Fun with words and words for fun

Fiction Outtakes 120: Bill Wynn 105

kitchen-4Lorraine was working a double and came back at four to set up for the dinner service. When she came into the kitchen Bill saw that she wore a shorter, tighter-fitting skirt. She also wore her blouse with the top buttons open so she showed cleavage.

Bill wondered about women, about girls. So many times they said no when they really meant yes. He remembered the first time he’d felt up a girl down there. She’d said no, so he stopped. No sooner had he stopped than she asked him why he stopped. She took his fingers and placed them back where she wanted them.

So he wondered about Lorraine. He really wasn’t interested in her in any way and having used her as an object lesson, she’d served her purpose. If anything, by how she’d approached him in the party room, he was now soft on her. He empathized.

Mary commented first. “What’d you do to that woman?” she asked.

“Absolutely nothing,” Bill said.

“Truth?”

“Truth. Not a thing. I told her go home and kiss her kids.”

“She prettied up for you,” Bea said. “Look how she painted them lips. Never seen her lips painted so heavy. You know what that means.”

“What’s it mean?” Bill asked jokingly.

Bea made a hand-mouth motion then laughed.

“Well I got plenty of work to do,” Bill said. He headed downstairs to the meat room.

Mary came down a little while later. She asked if Bill had more weed, and so he took a moment to roll several joints. They took turns in the deep freeze, Bill with Mary and Henry Lee with Mary. Then they drank bourbon, but Bill did not drink much.

At six dinner started. Henry Lee left with Bea and Mary. Grandma and Jimmy were in place. Everything was ship-shape. Bill sat out in the hall on a milk case. Lorraine came out to him, asked if he wanted anything from the front of the house. Bill said no and told her she didn’t have to do anything for him, that what happened was done and over.

“I want to,” she said.

“I’m good,” Bill said.

“How about a coffee?”

Bill smiled. “Just cream.”

Lorraine returned a moment later. She handed Bill the coffee and asked if he minded if she sat a moment. Bill said no and watched her sit up on the lettuce cases where Bea always sat.

“You look pretty,” Bill said.

“I did it for you.”

“Why?”

“Because I wanted to.”

“Well that’s nice, but no need.”

“I know you can have whoever you want. I’m too plain, huh?”

“Too nice is more like it.”

“You mean not sexy enough.”

“You’re plenty sexy.”

“But…”

“But I don’t think you want to have a fool-around thing. You’re a serious person. You don’t have to prove anything.”

“Not your type.”

“Yeah. You’re my type. Not the right situation.”

“And if I wanted to?”

“Why? We never even talked until we fought.”

“It’s different now. You’re really soft and sensitive.”

“Shhh. Don’t tell anyone.” Bill smiled and got up. “You and me are fine now. Go on out and take care of your station.” Bill went into the kitchen. Lorraine followed him in and walked out the front dining room door.

“You and Lorraine okay now?” Tommy asked later when he came in to expedite.

“Yeah. We’re good.”

“So I don’t have to do anything?”

“Yeah you do. Give her good shifts and see she gets on okay.”

“Why the soft heart?”

“Ain’t no fun in life,” Bill said, mimicking a line from a short story he’d read in college.

Coming This Month:

The Ghost Writer, Rose’s Story: A Look At The Worlds We Hide

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Fiction Outtakes 119: Bill Wynn 104

kitchen-4Bill was in a mood. That waitress, Lorraine, had ticked him off and he’d done a one-eighty. He finished the soda by throwing most of it in the sink over by the dishwasher.

As soon as he got on the line, when she handed Tommy her first orders he told her to bring two more sodas and another beer. Lorraine looked at Tommy but Tommy simply shrugged her off. He’d accumulated a stack of orders quickly and began calling them out. There was no time for petty squabbling.

Bill and Henry Lee immediately went to work. It was like going from neutral to fourth gear skipping second and third. Bea helped Bill in his hissy-fit by giving Lorraine a hard time with her salads. For Bea, it was just being a bitch, and she took a pleasure in watching Lorraine being run in circles.

Bill would know cooks through the course of his many years in kitchens who would burn a waitress’ hands by purposefully heating up a plate. He would know cooks who demanded sexual favors to keep their jobs. He would know cooks who spit in a waitress’ dinner because they didn’t like the waitress.  Getting a waitress fired wasn’t even a challenge.

