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Monthly Archives: July 2017

kitchen-4So…

So that’s when Mary dropped the ladle she was going to use to spread the drippings over the round. She had opened the oven and leaned in, but her underarm touched the hot shelf and got burned. She dropped the ladle and that was that.

She closed the oven door and looked at her arm. There was a dark stripe on it on the underside. Pissed off, she kicked the ladle and watched it fly down the length of her stoves and ovens only to crash against the wall.

Bill was on his way from the line to the back on the other side and he watched Mary take that kick from behind her. He was quick to purposefully make a noise so Mary would know he was there. She seemed startled when she turned to him.

“Feel better?” he asked.

“You know what you can do.”

Bill smiled. It was kind of amusing, he thought. Here was Mary, Mother Mary, always the steady-eddie, ever the calm one, the one with the head on her shoulders, losing her cool.

“I know,” Bill said. He smiled, smirked actually, and guffawed. “Come here,” he said, reaching out for her.

She let go another f-bomb which caused Bill to laugh even more, his laugh making her more irate. She moved away from his outstretched arms, but he stepped with her and in toward her and got her. He kissed her, hard, forcing his tongue into her mouth, holding her so she could not escape. He let one hand roam down her back to her buttocks and pulled her against him, forcefully kissing her all the while until finally her tongue danced with his and he felt her relax under his touch. He copped a quick feel of her butt then let her go.

“Now let’s see what you did.” He took her arm and looked at where she’d burned herself. He saw it was just a small stripe, same like many he had all up his arm from reaching into the broiler. Later in life he would discover that these stripes stained, so to speak, meaning they left small marks on his skin as did almost all the grease pops on his hand that had immediately blistered.

“It’s nothing,” he said. He leaned over and kissed it softly then went to the ice machine and brought her back some cubes to cool it down. He took a clean ladle and did what she had been about in the first place. Then he made sure the sauerbraten was okay. “What’s next?” he asked.

Au jus,” Mary said. “Then the sweet-sour sauce for the sauerbraten, then a pan of rice for the line and a pan of rice  for rice pudding.”

Bill said okay and went about the work. Mary sat up on her counter and iced the burn. She was sitting there when Tommy came into the kitchen. He had a new girl with him, a pretty little thing, Bill thought, looking at her for the first time. Tommy walked past Bea and around back. He stopped to pick up the ladle that was on the floor.

“Everything okay?” he asked, seeing Mary icing her arm.

“Little burn on her arm,” Bill said.

“Let me see.” Tommy reached for her arm.

“It ain’t nothing,” Mary said.

“This is Alexa. She’s going to trail as a new waitress. She’ll be starting tomorrow. I just wanted her to meet everyone.”

“I’m Bill,” Bill said. He put out his hand to shake. “That’s Mary.”

Mary nodded.

“Call me Lex,” Alexa said. She smiled. “Hope your arm feels better.”

Mary nodded again and watched Tommy lead her over to Bea’s station to meet Bea. She also watched Bill’s eyes which were riveted to her ass. She wore high heels and a short skirt—her interview outfit.

“You’re drooling, Romeo,” Mary said.

“Only for you, Mary.”

“Be careful, boy. And change that shirt.”

Upcoming:

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

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kitchen-4Bill did not change his shirt. He carried everything upstairs for Mary. He left her in the storeroom while he made the first trip up the stairs and he found her still sitting there when he came down for the second trip. He took a moment to kiss her on the lips before he took the next trip up. By the third and last trip she was gone.

He was checking the round and the sauerbraten when Mary came back into the kitchen. Bea was busy making her list for what needed to come up from the storeroom for her station.

Mary walked over to the coffee urn and drew herself a mug of coffee. For the time being, the kitchen was quiet. Only the exhaust fans gave off real noise. The dish machine was silent. Dishwashers did not get in until ten when the transport van arrived from downtown. She stood by Bea a moment. Bea was cleaning iceberg lettuce in her sink.

“Lord have mercy,” Mary said.

Bea looked at Mary over the top of the glasses she wore.

Mary didn’t say anything. She stood on Bea’s station, away from the heat, and sipped her coffee. Then she reached into the sink and pulled out a piece of lettuce which she chewed. She took another and dipped it into Thousand Island dressing before chewing it.

