“In the event of an emergency please pull the red knob”. That’s all it said and this was an emergency, or I think it’s an emergency. Having ones hand severed by an angry chef qualifies as an emergency, especially sense his bouillabaisse was too salty and had the flavor of a tuna fish sandwich. What was I supposed to do, just eat it and not say a word? I’m a food critic, that’s what I do and he knew what I did and who I was. Even with my hand lying on the floor, my stump gushing blood the irony taste of old tuna still lingers on my tongue.
Ok this is an emergency, not the foul tasting soup de jour but my hand partially covered by a soiled napkin sitting calmly next to the table leg where it fell. With my intact hand I reached the red button and pulled, never thinking how odd it was to have an emergency button sitting in the center of the table, I was just glad it was there.
Having the red emergency button is one thing, pulling it is another and thinking that it will do anything is far beyond my ability to fathom at this point, I was still in a state of shock over the incident of that mad and murderous chef wielding maniac flashing his blade with such precision that with one blow my wrist was without a hand.
The odd part, beyond the fact that I was still sitting at the same table, my hand was on the floor and I was pushing a red emergency button situated in the center of the eating area of a so-called upscale restaurant, was that the chef was still here, growling and complaining about my initial audible review, his knife still moving threatening and his demeanor, I think still murderous while the others at my table continued to eat, and happily I might add.
No alarms sounded, no screeching cries of warning, the red button did nothing but create a void in what little hope I had left. I could feel the blood rushing out of the stump, the crimson fluid staining the once pristine white of the table cloth. No help came, no one seemed to notice I was even hurt and here I was dying over a stupid but still indigestible slop of fish guts, I need a drink to wash my mouth, the taste is horrid, or is that my own blood I taste?
As I started to faint from loss of blood I could hear the chef starting to laugh. His cackle an unforgettable mix between maniacal and gloating, having had the last hand in this epicurean deal, a hand that I had decidedly lost. The others continued to eat, drink and make merry, a few looked at me with disdain and one older woman with a slight sigh of compassion but then she grabbed my full bowl of uneaten soup, blood spattered and all and started to slurp.
I guess I was dead before I hit the floor but I can distinctly recall my eyes staring at my hand and my severed fingers give a little wiggle as my eyes looked up under the table to the label in very small print. Just before my eyes fluttered shut for the last time I read, “The chef has the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason. Any patron complaining will be severely punished and his remains used for the delight of other patrons”.
It was then that I realized why this particular restaurant had never had a bad review, and would not get one from me, at least not now.