Ordinarily, the newest waitresses were assigned to the side dining room. During the week it never filled up and was not used until the front room was fairly occupied. Consequently it was a good place for new waitresses to break in, to learn the ways of the restaurant and familiarize themselves with the menu items. On weekends all bets were off since both rooms generally ran full.
Bebe embarrassed Norma. She chose a moment when there were no customers in the side dining room to catch her in there along with several other waitresses assigned to the room. One of them was Eleanor.
Bebe laced it into her for messing around at the staff meeting. “Think I didn’t know what you were doing? I was sitting right next to you. You should have just leaned down and given him a, a you-know-what. I’m sure he would have liked that more than your hand.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Don’t act stupid. You know what I’m talking about. That boy is like married. Bad enough he messes with the kitchen girls. Worse, they mess with him. But really? At the staff meeting? In front of Eleanor? That’s another story. If it was up to me, I’d fire both of you.”
Eleanor watched and listened. She didn’t say anything. She couldn’t blame Bill for not stopping Norma. What guy would have? At least Norma wasn’t getting steak.
“Drenovis told me to do it,” Norma finally blurted out. “He said he wanted to fire you, Eleanor, and he was hoping to start some shit between us.”
“And you’re stupid enough to fall for that?” Bebe asked.
“He promised me weekend shifts and everything in the main dining room.”
“Now I know why I keep getting the side room,” Eleanor said.
“That goes back to what happened out west,” Bebe said. “He’s hell-bent upon getting back at Bill for being embarrassed by Robert. He’d fire Bill if he could. He would have done it that night if Robert had let him. Now there’s no stopping Bill. They’re gonna make Bill a manager once he knows all the kitchen work.”
“How you know all this, Bebe?” Eleanor asked.
“Because Tommy tells me everything. He’s one hell of a nice guy. He’s also my father-in-law. I guess it’s time for that to come out. And I’m telling both of you now, it’s time to cut the crap. Norma, soon as Drenovis is through with you in his back seat, you’re out of here. I’ve seen it a hundred times. Eleanor, I’d be looking for a job if I were you. You’re a good, seasoned waitress. There’s other steak houses around where you can do better than here. Not only did you not succumb to Drenovis, but you caused him shame and you keep rubbing his nose in it.”
“Not on purpose.”
“Doesn’t matter. Only thing matters is what he can do, and he can minimize you, make sure you don’t make any money. For now, that’s better than firing you.”
“What the hell was with you and Norma?” Henry Lee asked.
“She started it,” Bill said. “I just did what I did.”
“Well, here’s to you.” Henry Lee took up the bourbon and took a drink. “I ain’t never been that bold or that stupid.”
“What’s with Bea?” Bill asked. She insisted upon watching me change.”
“Boy,” Henry Lee said, “she’s in the midst of her midlife crisis. She ain’t getting none at home. She looks at you like you’re her boy-toy. You ought to just do her and get it over with. It ain’t so bad, believe me.”
“What you mean?”
“Figure it out, stupid.”
“Goddamn,” Bill said.
“Yeah. Goddamn,” Henry Lee said.