“I’m tired, Bea. I’m tired, and my black ass is dragging. Sometimes I just want to lay down and not have to ever get up.”

“I hear you,” Bea said. “You just need your coochie serviced.”

Mary sighed, a deep, heavy sigh. “If only it was that simple.”

“It is that simple. Take that boy to the Upper Room and use him till it hurts so much you can’t bear it no more. Get drunk, fall-down drunk. Then let yourself rest. Then start all over again till you can’t put your legs together to walk.”

“I wish,” Mary said.

“Only you can make that wish come true. That boy only twenty. He’s like the energizer bunny.”

“You crazy.”

“You got to keep your head and your heart out of it. Remember back when you first learned to please yourself. All you wanted was the sensation, the release. Well, go get that, girl.”

“Lord have mercy.”

“What’s good to you is good for you. That’s what Robert would say. He may not like all this, but that’s what he says and he does what he wants.”

“I don’t think I can do that,” Mary said.

“Girl, one time in your life, go for pleasure. It’s a free shot. He got a girl. He’s gonna be gone. You know what they say. It don’t mean shit to a train.”

“Maybe you right, Bea.”

“I know I’m right. You want it, go get it.”

Mary went back on her station. No. It wasn’t like that for her. She didn’t know it, but in many ways she and the white boy were very similar. Like Bill, for her it had to be about anger. She could do what Bea said if she were mad enough, angry enough at the white boy, angry enough at the world, angry enough at her kid, not only for what he called the white boy, but for his being right about her staying away from him.

She had to be angry, steaming. Then she had to turn it into a what-the-hell, an existential decision reached by reasoning that it didn’t matter either way. And really, when she thought about it, in the long game it didn’t matter either way. She wasn’t a virgin. He was already fooling around. No matter what she did, everyone else was gonna do what they did. So…

Upcoming:

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

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kitchen-4When Bill had placed the round in the roasting pan, Mary noticed he’d spilled meat blood on his shirt. They’d been through this before, how spilling blood on yourself was a bad omen in her eyes, so she insisted upon Bill’s changing the shirt. That was the second thing she told him.

“You roll a joint?” she asked.

“No,” Bill said.

“You need to change that shirt. Roll one while you’re down there.”

“You okay?” Bill asked.

“Fuck it,” Mary said.

Bill was taken aback. Mary never used such language. Mary scolded him and Henry Lee for using it, and that was all the time. He looked at her. He thought, and he thought it was a crazy thought, that she was about to cry.

“I’ll roll one soon as I get a coffee. You want one?”

“No,” Mary said. “And stay away from that bimbo over there.”

Bill drew himself a coffee and headed directly downstairs. The only thing he said to Bea was to play him 854 in the numbers. Then he said to play 749 for Mary and not to tell her because he would pay for her.

Bea just nodded as she scratched her breast through the open dress.

Downstairs, Mary didn’t even bother to go into the deep freeze. She sat on the counter like she always did and lit up there.

“What about Tommy?” Bill asked.

“Yeah, what about him?”

“You need anything from the storeroom?”

“Yeah,” Mary said. “You on your knees.”

“Damn it, Mary, you’re scaring me.”

“My kid,” Mary said. “Eddie. He gonna be seventeen soon and he giving me crap ‘bout you. Called you a cracker and told me stay away from Mr. Charlie.”

“Jesus Christ,” Bill said.

“Lord have mercy,” Mary said.

Bill took a couple of hits on the joint but he left Mary to smoke most of it. When she was done, when they’d walked into the hall, Bill asked her if she wanted a drink. Mary nodded and so they walked back inside the meat room. It reeked from the weed and Bill prayed Tommy was busy upstairs.

He watched Mary take a long drink then looked into her eyes which were now glazed over. She was messed up. He’d never seen her like this before though she had seen him messed up lots of times.

“You know I could do the cooking today if you want and you can chill out.”

“Don’t patronize me,” Mary said. “Eddie’s right you know. I should stay away from “the man.”

“Get out of here,” Bill said. “ Don’t start that crap with me.”

“I’ll do whatever the hell I want,” Mary said.

She led Bill into the storeroom and bolted the door from the inside. “Here’s my list,” she said throwing it at Bill as she plopped herself onto a three-case-high stack of canned tomatoes. “You get the shit.”

