Matthew A. Toll
cleanup hogtied and rung out over the dumpster, greaseand allwe wiped the slate clean for a new day. vinegar on the grillup your nose and down your spine til it shines like dawn, the englishis sparse and you appreciate something you can’t understand.but the cerveca is aplenty and that speaks any and all languages—when permitted,that is.this is what lubricates the tight spacesin our lives and minds that we’re held accountable to.this is what saves the day,gets us through a long and lonely night. They Couldn’t Reattach Her Finger and We Didn’t See Her Again “Alright, motherfuckers!” Brett, always louder than shit,walks in buttoninghis whites around his big gut, bigger beard,shouts, “rents due, who wants to buy a gun?C’mon ya’ll.” - “You gettin’ sick, man?“No! I’ve never been sick in my whole life!” - “So, I told my wifeI wanted a black girlfriend for Christmas.I think I’m getting a divorce instead.” - “I swear to fuck I’m gonna poison these peoples’ food. We’redead empty, on a dead night, its 10 fucking degrees out, a Sunday,everything’s already shut off, I’m the only real cook here, floor’s moppedso nice you could eat off it, and the Pats are in the fucking superbowl.Seriously? Fucking tourists. Fucking Queebs.” - “I swear to Christ I’ll skullfuck you and hang you by the hood ventsby that fairy fucking scarf you wearif you keep that shit up, man.” - “I love you.” - “He says it’s too undercooked for him,” the girl a young waitress has the look,terrified, “I know, I know.” She eyes the peppered floor as steaks sizzleand pots muscle each other loudly in the dishpit.“Well, then, stand there for two minutes, and walk it back out.”“But, what? I…”“You fucking heard me,” chef says, turns away, “too busy for thesebullshit well-done-eating halfwit fucks tonight.” - “You got one of those for me?”“What, a line or a smoke?”“Either. Or both.” - We heard the noise and the shriek from the walk-in.Rory was on the floor with the blood pooling, drowningher hand in red. Poor little girl, had to be less than 5’2, third dayon the job, third day ever working in a kitchen. Marlyse foundthe tip of her finger a few minutes after we’d got her up and outto the cars for the trip to the hospital. We put it on ice. She didn’t smile,but she didn’t cry either, just had this look on her face like,I could only imagine,a soldier would have after realizing their life will never be the sameagain.They couldn’t reattach her finger and we didn’t see her againafter leaving her in a hospital bed. - “Pendejo pinche maricon puta etc.” - “Ready to go on two?”“Ready.” Timing; the basics Imagine this world of incremental minutes,eight minutes ticket to table for the steak medium-rarethirty-eight times a day. Eleven for the pork chop, fourfor a divine poached egg, thirty-minute wait fora table. Three minutes to forgetabout that last burn, three minutes to re-fire those underdone steaks,three minutes for Moules Frites, three minutesto down that cigarette and a sip of Tito’s and soda.Nine and a half for pasta on the boil. Caramelized onions,a new cook might ask?When they’re done.Huh?When they’re fucking done! Matthew A. Toll currently hides out in Boston after bouncing around, cooks for a living, and writes a lot (among other things). He’s had poems published in print in Big Muddy, online in Industry Night, Walking Is Still Honest, The Vehicle, GravelMag, Five2One, Brickplight and elsewhere. Say hello: firstname.lastname@example.org.