jailhouse-door-2The war was fun for Robert because as he saw it, he couldn’t lose. First, the more Drenovis ran Bill through the kitchen and dining room, the more Robert, who was in charge of the dishwashers, sent Bill on errands that kept him away from the machine. He sent him for meat trays when they were needed. This had the side effect of teaching Bill the different cuts of meat. He had Bill get line refills from the prep station, steam table pans of vegetables and gravy, anything and everything that needed refills. This taught Bill the line setup, and since the line in the East store and line in the West store were identical in everything except their physicalness–one line was the open hearth with one Garland and a charcoal grill, the other was in the kitchen with two Garlands separated by a double charcoal grill–Bill understood the setup and working of the line before he ever set foot on it as a cook.

Drenovis redoubled his efforts. If Robert sent Bill one place, Drenovis sent him somewhere else. Bill, for his part, did what Robert told him to do and then what Drenovis told him to do, always taking care of Robert first. This irked Drenovis endlessly, and finally he blew, screaming at Bill and cursing Robert. Robert simply poked his head through the double doors and said, “Huh Glory.” Then he went back to turning steaks on the broiler.

Late in the evening of day five, Robert sent Bill on a break. Bill stepped outside the back door of the kitchen and was smoking a cigarette when the door opened and Eleanor came out.

“Robert sent me with this,” she said, handing Bill a beer.”

Bill twisted the cap on the bottle and offered Eleanor some. She took the bottle from Bill but made sure her hand touched his. She took a drink then handed the bottle back. Then she reached for Bill’s cigarette, took a drag and held it.

“You’re going to the east side next week,” she said to Bill.

“Yeah,” Bill said.

“Me too,” Eleanor said. “I’m just here doing vacation relief. They sent me over because I trained here so I know the layout and the people.” She took another drag on Bill’s cigarette then gave it back.

“So I’ll see you over there,” Bill said.

“You bet you will. You’ll like it there. It’s different in a few ways. You won’t be rid of Drenovis though. He comes over there too. He’s like the overall manager.”

“Lucky me,” Bill said.

“Well you have Robert on your side. He trumps Drenovis. So you don’t have to worry.”

“How’s that work?”

“I don’t know for sure. I just know Robert is top dog.”

Bill took another puff on his Marlboro and handed it to Eleanor. She puffed it too then tossed it off in the distance.

“I need to go back in,” she said. She kissed Bill, slipped him her tongue, then turned back inside. “See you later,” she said on her way.

Bill waited until she was gone before he went back in. He went straight to the dish machine and assumed his place.

They worked straight through now until the kitchen stopped serving, until the last of the dishes had been brought in and washed, until the dishwasher area was cleaned and shiny and the machine shut down, scrubbed clean and readied for the morning. That was another of the many unwritten rules:  no one was finished working until everything everywhere was set up and ready to go for the next day.

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