While Bill started gathering things, Mary reached up her dress and took down her underwear. She left it around her ankles and swung her legs as she always did. Bill laid out the stuff, a bag of onions, a bag of potatoes (not for baking), meat base, chicken base, a sac of rice, three number ten cans of green beans, a jar of oregano, three big heads of garlic, a bag of sugar, a box of salt, a bottle of vinegar and more. Bill put what he could into an empty box and lined up the rest by the box. Finished, and only then, did he turn to Mary. He’d wanted to turn sooner. He’d wanted to say something to her. He’d decided to simply leave it and her alone.

The first thing he saw was her drawers down by her ankles. The next thing he saw was her face, an expression on it he’d never seen before, one he could not read. Hurt? Angst? Desire? Anger? Fear? He didn’t know and couldn’t decide.

“Mary…,” he started to say, but she reached and put a finger to his lips.

“Get on your knees,”  she said, “and don’t say anything, white boy.”

Upcoming:

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

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kitchen-4The last thing Bill did every night was empty the grease drawer on the Garland. A full grease drawer, or one un-emptied, was what had caused the fire out west that day Bill was doing the lunch with Robert and Alvin, that day he hooked up, not wanting to but by coercion, with Alfreda.

Alfreda had been relatively cool with Bill since that day. She had her moments when she would cop a feel of him while he stood out in the hall and she was waiting for the meat to be loaded into the van. She would goose him every now and then when he was leaning over in the van putting a tray of meat on a lower shelf. Sometimes she would ask him if he remembered the time they were laid out on the floor of the van, her on top of him doing the do. Sometimes she’d remind him that she was getting due for a repeat performance. Sometimes Bill, when he was feeling particularly perky, desired a repeat encounter. Alfreda was quite different from Mary or Bea or Norma, even from his fiancé.

“I don’t want you feeding the waitresses filet mignon,” Tommy said the next morning when he and Bill were alone in the meat room.

“Okay,” Bill said. He wondered how Tommy knew. He knew Norma would not have told him and he surely didn’t.

“Mary’s making a sauerbraten for the lunch special,” Tommy said.

“I know,” Bill said. “I brought it up yesterday, took it from the freezer to unthaw.”

“Tomorrow is braised beef tips, so make sure you and Henry Lee cut them when you make the hamburger and cut steaks.”

“Got it,” Bill said. “Anything else?”

“Not really,” Tommy said.

He watched Bill as he carted half of a steamship round out of the walk-in. Henry Lee had cut it the night before and left it ready for Bill to carry up. Sometimes they slow-roasted it overnight. It depended upon whether or not they had some to start off with the next day. The round took about six hours to cook, so it was the same six hours if they started it at six in the morning or left it from midnight to six in the morning. If they did it in the morning, they did it at a higher temperature since they were there to monitor it.

Tommy went up through the front stairs. After he left the meat room, Bill opened the drawer where they kept the bourbon and took himself a drink. He had brought an acid tab and he was planning to take it, but he wouldn’t do that until after the lunch service. He was hoping he could coax Mary into having some fun in the quiet of the afternoon. He was hoping maybe they could have a dance in the party room with the doors locked and no interruptions.

Mary had the roasting pan out and set up for Bill to put the round in. She had cut the vegetables to cover it with for flavor, and she would use the drippings to make the gravy. Hers, as it was laid out, was a busy morning. She had all her regular work to do, rice pudding to make for Bea’s station, the sauerbraten to cook as well as the round and the gravy to make for that too. So while she was busy working, she saw Bea with her dress only half closed, sitting on her stool. Bea was wearing her reading glasses and reading the racing page in the Dispatch. For a moment she felt angry, angry at Bea, angry at Bill, angry at her sixteen year old son, Eddie, soon to be seventeen, who had given her a hard time last night. She was just angry at the world and hoping Bill would roll a joint.

Upcoming:

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

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kitchen-4Henry Lee helped Bill carry up the last of the meat trays. The baked potatoes were done. The rib was out of the oven. Here at Suburban they cut the rib down as opposed to standing. Bill would learn that no high-flying restaurant would ever do that. But Suburban had really great meat suppliers and especially wonderful prime rib, no matter which direction they cut it in. So as he was taught here, he set it on the long cutting board attached to the steam table and covered it with a damp kitchen towel straight from the clean linens. Every other cut, here, got the bone.

