Decided about Miss no-panties Bea, he was ready to work again. He opened the knife drawer. It was the drawer next to the one where they kept their kitchen towels under which they stored the bourbon sometimes. He took out a butcher’s knife and a sharpening steel. He honed the curved knife blade on the steel then drew a line in the fat with the blade. He revised the line twice trying to get it even so he’d have two equal halves as the finished product. Satisfied, he cut down into the meat all the way to the center bone then followed his line all the way around turning the round as necessary. Having gone all around, he had two huge chunks of meat held together only by the center bone.
Bill paused a moment to look at what he’d done. He lit a cigarette and pulled out one of the bottles of bourbon left from last night. He was taking a drink when Mary came in, so he handed her the bottle.
Mary inspected Bill’s cut on the round then she hopped up on one of the stainless steel counters where she sat with her legs crossed at the ankles, swinging her feet and drinking from the bottle. She was wearing bobby socks today, Bill noted.
Bill rested his cigarette on the edge of one of the tables and switched on the band saw. Goddamn image, he thought. He pushed the meat in place, holding the cut open so the saw blade didn’t touch the meat. Within a moment, the saw went through the bone and the halves were fully separated.
Bill wrapped the first half in film, lots of it, so it would stay completely fresh. He put it in the walk-in and then joined Mary, leaning against the counter next to her. He resumed smoking his cigarette and took a small second drink before returning the bottle to the drawer.
“You got blood on your shirt,” Mary said. She pointed.
Sure enough, meat blood stained his shirt. The blood must have dripped from the round when he’d carried it over his shoulder. Bill saw it, but he didn’t think much of it.
“I’ll change later,” he said.
“Call Bea and change now,” Mary said. “It’s bad luck.”
“Bull dinky,” Bill said.
“Bull dinky nothing,” Mary said. “You change that shirt.”
“Why Miss Mary P., if I didn’t know better, I’d think you care about me.”
“Shut up fool,” Mary said. She jumped down off the counter. “Change the shirt,” she said as she headed out of the meat room and back upstairs.
Bill carted the other half of the round up the stairs and set it into a big squarish roasting pan Mary had set out for him. He went over to the coffee urns and drew himself a coffee which he carried back over by Mary and stood drinking while she dressed the round. When it was ready, he set it in the oven. He was prepared for Mary to goose him, which she sometimes did, but not today.
“Boy,” she said, “change your pants too. Look at you.” More blood had dripped on him from the round. When he’d carried the half up the stairs, he must have held it against him. His pants and shirt were now stained from still fresh-looking meat blood, his pants about the waist and fly, his shirt on the shoulder and arm and about the waist.
“Yeah,” Bill said. “Don’t want no bad luck.”
“You should have put an apron on first.”
“Should have done lots of stuff in my short life,” Bill said.
“Lord have mercy,” Mary said.