Witness Over the Soup – Short Story

It was two o’clock at night, a time when only soup kitchens and seedy restaurants were open. At that hour, Guy could not refuse a bowl of soup. Fortunately, a renowned soup house was just down the street. It took a short walk to reach the shop. It appeared shabby from the outside, a simple place that filled a dimly lit street with the clatter of spoons, where no one else was present except for a single lamp. He peered inside with his eyes and realized he wasn’t the only one craving soup. The place was quite crowded. Although he didn’t particularly enjoy crowds, he couldn’t say no to the soup. Therefore, he entered.

The interior was filled with tables on both sides. The tables were adorned with blue and white checkered tablecloths, occupied by men preoccupied with dirtying them. It was like a men’s matinee inside. As he entered, everyone glanced up at him briefly. He, too, greeted everyone in a low voice as if they would hear him. Of course, no one heard him. On the left side, there was a cash register. Sitting at the cash register was a slightly chubby man, wearing a shirt resembling the tablecloths. But he was so engrossed in telling someone something on his phone that he didn’t even notice Guy entering.

Guy scanned the room with his eyes, searching for an empty table, and found one at the back. He didn’t like the tables at the back either. He turned around and looked at the exit. The street illuminated by the single lamp appeared so cold that he gave up and turned back, walking towards the only empty table at the back. He walked back through the narrow corridor formed between the tables. As he walked, he carefully observed everyone sitting at the tables. Everyone inside was slouched over. They were all bent over, drinking their soups. Some were slurping loudly, some were spilling half of it on their beards, and some were eagerly stuffing their mouths with the entire spoonful of soup. Almost every table was drowning in breadcrumbs. One man had taken so much bread that it was unclear whether he was drinking soup or having soup with bread.

As Guy passed by one of the tables, he was splashed by the lemon squeezed into the soup. The man squeezing the lemon was so absorbed in counting the lemon drops that landed in his soup that he didn’t even notice Guy. Without paying it any mind, Guy continued walking. As he approached the empty table, the smell of khash soup reached his nose. He detested khash. It had a repulsive odor, reminding him of his grandfather for some unknown reason. He glanced at the man who was enjoying the khash. The man was busy pouring sauce over it, but he was so careless that it was unclear what he was doing. After observing the man’s sauce blunders for a while, Guy wrinkled his nose due to the smell and moved to the empty table at the back.

He pulled out his chair and sat down. Everyone was sitting facing the door. From where he sat, it was evident who had thinning hair. Half of the people in the shop were bald. As he scrutinized each hunched bald head, the waiter appeared beside him.

“What would you like, brother?” he confidently asked.

“What do you have right now?” Guy inquired.

“Lentil, ezogelin, tomato, khash…” the waiter listed, glancing at the door as he spoke. Guy couldn’t figure out where he was looking because there was nothing noteworthy in that direction.

“I’ll have a portion of ezogelin, please,” Guy said.

The waiter, still not looking at him, replied, “Certainly, brother,” and headed towards the direction he was gazing at. However, the kitchen was in the opposite direction.

Guy didn’t mind and began to survey the shop. The best thing to do while waiting for the soup was to observe the surroundings. The shop was a typical Turkish restaurant. It was evident from the fact that it was open at 2 a.m. The walls were adorned with frames, featuring numerous celebrities who had visited the place. On many of their faces, the surprise of “What on earth is this photo?” was clearly visible. In almost all of the photos, there was a chubby man with a phone in his hand, dressed in a tablecloth-like shirt at the entrance. And he had a mischievous grin on his face in all of them. When the famous people didn’t smile, he laughed enough to make up for their lack of laughter. As Guy glanced at the photos for a moment, he recognized one of them. It was the lead actor of the TV series he watched on Wednesday evenings. Seeing the man, who always wore Hawaiian shirts in the series, in a lush green park was a bit surprising.

While he was looking at the photos, two people sitting at the central table got up and headed toward the cash register. Both of them reached into their pockets, and suddenly, they started arguing, saying, “No, I’ll pay, you can’t pay.” While one held the other’s hand, the other pushed his friend’s wallet back into his pocket. After a minute-long argument about who would pay, they decided to split the bill in the German style and paid their shares. As soon as they left, someone else immediately entered and took their vacant seats.

After scanning the interior of the shop for a little while longer, Guy closed his eyes. Everyone was enjoying their soup so blissfully that they all emitted contented purrs like cats. There was a spoon chaos inside. Without exception, they all vigorously tapped their spoons against the bottom of their bowls as they drank their soup. Some immediately refilled their spoons with more soup after taking a spoonful. Others, however, refrained from starting another spoonful until they had swallowed the previous one.

