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Category Archives: Fiction Outtakes

kitchen-4

“Been giving you her coke,” Wayne said when Jackie was out of the kitchen. He looked at Bill and shrugged his shoulders. “What it is.”

Bill slapped him high five. “Hope you have more,” he said.

“Got plenty. Just we have to keep it to us. Ain’t enough for the three of us.”

“Pay you back soon as he gets in.”

“No problem,” Wayne said.

Wayne was finished the fried eggs, plated them, put some home fries and sausage on the plate, set the plate under the warmer lights. He tapped the bell.

In almost every kitchen almost everywhere Bill worked there was the little bell to tap to let the waitresses know to pick up. A moment after the ding, Aja, the one Asian waitress they had, came in to pick up her breakfast.  Aja stood only four-eleven. She was thin as a toothpick with no tits to speak of. Her almond-shape eyes were slanted Vietnamese style and she wore her dark hair in a boy’s crew cut.

Aja was sweet on Bill, not for any particular reason Bill knew of. He had it in mind, this very day too, to mess with her specially because he noted she had done her nails. They were long and red. She had the finest fingers he’d ever seen.

“Hey baby,” she said to Bill, her breakfast in hand. “Join me outside if you can. I’m sitting out in the café.”

Bill smiled and nodded acknowledgement. He hit up again, quickly snorting four lines before he went out. He took a coffee with him and found where Aja was sitting. She had chosen a table at the back of the café closest to the kitchen door from the loading dock. He would have preferred a beer, but he didn’t want customers, if any came at this early time, to see him drinking.

“So,” Aja said when he sat down, “we gonna be busy?”

“If I knew I’d tell you. Sure looks and feels like it.”

“Good. Cause I’m working all day.”

“All work and no play’s no fun.”

“Play comes later.”

“I’m closing. You live around here?”

“Not far.”

“Live alone?”

“I have a roommate. You?”

“All by my lonesome.”

“That’s good to know.”

“Thinking what I’m thinking?”

“Depends upon what you’re thinking.”

“Thinking you probably know what I’m thinking. But if you want me to say it, thinking we don’t have to go home alone.”

“Sounds good to me.”

“You do coke?”

“Why?”

“I want to know how much to have on hand.”

“I don’t mind partying some.”

“Good,” Bill said.

That’s when they heard the crash. Bill recognized the crash, a plate, for sure, either down on the floor or against something. He hoped, as he sat there, it was down on the floor.

“I better go in,” he said quickly.

He found Jackie and Wayne in a stare-down. She was on the pantry side of the service counter, Wayne by the stove. She had dropped a plate, Bill saw. It was down there on the floor. He just didn’t know if it was purposeful or by accident, but if he was guessing…

Jackie was about to say something, but Wayne was trying to stop her. He was saying if she didn’t watch out the manager would be coming in and it surely wasn’t going to be him that got fired.

Jackie flashed Wayne the bird. It said what she wanted to say to him but quietly. About that time the manager did come into the kitchen. He’d heard the plate drop.

“Everything okay?” he asked.

Everything was not okay. In fact, everything was about as far from okay as could be, just they couldn’t see it yet. Jackie contained herself for the moment, ordered her breakfast from Wayne while the manager stood there. Bill went back on the line, the manager back to the office.

Pick up a copy of my published works here: 

By Peter Weiss

and

Fiction Outtakes: The Second Hundred   available later today on Amazon

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kitchen-4

Bill didn’t say anything to Jackie. They stood next to each other on the loading dock turned toward the café. Finally, in a huff, Jackie said, “Men.” She angrily crushed out her cigarette with the heel of her shoe and stormed off back inside.

Bill stood a while longer. He watched the waitresses. They were not all new since the regular, year-round waitresses got their choice of stations and the smart ones chose the café. It filled quickly and stayed filled from late spring through the summer and into the middle of fall. They could make more money outside than they could inside.

Regardless, Bill had already picked a favorite of the newbies and was getting ready to mess with her. She was a college kid, maybe twenty, a dark-haired beauty by Bill’s standards, tall, skinny, small-breasted, a darker-skinned Caucasian.

Bill’s rule about messing with waitresses was simple. He would mess with them if they let him and leave them alone if they didn’t. Through his whole career he would never persist in messing with a waitress who did not want to be messed with.

