Bill followed Mary into the kitchen. He was going deep into tripping now and imagined inside Mary’s clothes. He couldn’t help but stare, but he wasn’t actually staring at her. He was seeing things inside her, looking through her.
For her part, Mary couldn’t help but feel his eyes. She smiled to herself, said “Like my ass boy?”
Bill reached out and felt her up, then he pulled her to him and started grinding on her. Mary leaned into him. She wanted the thrill but she wasn’t about getting cheap thrills in the kitchen. She was about getting some. So she told him cut it out which he finally did but not until after he’d fondled bare flesh. All the while, Bill thought her flesh melting in his fingers and he saw tatoos she didn’t have dancing on her arms.
“Three trays of fish, five trays of shrimp,” she said. “Get to work.”
Bill kissed Mary before he stepped to where the breading station was set up. He forced his tongue to meet hers and kept her to him so he could keep kissing her. She struggled at first, but then she kissed back. His eyes closed, two snakes intertwined and danced before him amidst millions of starburst dots in rainbow colors.
“Goddamn it boy,” she finally said when they broke apart, “what the hell is wrong with you?”
“Nothing a trip to the store room wouldn’t cure.”
“Wrong time honey. We got work.”
“Yeah sweetie,” Mary said. “You’re pretty and I might be willing. But I ain’t getting fired for stupid shit. And I’m too old to be getting scolded by anyone.”
“Damn,” Bill said.
He stepped up to his work. The fish was first. He opened the reach-in and took out the first tray. Mary had been kind enough to tray it up for him and she set about traying up the shrimp while he was starting on the fish. He put the tray on the table to the left of the breading materials and placed a clean tray on the right. He lined the clean tray with waxed paper and spread some breadcrumbs on the paper on which to place the finished pieces. In between the two trays were a pan of flour, a huge mixing bowl filled with egg wash and then a pan of breadcrumbs.
Mary had taught him. Flour, egg wash, breadcrumbs. Always keep one hand dry. She’d taught him and showed him and he’d availed himself of an opportunity to cop a feel as soon as her hands were shmutzy. She’d smacked him afterwards because she hadn’t decided if she was gonna let whatever happened happen.
“Want some music?” Mary asked.
Mary stopped laying out the shrimp and went over to the radio. They played music in the kitchen whenever they could. Mary owned the radio and she controlled it too. Her asking Bill if he wanted rock was a concession of sorts. Truth be told, she hated doing the breading and was glad Bill was doing it. Truth be told, she planned on sticking it on him now any time she could.
One of the more famous rock songs came on. Bill hadn’t started breading yet, but the tray was all set.
“Turn that up,” Bill said.
Mary did then she took a moment to look at this white boy Robert had brought in to Suburban. He was skinny and pretty and wild and crazy. He was shy and reserved on one hand, but he was desirable and even promiscuous on the other. He was a college graduate workhouse alumni. Smart and stupid all at once, she thought.
She watched Bill, studied him. He seemed like he was in slow motion, lost somewhere maybe. She couldn’t recall ever seeing him this way and her interests were piqued.