NEVAH ME!

 In Duff's Diary, Write Club

I had just cranked out the dinner rush to my Executive Chef, Helmut Elmann’s satisfaction. Helmut was a legendary Austrian culinary artist. He sounded just like Arnold Schwarzenegger, something for which I harassed him mercilessly. “Goot job, guys. Troy, hold down zee flo-uh till I get back.” I smiled, “So…you’ll be back?” He turned confused, “Yes…I’ll be back.” All my fellow line cooks laughed. Got him again! Helmut left to a chorus of other famed Schwarzenegger one-liners, then boom!

HE burst into the kitchen, all 6’4” of him holding a 20 dollar bill high in the air, “OK! Which one of you talented motherfuckers cooked that last Penne Putanesca?” All the guys on the line pointed to me. He slammed it in my hand, “Bam! Chucky dug the shit out of it, man! Said it was da best he ever had! Aw, don’t step! Don’t step! Nevah me! Nevah me!”

Funny how life works. At that very moment neither me, nor this smiling hurricane of energy before me could have ever known how intertwined our futures would be. He extended a hand, “I’m CB!” I looked up, “What’s that stand for?” He let out that infectious laugh of his, “C-bizzle! C wit the B! C-biscuit! What uuuuuuuuup?!” I liked him right away. In the years to come, CB would be my dearest friend, my partner in crime and the producer of Boondock Saints.

CB informed me that “Chucky” was in fact, Charlie Minor, record industry mogul. Music was what I had come to L.A. for and CB had somehow heard. He suggested I meet the man I had just dazzled with my pasta dish. But before I could respond, “Troy, is…is my baked potato done? Please?”

There stood a dancer with the stage name, Misty, who split her time between 20/20 and our sister club “Fantasy Island.” She had big doe eyes and was painfully shy. Always crossed her forearms over her stomach, cradling her elbows in her hands and leaning slightly forward. She had a huge head of chestnut hair with straight bangs and this made her look like a child peeking through big curtains, trying not to be noticed. She was a beautiful girl and could certainly tear up a pole but I never liked watching her dance. It was like this whole scene was too much for her, hurting her somehow. “Oh, yeah. Sorry, Misty. It’s done.” Israel was already taking her baker out of the salamander and sliding it on a plate. Misty smiled, “Thanks. Charlie really liked that food or…pasta…thing you cooked.” She walked out on the floor and sat next to Minor to eat her potato.

Funny how life works. At that very moment I could never have known that this fragile young lady would teach me my first hard lesson on how savage life in Los Angeles can be. She’d teach us all…

A few weeks later CB introduced me to Minor and gave him a cassette of a song I had recently recorded in a “real LA music studio.” Later, we laughed over at the bar. I figured the guy would never listen to it but CB had a different outlook on life, “Fuck that, Duff. That’s what you gotta do. It’s who you know. Brad Pitt was the fucking El Pollo Loco chicken on Hollywood and La Brea. You never know how or when its gonna happen so you gotta throw everything at the walls 24/7 till you make it.” He was a mover and a shaker from the start and he had no idea how right he would turn out to be.

CB and I started hanging and sometimes we’d walk into work together, shooting the shit. A few months later we ambled in the back kitchen entrance as usual but the place was abandoned. We looked at each other, confused. We strolled out onto the floor and everyone was sitting around Stage One in silence, all the dancers and employees. Many were crying.

Our manager was Phil. He used to be a bass player for some famous 70’s band and he always had a smile on his face. But not today. “What’s going on?” I asked. Phil turned with his eyes watering up, “Misty was just arrested for murder. She killed Charlie Minor last night.”

Turns out Misty’s real name was Suzette McClure and there happened to be some cocaine and a gun lying around on the day she caught Charlie with another woman. She was quickly convicted and remains in jail today, though I heard she’s coming up for parole soon. The world would dismiss Misty as a murdering, druggie, stripper but we all knew she was a good person who was in over her head. How could she do that? It just didn’t make any sense. And poor Charlie! What the fuck? I had only met him the one time but he seemed like a great guy.

Over the years, I’ve thought of Misty a lot. Each time it’s like a stabbing pain in my heart. Many come to Los Angeles with a dream. But all too often it’s not what you do in L.A. but what L.A. does in you…


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