Waitresses were a strange breed. In general, and for the most part, they would do anything and everything for tips. This meant things like rubbing their nipples with ice cubes to make them stiff and leaving the top two buttons of their uniform blouses open so male customers could easily see their cleavage. Some of them messed around with certain customers, and none of them ever let a customer feel as if he didn’t actually have a chance, even if he didn’t actually have a chance.

Of course there were some waitresses who were just waitresses, the professionals, the ones who were there to make money but not for the bull shit. These were the ones who didn’t flirt with the cooks. These were the ones who do their jobs quietly, efficiently, effectively. These were the ones who provided good service to customers with the expectation that customers would leave them good tips for the good service.

Jackie was certainly not of that latter class. Jackie was surely of the former class, although Bill could never say he actually saw her twist her nipple or put an ice cube to one to make it stiff so a customer could see it. But that day, at that time when she stormed back in from the loading dock, she was pissed at her boyfriend Wayne, probably hung over with a headache and surely very tired. So in the kitchen, even before Bill got inside, first thing she did was rip into Wayne.

“What the hell,” she said. “You got shit for him and he’s no one to you, but you ain’t got nothing for me? Damn you. You should have known better. You should have known I’d want some and you should have had some for me.”

Even from out on the loading dock Bill could hear everything. By the time she got to her last words he was already back in the kitchen.

Wayne was standing on the line by the stoves. Jackie was standing across the serving counter opposite him. Raul, the Mexican pantry boy, was standing at his pantry station in close proximity to Jackie because the pantry station in this kitchen was fit to the line at an L.

Wasn’t the first time Raul had heard a cook and a waitress have a tiff. In the scope of things, as far as it was at the moment, this one wasn’t bad.

Wayne didn’t say anything to address what Jackie had said. He was frying an order of Sunny-side up. “Want some breakfast?” he asked her.

“Kiss my ass,” Jackie said.

Pick up a copy of my published works here: 

By Peter Weiss

and

Fiction Outtakes: The Second Hundred   coming next week on Amazon


kitchen-4

The cook’s name was Wayne. He was mid-twenties, a musician of sorts. He stood a large six-two. That was quite large for kitchens. He had to continually duck under the rim of the exhaust fan settings over the stoves and broiler. He was a trim one-ninety, and he could have passed for Latino, but he was light-skinned African American, not that that mattered to anything.

Wayne was cool mostly. Like musicians, he liked to drink and he liked to drug and he liked women and he was single and free. But he did not play the field at work. In fact mostly he stayed away from the waitresses, preferring to either pick girls up at the bar or get them at the clubs where he jammed playing jazz.

The waitress’ name was Jackie. She was, like so many waitresses, a would-be actress. She was a faux-blonde, about five-six and maybe one-thirty or forty. She was a little plump, very rosy in her cheeks. Like her boyfriend Wayne, she liked to do coke, and she very much like to drink. Bill had noted that she was a sloppy drunk and he always tried to stay away from her when she was being stupid.

The outdoor café’s opening at this bistro meant a bevy of new waitresses brought in every year. They were brought in just for the summer and were told this up front so they understood the nature of the position. Choice of waitresses was largely based upon their attractiveness, their ability to handle tables, or their experience, and their ability to mesh with the regular crew. The process of hiring the waitresses started in the early spring, weeks before the café opened so the staff was completely ready from the get-go.

Jackie was a jealous sort. Wayne had a roving eye and was not shy about looking at the ladies. He fancied himself, like maybe most musicians did, a ladies’ man.

What started it off would never be clear. Jackie came in bleary-eyed which Bill assumed meant she was hung over. He made a comment to Wayne something to the effect of that she looked like shit, to which Wayne responded that they’d been out all night and had only gotten a few hours sleep. Ten he intimated that when they got home they didn’t go right to sleep.

“I’m tired too,” he told Bill. “But I got the coke so I’m just fine for now.”

So that was it. Maybe. Bill started to build the scene in his head. He watched Wayne and Jackie have the conversation over by the door to the loading dock. The door was slightly behind the line, between the line and the prep kitchen. The prep kitchen was directly behind the line. At the back of the prep kitchen was the walk-in box, the only walk-in box this restaurant had. Bill would wait for waitresses he liked to go into the walk-in to get the desserts for the display and then he would go in after them to help himself to some fun.

The conversation got heated. Bill imagined Wayne was telling her he didn’t have enough coke for her, not even enough for a starter. Of course he didn’t really know what they were saying, but she stormed off hot under the collar, went out onto the loading dock where she could let off the steam, maybe. Anyway, she smoked a cigarette. Bill found this out when he went out to catch some sun light and a smoke himself.

