kitchen-4So Bill ate more chocolate. It happened unexpectedly, one night when Marie had kept totally to herself. She was angry and withdrawn when she came in. She went straight down to the meat room, picked a fight with Henry Lee and stormed into the linen room to change. Henry Lee stayed cool. When she left him, he went over and took himself a long drink of bourbon and when Bill came down—Bill was setting up the line for the dinner—they went into the deep freeze to get high.

“Bitch is crazy tonight,” Henry Lee said, smoke from the cold surrounding his words. He looked at Bill, Bill looked at him, both of them in the thick arctic parkas and quilted freezer mitts.

“You get to go home. I got to suffer her all night long.”

“You need to get you some of her.”

“Yeah. Like I need to get a cavity.”

“No, really. I need the relief.”

“Sorry buddy. She’s all yours.”

“That’s the damn problem.”

“We’ll it’s your problem. I got my own.”

“Do me the favor.”

“Get out of here.”

“Let’s do another joint.”

Bill had to take off the mitts to get a joint from his pocket and light it and then they stood dancing from foot   to foot   smoking the joint    in the cold.

Upstairs, it was time to take out the baked potatoes, finish building the steam table and filling the inserts. Bea was done with her work and Mary was pretty much done too. The rib was ready to come out, but she waited for Bill to finish everything else.

Marie was huffing around. If you looked close, you could still see a slight tinge of yellow on her brown skin. Because she was skinny, almost like a crack-head except crack hadn’t come out yet, her cheek bone was angular and the yellow stain still visible.

Bea sat on her stool and smoked a cigarette. She was drinking coffee. Everything for the pantry, including desserts, was done and set up. She was back to her racing page.

Marie cleaned everything a second time. She wiped the stainless steel and stirred all the dressings. She made sure the pies were cut cleanly and the slices clearly delineated. She made sure the coffee urns were full and the coffee was fresh. When there was simply nothing else to do, she walked to the hall and plopped down on the lettuce cases, folded her arms and stared out the open back door.

About five-thirty Bill came out. Mary and Bea were over by Bea’s stool just talking and winding down. The dish washers were working, the machine going. Jimmy and Grandma had just come in. Jimmy was downstairs changing. Grandma was already in the back looking at what Mary had left on the stoves.

Bill sat on the milk cases, like always. He could see into the kitchen and he could hear anything that was amiss. The usual sounds of the exhaust fans and the dish machine were prevalent, but then there was Paul who was always hyper, talking his usual stuff.

“What you looking at?” Marie stared at Bill. She sat with her legs crossed and her arms akimbo. She was all to herself.

“I didn’t do nothing, so don’t pick on me.”

“You ain’t gonna do nothing neither.”

“Got your period, huh?”

“No. Just sick of this goddamn place. Sick of this goddamn life.”

“Join the club.”

“Well you gonna be off for a few days. Me, I’m going be working.”

“I paid Alvin twice for the time off. And then I’m leaving her up there and working here for New Years.”

“Lucky you.”

“Why?”

“Gonna be alone.”

“Oh. Had another fight with your husband, huh?”

“I’m a fix him, you wait and see.”

Bill smiled at Marie. “Sorry for you,” he said.

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