Lorraine was working a double and came back at four to set up for the dinner service. When she came into the kitchen Bill saw that she wore a shorter, tighter-fitting skirt. She also wore her blouse with the top buttons open so she showed cleavage.
Bill wondered about women, about girls. So many times they said no when they really meant yes. He remembered the first time he’d felt up a girl down there. She’d said no, so he stopped. No sooner had he stopped than she asked him why he stopped. She took his fingers and placed them back where she wanted them.
So he wondered about Lorraine. He really wasn’t interested in her in any way and having used her as an object lesson, she’d served her purpose. If anything, by how she’d approached him in the party room, he was now soft on her. He empathized.
Mary commented first. “What’d you do to that woman?” she asked.
“Absolutely nothing,” Bill said.
“Truth. Not a thing. I told her go home and kiss her kids.”
“She prettied up for you,” Bea said. “Look how she painted them lips. Never seen her lips painted so heavy. You know what that means.”
“What’s it mean?” Bill asked jokingly.
Bea made a hand-mouth motion then laughed.
“Well I got plenty of work to do,” Bill said. He headed downstairs to the meat room.
Mary came down a little while later. She asked if Bill had more weed, and so he took a moment to roll several joints. They took turns in the deep freeze, Bill with Mary and Henry Lee with Mary. Then they drank bourbon, but Bill did not drink much.
At six dinner started. Henry Lee left with Bea and Mary. Grandma and Jimmy were in place. Everything was ship-shape. Bill sat out in the hall on a milk case. Lorraine came out to him, asked if he wanted anything from the front of the house. Bill said no and told her she didn’t have to do anything for him, that what happened was done and over.
“I want to,” she said.
“I’m good,” Bill said.
“How about a coffee?”
Bill smiled. “Just cream.”
Lorraine returned a moment later. She handed Bill the coffee and asked if he minded if she sat a moment. Bill said no and watched her sit up on the lettuce cases where Bea always sat.
“You look pretty,” Bill said.
“I did it for you.”
“Because I wanted to.”
“Well that’s nice, but no need.”
“I know you can have whoever you want. I’m too plain, huh?”
“Too nice is more like it.”
“You mean not sexy enough.”
“You’re plenty sexy.”
“But I don’t think you want to have a fool-around thing. You’re a serious person. You don’t have to prove anything.”
“Not your type.”
“Yeah. You’re my type. Not the right situation.”
“And if I wanted to?”
“Why? We never even talked until we fought.”
“It’s different now. You’re really soft and sensitive.”
“Shhh. Don’t tell anyone.” Bill smiled and got up. “You and me are fine now. Go on out and take care of your station.” Bill went into the kitchen. Lorraine followed him in and walked out the front dining room door.
“You and Lorraine okay now?” Tommy asked later when he came in to expedite.
“Yeah. We’re good.”
“So I don’t have to do anything?”
“Yeah you do. Give her good shifts and see she gets on okay.”
“Why the soft heart?”
“Ain’t no fun in life,” Bill said, mimicking a line from a short story he’d read in college.
Coming This Month:
The Ghost Writer, Rose’s Story: A Look At The Worlds We Hide