“Here you go, brother,” the waiter suddenly appeared with a bowl of soup in his hand. Placing the soup in front of him with one hand, he asked, “Would you like anything else?”

“Thank you,” Guy said.

He picked up the spoon left by the waiter and raised it in the air, examining its stains. Besides a water stain, there was no issue. His hunger had intensified by now. Therefore, he dipped the spoon into his soup and, like everyone else in the shop, assumed a hunched position to start sipping his soup.

While Guy was savoring his soup, a man entered the shop. He stood at the threshold, scanning the interior. He was looking for an empty table. Guy also started looking around, searching for an empty table alongside him. But there was none. The absence of an available table didn’t stop the man. He started moving towards the inside with small steps. As the small steps grew longer, he approached the back. While Guy was sipping his soup with pleasure, he also tried to figure out what the man was up to. The man was gradually getting closer to him. He had even reached the side of his table. He stood there, gazing at the tables he had left behind. Meanwhile, Guy stopped drinking his soup and observed what the man was trying to do. The man, after taking one final glance around, pulled the chair in front of Guy and sat down.

Guy tried not to show any reaction to the man sitting across from him but was shocked by his unauthorized intrusion. Nevertheless, he continued to drink his soup, pretending that everything was normal. He was now the only person in the shop with his back to the door.

“Hello,” the man said as soon as he sat down.

It was odd. “Hello,” Guy replied.

At that moment, the waiter appeared. “What would you like, sir?” he asked. The man said, “I’ll have a khash.” Hearing his order, Guy was taken aback. He looked at his own soup. He hadn’t even finished half of it yet. He briefly considered leaving, but the soup was so delicious that he didn’t want to go before finishing it. Besides, he didn’t want to arouse suspicion in the man.

“I’m Bruno,” the man said.

“Guy,” Guy replied.

“What do you do, brother?” Bruno asked. His eagerness for conversation was already bothering Guy.

“I’m a photographer,” Guy said, but he didn’t ask a question in return. Of course, this wasn’t a reason for Bruno not to answer.

“I sell clothes,” Bruno said.

At that moment, Bruno’s soup arrived. It came much faster than his own. Guy wished it had arrived a little later. The aroma of the soup had already filled the air before it even reached the table. While Guy wanted to drink his soup, he couldn’t help but watch in disgust as the man poured various sauces into his soup. His stomach felt queasy. He averted his gaze from the soup but couldn’t escape the smell. The odor of offal reminded him of his grandfather. He fixed his eyes on his own soup. Took a spoonful, but as soon as he heard the sound of the man’s spoon hitting the bottom of his bowl, he raised his head again. The man was consuming the soup in such a way that it seemed like he hadn’t eaten in ten days. He put more than half of the spoon into his mouth. Despite trying to avert his eyes, Guy couldn’t help but hear the loud slurping sounds. As he pondered how worse his evening could get, he realized that it was just the beginning.

“My wife is cheating on me,” Bruno said.

Guy thought for a moment, wishing he could disappear like the soup. What could he say just like that? What kind of response could he give? Should he feel sorry? He remained silent because responding would be absurd.

“She’s cheating with a man from our neighborhood. I know,” Bruno said.

Guy looked into the man’s eyes. He nodded slightly as if to say, “I understand.” There was really nothing he could say. After shaking his head briefly, he returned to his soup. He had already passed the halfway mark. If he drank a little faster, he could leave early. However, he shouldn’t drink too quickly, as he didn’t want to raise any questions in Bruno’s mind. So, he started drinking a bit faster than usual.

“I’m considering killing my wife,” Bruno said.

The last bite he took nearly got stuck in his throat. Some of it even splattered out of his mouth. He reached for a napkin and wiped the Ezogelin soup running from under his lip. Then, involuntarily, he responded, “What?”

“I want to catch them in our house and kill them,” Bruno said, savoring his soup.

It was not just one murder but a double murder. Guy had unexpectedly turned into a witness of a crime while he had come to the shop for soup. Witness over the soup. A literal headline had sat across from him.

“He comes home when I’m at work. I leave, and he enters, most likely. One day, I’ll close the shop early and catch both of them. I just haven’t figured out how to kill them yet,” Bruno said.

Guy had watched a movie recently where a man killed his wife with a saw. Should he recommend the film or simply describe it? He debated in his mind. Then he scolded himself, asking, “What are you doing?” He had a potential murderer sitting across from him, ready to do anything he said. It seemed like he was waiting for a signal to start. This shouldn’t be him. Guy used his silence card again, but the silence was about to come to an end.

“What would you do if your wife cheated on you?” Bruno asked.