From where they stood, together, but not together, on the loading dock, Bill and Jackie could see the activity in the café. The café waitresses were busy setting up. They had to use that same entry door to go into the kitchen, through the kitchen to the bar for their bar orders, to get anything and everything they needed from the inside. It was a tough job involving a lot of walking. But they made a lot of money.

Pick up a copy of my published works here: 

By Peter Weiss

and

Fiction Outtakes: The Second Hundred   coming next week on Amazon


kitchen-4

Of course he couldn’t know it yet, but some twelve or so years later in a Manhattan Bistro on a Saturday morning when the brunch meal was underway, Bill would be witness to but not directly involved in another kitchen fight, this one between a cook and a waitress.

This Bistro opened an outdoor café on the side of the restaurant as soon as the weather permitted. That outdoor addition added twenty percent more volume to each meal service and meant the cooks had to hustle because when it got busy, and it was busy all the time, the rushes were fierce and the work frenetic.

Brunch in Manhattan was an extremely popular meal. It was she-she, fashionable, trendy. It had originated some hundred years ago on Sundays then become popular on Saturdays too. Bill did Saturday brunch in this Bistro. He did a double on Saturdays, worked the entire day from early morning until late at night.

This Bistro ran on cocaine. The day cooks were coked up all the time. Bill did coke when he had it, and he had it a lot of the time, but not all the time, because the night sauté cook was a dealer. When the others had it, and the day cooks always did, they turned him on if he wanted. So about 11:00, the day sauté cook, who was going out with one of the waitresses, pulled out his vial and right there on the little line in the little Manhattan Bistro kitchen, he and Bill fixed their heads. Fixing their heads meant snorting lines, smoking joints and drinking whiskey and beer.

This day, Bill felt like snorting. He felt like snorting a lot. He  felt like he wanted to get high and stay high through the whole day and night and he told the day cook he’d pay him back when the night cook dealer came in.

So they snorted. And they snorted more. And they snorted more. Then they had Vivian, one of the waitresses Bill did kind of regularly   on the stack of sacks of baking potatoes   in the storeroom, bring them beers. This was before they opened up, after Bill had cooked off and panned-up trays and trays of bacon and more trays and trays of sausage. This was after he’d poached four dozen eggs and sautéed a huge roasting pan of square-cut home fries to which he’d added onions, green and red peppers cut very fine, salt, pepper and paprika.

So, in another kitchen, at another time, on another line that Bill Wynn could not yet imagine since it was some twenty years in his future, Bill made sure everything was in place the way he wanted it, made sure everything was ready to go. Then he and the other cook went out past the back side of the loading dock, upon which Bill’s car was parked, down a ramp which led to the basement door of the adjoining apartment building. There they were out of sight to anyone and everyone involved in the restaurant. They smoked a big, fat joint and snorted some more lines.

Back in the kitchen, Bill was all messed up. He was, but of course he didn’t know it yet and couldn’t imagine he would ever be, toward the end of his drinking/drugging career. He was getting on toward the beginnings of middle age, already divorced. Drinking and drugging would be directly, mostly if not wholly, responsible for his divorce.

The other cook was messed up too and they were both happy in their being messed up. By their standards, they had simply adjusted their heads as if they were tuning them with a graphic equalizer.

Right there, standing at the edge of the small line, Bill reached his hand up Vivian’s skirt and pinched her on her privates. Vivian slapped his hand away but she didn’t mind what he was doing. She was married and cheating with Bill.

“Later,” she said.

Pick up a copy of my published works here: 

By Peter Weiss

and

Fiction Outtakes: The Second Hundred   coming very soon now on Amazon


kitchen-4

Strike Three. The dish-hurling spat was strike three.

A strange silence ensued. Not that the kitchen was quiet because running kitchens were never quiet. So amidst the drone of the exhaust fans, the hum of the stoves and the gas broiler and the clanking of pots being washed, silence fell, the silence of no shattering china. When that silence had lasted several moments, despite the fact that Bea and Bill had not moved from where they stood, motion began, or started up again.

“Damn,” Henry Lee said.

“Shit,” Mary said.

Henry Lee moved away from Mary and walked onto the line, went down to the Garland where he began the process of greasing the grills and cooking off some hamburgers and bleus.

Mr. Bowman came in first. He came in from the front dining room, kind of peeked his head in and then stepped fully into the kitchen.

