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November 12th, 2018 Leave a comment Go to comments

None of us knew quite what to make of him when he walked into the restaurant. There was certainly no missing him. Disheveled and frumpy, this guy was out of place in a bistro like the one we were enjoying by a mile, yet the waitstaff paid little notice as he looked about and opted for a seat at the bar. Perched on the stool, it appeared he could teeter off and into a heap on the floor at any second, yet he continued sipping at his cocktail while we returned to our conversation.

The man at the bar stood up halfway through his drink and began sort of loping toward the restroom. I started to follow his movements with interest but was abruptly distracted by a commotion from Martin, who was speaking rapidly to Katie, whose face was turning blue. Martin stood up, fumbling for his phone, as my mind emptied everything I had once known about the Heimlich maneuver in panic. 911 had just picked up Martin’s call and Katie’s eyes had begun bulging in terror when I spotted him again.

He entered the corner of my vision at an angle, having already tripped over a table leg and now in the process of falling down. Arms stretched out before him, I realized too late he was barreling directly into Katie’s midsection as I watched helplessly and her eyes somehow grew even wider. Then his palms collided with her stomach and diaphragm, ejecting the hunk of meat she had been choking on over his shoulder as he stumbled to the left, attempting to regain his balance.

A waiter had rushed to get out of the way and fallen onto an adjacent table, knocking over the candled centerpiece and setting the tablecloth and his apron on fire. Katie leaned forward and inhaled deeply, eyes watering, as the man from the bar stumbled back to his feet while flailing into a pitcher of water another passing server had upon a tray. He knocked the water directly onto the fire, perfectly extinguishing it as he tuck-and-rolled around the chair and landed on his unsteady feet once more. The room was hushed with surprise as he finally ambled to the restroom.

We did our best to calm down and pretend everything was normal from there. The man returned but made a point of avoiding the dining area to return to the bar, sidestepping the inevitable attention. My eyes couldn’t help but follow him as he paid and left, and as he opened the door to leave, a man being chased by the police on foot ran directly into the glass, unhinging it and knocking both men down. Officers arrived seconds later to arrest the criminal, who turned out to be a perp they’d been after for years. The man from the bar tottered to his feet and meandered away.

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