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kitchen-4

HR was no problem. Bill did that on the Friday before he reported to work. The lady was nice, pleasant, unassuming, mommy-like, efficient. He was relieved when they did not fingerprint him or send him for fingerprinting.

All hotels, as Bill would discover, have a whole side to them that the public never sees, or rarely sees, which is surely not meant to be seen. For those who work in the hotel, entry to that inside inside, the belly of the beast, begins every day at the service entrance.

Bill went in that first day a bit apprehensive, feeling shy and a touch scared. He was met by hotel security, an old, fat man with a belly hanging over his belt. He was the guardian of the labyrinth.

This man, Paul, led Bill just a few steps away toward a windowed counter where another man sat. He was the timekeeper, another older man, another man Bill assessed as a long-timer, an old-timer. He appeared to be quite happily ensconced in his space.

The interplay was simple and quick. The man, who did not introduce himself, asked Bill his name and then promptly produced a time card for him. The card had a machine-printed label with his name and his work number on it. Bill was told to memorize the number and refer to it in the future at punch-in and punch-out. Eventually, of course, they would get to know each other, and Steven, not Steve, would be ready with Bill’s card in hand as Bill got to the window.

Security Paul led Bill into the inner depths of the back of the house. He led him through a huge kitchen to the chef’s office where Bill was welcomed. The chef picked up a house phone and a few moments later a man appeared, obviously a cook from the looks of his uniform. Bill assessed him at about forty. He was trim, slight, had a dark mustache and a heavy accent, a Greek accent, Bill would find out.

Jimmy Ganotis was his name. Jimmy smiled broadly, reached out his hand to shake hands with Bill. The chef told Jimmy Bill was the new broiler cook, to take him to get a locker and uniforms, then to show him around, take him on the rounds and get him settled into his job.

So off they went.

Jimmy was apparently very happy. He had been working without regular help for more than a month. Every night he had help for the busy time, but he was opening and closing all by himself and working more hours than he wanted to. He was making money, but he didn’t want to work late every night.

Bill found all this out on the way to the laundry and the locker room. They were two different places, not exactly next to each other.

At the laundry, a cute girl, maybe around Bill’s age, issued Bill three uniforms. She smiled sweetly at him as she did so.

“My name’s Millie,” the girl said. “And you are?”

“Bill,” Bill said.

“Well, Bill,” Millie said, “you come see me often.” She shifted on her feet behind her counter, as if to accentuate her skinny little body. “I’m here almost every day. Don’t you be shy cause I’ll give you whatever you want.”

“That’s good to know” Bill said.

“I’m not kidding,” Millie said. She stepped back from her counter far enough so Bill could see her fully. She was thin, Alfreda thin, Marie thin, cinnamon colored, sort of. Bill thought maybe half black, half Latino. He could see she was wearing a housedress, button down the front. It fell below her knees. On her feet she wore slippers, flats, open-toe.

She smiled one last time at Bill as he gathered up the three hangers on which she’d hung his pants and jackets.

“See you tomorrow,” she said, again smiling. This time Bill saw she had dimples. “Turn in the dirty one every day, get a clean one. Keep two as extra in case…”

Pick up a copy of  all my works here:  By Peter Weiss

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kitchen-4

The first month up there was a horror. Living with her parents was a horror. It wasn’t that they were not nice to him/them or anything like that. It was more like her father asked him every day if he’d gone looking for a job and what was happening with that.

Being unemployed, having to look for a job and not having anywhere to live brought back deep anxieties in Bill. He did not realize how deep they were, but they were the classic GAD symptoms, that lump in the pit of his stomach as if he’d eaten a lead ball, constant worry, difficulty sleeping, twitching, muscle aches and irritability.

His wife went off to work each morning, Monday through Friday, and so he was left alone with his mother-in-law all day long. She was a good egg—she left him alone, was always pleasant and did anything and everything she could to assist him with whatever he needed.

In the first two weeks he checked out three jobs. One didn’t pay enough money for the effort, the second was okay but it was a long commute, and the third, an Italian restaurant, a job which he agreed to try out, asked him to cut up a veal. He didn’t know how to do that, so they showed him. It was easy, he discovered, but he did not like doing that kind of work. Cutting meat from loins was one thing. Cutting up an animal’s insides was another.

