kitchen-4By the time the first waitresses came in, the police were gone, the kitchen was in full swing and Henry Lee and Bill were busy making the hamburgers and bleus for the lunch. Mr. Bowman had okayed the cleaning company to patch up the skyline and completely service the dining room. Everything was being washed down, the floor power-vacuumed, the linens cleared and replaced. All dishes were being re-run through the machine. Overnight, the skyline would be replaced and reset. As quickly as possible, this would be put to the past. As unobtrusively as possible, business would go on. The fewer the customers who knew about it, the better.

Mary had gotten everything started as quickly as possible, Bill helping her. He had carted the round up and set it in the pan for her. He’d even cut the mirepoix to cover it with.

They’d all heard the screaming from downstairs.

“Goddammit. You did that on purpose.”

“It was an accident. Here, let me get you a towel.”

“Stay the hell away from me. You know how much this suit costs?”

“No but I’ll bet you’re gonna tell me.”

“More than you make in a week, you moron.”

“I may be a moron, but I’m the one with the college degree. You’re stupid.”

“You watch your mouth.”

“Who told you to stand so close?”

“You’re gonna pay for this.”

“You can kiss my ass.”

“I told you watch your mouth.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

Bea and Mary had gone to the hall to hear everything clearly. Mr. Bowman was busy with the detectives, but he heard the screaming. Tommy too. He was going to go down to intervene, but Bea and Mary held him back.

Drenovis came up first. Meat blood covered the front of his suit jacket and was on his pants too. His white shirt and his tie were red as well. He was furious, his face as red as the blood on his clothes. He was wiping at everything with a clean kitchen towel he had helped himself to from the linen room.

Bill came up behind Drenovis. He was smiling, almost laughing, but he wiped the smile from his face as he turned the corner and headed into the kitchen.

“You need to change those clothes,” Mary told Drenovis. “It’s bad luck having blood on you.”

“No shit, Sherlock.”

“You don’t need to be fresh about it.”

“I’m not being fresh.”

“You better not be.”

“Or what?”

“Or you can cook your own lunch here.”

“Didn’t we just have this meeting?” Mr. Bowman stopped dealing with the detective and faced his crew. “Didn’t we?”

No one said a word. Mr. Bowman was referring to the fight they’d had the other day, the one that involved Lexi and Bill, where Bill had stood up to Drenovis and they’d all stood up for Lexi. Tommy just shook his head. He knew something had to be done.

“Now everybody, shut the hell up. Play nicely in the sandbox and get your work done. Drenovis, go get a clean suit while I finish up here. And don’t any of you make me address this again.”

That was that. No one said anything. Drenovis went out to the dining room and must have gone out the front door. Or that’s what Bill surmised when Lexi, still in her Fall jacket, came into the meat room. She was in tears.

“What’s the matter?” Bill asked.

“Drenovis. I ran into him in the parking lot. He told me he hadn’t forgotten anything and he was still going to fire me.”

“Pussy,” Henry Lee said. Then seeing Lexi visibly more upset by what he said, he added, “Not you. Drenovis. He’s a pussy. This is two times now he’s mad at the kitchen and took it out on you. Did you happen to notice he was covered in meat blood?” Henry Lee laughed. “Your boy over here did that. Just wish I was here to see him do it.”

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