“You finished?” he asked. “Customers been waiting.”

“I’m finished,” Bea said.

“Me too,” Bill said.

“Do we need to discuss this?” Mr. Bowman asked.

“Naw,” Bea said.

“I don’t,” Bill said.

“Good. Let’s get this floor cleaned up and get one of the dishwashers to break out two cases of new plates. Get them washed and let’s get going.”

Mr. Bowman, a short, reddish-haired man with freckles, shook his head as if to say something like Jesus Christ and then stepped out the other automatic door into the dining room.

Bea went back onto her station and started to make sure the salads were ready and everything was set with the dressings and desserts.

Bill walked past Henry Lee onto the line. At this precise moment he knew he was on his way out of Suburban, not for anything he had done here, now in this particular moment, but just because it was getting time in his fiancé’s life and consequently in his life too.

And so it goes.

“Damn,” Henry Lee said to Bill.

“She just needs to get laid,” Bill said.

“Well you can do that.”

“I ain’t doing nothing with her. Not today, not no more.”

“We’ll see about that.”

“She’s pissed cause me and Mary went to the Upper Room last night. She knows that cause I drove Mary into work this morning.”

“You have a good time?”

“What you think?”

“That woman loves you, you know.”

“I know. We been talking about it. I love her too. It’s all messed up.”

“Bet your ass it’s messed up.”

The loud sizzle of hamburgers sliding onto the grills of the Garland   interrupted their conversation. Henry Lee knew he would have to cook off more than usual since they were now starting out a little late. If, as the boss had said, customers were waiting, then orders would come in immediately and quickly. Nothing worse than starting behind—when you started behind, you generally ran behind the whole way.

A few moments after Henry Lee had started cooking off the hamburgers and bleus Mary came around onto the line. Bill was in the process of trimming the round. He had already gone on up and down the line to make sure things were still exactly as he wanted them, spoons and ladles facing the way he wanted them, everything from chopped parsley to carving knives set in place as they always were, same place, same space, same set-up as always, as every day, so that he did not have to look for anything, so that he could reach for everything without thinking about it, so that he could find everything without taking concentration away from what he had to concentrate on, which, generally, was following the orders in his head and making sure he kept the round even as he carved.

“You okay?” Mary asked him.

Pick up a copy of my published works here: 

By Peter Weiss

and

Fiction Outtakes: The Second Hundred   coming very soon now on Amazon


kitchen-4

Cinco de Mayo, plus a couple.

Same day. Just a touch later.

A bit before the lunch service would start.

There they were squared off, Bea over by her plate warmer, Bill toward the end of the line, kind of in the middle between the line and the dish-washing machine. Paulie stood toward the middle of the kitchen looking at Bill.

“Do the clean up on the bus station out there, make sure everything is taken in from all the bus stations. Then mop the floor on that one bus station and make sure it’s not sticky.”

Paulie shook his head, again a bit too enthusiastically. He did an about-face and disappeared out the side doors to the side dining room over by Bea’s station.

“Since when you his boss?” Bea asked.

“Tommy asked me to tell him. What’s the big deal?”

“Getting pretty big for them white-boy britches, ain’t you?”

Bill thought about it a moment, thought about a response that would be appropriate. He wanted, if you could have asked him in that moment, to appease Bea, to be  conciliatory without being at all apologetic. But he was tired of being conciliatory. He was tired of appeasing and letting people get over with stuff, especially her. She was demanding and getting to be abusive and a big pain in the butt.

“You been steaming all morning. What’s up your ass?” he asked.

“Say what?” Bea said.

“You heard me. What the fuck’s up your ass?”

“This up my ass,” Bea said. She stepped next to her plate-warmer, took out a dinner plate and hurled it at Bill’s feet so it hit the floor just in front of him and smashed. Pieces of the china splashed everywhere.

Bill didn’t say anything. He reached into his plate-warmer, took out a dinner plate and hurled it at her, landed it at her feet so it splattered the same way the one she threw did.

“Oh yea?” Bea reached for and hurled another plate.

Bill did the same.

“Fuck you,” Bea said. She threw another plate.

“Fuck you back.” Bill did the same.

At the sound of the first crashing plate, Mary came around from the back. She stopped at the line on Bea’s side of the kitchen. She was in time to see Bill hurl his first plate, and then she stood there, didn’t say a word, watching.

