kitchen-4Bill went down the line to see what needed to be brought over from the back. Mary had set up the steam table, filled it with the needed water, placed the inserts into their slots. He saw the oven with the towel wrapped around the handle and instinctively opened it to see what was inside.

“That round is ready,” Mary said. “After you take it out you can get me a rib from downstairs.”

Bill said okay and took up two kitchen towels to grasp the handles of the roasting pan. He set the pan on the stovetop and made sure it was secure. Satisfied, he walked past Mary to head down for the rib. He did not say anything to her. His not saying anything must have irked her because she snapped at him. “Ain’t you got nothing to say?”

“Yeah I got something to say. I’m getting high while I’m downstairs. You want to chill out, come down.”

“Screw you,” Mary said.

Fighting with his fiance was bad enough, Bill thought, but having the same crap at work was the pits. He couldn’t imagine what he’d done and he wanted to ask but there wasn’t any point to it while she was still in a foul mood. So he kept quiet and went down.

Bill was surprised when Mary joined him in the deep freeze. Henry Lee was already done smoking. He’d gotten high first in case Tommy came down. That was not likely, but it happened occasionally. Not that he would do anything. Say something, yeah, but do something, not likely. The meals needed to go up and if he fired one, they’d all threaten to leave. Even if  they didn’t make the threat, Robert would intercede. He was running numbers for the owner, why he was in the workhouse and how Bill ended up meeting him in the first place, and he was taking the owner to the Upper Room too. So he had pull, real pull.

While Bill was with Mary, he couldn’t feel her up. The deep-freeze mitts made it useless to try. So, puff puff pass, they finished a joint and Bill lit a second one–he had to pull off the mitts to do that–so Mary could catch up. He didn’t say anything. She told him she was mad and he could just keep away from her for all she cared. He shrugged it off.

Out of the deep freeze, Bill filled his coffee mug with bourbon and drank it down like soda pop. He handed the bottle to Henry Lee who passed it to Mary. She took a dainty sip and turned to head on up. Bill reached out and pulled her to him so he could grind himself on her butt. He was so high and drunk that he didn’t care whether she liked it or not. He didn’t care that Henry Lee saw. He was so gone he didn’t care about anything and  he decided, one of those crazy thoughts, that he would pop acid the next day.

“Goddamn it, you let me go, boy.”

“You give me some.”

“You go to hell.”

“After I get me some.”

“Bea wasn’t enough?”

“She don’t mean nothing.”

“And I do?”

“Yes.”

“What do I mean?”

“What you think?”

“Tell me.”

Bill, still grinding on her, leaned in and licked her ear. Then he laughed.

“Screw you, stupid,” Mary said.

“I really like you,” Bill said leaning in close again and trying to whisper.

“Really?”

“You bet,” Bill said.

Coming Now In About Another Month:

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

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