Bill did none of this, not ever in his tenure as a cook or chef. He could have had Lorraine fired before the day’s end, but he remembered what it was like to need a job, to desperately need a job. He could have had her if he wanted. By the end of the meal she was in tears because they consistently backed up her orders and then dumped them on her all at once. And in the midst of her angst, Bill made her make four soda/beer trips. Finally, Tommy intervened saying it was enough.

“Happy?” he asked.

“Want her to get you a coffee?” Bill asked.

Tommy just shook his head.

Lorraine went to Bill after the meal and asked to talk to him privately. She was about forty, a bit chubby. She showed her age by sporting some grey hairs. Her makeup did not hide her wrinkles or age marks. She wore glasses, no jewelry and was not particularly attractive by Bill’s tastes.

They went into the party room downstairs and sat at one of the tables. Lorraine did not tuck her legs under the table. She sat with them wide open so Bill could see up them.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“Okay,” Bill said.

“Really.”

“Okay.”

“I was just having a bad moment.”

“Okay.”

“I need this job. I like it too. At least I did up till today.”

“You married?”

“Divorced.”

“Got kids?”

“Two girls, fourteen and twelve.”

“Okay,” Bill said.

“I can’t tell you how sorry I am. But I could show you.” Lorraine got off her chair and stood before Bill. “I’d be happy to make it up to you.”

“Sit down,” Bill said. He watched her sit back down. She was crying, he could see. He got up, went behind the bar and got her some tissues.

“Thank you,” she said when he handed them to her. Then, “Don’t you want me to make it up to you?” she asked.

“Go home and kiss your kids.”

“I’m not pretty enough, huh?”

“It’s not the way I work. And I know what it’s like to need a job. Hope you learned your lesson.”

Lorraine stood up. “We okay then?”

“Go hug and kiss your kids,” Bill said standing. He watched her walk out of the party room before he went out.

Coming this month:

The Ghost Writer, Rose’s Story: A Look At The Worlds We Hide

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Fiction Outtakes 118: Bill Wynn 103

kitchen-4Bill did not pop the acid he’d brought with him and he spent the remainder of the day careful with what he drank.

He helped Mary on her station again when he and Henry Lee came up from cutting meat. First he checked the convection oven and then he took out the baked potatoes. He put the potatoes into a steam table insert, covered the insert with aluminum foil and set it in its place. Next, he poured the vegetables into a cylindrical insert and set that into the steam table. He did the Bordelaise sauce after that and then he took the round from the oven. Mary helped him with it by taking one end of the roasting pan.

By 11:30, when Suburban opened for business, the entire line was set up and everything double-checked. Fried fish, fried shrimp, French-fries and onion rings were all in abundant supply. All the steaks  were in the reach-in, enough for the busiest of lunches. Mr. Jim was out again, so Bill and Henry Lee were flying solo.

Bill had brought up a joint. After triple-checking the items he was responsible for, seeing the line was ready and Mary’s prep work was done, he told Mary to come with him and they went out the back door and around behind the building. Bill lit the joint and passed it to Mary. Mary smoked by herself for awhile then passed it back. Bill did a puff-puff-pass and left it with her. He walked off a few feet, stood facing away from Mary, unbuttoned his fly and peed. When he was done, he returned and finished up by smoking the roach.

“You through with your mood?” he asked.

“Maybe.”

“Maybe yes or maybe no?”

“Maybe. Maybe maybe.”

“Give me a kiss.”

“Why?”

“Cause I want it.”

“What about what I want?”

“Tell me what it is and you got it.”

“Be careful there.”

“Give me a kiss,” Bill demanded.

Mary stepped close to him and kissed him, softly at first and then passionately. They kissed a long moment until Mary stopped it by saying they needed to get back. But when they returned to the kitchen, no orders had come in yet so they sat in the hall. Bea and Henry Lee were already there, Bea on her lettuce cases, Henry Lee standing and smoking a cigarette.

“You owe me,” Mary whispered in Bill’s ear. “And I’m collecting.”

Bill smiled. He listened, went into the kitchen and asked one of the waitresses to bring him a big soda. The waitress, one Bill was not particularly friendly with, told him to get it himself. Bill smiled at her and walked close.

“Get your ass out there and get me the soda. Get one for Mary too.”

“I told you, get it yourself.”

“I go out there, this is your last shift.”

“Bull.”

“Okay,” Bill said. “Bull? You better start cleaning out your locker.”