Henry Lee heard the noise. He came in from the outside, cigarette hanging from his mouth. He stood in the doorway of the kitchen, somewhat behind and off to the side from where Bill was. He watched as Bea and Bill alternated hurling plates. A big smirked hung on his face.

Lorraine was the first waitress into the kitchen. She sized up what was going on quickly—Bea and Bill on opposite sides of the kitchen, shattered china everywhere—and simply turned so that she came in one automatic door and immediately went out the other automatic door.

No one else came in.

Tommy peeked in.

Mr. Bowman, Mr. Suburban himself, happened to be there and peeked in too.

Neither Mr. Bowman nor Tommy said anything. Like Lorraine had done, they peeked in one door and headed out the other.

Henry Lee worked his way around the back and over to Mary. They stood laughing as Bea and Bill emptied their plate-warmers. Neither one was done until they didn’t have any more plates. Bea was clearly pissed off and heated. Bill was gloating, almost laughing. The more he gloated and smirked, the hotter Bea got. The hotter Bea got, the redder she turned on her black skin.

Then she was out of plates. Bill had one left when Bea was empty and hurled it. Then he was empty. They both stood by their plate-warmers in a kind of stare-down, except Bill couldn’t help but laughing. The more angry his laughing made her, the more he laughed.

Pick up a copy of my published works here: 

By Peter Weiss

and

Fiction Outtakes: The Second Hundred   coming very soon now on Amazon


kitchen-4

Cinco de Mayo plus a couple, a beautiful Thursday morning, a little later and a little bit before the lunch service.

Bea had been stewing and she was steaming. Henry Lee and Bill had finished their work down in the meat room. Finished, they smoked a joint in the deep freeze and drank some bourbon before they headed upstairs. Bill carried two trays, Henry Lee carried two trays. There were still two to come up and then the rest of the frozen stuff to make sure they could get through the service without having to make a trip down.

Despite Bea’s being angry, she and Mary seemed, from what Bill could assess, to be getting along okay. When he’d come up on his first trip, they were talking about something. On his second trip they were laughing together. On the third and last trip they were each doing their own work things on their own work stations.

So  he thought nothing of it when Tommy came over to him and said something to him about something he wanted the dishwashers to do. It was a simple thing, really, a nothing thing. Tommy wanted Bill to tell the dishwashers that they had some cleanup on one of the bus stations in the side dining room. Then he wanted Paulie, the hyperactive kid, to mop and clean the floor on that station.

It was all simple enough, plain enough, a nothing-burger all together.

Bill was traying up the baked potatoes from the convection oven, same way he always did it, two at a time in each hand carefully placed into the steam table pan he would cover with aluminum foil. When he was done, he went over to talk to the dishwashers, to Paulie in particular to send him on the chores Tommy wanted done.

Bea watched that unfold. She stood on her station by her plate warmer, saw Bill talk to Paulie, saw Paulie shake his head as he listened, too emphatically, overly-eager to show he understood and to please, saw Bill return to working on the line, saw Paulie go about whatever Bill had told him.

Henry Lee had gone out the door in the back. Was a gorgeous day. He stood outside the screen door smoking a cigarette. He was taking in the beauty of the moment, the pleasure of being high and feeling mostly good.

Bill went up and down the line making sure everything was in place, making sure everything was set the way he wanted it to be set. This meant that every sauce had a ladle, things like the vegetables had an appropriate spoon in them (female spoon for vegetables set in liquid, male spoon for things not set liquid), and that all spoons and ladles were set for his being left-handed.

Then he was done.

It was early and he had time to go outside too, but before he could make it to the doorway Paulie came in from the side dining room and made the mistake of asking him a question from across the kitchen. It was a simple question. He looked kind of sheepish and apologetic.

“What was I supposed to do?” he asked.

Maybe it wasn’t clear who he was asking. Maybe Bea thought he was asking her. But she’d been left out of the loop on this one, so even if he were asking her she couldn’t answer. Even if she knew, because she’d been left out of the loop she wouldn’t have answered. Instead, for however steamed she already was, this totally set her off.

“Don’t be asking me nothing,” she said curtly to Paulie. She looked at him, saw him immediately put his eyes down and bow his head. He was not one to be rebuffed, not because he never did anything wrong, because he did, but because of who he was, what he was, a kid with very special needs.

Upon hearing Paulie’s question, Bill immediately turned back into the kitchen.

Pick up a copy of my published works here: 

By Peter Weiss

and

Fiction Outtakes: The Second Hundred   coming very soon now on Amazon



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