table near the kitchen Jose the front waiter approached to say;
"J.R., there's a guest up front who wants to speak with you."
I sighed, I had a lot of work to catch up and catering to some attention seeking yuppie was the last thing I wanted to do. But of course a restaurant manager is a sitting duck, a captive audience for every jerk off with enough ready cash to buy a Ceasar Salad and a Glass of Malbec. So I stood up, shot my cuffs, straitened my tie and checked my expression in the mirror. He was waiting for me by the front door; conservative looking guy, late 40's, short, clipped salt & pepper hair, neatly trimmed beard, freshly pressed trousers over polished shoes and what looked to be an expensive guayaberra. (spend enough time in Miami and you'll become a judge of them too.) I had noticed him earlier eating lunch with a guy in a suit. He smiled as I approached and thrust out his hand in a friendly manner.
"You're the manager?" He inquired in a polite tone.
I took his hand, "Call me J.R." I said, "How can I help you?"
"Well," his voice lowered to a confidential tone, "it's about last night."
I had been off the night before and no one had called me or left me a note about anything amiss so I just smiled and said, "I see," indicating an empty table.
Once seated I encouraged him to open up and this is what spewed forth; "My name," he said, "is Henry Ramos, now you know I come here alot and I don't like to complain, I never have a problem but this is pretty expensive and somebody has to pay."
I felt my self recoil wondering where it was going, what I said was; "Oh?"
He brought his hand up from his lap and slammed it onto the table between us, the noise was surprising, like a dead weight hitting the wood, "You see that ring?" he asked.
It was a diamond pinkie horseshoe ring, you know the type; where if you wear it in, the luck is supposed to flow toward you and if the reverse, well, you know, the reverse. There were several stones missing. "Yeah?" I replied, losing some of my customer service tone.
"Well," he demanded, "What are you going to do about it?!"
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
A look of frustration fell across his face, he sucked air in through his teeth like one whose patience has been sorely tried, "You have a waitress who works for you, Ximenes, dark hair, dark eyes?"
"She is a witch, a bruja. Last night, I came in for a drink and she recognised me. I am the son of Achun (the name of a Santeria deity) so she launched at me a Satanic attack, I was only able to protect myself by banging this ring on your bar top three times, that's when the stones came out, but I didn't notice at the time and now they are gone. I think a thousand dollars is fair."
I didn't know how to respond, here was this well dressed kind of fringe regular who spent money in the place, and up till one minute ago had seemed perfectly lucid and suddenly he was shoveling the most incredible horseshit at me. I blinked, was I was being put on, I struggled for words I wondered how corporate would respond to the complaint of a Satanic Attack, what I said was; "You're out of your fucking mind. Why don't you get the fuck outta here before I call the fucking police you crazy mother fucker!"
The guy stood up from the table, wrapped in his dignity, "I should have expected as much. You really don't know what you're dealing with." He actually smiled at me and nodded good bye.
I sat for a minute after he had gone, thought about Ximenes, wondered if it was true...................