Drenovis never looked happy unless he was strutting after having had a waitress, and most of the waitresses he got were not due his good looks or his captivating personality. He used his position to get sex, something Bill would see in every place he ever worked.
Drenovis stopped Bill from his work cleaning the line. “Give me a prime rib rare cut thick cut for me. Give me a baked potato with it.”
Bill didn’t hurry. He was straining the fryer grease and didn’t stop until he’d reached a logical stopping point. Drenovis watched him cut the rib then asked if they’d been busy. Bill knew he knew and wondered why he asked. He didn’t answer.
“What went on in the meat room today?” Drenovis asked.
“Meat cutting,” Bill said. Having slid Drenovis’ plate up on the warmer shelf, he’d gone back to the fryer. Straining the grease meant shutting down the fryer, taking all the grease out by opening the spigot underneath, catching the grease in a small sauce pot then dumping it pot by pot into a very large stock pot into which a metal strainer had been set. It was repetitious work, opening the drain, filling the pot, emptying the pot, over and over. The grease was 350 degrees Fahrenheit, so if a drop touched your skin it immediately blistered it.
“I heard Miss Marie over there was entertaining our wonderful meat cutter.”
“I guess you hear all kinds of stuff,” Bill said, not looking up or stopping what he was doing.
“I hear you saw it,” Drenovis said.
“I hear Robert chewed your ass out tonight and that’s why you came over here.”
“You heard wrong.”
“See,” Bill said. “You hear all kinds of stuff.” He was on his knees before the fryer and was coming close to having it completely drained.
“You better watch yourself,” Drenovis said.
“Thanks,” Bill said. “In know this grease is real hot. I’ll be careful.” This was enough to get Drenovis to leave the kitchen.
When the fryer was emptied, Bill got up. He used his tongs and clean kitchen rags to push out all remaining crud and then rinsed the fryer and drain with several pots of water. All that remained on this fryer was to pour the grease back in and light it up.
Bill paused to light a cigarette. He rang the bell used to call waitresses when an order was ready. Eleanor peeked in an Bill told her to get him a beer.
While he stood smoking, Marie came over. She kissed Bill on the cheek. “Thanks,” she said. “I need this job.”
“I need the job too,” Bill said. “Just remember Alfreda works out west and sometimes she comes over here to bring things and get the meat.”
“Thanks again,” Marie said.
Bill started the second fryer before Eleanor came in with the beer. He put the cigarette down on a metal underneath shelf and turned off the gas. He had cleaned the strainer and set it back into the stock pot. Of all the chores, he hated this one most. Tomorrow, he knew, he’d have to change the grease. That meant carrying the fifty-pound cubes of grease up from the store room.
He started the draining, was on the second pot when Eleanor brought the beer. She stepped around onto the line and put it down by Bill. Seeing him down there, just for fun, she pulled her dress away from her so Bill could see up her legs.
“You like?” she asked.
“I like,” Bill said. “But Drenovis is on the war path, so don’t hang out.”
Eleanor left posthaste. Bill finished out his night’s work.
Out in the parking lot, Eleanor had pulled up right next to Bill’s car. “Hey sailor, need a ride?” she called through her opened window.
Tired and smelling from kitchen funk, all Bill wanted to do was get home. He was about to say no. He was about to do what he really wanted to do. But then the little man chimed in.