jailhouse-door-2Suburban didn’t serve lunch on Saturdays or Sundays. The line cooks could sleep in since they didn’t start until eleven. The prep cooks could sleep late too, but they had to be in at nine.

Bill did not see Eleanor over the weekend. They had had that moment out back, shared a beer, a cigarette and a kiss and then she was gone. He would find out that Drenovis did it. He would find out that Drenovis was mean-spirited and very often vulgar. But he would also find out that Robert was top dog and could not only put Drenovis in his place, but he could kowtow him too.

Seeing that Eleanor was sweet on Bill, Drenovis sent her back east. This punished both of them, Bill because he wasn’t getting any more kisses, Eleanor because she would make less money since East did less business than West.

When she’d first started, Drenovis had tried to get in Eleanor’s pants. She had declined his advances and suffered the penalty for it. She got the worst shifts and the worst stations for over a month until a new girl was hired who became his target. He gave up on torturing Eleanor and she was released from his wrath. Tommy, the East’s assistant manager, quickly gave her good tables and good shifts to help her make up the difference. Tommy was older, kinder, softer. Bill would discover that Drenovis forced almost all the waitresses to have sex with him and those that didn’t he got rid of one way or another. Tommy, married and a grandfather, had never molested any of them. Tommy was nice, too nice, the kiss of death for a restaurant manager.

The Friday and Saturday night dinner rushes taught Bill what real restaurant work was about. The dish machine ran incessantly, rack after rack of dishes that Bill emptied. He filled up one plate warmer then the next then the next. Then he did it all over again. He stacked cups and saucers on each bus station. Then he did it all over again. Robert did not have time to peek out the double doors and Drenovis did not have time to bother with him. Drenovis called orders, served as the expediter. At times he sounded like an auctioneer, one of those guys who called out the bids at an auction and he was equally melodious.

“Ordering, a top medium rare, two Bostons medium and a King medium-well. Ordering, two tops rare, a king and a queen medium-well, two pickerels and a fried shrimp. Ordering two sirloin strips medium rare, a top medium, two Boston’s and a queen bloody. Give me a single top rare with a baked and corn. Give me a Boston well done and two prime ribs medium all with fries and green beans. Ordering two more tops rare, a king rare, two sirloin strips medium and a chop steak well done. Ordering a surf n turf medium rare with a king medium well. Gotta go on a chop steak medium with two burgers rare, a fried shrimp and fried chicken. Ordering three tops. Give me two ribs rare with baked and green beans. Give me a side of au jus and a side of slaw.”

It went on and on. Drenovis sang out, Robert and the other cooks bore down. Bill discovered Robert remembered every steak that was on his broiler, what other items it went with and how they were cooked. It was like a dance and as much as they disliked each other, Robert and Drenovis danced, each knowing that they needed each other to function despite any feelings.

When the nights were over, Bill discovered a new level of tired. His hands ached from the scalding dishes, his back ached from the repeated lifting and bending. At home, with cash, he showered and lay with Sue. Then he slept the sleep of the dead. On Sunday, the game was different. The pace was slow and steady, a family dinner hour beginning around two and ending around seven. Then the week was mostly over. They cleaned and lounged, coasting until ten when the doors were locked and they set up for Monday all over again.

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