In the third week, feeling very down and out, those feelings taking him back to when he was facing jail time, the whole court thing and being so broke he couldn’t pay the rent, he had an interview with the chef of the Sheraton-Cleveland, on the Square. They needed a broiler cook and anyone who could run a broiler was a good candidate.

So like Robert had told him, being able to run a broiler meant that he could work, that he would work if he wanted to. The chef, a Swedish fellow, trim and slight and maybe in his young fifties, who wore a chef’s hat almost taller than he was, hired Bill on the spot. In part it was because of his experience. In greater part it was because he was a college graduate and being a college graduate was like being golden. Needless to say, Bill didn’t tell him he’d been arrested and when he went through Sheraton’s Personnel office and its paperwork, they didn’t ask. Unlike the jobs Bill had applied for in the professional fields, they did not do a police check.

So the following Monday he started work at the Sheraton-Cleveland, or as it was referred to, the Sheraton on the Square. Until he was settled where they had bus service, the chef allowed him to park off to the side in the small delivery alcove. This was a big plus.

His father-in-law was elated. Bill was elated. His mother-in-law was a bit saddened since she liked having her only daughter at home and she liked having company in the house during the day. She knew Bill’s having a job meant they would be looking to move out.

Bill and his wife immediately started looking for a place to live, something they could afford now that they knew he was going to have a salary and what the salary was. Bill told her he had to join the union, Hotel Motel Workers Union, and he would be on probation for the first ninety days. But they would get medical insurance and all benefits.

They spent some time and that last weekend, the last one they would have together for a long, long time, having some fun and enjoying each other. They went out together looking at places and found one with a landlord who would skip the deposit and work with the fact that they were both employed.

Pick up a copy of  all my works here:  By Peter Weiss


kitchen-4

The first month up there was a horror. Living with her parents was a horror. It wasn’t that they were not nice to him/them or anything like that. It was more like her father asked him every day if he’d gone looking for a job and what was happening with that.

Being unemployed, having to look for a job and not having anywhere to live brought back deep anxieties in Bill. He did not realize how deep they were, but they were the classic GAD symptoms, that lump in the pit of his stomach as if he’d eaten a heavy lead ball, constant worry, difficulty sleeping, twitching and muscle aches and irritability.

His wife went off to work each morning, Monday through Friday, and so he was left there alone with his mother-in-law all day long. She was a good egg—she left him alone, was always pleasant and did anything and everything she could to assist him in whatever he needed.

In the first two weeks he checked out three jobs. One didn’t pay enough money for the effort, the second was okay but it was a long travel, and the third, an Italian restaurant, a job which he agreed to try out for, asked him to cut up a veal and he didn’t know how to do that. They showed him, and he could have learned, but he did not like that kind of work. Cutting meat from loins was one thing. Cutting up an animal’s insides was another.

In the third week, feeling very down and out, those feelings taking him back to when he was facing jail time, the whole court thing and being so broke he couldn’t pay the rent, he had an interview with the chef of the Sheraton-Cleveland, on the Square. They needed a broiler cook, and anyone, anyone, who could run a broiler was a good candidate.

So like Robert had told him, being able to run a broiler meant that he could work, that he would work if he wanted to. The chef, a Swedish fellow, trim and slight and maybe in his young fifties, who wore a chef’s hat almost taller than he was, hired Bill on the spot. In part it was because of his experience. In greater part it was because he was a college graduate and being a college graduate was like being golden. Needless to say, Bill didn’t tell him he’d been arrested and when he went through Sheraton’s Personnel office and its paperwork, they didn’t ask. Unlike for the jobs Bill had applied for in the professional fields, they did not do a police check.

So the following Monday he started work at the Sheraton-Cleveland, or as he referred to it, the Sheraton on the Square. Until he was settled where they had bus service, the chef allowed him to park off to the side in the small delivery outlet. This was a big plus.

His father-in-law was elated. Bill was elated. His mother-in-law was a bit saddened since she liked having her only daughter at home and she liked having company in the house during the day. She knew Bill’s having a job meant they would be looking to move out.

Bill and his wife immediately started looking for a place to live, something they could afford now that they knew he was going to have a salary and what the salary was. Bill told her he had to join the union, Hotel Motel Workers Union, and would be on probation for the first ninety days. But they would get medical insurance and all benefits.

