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kitchen-4

Hindsight is 2020, so they say. Even though his  fiancé’s father would never loan them money, at one point just after they were married he gave Bill a stock tip. The stock was sure to skyrocket overnight and Bill should put every penny he had into that stock. That would’ve been great if Bill and his wife had had any money. They took the hundred dollars that they could spare and put it into that stock. Literally, overnight the stock jumped from 5 to 40.

So there were problems festering. In retrospect, Bill would think later in his life he should have seen them, should have understood them, should have anticipated them and dealt with them. But he was only 20 and what do 20-year-olds know? He was 20, abusing substances, a boy in a man’s body whose life had already been upended twice. That meant that two times already his railroad track, whatever track it was supposed to have been, had been switched. Twice already he’d been taught that no matter how hard he tried he would never have control over things. Later in his life Bill would come to the conclusion that control is an illusion, something we all try for but few of us ever get. It was like the girl game. The more you tried to get a girl the less she wanted you. The more you grasped at control, the less control you had.

So there were problems festering. The one he would not see for many many years was the one with his fiancé. The ones that would surface more quickly were there at Suburban. The first had to do with Jim, the dishwasher who always wanted a beer, the dishwasher who’d been kicked in the head by a horse and was not quite right. The second was with Bea. Bea was more tricky than Jim. Jim was blatant. Every time he would see Bill drinking a beer, he’d say it would be nice to have a beer. Bill would tell him he couldn’t give him a beer and Jim would say that Bill really thought he was something. Sometimes Jim would tell Bill he had no clue of what being something really was. At one point in his life Jim really was something.

Control. Jim got kicked in the head. He would’ve been killed if one of the stable boys hadn’t been able to pull him out of the way and calm down the horse. There was never an explanation as to why the horse did what it did. It simply went out of control.

Bea was more in control than Jim. But at least Jim was who he was. Bea was the wolf in sheep’s clothing, all sweet and caring when she wanted to be, when she wanted something, when she wanted Bill. When she was horny she would do anything to have Bill take her downstairs to satisfy her itch. When she was feeling threatened by Bill’s liking Mary, she would be sweet and make sure Bill got everything he needed from her. Well, almost everything. But like almost everyone, Bea made the simple mistake of thinking that she was in control.

And so one day, not long after the new year, not long after Bill’s fiancé was wholly immersed in her UDC spring concert preparations, wholly immersed in her schoolwork and active in all the evening activities that the dancer’s attended, some of them not because they wanted to but because they were obligated to, Bill found himself approached by one of the dishwashers.

“I was wondering,” he said, “if you’d be interested in making a little money. I see you’re quite popular with the girls here. There are a couple of ladies who live in my rooming house that would like to meet a guy like you. They’d be willing to pay handsomely if you were to meet them.”

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Pick up a copy of my published works here: Books by Peter Weiss.

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kitchen-4

Like any underlying problem, like any problem that is not addressed, it festered. Bea became more demanding in her sexual wants. The more it seemed to her that Bill liked Mary, the more she wanted to get in the way. If under other circumstances it might have been because of jealousy for Mary, in this particular case it was due to a power struggle, a power struggle only she seemed to feel.

For his part, Bill could care less. For most things in running the kitchen, he was happy to have her take the lead and let her have the responsibility. Most things she directed regarding the way the kitchen worked had little to do with the actual putting up of the meals. But there were times that Bill felt her judgment was skewed. It generally had to do with how she treated the dishwashers. Having been a pot washer, then a dishwasher, and being a college-graduate cook, he was painfully aware of the notion of being looked down upon. He compensated for this with the dishwashers by making sure they had everything he could possibly give them. This included steaks to eat, unlimited sodas to drink, and even cigarettes when he could give them to them. He also made sure that Drenovis didn’t bother them when they rested between rushes.

Bea didn’t always see things like he did. In fact, Bea saw things less the way he did the more he was with Mary. Bill’s liking Mary was a sore spot for Bea. Bill’s being able to do his job with ease also was a sore spot for her. So like Alfreda, Bea was becoming more and more a powder keg. Bill could see it. Mary could see it. Henry Lee could see it. And they all knew that sooner or later given the right circumstances powder kegs exploded.

Out in the hall Bea made sure to always sit opposite Bill and higher up. She made sure to always sit with her legs spread wide and a fat-ass grin on her face. At one point Henry Lee took to making comments to Bea, telling her to close her legs, telling her to leave the boy alone, telling her to go on and get some at home, telling her he was going to drop a dime to Mr. Bea.

That of course was a two-way street and Bea reminded him she could always drop a dime to Alfreda. Bill had been with Alfreda once, and Alfreda was wanting more. For the life of him, Bill could not understand why. He did not fancy himself as much of a lover, and when all was said and done, later on in his life he would come to realize that his desirability was based upon two things: first, he was white, and second, he was young. His being white was simply a matter of what would later be known as jungle fever. His being young simply meant he was ready at a moment’s notice.

For both Bea and Alfreda there was no power issue. Bill did not have control over whether or not they ate steaks or drank beer. What they did regarding everything in the kitchen was on them.

With waitresses, it was a different story. Bill had power over waitresses and he controlled what they had for dinner. So for them, giving some to Bill meant eating better and that was what they wanted. Bill had little regard for these types of waitresses. Bill had great regard for Lorraine and those waitresses who were working hard to support their children. After all, that was how he had started in kitchens, to be able to support his wife-to-be.

Regarding his fiancé, she was wholly immersed in the spring concert series even though it wasn’t even near spring yet. There, at home, with her, something was already festering too, but what was festering there would not come to light for some fifteen years.

