Fiction by SLIM RANDLES
To The Desert Independent
October 17, 2017
The food’s awfully good down at the Gates of Heaven Chinese Restaurant. The valley’s other Delbert, Delbert Chin, has been putting on a decent feed there since he came to this country many years ago.
We like that lunch buffet. All you can eat, of course, and he makes this pink sauce that’s out of this world. You can put it on everything. And you want to.
He asked me once why I used so much of it, and I told him if I had enough of that sauce, I could live on cardboard boxes and bedding straw.
But there’s something else about Delbert, too. He is so proud of how clean his kitchen is, he will drag strangers in to look at it. We’ve all been in there. At least once a year, Delbert will say, “You been in my kitchen? You come look.” And we do. If he doesn’t recognize you as a local, you definitely will get the kitchen tour. He insists we run our fingers along the top of the stove’s grease hood. We run paper towels behind the big stainless fridges. Under the stoves, too. Especially under the stoves. No grease, no dust, nothing. And he grins at the astonishment on our faces. But he keeps two teenage boys fairly busy cleaning – I mean scrubbing – that kitchen every day. You can tell when they’re working, because you can hear Delbert shouting instructions.
Oh, we have the usual health inspectors, as everyone does. But they don’t really need to go in there, and they know it. They’ll never red tag the Gates of Heaven. At any rate, Delbert knows customers have their own ways of red tagging a place that’s less than spotless, too.
Brought to you by Slim’s new book “A Fly Fisherman’s Bucket List,” from www.lpdpress.com.
"Home Country" columnist Slim Randles won three regional book awards for the two books he wrote in 2014. "Max Evans and a Few Friends, the 90th Birthday Book" took honors for best non-fiction book, and "Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing" won for best how-to book and best cover design at the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards in Albuquerque. Randles lives in Albuquerque and has a dozen books currently in print.