At four Marie came in. She didn’t stop in the kitchen but went straight down the stairs to change into her uniform. By this time, despite the initial delay, the breading was mostly done. Bill was working on and almost finished with the last tray of onion rings. Mary was coasting, all her work done except taking the prime rib from the oven and the baked potatoes from the convection oven. She was waiting for Bill to carry out the rib and cart it to the line. She was also waiting for him to determine that the potatoes were ready and put them into a steam table insert. She sat on a stool. She was resting, drinking a beer and reading the newspaper.
Bea’s station was set, the salad mixed for house salads, the Romaine lettuce washed and cut for Caesar salads. Bea had spent most of the last hour prepping everything for Marie. She’d filled all the inserts on her station, the cold food station, and cleaned away the lunch specials. The tuna and shrimp salad were wrapped and set in the reach-in box, the tuna for tomorrow, the shrimp salad for anyone who wanted it for their dinner. She would tell Marie about the shrimp salad’s availability. Shrimp for shrimp cocktail were set in ice water in a bain marie. All the salad dressing containers were filled for the waitresses and a tray of “setups” sat in the reach-in box. Setups were lettuce, tomato and pickle stacked for garnish for hamburger platters. As a waitress picked up a burger, she stopped first for a setup and put it on the platter.
Bea was responsible for the the desserts too. Mary made the rice pudding and chocolate pudding. Bea set out full pans of each in the reach-in. Waitresses dished them up and put the dollop of whipped cream on. Then there was ice cream and pies, apple, cherry and blueberry. Today’s special was chocolate cream pie. Marie would help the waitresses with these things as needed.
The line was mostly ready. Bill had not done the inventory yet, but since he’d worked lunch and done the breading, he knew there were enough fries in the reach-in freezer and enough of all breaded items too. He would inventory the meat box and carry up trays of the steaks he needed for the dinner.
Only after he’d cleaned up the breading station and delivered the empty trays to the dishwasher did he take a moment to mess around with Mary. He whispered crazy stuff in her ear, things he was going to…
“Yeah, yeah,” Mary said not stopping reading the paper.
“Yeah,” he said. He drank some of her beer, then ambled over to the oven where the rib was. He was unaware that Mary trailed him and when he bent down to check it, Mary goosed him from behind, copping a generous feel of all of him.
“Two can play that game,” she said.
“Watch your ass now,” Bill said.
“Get the rib, stupid,” Mary said. She went back to her stool, her beer and the newspaper.
Rib and baked potatoes set on the line, Bill walked the whole line making sure everything was in place and that each item had a ladle or spoon as needed. Satisfied, he checked the meat box, made a mental note as to what had to be brought up. Then he went around to Mary and told her he was going down for meat.
Mary blew him a kiss bye. She hadn’t budged from her stool and didn’t even look up from the paper. As an afterthought, she called out “Don’t trip down the stairs.”
Bill would never be prepared for what he saw and would never be able to obliterate it from the image file inside his mind.