They spent a few days and that last weekend they would have together for a long, long time having some fun and enjoying each other. They went out together looking at places and found one with a landlord who would skip the deposit and work with the fact that they were both employed.

Pick up a copy of  all my works here:  By Peter Weiss


kitchen-4

Then there they were, standing in the little alcove outside the door of The Clock, hugging tight. Robert kissed Bill on the cheek, something that might have been uncomfortable under other circumstances but which seemed quite natural at the time.

“Keep in touch,” Robert said.

Bill knew he would not keep in touch. Bill knew it was one of those moments, one of those things. He’d already had some like this one, not quite as deep, but similar, when he’d said goodbye to several of his friends upon heading off to Columbus, and before that too, with friends and even relatives on his mother’s side who he’d lost contact with after his mother died.

There was so much to remember, even then in his short twenty years of life.

Trish had asked him if he could fix Patsy’s grade. She’d stood there with those black lips in those high-heel, open-toe, open-heel mules, in just a full, black slip and no underwear. She’d already told him that.

She was hot just the way she was. But as she asked him about Patsy’s grade, she sucked at one of her fingers and fussed with the bottom of her slip, lifting it ever-so-suggestively.

“Please?”

“I don’t know.”

“Pretty please.” She’d drawn her knees together, then let them separate, looked at him with puppy-dog eyes. “I’ll do anything for it.”

“Like what?”

“Like your wildest dreams. And I do mean anything. From tying me up to…” She’d leaned in on over the trunk that separated them to whisper in his ear.

He could see the slip fall away from her body, could see her tiny breasts with their prominent nipples. He remembered thinking he’d died and gone to heaven, or something to the effect of how lucky he was at the moment.

What she’d whispered in his ear had been so far from his dreams it might never have come into his mind, just like being a cook had never come into his mind until the moment Robert stepped into Bailey’s office that morning and whisked him off to Suburban West.

“Well,” Bill said, “for that I might just be able to fix that grade.”

“I know you can,” Trish said. “I know you will. I know you would even if we didn’t do anything here tonight. I know, knowing you now, that you wouldn’t let Patsy fail if there was anything you could do about it.”

“You think I’m that much of a softy?”

Trish just smiled at that.

They spent the night together. They drank some wine, smoked some weed, popped more Quaaludes than they should have. Then they drank more wine and got so wasted they could hardly stand up.

They sat a long time on the sofa making out. Petting. Petting in that old sense of the word. They kissed and they touched and then they kissed and touched some more.

And then they walked hand in hand, very late at night/early in the morning, into Bill’s bedroom where Trish pleased herself with him in every way she wanted while Bill let himself enjoy what would end up being one of the very best nights of his life.

Patsy could never get an A. Bill fixed it so Patsy went to talk to Hank who told her he couldn’t just give her a grade, but that since she was having such a hard time with the exams, he could arrange for her to write an extra paper. He even allowed her to be able to get help with the paper. She had to write it, but she could get help.

That, of course, was an allusion to Bill’s helping her with the paper. Which he did. Which, mostly, he wrote for her sitting outside in the backyard while she and Trish sunbathed. For which Patsy was ever grateful in ever so many ways. And Trish too.

Leaving Columbus meant leaving so many memories.

Pick up a copy of  all my works here:  By Peter Weiss


kitchen-4

“Boy,” Robert said, “you’re gonna be fine up there.”

They had ordered beers and were sitting at a small table for two off in a quiet space, as quiet as could be found in a noisy restaurant/bar in downtown Columbus. People around them, they could hear, were still talking about the Buckeyes’ romp, what had happened on Saturday which had been the Bucks’ first game of the season, mostly a walk over as very often those first games were.

Still, it had made for great business in both Suburban East and Suburban West, so, as both Bill and Robert talked about it, Bill’s last Saturday night had been busy start to finish.

Which, Bill said, was the best way to go out. A quick, deep-down hug with Mary P, an even quicker lukewarm hug with Bea, shakes of the hands with Henry Lee, Esserine and Tommy. Kisses for Lorraine and Victoria, Lily and Brooklyn, and then a more intimate moment with Arlene who’d insisted he take her phone number, which he already had.

And that was that.

“You are one of the best broiler cooks I’ve ever seen,” Robert said. “You be working inside a week once you start looking.”

