kitchen-4Eventually, of course, everyone had to and did speak to Drenovis. But it was Mr. Jim who put the words to the kitchen help’s disdain for the unwanted manager.

Drenovis had asked why everyone was so quiet. No one actually replied to that. Then Drenovis asked why everyone was so glum.

Mr. Jim stepped to where the only thing that separated him from Drenovis was the counter between them. “Cause no one likes your fat, nasty ass,” he said, his eyes directly peering into Drenovis’.

Henry Lee guffawed. Bill looked on. Mary came around from the back to see what was happening.

Mr. Jim had nothing to lose. He was already retired, living on Social Security and his railroad pension. He worked off the books, for cash, part time. He didn’t need the job or the money.

Drenovis knew this. Drenovis knew he had no recourse but to eat Mr. Jim’s words, which he did. But Lexi had the misfortune to enter the kitchen just after Mr. Jim spoke. Drenovis attacked her when she handed him all her orders at once.

“Don’t stack them next time. Turn them in as you get them.”

“I did.” Lexi was taken aback.

“You been drinking?” Drenovis asked. He could smell the alcohol on her breath.

“No.”

“Don’t lie to me.”

“I had a beer before I came in.”

“Leave the girl alone,” Mr. Jim said.

“Stay out of my business.” Drenovis went back at Mr. Jim.

“You better watch your mouth. No one here likes you. No one here wants to work with you.”

“Go home then,” Drenovis said, but he knew it was a mistake as soon as the words left his mouth because Mr. Jim began untying his apron.

“I gotta go to the bathroom really bad,” Henry Lee said.

“I just ran out of fries,” Bill said, “and we got three orders I need to put up. I need to get a case from downstairs.”

“All right,” Drenovis said. “Let’s just forget I said that.”

“Leave the little girl alone,” Mr. Jim repeated. “In fact, you ought to apologize to her.”

Lexi, who had not been dismissed, who was slightly drunk and extremely innocent as a new waitress, just stood there.

Drenovis didn’t say anything. But then he asked her her name. He took the orders in his hand and attempted to call them.

“I need to pick up first,” Henry Lee said.

“Go on back to your tables,” Mr. Jim told Lexi. She looked at Bill and Bill nodded for her to do what Mr. Jim said.

“Goddammit,” Drenovis said.

“Go on and order,” Mr. Jim said.

Mary came over to Bill on the line. “You got everything you need?” she asked.

“Sure.”

Mary smiled at Bill and walked over to Mr. Jim. She stood by him, stood looking over to Drenovis. Drenovis knew the kitchen’s solidarity was stronger than he was, stronger than anything he could do. He knew he didn’t have to worry about his job because he was the general manager for both stores and Mr. Bowman would not fire him. But he knew he had to keep it so the kitchen help worked for him. He knew the kitchen help was loyal to Robert alone, and Robert was Mr. Bowman’s numbers runner and his boyfriend too.

“Ordering a Top medium-rare and two bleus. Ordering two pickerel, one with a baked and the other with mashed. And don’t think cause you can do the job now you’re safe here,” he added, looking directly at Bill. “Ordering a Super bloody and two roast beef dinners. Ordering three burgers medium. That’s all what the girl had stacked and I’m firing her ass so say good-bye to whoever she is.”

Mr. Jim walked past Mary and over to Bill. He put his arm around Bill. “Boy,” he said, “you pay that fool no mind. Your job is safe, and you are safe, no matter what he says or thinks. And that’s just the way it is.”

“Let me pick up,” Drenovis said. “We’re gonna start to run behind.”

“Now ain’t that a shame,” said Mr. Jim defiantly.

Coming Next Week:

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

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