They were pleasantly high and nicely buzzed by bourbon as they set about the meat cutting. Bill still had not changed his uniform but he had taken off his apron so the blood stains on his pants were again visible. They were not bright red anymore. They were the dull red color of scabs and Bill, under the influence, no longer gave them any thought. He honed his butcher’s knife, as did Henry Lee, and started into the cutting. He was thinking more about Eleanor’s leaving than anything else, considering that he was simultaneously disappointed and relieved. He was disappointed because she was a good time. He was relieved because there would be one less thing to conceal from his soon-to-be wife. Then, he still had Norma, and Norma was a pip. Drenovis had pegged her correctly and he would probably still be sore at her for going with Bill if he wasn’t already two new waitresses past her.
Henry Lee had set Bill to cutting Bostons and Tops. Bill was on to his fifth top sirloin butt when Bea came into the meat room and asked him if he could help her carry some things up from the storeroom. Bill asked if she could get one of the dishwashers, but she said she needed him. He told Henry Lee he’d be right back. Henry Lee told him to take his time.
In the storeroom, Bea closed the door behind them and bolted it from the inside. She sat herself up on a stack of cases of canned tomatoes and spread her legs wide.
“You weren’t gonna forget me, were you?” she asked.
“Not at all,” Bill said.
“I been waiting for this since yesterday, since you told me not to wear any drawers. Well, here, see?” She put one leg up on the stack of tomatoes next to the one on which she sat so Bill could see all of her. As she did this, she slowly began unbuttoning the kitchen dress from the top. Once her brassiere was completely visible, she reached behind her, unhooked it and let it fall so her breasts were fully exposed. She smiled at Bill. “Come to Mama,” she said.
Bill was not even twenty-one yet. It didn’t matter that Bea was in her mid forties. As soon as she put that leg up and started unbuttoning her dress, he was ready. Thoughts of Eleanor dissipated and disappeared. Even thoughts about Mary went to a back burner in his mind. Bea didn’t have to tell him a second time. Without any hesitation, he stepped forward towards her.
Afterwards, before he went back into the meat room, he helped Bea carry upstairs the things she needed to set up for the dinner and complete today’s preparations for her specials tomorrow. It took him two trips to get everything upstairs. After the second trip, he carried in a case of lettuce for Bea to wash for the dinner. Once she was set, he went back to where Mary was working.
“Want a beer?” he asked her.
“Be right back,” he said. He went out the side door into the side dining room where he found Eleanor. He told her to bring three beers into the kitchen and quickly returned to Mary.
“Have fun with Bea?” she asked.
“Not one single bit. But like I said, you better not leave me high and dry.”
“No more lectures?’
“Would it do any good?”
“Not a bit.”
After Eleanor brought the beers , Bill leaned Mary against her sink and reached up her dress. His fingers found their way inside her underwear and probed at her, but Mary stopped him. “Not here,” she said. “And not now. Go get me a half dozen chickens for Bea’s chicken salad tomorrow.”
Bill went downstairs with his beer and the one he’d gotten for Henry Lee. When he returned upstairs with the chickens, Mary was washing potatoes for the baked potatoes for dinner. Bill set down the chickens next to the sink. Mary stopped what she was doing, dried her hands, then reached up her dress and stepped out of her underwear. She handed them to Bill. “Think on these for awhile,” she said.