Fiction // Protection Program

By Shayna Hunt

The gunshot rang out so loudly in the busy diner on 33rd and Broadway that the chattering voices of the busy lunch crowd instantly went silent. A hush fell across the dining room; stunned customers panicked and craned their necks, looking around for the source of the popping noise they had no idea was an actual gunshot. Time seemed to stop for what felt like an eternity but was actually a mere three seconds. Then there was a loud, bloodcurdling scream; a glass coffee pot splintered to the floor, and pandemonium broke out.

A man who looked to be in his mid-thirties, dressed in an expensive black suit but without a tie, lay sprawled on his red stool, his head slumped over while he bled on the dirty black-and-white-tiled floor.

As police and detectives began arriving, parking their flashing red- and white-lighted cars haphazardly outside the vintage eating establishment, the yellow crime scene tape went up, cordoning off the site, and diners and employees began being interviewed. It wasn’t until the coroner arrived that it was officially confirmed that one Leo DiVincenzio had been the first person to die in Jake’s Diner since its opening circa 1952.

Hours later, waitress Molly Maguire, a 21-year-old woman of average height, sat in interview room 2, in the 33rd Precinct, nervously running one hand through her curly auburn hair, while mindlessly holding a can of warm diet Coke in the other. She wasn’t drinking it; instead, she was going over her story for perhaps the sixth time. This time, not with New York detectives, but with two FBI agents newly arrived, all the way from Quantico. She’d been at this since a little past 3:00 p.m., and it was now almost 8:00 p.m., and Molly was exhausted.

“Like I told the others,” she began again. “I had been holding a fresh pot of regular coffee and was in the middle of refreshing the customers—”

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