When Robert said that, Bill remembered the conversation with Trish, now so long ago, it seemed, even though it wasn’t but about a year and a few months.

Nothing worth much in this world. She had asked what he was reading when she came in the door that night and he said something to that effect. It was true too.

He’d been reading some required stuff for his philosophy class. Later in that conversation with Trish he would tell her that he was friends with his recitation instructor, a grad assistant.

“What kind of friends?” she would ask.

Get-high-together friends, Bill told her, and he told her he’d lived with him and his girlfriend, Hank and Paula, for several months after breaking up with his live-in girlfriend, Pam. Hank and Paula lived over on the next street, literally. Norwich and Northwood were two consecutive streets up on the north end of campus just a few blocks up from the horseshoe, close enough to the Bucks’ stadium such that they got parked in, blocked off by cars on home-game days.

Trish said she recognized him, his friend Hank. He was already going bald, even as a young grad student in the doctoral program in Philosophy. She had noted that. But mostly it was his big, bushy beard and how he bounded in and up the stairs at all different times, sometimes late at night. She said Patsy had his class and was failing.

“I can’t fail,” Bill said. “I’m getting a A+. And next semester too cause I know who my recitation instructor is gonna be and we’re getting high together too.”

“That’s messed up,” Trish said.

“Not really,” Bill said. “We have a deal, which is why I’m doing the reading. Deal is that I ace every test and all the papers better than anyone else. That way, if my work is more than A+ exemplary, if it can pass muster, no one can say shit.”

“That’s messed up even more.”

“Was either make the deal or give up the friendship.”

“They should just give you the grade then.”

That would be messed up,” Bill had said.

Then, as Bill recalled it sitting there with Robert, he’d said to Trish, “Let’s see what kind of grade I can earn with you.”

“You really think that?” Bill asked Robert.

“Boy, please! Not only will you be working, but you’ll have your choice of jobs and whatever one you take, they’ll be lucky to have you.”

They drank two beers. Then it was time to say goodbye. Saying goodbye was a bittersweet moment, one Bill had dreaded and Robert too, so he would find out when Robert told him this.

Pick up a copy of  all my works here:  By Peter Weiss


kitchen-4

Trish came by that night. Actually she came by in the early evening first, at dinner time. She carried up a plate of BBQ with homemade potato salad and slaw. She was wearing sneakers, tight jeans and a low cut-blouse. She also had beer, two of them, one for her and one for Bill.

She didn’t knock. She just let herself in, called out “Hello?” even though she knew he was there. Bill came out from the bedroom.

“Hi,” he said. He wore a man’s shirt, open, and white navy surplus bell-bottom pants. He was barefoot.

“Brought you some dinner.” She set the plate down on the trunk, set the beer bottles down and plunked herself down on the sofa.

“You really are skinny,” he said.

“Very. Small tits too, but you already know that. Nice nipples though, huh? Anyway, if I want, I can wear boy’s clothes. Makes it cheap for me, specially at the second hand store.”

Bill sat next to her and took up the plate to eat.

“Patsy’s a really good cook. And that’s not all as you know now.”

“She’s wild. You too.”

“She and I have been friends forever, since public school. Anyway, no matter how free they are with other people, I don’t do her guy. I just live there. I live there because it’s good economically for all of us. And Patsy and me, well, we hang out together.”

“I’d say that’s pretty accurate.”

“We’re not gay or bi, not really. I’m hetero even though I enjoy doing what we did this afternoon sometimes. I think when I get married, I’m just gonna be straight with my man, not in an open marriage. That’s okay for now, while we’re young and free, you know?”

Bill sipped his beer. “You don’t have to tell me this stuff. You don’t have to explain anything to me.”

“Can I read your poetry?”

“Sure.”

Bill got up and went into the bedroom. He returned with a notebook and a binder, handed them both to Trish. Then he sat back down and finished eating.

She read. She spent twenty minutes reading. Bill went about doing things he had to do, some of which was homework. In the midst of the things he did, he washed the plate and fork Trish had brought up and poured them both some wine. Trish said she had more beer downstairs and if he wanted she would bring it up. But Bill went on to drink wine and so did Trish. They smoked a joint too. Then she told him she’d be back later, took up his binder and notebook and left.

