Bkitchen-4ill made a mental note of Jim’s words. Twice now Jim had insinuated that Bill thought he was all that, better than everyone else. Twice now Jim’s tone sounded somewhat ominous.

Bill didn’t think he was anything special. Bill didn’t think he was better than anyone else. Drinking beer was just one of the perks of his position and it didn’t mean anything. If anything, he thought he was less than, less than because he was still on the rebound from having been beaten down by the authorities, almost getting kicked out of the University and doing time in the workhouse. That had changed the course of his life. It had switched the track he was on, once again.

One of the last things he did each night was put the leftovers in the walk-in box. The line sparkled now. The grills and charcoal grills were brushed, the catch-pans emptied and cleaned. One fryer was shut down. All the stoves in the back where Mary did the prep work and Grandma fried her chicken were shut down too.

Tired, more like just beat, Bill untied his apron and slung it over his shoulder. He walked over to the coffee urn and drew himself a mug of Java. He lightened it with cream from the pantry reach-in where the desserts and salad dressings were kept. He noted Marie had covered everything with film, as it was supposed to be, noted they needed to make rice pudding in the morning, noted Marie had cleaned the box as she was supposed to. He sipped his coffee, enjoying the warmth of it in him and the warmth of the mug in his hands, then went over to the dishwasher station.

The dish machine was shut down and the dishwashers were already downstairs changing into civvies. He checked the pot washer sink to see that all the pots were done. Then he went over to the machine, checked it was properly shut down, all the racks were cleared and the dishes put away. As always, there were the few remainders. They sat in the one rack kept each night just for them. He stood by this rack, finished his coffee, put the mug into the rack.

Next was to wait for Tommy. Any minute now Tommy would come into the kitchen and tell him it was a wrap, that there’d be no more customers. Then he and Marie could go on downstairs and change into their street clothes.

Victoria came in instead. She walked all the way into the kitchen and told Bill Tommy said to close it up. Then she stood there and took off her apron. “Think I could have a piece of pie?” she asked.

“What kind you want?”

“Blueberry.”

Bill went over and served up a piece of blueberry pie. He took two clean forks from the silverware that was washed and waiting to be used in the morning and handed one to Victoria. Before he gave her the pie, he took a small piece of it from the tip of the triangle and ate it.

“Eat a forkful now,” he said. “Then you can take it out there and if Tommy says anything, you tell him it was mine, that I decided I didn’t want any more so I gave it to you.”

“Thanks,” Victoria said. She smiled at Bill, ate a piece of the pie and went out with the rest into the dining room.

Bill told Marie if she was finished she could go on and change and go home. Then he went back on the line. He shut down the one fryer he’d left on in case they got orders, shut down the Garland and the half of the charcoal grill he’d left on. He double checked everything on the line and in the back where Mary worked. Then he went downstairs to change.

Bill shut down the exhaust fans, the last thing he did before he went out front to say good night to Tommy. Tommy okayed him to leave and so he stepped out the front door and into the chilly November night. On the way to his car, another car pulled up by him and rolled along side him.

“Hey big boy, wanna get warmed up?” Evelyn asked.

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