Henry Lee was not in good space. He and Marie had had a fight the night before and Henry Lee was about calling it quits with her. She was ringing him up in the meat room every five minutes and begging him not end it. She knew if he did he’d get her fired because she’d have cause to be spiteful and let it slip to Alfreda. That was not happening.
So Henry Lee was mad, drinking much too fast and smoking weed on top of it. Bill was relatively straight. He had brought an acid tab with him, one his friend had given to him with an avid personal recommendation. The acid was in his pocket and he was thinking if he should pop it or not. He remained undecided until they were up on the line for lunch, when Mary told him they needed to bread fish, shrimp and onion rings during the afternoon lull. That was a meaningless, boring task, two or more hours of dipping stuff into flour then egg wash then breadcrumbs. Two or more hours of laying the breaded items on trays and setting the trays onto the shelves in the reach-in freezer along the wall at the fryer end of the line.
Knowing his afternoon work made the acid decision easy. Bill waited until most of the lunch rush was over and then swallowed the tab. He drank a coffee and together with Henry Lee they finished out the orders.
They sat in a booth in the side dining room for lunch. Bill ate rare roast beef on a hamburger bun with tomato and mayonnaise. He drank a beer with the sandwich. Mary and Henry Lee ate shrimp salad sandwiches. Shrimp salad was one of the daily specials. Bea ate tuna. She sat next to Bill and kept close to him. Bill was starting to trip and he didn’t care. His senses were heightened and he was feeling frisky.
Finished eating, Mary excused herself and went back to the kitchen. She told Bill she was going to set up the breading. Henry Lee, still unresolved about Marie, went down to the meat room. Bill sat a moment with Bea. They didn’t talk, but Bill, now coming on to the acid, slid his hand down between her legs. Graciously, Bea spread them for him. She would have sat there with him all afternoon if she hadn’t gotten an order.
Before he reported to Mary, Bill went down to the meat room. Henry Lee was already cutting meat but that didn’t stop him from going into the deep freeze with Bill. They smoked a fat doobie then drank some more bourbon. Bill sadly and slowly walked the stairs back up to the kitchen.
He was now deep into the throes of the chemicals that were interacting with his brain. He felt cognizant of multiple worlds suddenly existing simultaneously within and around him. He could feel the effects of the speed parts of the acid at work, the grip on his head, the buzzing in his ears, the hazy lights surrounding his eyes. He watched the kaleidoscope effect of his vision.
“I am so buzzed,” he said to himself in the hall upstairs. He lit a cigarette and sat down on a lettuce case where he proceeded to stare at the wall opposite him. He saw the circus in that wall, the menagerie, a whole parade of animals being led by the bearded lady.
“You all right?” Bea asked. She had come out for some lettuce and found him just staring at the wall.
“Never better,” Bill said.
“Mary’s wondering where you are.”
“Here I am,” he said. “Just resting.”
“Well take your skinny white ass inside and get to work.”
“Give me a kiss,” Bill said. He stood up.
Bea kissed him once. She was ready to take him downstairs too but Mary found them.
“Breading’s set up,” she said.
“Damn,” Bea said.