Bill was reading when she came back. It was after eleven and he was thinking she wasn’t coming, which was alright with him. He had just a little more to read for tomorrow’s class which was why he hadn’t gone to sleep.

This time she was wearing a black slip and open-toe, high-heel mules. She’d done her hair and her make-up too, dark eyes and deep, black lipstick. She didn’t knock this time either, just let herself in through the unlocked door.

“What you reading?” Trish asked.  She stood before him, legs slightly spread, hands on her hips.

Bill looked at her, really took her in. “For my philosophy class,” he said.

“What’s it about?”

“Nothing particularly useful in this world.”

“So why you reading it?”

“Expanding  my mind.”

Trish smiled. She shifted on her feet, one foot to the other. “Lots of ways to expand your mind,” she said. “Let’s get wasted.”

“What you want?”

“Quaaludes, lots of them. And wine. And weed. And then some good speed in the morning. You got all that?”

“You know I do.”

“I’d do anything for speed. Anything.”

Bill closed his textbook, got up to get the drugs. She was sitting on the sofa, legs spread wide when he returned.

“I’m not wearing underwear,” she said.

Pick up a copy of  all my works here:  By Peter Weiss


kitchen-4

He had weed, speed, Quaaludes and white wine that was very cold. He said so without hesitating.

“Wanna party?” Patsy said.

“You bet.”

“We’ll come up.”

“See you in a bit,” Bill said.

Upstairs, he laid everything out on the trunk he used as his coffee table. He’d left the wine in the frig and the apartment door open. A few moments later he heard them on the stairs.

When they came in they were both still naked. They’d tied towels around them but when they sat down on the sofa, they let the towels slip away and didn’t bother to cover up.

“Trish has no boyfriend,” Patsy said.

“I can speak for myself,” Trish said. “I’m not looking for one either, but that doesn’t mean anything other than I’m not looking for an attachment.”

“My boy’s at work,” Patsy said. “We are a free couple which means we both do as we please.”

“I’m solo,” Bill said.

“We know,” Patsy said. “We see you around, see who comes in and out and when. We been meaning to meet you, so now’s good a time as any.”

“I’ll get some wine,” Bill said.

He was reaching into the refrigerator when Trish joined him in the kitchen. She didn’t wait for him to close the refrigerator door, just came to him by the open frig, stood up on her bare toes and kissed him.

“Cold feels good,” she said while kissing him. Then, she inched closer and kissed him some more, right there at the open frig.

“Don’t mind Patsy,” she said when they broke apart. “I think she wants me to have a boyfriend. I keep telling her I can get laid without having one.”

She took the wine bottle from Bill and stepped over to the kitchen table. Bill went for a corkscrew and when he faced her again, she was rubbing the cold bottle on her nipples, making them stiff.

“You like?”

Bill stepped over to her. He didn’t say anything, just leaned in and bit one of them, hard. He licked it after he bit it and then did the same to the other one.

“You like?” he asked.

Trish kissed him. “You’ll never know how much. And now you’ll have see what else I like, I mean when it’s just you and me.”

When they came back into the living room, Patsy was standing up and already getting high. They smelled the pot before they arrived in the room, and the first thing Trish did, even before she set down the wine bottle, was reach out for the joint.

“Puff, puff, pass,” she said to Patsy.

Patsy passed her the joint, took the wine bottle and put it to her lips.

“The hell with glasses,” she said. “Let’s do a little wine circle.”

She took a nice, not dainty swig and set the bottle down. Then she stepped into Bill’s arms so that he could feel her tight against him. She ran her hand through his long hair then let it slide down to catch a feel of his ass.

“Now feel mine,” she said.

She took one of his arms and softly pulled at it so that his hand slid down. She reached behind her, settled his hand right on her buttocks then spread her legs and led his fingers all over her.

Trish came close to them and held the joint for Bill. He took several long tokes, inhaled them deeply and blew the smoke into the air. She held the joint for Patsy too. As Patsy hit on it, she said, “Ain’t you got no shame?”

“None,” Patsy said. “You already know that.”

Patsy reached an arm around Trish so they stood there in a three-way hug. They stood this way until they finished the joint, the two who weren’t smoking at any given time kissing each other.

“We got to get him naked,” Patsy said when they’d finished the first joint.

Pick up a copy of  all my works here:  By Peter Weiss



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