The waitress looked at Bill. She didn’t seem sure whether to believe him or not. But Tommy came in the kitchen as Bill started for the door. Bill went straight to Tommy and told him the kitchen wasn’t serving her any of her orders after this shift.

Tommy called her over and asked her what it was about. When she told him, Tommy shook his head in disbelief. “You’ll give up your job because you don’t want to get sodas for the kitchen?”

Coming This Month:

The Ghost Writer, Rose’s Story: A Look At The Worlds We Hide

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Fiction Outtakes 117: Bill Wynn 102

kitchen-4Bill worked side by side with Mary until everything she needed to do was either working or done. Then, to further help her out, he built the steam table by putting in the water and all the inserts with dividers. When all that was set, he went back to the back, gathered in his apron twenty baking potatoes from the sack. He tossed them into a sink, or rather let them fall by unfolding the apron. He scrubbed the potatoes clean, placed them on a tray, set the tray by the convection oven.

“What else you got?”

“I’m all set.”

“I’ll stick with you a bit.”

“Why?”

“Cause you’re all messed up.”

“Me? You the one messed up.”

“How you figure?”

“I ain’t hittin’ it with everything that moves and then going home to a fiancé.”

“You didn’t say anything when I was down on my knees. Why you got to say something now?”

Mary looked at Bill. She studied him a moment. “I seen you checking out that new girl’s ass.”

“Fine little ass it was too,” Bill said.

“I suppose you’d hit that too.”

“In a flash.”

“See you the one that’s messed up.”

“What else you need done?” Bill asked.

“Baste that round one more time.”

Bill did what Mary asked. Then he drew himself a coffee and headed out into the hall and down the stairs.

Henry Lee had already set up the grinding machine and was making the fresh ground beef for the hamburgers. He had done this by himself for most of his time at Suburban and he assumed he would do it himself again once Bill finally left. They were all sure he was leaving since his wife-to-be was graduating in June and they, the newlyweds, had no business in Columbus beyond her getting her degree.

But Bill was already starting to want to stay. OSU football was ending, its basketball was beginning and the UDC winter concert series was upcoming. He had quickly mastered the broiler, learned to cut meat and could do the prep cooking soup to nuts. He had already gotten two raises and he figured he was due for another one before the holidays. For what it was for him, life was good.

Of course that, the goodness of life, did not take into consideration his having a criminal record. It did not take into consideration the fact that he was not doing what he wanted and could not get a job doing what he wanted. He had no prospects of getting any kind of job using his degree or becoming a professional. Then there was his substance abuse and his general sense of fear. The arrest and jail ordeal made him afraid of everything. Staying where he was and becoming a restaurant manager for Suburban was not a bad idea, for him. Deep within, he longed for safety, for surety, for routine and sameness.

He didn’t have to worry about it just yet. He didn’t have to worry about anything just yet. For the moment, he could enjoy—and he did enjoy it—the regularity of the routine of the kitchen. He liked reaching for a plate and not having to look for where the plate was since every time it was there in the plate warmer and the plate warmer was there right in front of him at the Garland. Gravy, vegetables, baked potatoes were always in the same spot. Even the steaks in his reach-in, the counter-high refrigerator box on the line opposite the Garland, were always placed on the same shelves in the same order. Bill liked that. He found comfort in it and solace in not having to think. Even more, he took comfort in knowing how to do something.

“’Bout time,” Henry Lee said.

“Watch out for Mary,” Bill said.

Coming this month:

The Ghost Writer, Rose’s Story: A Look At The Worlds We Hide

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Fiction Outtakes 116: Bill Wynn 101

kitchen-4So…

So that’s when Mary dropped the ladle she was going to use to spread the drippings over the round. She had opened the oven and leaned in, but her underarm touched the hot shelf and got burned. She dropped the ladle and that was that.

She closed the oven door and looked at her arm. There was a dark stripe on it on the underside. Pissed off, she kicked the ladle and watched it fly down the length of her stoves and ovens only to crash against the wall.

Bill was on his way from the line to the back on the other side and he watched Mary take that kick from behind her. He was quick to purposefully make a noise so Mary would know he was there. She seemed startled when she turned to him.

“Feel better?” he asked.

“You know what you can do.”

Bill smiled. It was kind of amusing, he thought. Here was Mary, Mother Mary, always the steady-eddie, ever the calm one, the one with the head on her shoulders, losing her cool.

“I know,” Bill said. He smiled, smirked actually, and guffawed. “Come here,” he said, reaching out for her.

