Bill and Lorraine sat awhile before Bill got up and threw her steak onto the Garland. It sizzled and smoked and Bill watched it a moment before he rotated it to diamond-mark it then flipped it. Because the grills had not been used they were hot-hot. He could easily cook the rare steak in less than two minutes, which he did while Lorraine went out to Bebe to get him another beer.

“How’d you become a cook? You’re not like the others.” Lorraine was back sitting on the lettuce cases. Bill stood in the doorway so he could see if anyone came into the kitchen, so she could eat in peace.

“How’d you become a waitress? You’re too smart to be a waitress.”

“Smart? No. Educated? Yeah. I graduated from State. But then I married Mr. Undependable. We were together twelve years. When I was thirty-eight with two kids, he left me for a coed, twenty-one years old. I guess she didn’t have any stretch marks.”

“You have stretch marks?”

“Yeah. And a little moustache too.” Lorraine sat with the plate in her lap. Bill had given her a baked potato and some fresh vegetables to accompany the meat. He had cut the steak for her and laced the potatoes and vegetables with butter.

“Drink the beer too.”

“Just some. I have to drive and I can’t afford to get stopped. Wanna see them?”

“What?”

“The stretch marks.”

“What else I get to see?”

“Anything you want. You can touch too.”

“Why don’t you get a boyfriend?”

“First tell me why you’re messing around.”

“Long story. Too complicated.”

“I got time.”

“How honest you want?”

“On a scale of one to ten, brutal.”

“Low self-esteem. Tremendous insecurity. And what-the fuck.”

“Explain the last one.”

“Existential decision. Opportunity was there. What-the-hell.”

“Wow. I’m blown away.”

“Your turn.”

“Never again. I don’t trust love. I don’t trust men. I don’t trust security or happiness. Then I have two daughters and they don’t need any disruptions in their lives more than what they’ve had already.”

“Let me see the stretch marks when you’re done eating.”

“What’s your wife-to-be say?”

“She don’t know. Believe me, she’s way off in her own world. Pleased as punch I’m working and she don’t have to bother her parents. Maybe even happy I’m gone all the time.”

“That’s messed up, you know. You’re not even married.”

“Honestly? It’s just pussy. It doesn’t mean anything.”

“Take it from me, honey. It means something. It means the world.”

“You gonna give me guilt or pleasure?”

“I’m gonna give you blunt, candid opinion.”

“Screw that. Let me see your stretch marks.”

Lorraine was finished eating and stood up. She handed the plate to Bill. He put it by the dishwashers and returned to her. She had pulled her blouse from her skirt and lifted it up once he was nearby again.

Bill looked closely at the stretch marks on both sides of her waist. Then, ever-so-softly he ran his fingers over them. His touch sent her into shivers. Goosebumps. She closed her eyes, took her hand and helped him run his fingers over each one of the marks.

“Goddamn you’re turning me on.

“Where else you got them?”

“My breasts and my thighs.”

“Show me.”

“Cook Bebe’s steak. I’ll be right back.”

Lorraine went down the stairs. Bill went back into the kitchen and put Bebe’s super on the grill. He took a moment and checked everything out. Marie was cleaning up her station and setting up for Bea for the morning. The dishwashers were sitting around drinking pop. One of them, Jim, a horse-trainer until he’d gotten kicked in the head and wasn’t right anymore, was fixated on his beer bottle.

“Could sure use a beer,” he said.

“Yeah,” Bill shot back, “I’m sure you could. But you know the deal.”

“Think you’re something, don’t you?”

“Finish up your work,” Bill told him.

Bebe’s steak was cooked and her plate set when Lorraine came back up the stairs. Bill told her to take the plate out to the bar and bring him another beer.

“Be right back,” she said.

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Rose’s Story available on Amazon Kindle in just several more days.

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