kitchen-4Lexi Greene surely was not shy or inexperienced and Bill Wynn left her apartment at three-thirty AM sated and purring happily. He had to pop two black beauties to steady himself enough to drive and spent the entire ride home formulating what he was going to say to his fiancé. But she was fast asleep in a deeper sleep than usual and he didn’t have to say anything until he called her from work the next evening. Even then, he caught her on the way out to dinner with her friends and he didn’t have to say anything. She told him to try not to be so late to which he said he’d do his best but couldn’t control how customers came in or what the bosses did.

For the most part it was a quiet and easy day. He and Mary did the prep cooking. Bea was ever herself. She read the racing pages in the Dispatch, played the numbers with Robert after getting everyone’s numbers and money, sat on her stool smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee between spells of doing her work. Bill went down to cut meat with Henry Lee when he came in at nine-thirty, and he was downstairs most of the rest of the morning. He went up a few times to check on things or when Mary called for him because she needed help or wanted him to see something for learning purposes.

He took more black beauties to help him along since he hardly had any sleep. He wasn’t drinking yet, and he hadn’t smoked more weed. He did his work perfunctorily and sometimes that was good. Sometimes thinking too much over physical labor was counterproductive unless you were thinking about other things, about external things.

In the afternoon he hung out between meals, cut more meat down in the meat room, worked with Mary starting the prep work for the next few days. On Tuesdays they were usually busy and they got increasingly busy on through Saturday. So Tuesdays started heavier and more in-advance production. They built a bigger cut-meat inventory. They prepped ahead what they could for the daily specials. They made extra sauce, extra rice pudding, jello and chocolate pudding so they kept a running inventory and didn’t run out. The trick was always having fresh food, and this they accomplished with rotation and knowledge of the pattern of business. On Thursday, Bill and Mary agreed, they would do all the breading to carry them through the weekend. On Thursday Bill thought, he would pop some ludes or maybe even smoke some opium.

Victoria, Lorraine, Norma and Lexi were working. The only one Bill had not been with was Victoria, but she knew all. On her own, Lexi told her about her night with Bill, in full, in detail. Bill would see such things cause jealousy and envy in other places later in his career. He would see them cause kitchens to fight, waitresses to fight and waitresses to fight with cooks. But here, in this place, Norma didn’t care, Lexi was a player and Lorraine, older and with different needs and interests, was on a different level. If anyone was jealous, it was Mary. Mary was struck with Bill, mostly because he wreaked of Yulie and she had loved Yulie.

Henry Lee and Marie took some time in the ladies room together. They weren’t fighting anymore, at least not for now. Or so it seemed. While they were away, Mary and Bill got high in the deep freeze. By this time it was the end of the day for Mary. Bill still had a long way to go and he was dragging. No matter what, he decided he was going home to sleep at the end of the shift.

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