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A Dish Of Dates

Shouts brought Samir from the kitchen to where his father lay face up and motionless behind the deli counter, trapping the busboy Kenny in the confined space.

Kenny's freckles stood out on his cheeks. "Is he dead?"

Samir pressed two fingers against his father's neck. No pulse. "What happened?"

"He slipped and went wham!" Kenny shifted his gaze to the couscous, falafel, imported olives, and other delicacies behind glass. To the counter display of North African oil lamps and strings of prayer beads. And something that shouldn't have been there: a small dish of dried dates.

Samir spoke gently: "My father caught you sneaking food again, didn't he?"

Kenny's chin quivered. "A few dates is all. He called me a thief and went to hit me. I blocked him, like in the movies." He thrust out his right arm, looked aghast at it. "I didn't mean to kill him!"

Samir handed Kenny the dish. "Take this and go. You weren't here this morning. Go, I said."

The busboy scrambled over the body in a hasty exit.

Opening time was approaching, but today Algerian Delights would remain shuttered. Samir pulled out his cell phone to call 911 and then his mother about the tragic accident. The old man was dead, the reign of abuse over, and himself, the only son, about to take charge of the business at nineteen, sooner than he had ever dreamed. Things couldn't have worked out better if a genie had granted his most fervent wishes.

Story by:

Rita A. Popp

5 April 2017