kitchen-4Eleanor’s last day was a Saturday, an OSU event day with lots of parents coming in to see their kids. OSU provided stupendous revenues for Columbus and Columbus businesses, especially hotels and restaurants, and both the east and west stores would run full all weekend long.

Bill and Henry Lee had started cutting extra supplies of steaks beginning on the Thursday. The Thursday night inventory was doubled. Friday and Saturday inventories were quadrupled, and then some. Neither Bill nor Henry Lee drank much as they worked now although they did get high in the deep freeze.

Mr. Jim came in to work on Friday. He did the line next to Bill. Bill did the broiler instead of Henry Lee so Henry Lee could stay downstairs cutting meat. The meat delivery had been doubled, up to three thousand pounds. None of it was put into the freezer. The walk-in was wall-to-wall meat and its refrigeration unit was working overtime.

If during ordinary times the help took extended breaks to fraternize, now there was no rest for the wicked. Bill spent the entire morning down in the meat room. Henry Lee came in early and worked late all weekend and no one rested much between meals. Mr. Jim worked with Mary before going to the line so Bill could stay downstairs cutting steaks.

At eleven-thirty Bill carried up the meat trays for the lunch. He made three trips. Then he made sure he had a full case of French fries. Mary and Grandma would both be doing breading.

Friday lunch was gangbusters. They had a reputation, and anyone who was anyone who did any recommending, recommended Suburban. Parents of students who’d been there came back again and again. Newbies made sure it was on their dining out agenda.

Tommy had to step up his pace calling orders. Bill ran a full broiler and he fired up and used both sides of the charcoal grill. That was the grill that had heated the sizzler on which he’d burned his hand his first day as a cook. He had no feeling in those fingertips now, none, zip, zilch. Bea had broken out three new cases of dishes. Nothing was worse than having food that needed to go and not having dishes to put it on.

Bam. Bam. Bam. Nonstop orders started at about twenty-to-twelve and ran till two o’clock when they finally ran out the board. Even then more orders came in, but Tommy drew himself a coffee and went out to check the dining rooms. Bill and Mr. Jim finished up the stragglers, Mr. Jim complimenting Bill on how well he did and how far he’d come along.

Bill took a quick cigarette break out in the hall. He sat on a metal milk case, drank a cup of coffee and looked at the outside through the screen door. Mary joined him, but only for a moment. They were all business. Two prime ribs were cooking. She told him check them at four. Alvin was coming over to help him and Jimmy do the dinner. She thought he might want to fire up the other Garland. Mr. Jim was coming in tomorrow to help out. Saturday of an OSU function or sports weekend was all hands on deck.

Bea came out while they were talking. She lit a cigarette from Bill’s and stood by them. She was sweaty, Bill could see. Her hair was pasted to her forehead in several places and little beads of sweat lined her brow and her mustache. Cigarette in her mouth, with both hands she hoisted her dress, squatted slightly and pulled her underwear away from her skin, adjusting it and resettling it. Then she reached inside and scratched herself, front and back.

“Ain’t you got no shame?” Mary asked.

“Not in front of you two,” Bea said.

“Mercy me,” Mary said.


Coming at the end of May 2017:

The Ghost Writer, Rose’s Story: A Look At The Worlds We Hide