"I grabbed a handful of ice and shoved it in her pussy."

Cockmaster Ducher brought him in. Apparently he’d met him at the bar. Cockmaster’s real name was Steve, but after drunkenly admitting to a girl, probably in a blackout, he’d often wondered what it was like to suck a dick, and through the hilarious cruelty of groupthink, the nickname was birthed and stuck.

He’d met a guy in a Southside Chicago bar one night and drunkenly agreed to give him work and a place to stay. His name was Tony Cook. The kitchen already swelled with employees, he was thrown on the hibachi to start. The easiest station.

In this gymnasium-like kitchen we worked in, Tony’s presence now made it feel a touch more like prison with his body covered with fading black visible tattoos up to his ears. It didn’t help, or hurt, that his head shone completely bald. Tall, lithe and bulky muscled, he cut a scary profile. Having the sort of “nice guy” persona reserved for slimy hustlers, he fooled, after introduction, mostly everyone with his affable criminal charm. Whenever a new white guy would come into the kitchen, the Mexican cooks who filled out the majority of the kitchen would test them with long-applied tactics to test a guero's mettle.

I’d seen my fair share of white dudes walk off the line mid-shift, never to come back. One kid, the son-of-yuppies, left in a huff after one of the Mexicans, Miguel, filled an industrial trash bag a fourth of the way with trash, tied it to the kid’s apron strings dangling off his backside, and, once secured, took a lighter to the bottom of the bag. As the flames rose from his back, so did the muffled laughter from everyone in the kitchen.

"What THE FUCK!”

He swirled around in a panic like a puppy with its tail on fire. Finally, he tore the plastic tied to the strings and threw the bag away from himself. The kitchen roared. With a “Fuck this,” he beat out of the restaurant, never to return.

Tony immediately let the Mexicans know he wasn’t to be fucked with on image alone.

So what’s up, man?”

First words Tony spoke to me outside on a smoke break. That same day, after work, he rolled up on me at the bar to shoot the shit. Our conversations in the following week weren’t particularly memorable, but for one.

“I gotta pick up my ex-old lady up from Midway. Mind if I borrow yer car?”

(Hell no, dude.)

“Nahhhh… I can’t do it.”

(Holding my breath)

“Cool. Cool.”

After getting his first cash pay out from the restaurant, he drove up the next day in a rickety white van with disc-shaped rust spots littering it, making it look like the car equivalent of an 80-year-olds liver-spotted and arthritic hand. Rambling up into the work parking lot with this vehicle would’ve made his scary presence comical if it weren’t for the fact he resembled a hulking dangerously gregarious psychopath. After work one night, I watched one of the 17-year-old hostesses giggle her way into his passenger seat, Tony screwed his work hat backward, traced his thumb and forefinger over his handlebar mustache like he possessed the God-like power to make facial hair appear with the tips of his criminal digits, roared the vehicle to shit-motoring life, and tore off.

The next day I walked out back to smoke and ear crawled into him saying:

“I was freakin’ the fuck out, man, hehheh. Girl had me about to throw my shit in the van and get the fuck outta here. (Big pull off his cigarette) These youngins can’t handle their shit. HehHehHeh.”

Turned out, the youngin’ OD’d on coke after a marathon session between her and Tony. He ripped her pants and underwear off then sprinted into the kitchen; his hand smashed into the ice cube tray in Cockmaster’s freezer, cubes spilling to the ground in his frantic grab. He reared back and punched, fist clenched with ice, into her vagina.

I guess this is a method to revive a woman overdosed on narcotics?

I doubt any paramedics went through this sort of training--a CPR dummy sex doll but for punching ice inside.

At any rate, it worked, because the same day Tony regaled us with this charmer, I watched her sheepishly pass him through the kitchen on her way to clock in.

Making the rounds on his Dark Jesus journey of hooking people on drugs was Mike, one of the prep cooks. He taught him to take a piece of foil, toss a lump of powdered cocaine on it, sprinkle some baking soda over the coke, add some droplets off water, bring a lighter up to the bottom, heat the mixture, and chase the smoke with a straw or sawed-off pen tube.

A once promising cook, Mike loved the coke-basing so much it ruined him.

The night the truth of Tony’s big reveal began, for me, when a cook burst back on the kitchen line clutching a small duffel bag to his chest, hurtling toward the freezer and chucking the bag inside.

The police followed a few minutes later. That cook, Nick, was dealing weed to the potheads on staff. He bought buy the pound and dealt to other non-employees out of the back door of the restaurant like a dispensary drive-thru. Never one to miss an opportunity, Tony sniffed out Nick’s modus operandi, got his movements down, and, knowing Nick was busy on a Friday night at the fryer station, smashed his driver side window in the hopes of flipping the trunk latch and making off with a fresh pound of marijuana.

He did make off directly afterward, but not with the drugs, as the latch was purposely broken to deter the would-be-Tony's of the world. Somehow, in the ensuing breach, he left the envelope we’d be handed filled with money on payday behind. The envelope was empty, but more importantly to the detection of the crime scene, the envelope had his name scrawled on it.

Tony Cook wasn’t his real name. He had done time in a Texas prison for shooting a cop in the neck. He didn’t do his full sentence as he’d escaped from confinement and used his crooked wits to get as far as the Midwest.

Let’s go back to the name he chose, though:

Tony Cook.

COOK.

He chose this name to work in a RESTAURANT; suggesting to me that, say, if he’d landed a cash gig at an auto repair shop he would take on the name Rick Muffler.

Never saw the dude again. Not sure if he’d been captured.

One thing I am sure of (maybe) is if I find myself in a situation where an underaged girl drops lifeless to with blood pooling from her nose in front of me after tooting a lion's share of blow, I'd better have one of those refrigerators with the ice dispenser on the door.

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