At five-thirty, before she went down to change to her civvies, Mary came on the line. Her dress was mostly open already. The air coming in against her skin felt delicious. She didn’t care that Bill could see her bra, even her slip. He’d seen all of her anyway. She checked everything, made sure there was enough of everything. Seeing that the line setup was complete, she took Bill to the back, like every night, and showed him the reserves. This night, because the Bordelaise sauce was freshly made, Bill would have to put it into storage containers. He would do that later.

While Mary and Bea were downstairs changing, Grandma and Jimmy came in. Marie was already up on the pantry station. She started at four and left at eleven unless it was still really busy.

Today, she spent her first half hour downstairs with Henry Lee. They locked themselves in the female staff bathroom and did what they did. Bill finished cutting the meat while they played, and he thought nothing of it since Henry Lee had covered for him plenty. Neither one of them could say anything about the other. People in glass houses…

Mid-week there was no Lillian. Jimmy and Bill had learned to do the dance, or play the ballgame, however one chose to image it. Each night, in effect, was a new ballgame and if they made no errors they would win the game.

Mary, Bea and Henry Lee came up at six. Mary surveyed the kitchen and asked Bill if he and Jimmy were okay. They said sure. Since there were orders working, Bill could not move away from the broiler. Henry Lee skimmed the orders up on the board then told Bill he’d left a tray of each type of steak cut downstairs in case they got really busy.

Another night, another dinner to put up. Despite them all being the same, they were all different. The orders came in, the rush came and went, the late eaters came in. Bill and Jimmy fed the dishwashers. They went downstairs to eat and for the time they were gone, the exhaust fan droning was the major noise in the kitchen.

Since it had not been extraordinarily busy and since the dinner orders  began trickling in after ten, Jimmy left at ten-thirty. That’s when the waitresses started taking their dinners. Bill cooked them hamburgers or chopped steaks (really just bigger hamburgers with no buns) or fried fish. Norma came in for her filet mignon, which Bill cooked on the rare side, how she liked it. Later on, Bill would know waitresses who would get something special from a cook and then run out to show everyone else what they got, but Norma was cool. She sat in the hall on a milk case and ate there, where Bill could see her and signal her if Tommy were coming. She sat with her legs close together so she could balance her plate. Bill could not look up her legs though he tried. Tommy did not come in and she ate in peace, the steak, a baked potato and vegetables.

At eleven, Marie left. Bill was alone in the kitchen now since Grandma had gone out with Jimmy. He shut down half the charcoal grill. He got himself the scrubbing brush and a pail of grease-cutter soap mixed in water. He started on the Garland end of the line and scrubbed everything up to the steam table. Then he started breaking down the steam table.

The clean-up was a practiced routine. The final dance of the night, a slow dance it was, an intimate one, one to set everything in perfect order—the way it was supposed to be—to start the next day right. 

Upcoming:

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

 

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stupidity 2The first and major purpose of a government is to protect its citizens and to protect the rights of its citizens. This is stated in various ways and goes back to the Ancient Greeks who said that the purpose of government was to improve the lives of its citizens. Note the operative word: citizens. One more time, since that word is very clear: to protect the rights of its citizens. The operative word is citizens.

No. The United States is not a world government. No. The citizens of the United States are not world citizens. No the citizens of the United States do not have citizens’ rights in any other country unless they hold citizenship there too. Similarly, and consequently, citizens of other countries do not have citizens’ rights in the United States. They are not world citizens unless other countries want to accept that fact, and honestly there aren’t any yet.

So, how stupid is America?

The first sure sign of America’s stupidity is the game its citizens allow the government to play with its language and its confuscating of the definition of citizen.

No. Illegal aliens are not undocumented citizens. No. Although the government under the past president would have you think so, it is not wrong to call illegal aliens illegals. It is also not wrong to call them aliens. They are not immigrants if by immigrant one means a person who comes to establish permanent residence. Permanent residence implies legal status though not necessarily citizenship. So if an illegal alien in his or her heart wants to stay here permanently, the best he or she can become is a long-term undetected illegal alien. He or she would not be a citizen, can never become a citizen without moving through the proper channels to do so, and is only here by the fact that he or she remains undetected.

Illegal aliens are not entitled to the benefits of citizenship and should not be. They should not be allowed to vote. They should not get public housing, welfare, social security or food stamps. They should not be entitled to any form of public assistance.

