kitchen-4Bill stopped making hamburgers and walked over to Mary. He reached up her dress and fondled her on her thigh. He would have reached higher except his hands were shmutzy from the ground beef. He kissed her long and hard, tongue and all.

“You getting grease on me,” Mary said.

“I know,” Bill said.

Mary smacked him on the arm. “Stupid,” she said. “Get out of there and get on back to work.” She pushed him away and jumped off the counter. Standing by him, she watched as he took ground beef balls, placed them between waxed paper squares and pressed them down into burgs.

“You getting good at this,” she said. Then, “Remind me to boil off some chickens for Bea’s chicken salad tomorrow.”

Bill nodded. Mary was about to reach for him to feel him up while his hands were occupied, but Henry Lee came back in.

“Had to take a crap,” he said.

“We don’t need to know that,” Mary said.

“And?” Henry Lee said? He dropped a fat doobie in her hands. “Rolled this too.”

“Hope not while you were crapping,” Mary said.

“Funny girl,” Henry Lee said.

Henry Lee and Mary went into the deep freeze first. Afterward, Bill went in alone. When he came out, they all drank bourbon. Mary went upstairs happy. Henry Lee and Bill drank some more bourbon then finished the burgs and bleus. They drank even more bourbon before they each took two meat trays and headed upstairs.

At eleven-thirty the first orders came in. This was unusually early. Most often they all had a chance to sit in the hall and enjoy the breeze from the outside. Bill did the orders, three roast beef luncheons with French fries.

Mary noted that Bill had still not changed his uniform. He had put on an apron, so she couldn’t see the blood stains on his pants. But she could see it was still the same shirt. When she saw this, she shook her head scornfully at Bill.

“I told you to change that uniform,” she said. “I’m telling you again, it’s bad luck to wear those blood stains on you. Now when the lunch is over, you get out of those clothes.”

“Yes ma’am,” Bill said. “Maybe you want to help me.”

“Maybe you should get Bea. I think she expecting something from you.”

“Very funny.”

“Not funny at all.”

“Shit,” Henry Lee said, listening to them. “Man, you don’t want to change, don’t change. You want to do Bea, do Bea.”

“Great influence you are,” Mary said.

“Yeah, yeah,” Henry Lee said to himself.

Eleanor came in with two orders and turned them in. Bill picked them up from the spindle where she’d speared them and read.

“A top medium-rare and a bleu,” he said to Henry Lee. “And two burgers medium with a pickerel and a roast beef.”

Henry Lee threw the top on the broiler after he’d greased it one more time. The steak landed and slid all the way to the back of the drawer. Then he put the burger on about mid way on the drawer and all the way to his left. Rotation mattered and all good broiler cooks learned how to maintain rotation to maximize the grill’s heat.

Bill walked over to the reach-in freezers on the wall at the end of the line. Before he reached in for the pickerel, on a lark, he walked over to Bea, reached up her skirt and petted her on her privates.

“You getting that later, boy,” she said.

Bill laughed and went back to the reach-in for the fish. He was dropping it in the fryer basket when Tommy came in and set up to call the orders.