Silver Stiletto

It was the night of my 22nd birthday,
February 6th, 1979
A time when sex and drugs flowed freely

Well, in my case, at least the latter

I was working as the Chef
at Inaka, a restaurant in Hollywood

It was a small Japanese style
macrobiotic joint on South La Brea

I say working as,
because I was really an imposter;
macrobiotic and illegal narcotics
don’t belong in the same sentence
or in the same paragraph,
or on the same page

But I set a new precedent

I arrived at work for the second half of my split shift
fortified after consuming a forty ounce malt liquor
and the better part of a Thai stick on my way down Outpost Drive

I parked and walked a few doors down to Ralphs
to procure more alcohol…
and found great solace in the empty express checkout lane

I soon returned to the restaurant and unlocked the rear kitchen door
Upon entering,
I simultaneously turned on the fish broiler & Miles Davis
then loaded the two four packs of ale into the Silver Stiletto,
the pet name I bestowed upon the large refrigerator
that stood next to the main prep table

The Stiletto kept my eight little Indians cool
They were a pretty site
sitting next to the daikon, kombu, and azuki beans

When Tommy the dishwasher arrived  
I told him it was my birthday
he said: “Happy Birthday Buddy”
and handed me two blue valiums and a couple of #4 codeines
I pulled him and myself an Anchor Steam from the Stiletto
and popped a couple of pills and turn on the steam table burner to warm the miso soup, hijiki, and black beans

Soon Fumi the waitress soon came in
I filled her in on the specials
and she put then up on the small chalkboard

Inaka opened promptly at six despite all odds
and the little Japanese bell that hung from the front door
began to ring continuously from 6:05 on

Fumi appeared and reappeared with order after order
but I didn’t mind
I was in love with the tall waitress
whose mother was from Japan
and whose American father made
a fortune supplying the troops in Viet Nam with booze

Every time Fumi came back to my hot cave
my face smiled
She didn’t judge me for my obvious
non-macrobiotic proclivities
But inside I cried…I knew I’d never have her

Around eight o’clock Bert Castro came in for a to-go-order
We had history, Bert and I
And after finding out it was my birthday
he took me into the bathroom and tooted me up from his stash of cocaine hidden inside the little pocket on the side of his fisherman’s cap

Usually cocaine gave me a lift
but somehow,
maybe with the combination of all the other substances
I became a little rubbery in the knees when I returned to the hot kitchen from the restroom
I sent Bert on his way with an ozoni, stir fry,
and a big smile of thanks for the white powder

A little while later I needed make room on the stove
and removed a batch of split pea soup
I made earlier for the following day

It was a five gallon pot
and quite heavy

Midway between the Wolf Challenger stove and the stiletto,
my knees buckled

I’d both hands on the two side handles
of the large stainless steel pot
and we both hit the ground

me and the pot

Thick green liquid dripped on the kitchen walls and the stiletto

Fumi came back when she heard the ruckus
and in her Japanese/English accent said:
“Uh oh, I think we better close”