So how stupid is America?

America affords all of the above to its illegal aliens. The shameless leaders, from the Congress down to local state and city governments, offer the American citizens all kinds of silly arguments to protect their ability to keep the flow of illegals coming into the United States. It may be in their best interests, but it is not in our best interests. Most of our leaders these days are millionaires and being leaders they do not spend much of their own money. They and their children and families, for the most part, live in the gated cities, protected by bodyguards and private security, and sometimes by the Secret Service. Their world is not our world.

How stupid is America?

State and city governments won’t even turn over public voting records to the Justice Department. They are required to do so upon written notice but fail to comply. Why? What are they afraid of? Why, in America, the land of the free where anyone can walk into a DMV and get an official ID, is an ID not required to vote?

There are only several reasons for the stupidity of the American Citizens allowing their governments, local, state and Federal, to perpetrate such idiocy. One is indifference. A second is not wanting to rock the freebie boat. A third is ignorance. The state of our Education System, by the way, is a reason unto its own for why we are so stupid.

America the stupid. Only in America can an illegal alien get a legal aid lawyer and sue the government for not protecting his/her constitutional rights. Only in America are American citizens and taxpayers forced to support those who have broken our law, do not legally belong here and are very often treated better than the hardworking citizens supporting them.

So, how stupid are we?


kitchen-4Bill left the bag of potatoes out in the hall. He took a sheet pan from the kitchen and filled it with spuds then placed them on the shelves of the convection oven. He did not turn the oven on.

Since he was back around where Mary was, he checked the prime rib again. This time he poked it with his fingers, once in the middle and once on each end cut.

“Maybe another half hour,” he said.

Mary was stirring a big pot of Bordelaise sauce. She had just put the pan of yellow rice in the oven. “The rice comes out in about a half hour too,” she said. “Tomorrow we need to make rice pudding for Bea.”

“Big whoop. I may be tripping again tomorrow.”

“That mean you going to be staring into things for hours like you did with the egg wash?”

“Maybe.”

“You scared me that day.”

“Wasn’t anything.”

“Why you do that to yourself?”

“Stretch my mind.”

“You mean fry your brain.”

“So who cares?”

“What about that girl of yours?”

“She’s got her own world.”

“Well, what about you?”

“Me? That’s a joke.”

“Boy, you don’t care about yourself, no one will care about you.”

“Ain’t that the truth.”

“Yeah, it is. So figure it out. It’s a sad day when no one cares about you. And you just a baby, too.”

Bill looked to his feet. He wanted to say something, but he held it in. He wanted to tell Mary, and he would one time when they were at the Upper Room, that no matter who loved him and how, he never felt loved. He wanted to tell her, and he would that one time, that there was an emptiness in the well of his heart that never got filled. He wanted to tell her, and he would that one time, that he did not believe in love. He did not believe in love, he did not believe in justice or in right. He did not believe, not anymore, that doing good got you good. This didn’t mean to do bad or to do wrong, certainly not knowingly. But that moral arc some people talked about, Bill did not see it, could no longer see it, maybe had never seen it.

Bill turned to go downstairs. He’d been standing a protracted moment looking at his feet, Mary watching him look at his feet.

“Cat got your tongue?” Mary asked.

“Don’t have anything to say,” Bill said.

“Boy, you don’t have to clam up with me. You can say anything and it stays with me. Especially this stuff.”

Bill smiled at Mary again. “I’m gonna get high before I come up for the service. Don’t forget to take out the rib and start the baked potatoes. You want to get high, come down.”

Tears formed in Mary’s eyes. She wanted to throw her arms around him and hug him. She wanted to kiss him as if he were hers, to let him know that she cared about him. But she was conflicted. Truth was she was afraid. She knew it was stupid. He was taken. Maybe for the way he was that wasn’t such a good thing. But it was the reality. She wanted to say the hell with it and take a shot, but Mary, like Bill, was not one to just take a shot. She had to reason it out, like Bill did, and justify it to herself, like Bill had to. So they were stuck. Maybe it was better they were stuck.

Bill took a long drink of bourbon before he went back to cutting steaks. He had come down from being really drunk and was now maintaining his head, keeping himself comfortably high, how he would stay until about ten o’clock when he had to let himself get straight to drive home.

Upcoming:

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

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