kitchen-4Downstairs in the meat room, Bill drew up a stool and sat down. He had put Mary’s drawers in his pants pocket. He pulled them out now and twirled them on his fingers.

“Bea souvenir?” Henry Lee asked, seeing what he was doing.

“Actually they’re Mary’s,” Bill said. He gave them a little sniff then went back to twirling them.

“Playing a double header, huh?”

“Looks like it.”

“Damn boy. I ain’t had neither one of them.”

Bill laughed. “Bea was a whole new experience.”

“I can imagine. She’s old enough to be your mother. Bet she ain’t getting none at home.”

“She can still kick it pretty good. Wasn’t really something I was looking for, but you know how it is.”

“Yeah. I know how it is.”  Henry Lee laughed. “Have a drink and let’s finish cutting meat. We still need lots of everything. Robert said they were really busy last night and they need a full supply. My wife be here about four. She driving the van today. Alvin’s not moving his lazy ass.”

Suddenly Bill felt bogged down by work. Until now, until this moment, he’d felt like a kid in an amusement park. Every day was like a new ride, every new thing he did, every new experience, was a thrill he’d never had before.  He got tired, but it was good tired. He didn’t get bored; he was ever-enthusiastic. For the first time in his life he was in demand too. Waitresses wanted him, the kitchen girls wanted him, he could just about have his pick of ’em all. Bea wasn’t exactly a beauty queen, but what she lacked in that department, he’d just learned, she made up for with experience. Experience, he’d discovered, was really something. He might never have picked her or tried for her, but he wasn’t the least bit sorry and he knew he could go for more if the situation was right.

Bill lit a cigarette. He got up, went into the drawer for the bourbon and took himself a nice long drink. He handed the bottle to Henry Lee who did the same thing. When Bill had put the bottle away, he pushed the stool back to its place and resumed cutting meat. He was still working on top sirloin butts. These butts yielded Boston Strips, Supers and Tops. Once the fat was trimmed from everywhere but the top of the butt, the first two cuts were made the long way. These were the Bostons, a strip steak similar to a New York Strip except that it came from a different cut of beef. It was less expensive than a New York and it had a slightly different texture about it, but it was really tender and had a good taste. After the two Bostons were cut, the butt was split, making two mostly triangular pieces of meat. These were cut into the Tops and Supers which were the best-selling of the steaks.

Bill weighed every steak he cut. So did Henry Lee. Uniformity was the key. Any steak too light ended up as beef tips or chopped meat (hamburger). Any steak too heavy was trimmed to precise weight. This way customers could not complain that the steak was thicker the last time, even though some tried.

About three-thirty, Mary came downstairs. They all took a moment in the deep freeze to get high and then they drank some more bourbon. Mary parked her butt up on the counter and crossed her legs at the ankles like she usually did. She swung her feet like a kid.

“Boy here was sniffing your panties, girl,” Henry Lee said. He cut meat as he spoke. “He take ’em off you or you give ’em to him?”

“They smell good?” Mary asked.

Bill flushed red and that’s when he cut himself.