She let go another f-bomb which caused Bill to laugh even more, his laugh making her more irate. She moved away from his outstretched arms, but he stepped with her and in toward her and got her. He kissed her, hard, forcing his tongue into her mouth, holding her so she could not escape. He let one hand roam down her back to her buttocks and pulled her against him, forcefully kissing her all the while until finally her tongue danced with his and he felt her relax under his touch. He copped a quick feel of her butt then let her go.

“Now let’s see what you did.” He took her arm and looked at where she’d burned herself. He saw it was just a small stripe, same like many he had all up his arm from reaching into the broiler. Later in life he would discover that these stripes stained, so to speak, meaning they left small marks on his skin as did almost all the grease pops on his hand that had immediately blistered.

“It’s nothing,” he said. He leaned over and kissed it softly then went to the ice machine and brought her back some cubes to cool it down. He took a clean ladle and did what she had been about in the first place. Then he made sure the sauerbraten was okay. “What’s next?” he asked.

Au jus,” Mary said. “Then the sweet-sour sauce for the sauerbraten, then a pan of rice for the line and a pan of rice  for rice pudding.”

Bill said okay and went about the work. Mary sat up on her counter and iced the burn. She was sitting there when Tommy came into the kitchen. He had a new girl with him, a pretty little thing, Bill thought, looking at her for the first time. Tommy walked past Bea and around back. He stopped to pick up the ladle that was on the floor.

“Everything okay?” he asked, seeing Mary icing her arm.

“Little burn on her arm,” Bill said.

“Let me see.” Tommy reached for her arm.

“It ain’t nothing,” Mary said.

“This is Alexa. She’s going to trail as a new waitress. She’ll be starting tomorrow. I just wanted her to meet everyone.”

“I’m Bill,” Bill said. He put out his hand to shake. “That’s Mary.”

Mary nodded.

“Call me Lex,” Alexa said. She smiled. “Hope your arm feels better.”

Mary nodded again and watched Tommy lead her over to Bea’s station to meet Bea. She also watched Bill’s eyes which were riveted to her ass. She wore high heels and a short skirt—her interview outfit.

“You’re drooling, Romeo,” Mary said.

“Only for you, Mary.”

“Be careful, boy. And change that shirt.”

Upcoming:

The Ghost Writer, Rose’s Story: A Look At The Worlds We Hide

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Fiction Outtakes 115: Bill Wynn 100

kitchen-4Bill did not change his shirt. He carried everything upstairs for Mary. He left her in the storeroom while he made the first trip up the stairs and he found her still sitting there when he came down for the second trip. He took a moment to kiss her on the lips before he took the next trip up. By the third and last trip she was gone.

He was checking the round and the sauerbraten when Mary came back into the kitchen. Bea was busy making her list for what needed to come up from the storeroom for her station.

Mary walked over to the coffee urn and drew herself a mug of coffee. For the time being, the kitchen was quiet. Only the exhaust fans gave off real noise. The dish machine was silent. Dishwashers did not get in until ten when the transport van arrived from downtown. She stood by Bea a moment. Bea was cleaning iceberg lettuce in her sink.

“Lord have mercy,” Mary said.

Bea looked at Mary over the top of the glasses she wore.

Mary didn’t say anything. She stood on Bea’s station, away from the heat, and sipped her coffee. Then she reached into the sink and pulled out a piece of lettuce which she chewed. She took another and dipped it into Thousand Island dressing before chewing it.

“I’m tired, Bea. I’m tired, and my black ass is dragging. Sometimes I just want to lay down and not have to ever get up.”

“I hear you,” Bea said. “You just need your coochie serviced.”

Mary sighed, a deep, heavy sigh. “If only it was that simple.”

“It is that simple. Take that boy to the Upper Room and use him till it hurts so much you can’t bear it no more. Get drunk, fall-down drunk. Then let yourself rest. Then start all over again till you can’t put your legs together to walk.”

“I wish,” Mary said.

“Only you can make that wish come true. That boy only twenty. He’s like the energizer bunny.”

“You crazy.”

“You got to keep your head and your heart out of it. Remember back when you first learned to please yourself. All you wanted was the sensation, the release. Well, go get that, girl.”

“Lord have mercy.”

“What’s good to you is good for you. That’s what Robert would say. He may not like all this, but that’s what he says and he does what he wants.”

“I don’t think I can do that,” Mary said.

