Bill’s instinct was to tell Jim to step away from the knife sheath. His gut was screaming at him to say something and somewhere inside his brain he knew that he should listen to his gut. Nevertheless, the kitchen door opened and Victoria came in carrying a beer for him. She handed him the beer and took the plate for Bebe. Bill watched Victoria walk out of the kitchen, checked out her ass, then he noted Jim staring at that beer.

He went back to work on his knees on the rubber mats. Pot by pot, over and over, he drained the grease, poured it from the small pot to the big stock pot until the fryer was empty. Then he washed out that fryer by taking pots of water and running it through, emptying the water pot by pot into the big stock pot. The water still bubbled and popped since the grease was hot.

When he was satisfied it was clean, he left the fryer to drain whatever water was left inside into the small pot. It was just drips now and so he was not concerned about an overflow. He took a good swig of the beer then hid the bottle on the steam table’s underneath shelf, stood up, lit a cigarette, told Marie he was going downstairs to get a cube of grease.

Marie had already finished her clean up and she was sitting on Bea’s stool. She was smoking a cigarette, which she did not often do, and she was drinking coffee. When she saw Bill head out the door and knew he was on his way downstairs, she got up and followed after him. She caught up with him, as she knew she would, in the storeroom. He was about to hoist a cube of the solid grease onto his shoulder.

“What’s up?” said Bill, seeing her.

“I was wondering if you got any weed. And maybe a good stiff drink.”

“I can’t stay down here too long.”

“I know.”

“And I don’t trust that one dishwasher. I’d fire him, but he needs the job.”

Bill led Marie into the meat room, to the bourbon drawer. He took the bottle from where it was hidden under a stack of kitchen towels, handed it to her, watched her as she twisted the cap open and wrapped her lips around the bottle. He could not help but note her skinny, shapely fingers as they grasped the bottle. His eyes were also drawn to her lips surrounding the neck of the bottle and how she sipped, how it passed down her throat as she swallowed. He was tired, but not that tired, and a faint desire stirred in him which he quickly tossed aside.

“I can’t go into the deep freeze. But here’s a joint.”

“We could go out behind the building. Tommy won’t care even if he catches us.”

“He’ll care. He just won’t say nothing.”


“So what?”

Marie stepped close up to Bill and kissed him. “So let’s go get high.”

“I have to finish the grease.”

“Why you stay away from me? Henry Lee said he don’t mind. It’s all good fun.”

Bill didn’t say anything. He didn’t have to. Literally, he was saved by the bell since they both heard the bell being rung from upstairs meaning there was an order.

“We got to go.” He took the bottle back from Marie, grabbed a quick sip then capped it and replaced it in the drawer. As he was following her out, he copped a feel of her ass. He couldn’t say why he did it, just impulsively. Marie, for her part, stopped and bent slightly over so he could get a good feel.

“Go underneath, baby,” she said.

“I got an order.”

Bill stopped in the storeroom on his way up and carted up the first box of grease.

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