642 things to write about

Write a short story that is set in Argentina in 1932, in which a teacup plays a crucial role.

The wind is blowing through the door, rattling the china. Maria’s hand shakes as she pours the tea, trying not to make eye contact with either of the men.

Sharp suits and sharper scars, they scowl across at each other, palms flat on their knees. The waitress backs away and for a heartbeat nobody moves. The blue pattern on their cups is chipped, and the white paper tablecloth is stained.

A knife rests next to each man’s boot, another dozen unseen around his person. As if on cue, the men get to their feet; slowly, deliberately. Their faces are completely immobile.

In the back, the waitress wishes she could quiet her breathing and become as forgettable as possible. The door creaks in the wind, and outside a coyote starts to howl.

“We can come to an arrangement,” the older man says, his voice steady. His friend shakes his head, his movements cutting the air like a shark.

A Spanish broadcast comes on the radio, breaking the silence.

“We can pay. Just a little more -” the first man starts. He never finishes the sentence.

The other man pulls his knife out of his chest, wiping the blood away on his shirt.

A police officer charges into the door as the body becomes a corpse and takes out his baton, eyes wild. But the assailant fires a shot at his teacup and shards of pottery and scalding liquid burst into the officer’s eyes as he makes his escape.