“Girl, one time in your life, go for pleasure. It’s a free shot. He got a girl. He’s gonna be gone. You know what they say. It don’t mean shit to a train.”

“Maybe you right, Bea.”

“I know I’m right. You want it, go get it.”

Mary went back on her station. No. It wasn’t like that for her. She didn’t know it, but in many ways she and the white boy were very similar. Like Bill, for her it had to be about anger. She could do what Bea said if she were mad enough, angry enough at the white boy, angry enough at the world, angry enough at her kid, not only for what he called the white boy, but for his being right about her staying away from him.

She had to be angry, steaming. Then she had to turn it into a what-the-hell, an existential decision reached by reasoning that it didn’t matter either way. And really, when she thought about it, in the long game it didn’t matter either way. She wasn’t a virgin. He was already fooling around. No matter what she did, everyone else was gonna do what they did. So…

Upcoming:

The Ghost Writer, Rose’s Story: A Look At The Worlds We Hide

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Fiction Outtakes 114: Bill Wynn 99

kitchen-4When Bill had placed the round in the roasting pan, Mary noticed he’d spilled meat blood on his shirt. They’d been through this before, how spilling blood on yourself was a bad omen in her eyes, so she insisted upon Bill’s changing the shirt. That was the second thing she told him.

“You roll a joint?” she asked.

“No,” Bill said.

“You need to change that shirt. Roll one while you’re down there.”

“You okay?” Bill asked.

“Fuck it,” Mary said.

Bill was taken aback. Mary never used such language. Mary scolded him and Henry Lee for using it, and that was all the time. He looked at her. He thought, and he thought it was a crazy thought, that she was about to cry.

“I’ll roll one soon as I get a coffee. You want one?”

“No,” Mary said. “And stay away from that bimbo over there.”

Bill drew himself a coffee and headed directly downstairs. The only thing he said to Bea was to play him 854 in the numbers. Then he said to play 749 for Mary and not to tell her because he would pay for her.

Bea just nodded as she scratched her breast through the open dress.

Downstairs, Mary didn’t even bother to go into the deep freeze. She sat on the counter like she always did and lit up there.

“What about Tommy?” Bill asked.

“Yeah, what about him?”

“You need anything from the storeroom?”

“Yeah,” Mary said. “You on your knees.”

“Damn it, Mary, you’re scaring me.”

“My kid,” Mary said. “Eddie. He gonna be seventeen soon and he giving me crap ‘bout you. Called you a cracker and told me stay away from Mr. Charlie.”

“Jesus Christ,” Bill said.

“Lord have mercy,” Mary said.

Bill took a couple of hits on the joint but he left Mary to smoke most of it. When she was done, when they’d walked into the hall, Bill asked her if she wanted a drink. Mary nodded and so they walked back inside the meat room. It reeked from the weed and Bill prayed Tommy was busy upstairs.

He watched Mary take a long drink then looked into her eyes which were now glazed over. She was messed up. He’d never seen her like this before though she had seen him messed up lots of times.

“You know I could do the cooking today if you want and you can chill out.”

“Don’t patronize me,” Mary said. “Eddie’s right you know. I should stay away from “the man.”

“Get out of here,” Bill said. “ Don’t start that crap with me.”

“I’ll do whatever the hell I want,” Mary said.

She led Bill into the storeroom and bolted the door from the inside. “Here’s my list,” she said throwing it at Bill as she plopped herself onto a three-case-high stack of canned tomatoes. “You get the shit.”

While Bill started gathering things, Mary reached up her dress and took down her underwear. She left it around her ankles and swung her legs as she always did. Bill laid out the stuff, a bag of onions, a bag of potatoes (not for baking), meat base, chicken base, a sac of rice, three number ten cans of green beans, a jar of oregano, three big heads of garlic, a bag of sugar, a box of salt, a bottle of vinegar and more. Bill put what he could into an empty box and lined up the rest by the box. Finished, and only then, did he turn to Mary. He’d wanted to turn sooner. He’d wanted to say something to her. He’d decided to simply leave it and her alone.

The first thing he saw was her drawers down by her ankles. The next thing he saw was her face, an expression on it he’d never seen before, one he could not read. Hurt? Angst? Desire? Anger? Fear? He didn’t know and couldn’t decide.

“Mary…,” he started to say, but she reached and put a finger to his lips.

“Get on your knees,”  she said, “and don’t say anything, white boy.”

Upcoming:

The Ghost Writer, Rose’s Story: A Look At The Worlds We Hide

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