The Troll is nowhere to be found.
Tommy, the GM at my gig in the oak paneled, red banquette appointed Steakhouse tells me this in a resigned matter of fact voice after I walk on the floor for my Thursday shift.
“Is he suicidal,” I asked.
“No such luck.”
“Do we have to go get him out of that Crack house in South LA again?” This is not something we would do for the usual lack of talent that is to be found in the So Cal Hospitality Industry but the Troll is my junior barman and senior server not to mention a 28-year old Meth freak but credit where credit’s due; when the Troll is here he is always punctual to the second and cleans everything even if it’s with a compulsive tinge.
“I don’t think he’s in country,” Tommy said.
It seems the Troll, so named as he is from the Lower Peninsula of Michigan hence a troll because he lives under the bridge not because he has unkempt curly brown hair, an ironic beard, a blank glare in his brown eyes and walks from the hip with his arms out to hold his balance steady; no he disappeared four days hence after a fight with his fiancé the Dumpling, our floor manager.
They screamed, yelled and threatened bodily harm to each other and their tri-colored Miniature Dachshund until a neighbor in said Hollywood enclave called the police who arrived to keep the domestic peace for the third time in two weeks.
The Dumpling always wears three or four strands of beads. They are gifts from the Troll after each fight. These aren’t beads found in your better Jewelry stores on Melrose Ave or even bought from an elderly Hopi woman on I-40 before you head up to the Hoover Dam. No, these look like anal beads and it makes me wonder if these two got the memo from Vivid Entertainment: anal beads are out – butt plugs are in. However, this time when they reconciled the Dumpling asked for escargot.
“You want escargot, I’ll get you escargot,” he said.
Tommy told me the Troll walked out of their apartment and promptly ended up going on a bender, which ended with him coming to on an airplane. According to what the Dumpling told Tommy he asked the Stewardess two questions: where is this plane headed and is the Beverage Cart still in play. Answers: Belgium and yes. He spent two days detained in Customs and was put on the first flight back to Los Angeles. He was due back in town at any moment.
“I’m not letting him back in when he gets back,” she told everyone who came in for dinner.
I have often wondered what the Dumpling, a 27-year old knockout blonde from Mississippi, sees in this guy who is one step away from Swamp Thing on the evolutionary chart. The 30-year old leggy brunette who works the floor with the Dumpling tells me he has the gift of the gab when it comes to the ladies. I assure her anyone who uses Peanut Butter crank to spit shine his Brain Pan is a liar. No one can keep their frothing mouth open that long and tell the truth.
Twenty minutes later the Dumpling passes word she received a text saying the Troll is coming up to the Steakhouse to apologize. She assures us there will be hell to pay. Tommy stops touching tables in the dining room. He hangs out by the bar with me waiting to see the moment when Karma finally bites the Troll in the ass.
Not five minutes later, the oak doors are thrown open by the Troll, sweating his latest fix out – dressed in his work blacks, on his knees lining up escargot after escargot until he puts the last one at the Dumplings feet.
“Baby, I’m sorry I’m late,” he said. “They followed me home.”
Of course she takes him back with an embrace and kiss that is supposed to bring every diner to their feet applauding the love they have just witnessed but can’t see because of the black cloth separating the dining room from the bar so they only have Tommy and myself and we are none to impressed. At least one exiting diner nearly slips on a snail. The Troll puts another strand of beads on her right wrist – a tableau right out some Hubert Selby Jr. short story in Song of the Silent Snow.
”Jesus. Makes you wonder about young love with these kids doesn’t it, “ Tommy said.
It makes me wonder who will clean up the mess.