March 26, 2007

CHICAGO VOICES: An excerpt from "Immigrant Buffet," by Jotham Burrello

I spent the morning dicing yellow onions because I am the only one in the kitchen who doesn't cry. Pedro stabbed a sharpened knife into each bushel. After staff lunch I sliced off the tip of my left pinky. The blood soaked into the spiraling rings of onions splayed open on the chopping block. Chef Martin smelled blood. He unfurled five hundred-dollar bills from his wallet and tucked the wad into Pedro's breast pocket. He said if we weren't back from the hospital in time to prep the salmon and tilapia, then don't bother coming back. He wanted a receipt. In the alley behind the kitchen, Santiago, a busboy, inspected the pinky. He said he'd seen worse.
Jotham Burrello teaches fiction writing at Columbia College Chicago. His stories and poems have appeared in Cymbals, Sudden Stories, Pennsylvania English and The Christian Science Monitor. His video production company, Elephant Rock Productions (, produces videos for writers and educators. His story, "Immigrant Buffet," appears in the spring 2007 volume of Oyez Review, published by Roosevelt University.


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