Guy wasn’t married. He wasn’t even the same age as the man. It was evident that Bruno was older than him. Guy already had a bit of a father belly. He was just a young photographer in his early thirties. He didn’t have a girlfriend either. He had never been cheated on before. The question was miles away from him for that reason. But he had watched movies. As he contemplated which one to suggest, he gathered himself and responded.

“I would divorce, man,” he said.

“That wouldn’t cool me down,” Bruno said, dipping his spoon into his soup.

Guy was torn between getting up from the table or staying seated. Although he thought he needed to convince the potential killer in front of him, he didn’t want to deal with such a lunatic. But every time Guy attempted to escape or take a sip of his soup, the man said something new.

“How would you kill?” the man asked.

Once again, Guy’s mind filled with images from the movies he had watched. As a fan of horror films, he thought he should keep his ideas to himself.

“I wouldn’t kill, buddy. I’d end up in prison. Then what good would it do?”

“At least it would cool me down. That bastard shouldn’t be alive. I can sleep comfortably inside for a few years,” Bruno said.

He wasn’t entirely wrong. The laws had become so corrupt that they handed out discounts when one appeared in a suit in front of a judge. He would spend a few years in prison and then be released. It wasn’t news anymore.

“What if you just killed your wife? Without a double murder,” Guy suggested. He couldn’t believe he had said that. He had become a literal accomplice to murder.

“No, it won’t work. That son of a bitch knows she’s married. Who sleeps with someone who is married and has a child? What kind of shamelessness is that?” Bruno continued, raising his voice.

Now Guy knew that the potential killer sitting across from him had a child as well. If he stayed at the table a little longer, he would probably learn everything about the man. They might even sketch out the murder plan together.

“The punishment for killing is great in the eyes of God,” Guy said. As a last resort, he played his religious card. Many people couldn’t do all the perversions they wanted to do on Earth because of the higher power above.

“You’re right,” Bruno replied.

Guy let out a deep sigh inside, but he didn’t show it on his face. He left his expression as it was as if it were just an ordinary conversation. Maybe the conversation had ended there, so he turned to take his spoon to his soup when Bruno spoke again.

“It’s between me and God. If I’m going to burn, so be it,” Bruno said.

The spiritual card hadn’t worked either. The man was determined to be a killer. He had made up his mind; he just needed a witness. Maybe even a partner. Tonight, he found one. Guy, who had entered the shop to have a bowl of soup on an empty stomach, was now a witness to a murder that would take place tomorrow or perhaps even sooner. He had even secured his name being mentioned in court. Guy couldn’t dare to drink his soup, while Bruno continued to slurp his disgusting soup.

“I’ll shoot them with a gun. No, no. Too noisy. I’ll strangle them. Then I’ll dismember them and put them in a suitcase. I’ll go to the river and throw them in,” Bruno said.

Guy wondered if he was listening to a movie script. Because what the man was describing only happens in movies. He had watched so many killer films that if Bruno asked how he could do it, he could describe all the details. For a moment, Guy wondered if it was a coincidence or a joke from a higher power that a guy who loved horror films had ended up sitting across from him.

“I’ll tell the kids, ‘Your mother is gone,'” Bruno said.

“Where to?” Guy blurted out.

“Good question,” Bruno replied, turning back to his soup. Guy raised his head to see if anyone heard this horrifying conversation between them. Everyone was so engrossed in their soup that they couldn’t hear them over the clinking of spoons against bowls.

“I’ll tell them she’s gone, and that’s that. They’re just kids. They won’t understand a damn thing,” Bruno said.

The man was so conditioned that if Guy said, “Let’s go now,” he would agree. He had an answer for everything, finding a solution. Whoever the woman was, she would probably die soon. She had no idea about it. The only person who knew was anyone in the soup shop. Guy considered warning the woman if he could find her, but then he thought, “This guy will find me too,” and gave up. He couldn’t believe himself. He had practically approved someone’s execution in his mind.

Bruno lifted his soup bowl, lifted it up in the air, and poured the remaining soup over his head. Then he wiped his mouth with the napkin and tossed it into the bowl.

“Goodbye,” he said and stood up.

Guy watched as the man went to the cashier and paid the bill. The man who had looked around upon entering was very clear as he exited. He left without looking back. Guy was left at the table with his cold soup. He had forgotten about it anyway. A woman and a man would die somewhere soon, and Guy knew it. He even knew what would happen to them after they were killed. Images of bodies stuffed in a suitcase appeared in his mind. Worse yet, there was the possibility of coming across this potential murder in the news someday.

Guy pushed his soup to the center of the table, grabbed his coat, and headed towards the cashier. He paid the price the chubby man had stated and walked out to the front of the shop. He stood under the only working lamp and lit a cigarette.

“Thank God I’m still alive, at least,” he said and began walking towards his home.


Ukrainian Creative Director | Motion Picture Writer | Horror Freak

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