“Goddammit. My lip is still numb. My head hurts. What the hell is it with this place?” Tommy looked at Bea and Mary who faced him in his office.
“Wasn’t the girl’s fault,” said Mary. “Drenovis was mad at the kitchen. He just took it out on her.”
“She stepped in at the wrong time,” said Bea.
“Why you standing up for her?” Tommy asked.
“It’s the right thing to do.”
“Drenovis needs to learn his place.”
“Goddammit,” Tommy said again. “She’s too cute for her own good.”
“No matter,” said Mary. “She got done wrong by that pig of a man. He needs his ass fired and we need a new manager like you.”
“Fat chance,” Tommy said. “Mr. Bowman is loyal to a fault. He’s not canning Drenovis. He’s not canning our dear Lillian. He’s not canning any of you, not even for the crap you pull. You know I know all what you do, in the storeroom, in the party room, in the bathroom. Ain’t you got no shame? Think I don’t know how those holes got in the freezer mitts? That that boy takes LSD sometimes? Think I didn’t see him staring in that egg wash for hours and not bread a single shrimp?”
Bea and Mary looked at each other.
“You could be his mother,” Tommy said to Bea. “And you’re married. Look at what you’re teaching the boy.”
“We came to talk about Lexi.”
“Well I’m talking about all things.”
“She gonna be okay?”
“What’s in it for me?” Tommy asked.
“What you want?” Bea asked.
“Peace,” said Tommy. “That’s what I want. Peace of mind, peace and quiet.”
“Piece of ass?” Bea asked.
“Get serious. Not here, not with anyone here, not ever. I’m in my mid-fifties. I have a wife. I have kids and grandchildren. I don’t even kid about it.”
“Leave him be, Bea. So Lexi gonna be okay?”
“It will take some doing. But yes. I hired her. I’ll be the one to fire her if ever need be. But fighting Drenovis is never easy.”
“We know. But we got your back and Robert got our backs and Drenovis got to stay in his place.”
“Go to work,” Tommy said. “I’d like to nurse my sore mouth in solitude for awhile. I’d take the night off if I didn’t think you all would fight with Drenovis through the rest of the day. I don’t want any worse than we have now. So better Drenovis goes back to the other store.”
Both Bea and Mary went down to the meat room. Henry Lee and Bill were cutting meat. Lexi still sat on the counter.
“Tommy said you be okay,” said Bea. “Now stay out of Drenovis’ way. Don’t even look at him at the staff meetings and don’t sit by Bill either.”
“I come to work tomorrow?” Lexi asked.
“Yeah,” said Mary. “And don’t be drinking either.”
“That was my bad.”
“Yeah. It was.”
Lexi got up and left. Mary and Bea went back upstairs. Henry Lee and Bill sipped bourbon and cut meat.
Tommy wasn’t getting any peace this day. Drenovis left soon after he got back, before Mary and Bea spoke with him. Lexi went out quietly. He rested in the dark in his office until Mr. Bowman showed up. Mr. Bowman did not come by often, but when he did, he was usually hunting bear. Bear today was no one in particular. It was just the general discord between Drenovis and the kitchen.
They all met in the party room downstairs, a scolding session. Mr. Bowman told them not to sass Drenovis anymore and when Henry Lee said something nasty, Mr. Bowman went at him. Tommy had to intercede and make excuses for his kitchen. Mr. Bowman went on and on until he wound down.
“I want it worked out, Tommy,” he finally said. “Drenovis is my number two. Fix this and fast.”
“Yes sir,” said Tommy.
“Pussy,” Henry Lee said under his breath so only Bill next to him could hear.
Tommy asked everyone to remain after Mr. Bowman left.
“Lord have Mercy,” Mary said looking at Tommy’s sad face.