Coming Right After Mother’s Day

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Pick up a copy of my published works here: Books by Peter Weiss.


kitchen-4

Purple. Bill liked Mary most in purple. Purple lipstick, purple nails, purple toenails, purple stockings. He liked it when she wore purple lingerie and purple shoes. He liked the shoes high-heeled and open-toe.

The first time Mary dressed up for him she was embarrassed. She wasn’t used to dressing up for anyone. She was used to only getting dressed up to go to church.

Bill had been insistent. When Mary balked, he had gently coaxed her, told her that she should try it. She had asked why and he had told her just because, because he wanted it, because it would make her feel sexy. She was quick to tell him that she wasn’t sexy. He was quick to tell her that she had no clue as to how sexy she was.

It was a mid-January night that she dressed up the first time exactly as he wanted her to. The other times they had been to The Upper Room Mary had selected her own outfits. She was not one to have fancy underwear and she was not one to have fancy dresses. Her fancy dresses were church dresses and under them she wore regular underwear.

“What you want from me boy?” she asked one time.

“I want you to be sexy for me,” he said.

“What you know about this stuff?” she asked.

“Apparently more than you,” he said.

“You don’t know squat,” she’d said.

But she’d complied with what he wanted and when they were all settled, when the bed was made and they’d smoked a joint, he’d asked her to undress for him. She told him he was crazy. He just smiled and asked her to humor him. Bill could sense that she had a rough time with what he was asking. Doc to the rescue. He pulled out two Quaaludes for her, two for him and they popped them while drinking a full glass of red wine. That done, they smoked a second joint and by the time they had finished that Mary was in just the right frame of mind.

The next day at work Mary reminded him that she still had her purple underwear on. Bill replied by telling her it was good to be young. Just the notion that she was still wearing the purple under her kitchen dress turned him on. They met first in the party room where Bill put her up on a bar stool and went down on his knees. Mary, having gotten more used to what the Quaaludes did to her, asked if he had more. He told her always for her and got some. That led to a second meeting inside the staff ladies room.

Tommy was a fair man. He did not hold it against Bill for not taking the manager’s job. In fact, he understood clearly that Bill could be of more service continuing as he was than wasting their time being trained as a manager and then not having more than several months to work at it.

Drenovis, in his usual way, was a prick about it. He razzed Bill, and razzed him more, and made sure Bill was always painfully aware of the fact that he held a higher position. Bill, having become a seasoned broiler cook, having learned his lessons well from Henry Lee and from Robert, took no crap from Drenovis. As much as Drenovis gave  him, he gave back more. Bill would never start anything, but he made sure nothing went unanswered.

Bea was the one who became most out of sorts. The stronger Bill became in his position, the weaker she felt in hers as the kitchen manager. One day, without her having realized it, Bill could see more about the running of the kitchen then she could. That was a problem.

Coming Right After Mother’s Day

BW 1st 100 cover 2

Pick up a copy of my published works here: Books by Peter Weiss. 


kitchen-4

The day he met with Tommy to turn down the manager’s job, he was relieved. His fiancé didn’t seem to care much. Bea was happy. Henry Lee told him he should do whatever the hell he wanted and not pay any attention to anyone except his fiancé. If she didn’t care, then it was all on him and his choice alone. For his own part, Henry Lee said, he was happier Bill was staying one of them.

The winter so far was particularly cold and dreary. Before he’d been busted, while Bill was just a regular student, there had been many times when he and his fiancé had gone together to some of the things she went to. Many of them, like mime, made Bill uncomfortable. Anything touchy-feely put Bill ill-at-ease. Some of them piqued his interest as a writer and he was able to sit somewhere off in the distance and observe. More than anything else, Bill liked that.

Those days, the days of he and his fiancé doing things together, were over for now. What replaced them was his working all the time and paying off their debts. His hope, even without the manager’s salary, was to have the car paid off before the beginning of spring and then to be able to bank the money being deducted from his paycheck. His hope was to have enough money to be able to finance a new apartment wherever they moved to. That discussion, where they were going to move, was a difficult one. The most logical choice was to go straight to New York where his fiancé could pursue her dancing career. The safest choice was to move up to Cleveland where she could get a job teaching dance and choreographing then use that as a stepping stone for the move to New York.

Bill could not see it then. In fact, Bill would not see it for many, many years. But hers were kind of high-class choices. He had no choice at all. Wherever they went he would work in the kitchen and support them while she pursued her career.

They had had this discussion several times. Bill was the logical one. He reasoned that he could always write but a dancer had to dance while she was young. Looked at from this perspective, there was very little choice for Bill although at any moment she could have told him no, that they would find a way for both of them to pursue their careers. In retrospect, Bill would think later, maybe she did say these things and maybe he just wasn’t open to hearing what she had to say. Maybe what stopped him from becoming a manager also stopped him from pursuing his career. Maybe, he would think later, he was just plain afraid.

Bill got better and better at meat cutting, better and better as a line cook, more experienced as a prep cook. Lorraine hung around as a waitress. Having to support two daughters, she had little choice. Lexi, Norma, and even Victoria left and were replaced by new girls. The new girls were just girls, just waitresses. Most of them were a little older than Bill and most of them were eager to work there because the waitresses there made really good money. They had to work hard and they had to put up with Drenovis, but such was life. Those days, no matter where they worked there was always a manager like Drenovis, someone in power looking to get into their pants and having no reservations about using position to do it.

When all was said and done, after some 25 years in kitchens, at least Bill could say he never used his position to get in somebody’s pants. He could also say that he rarely pursued a waitress. What he actually did was wait for them to pursue him and then either accepted or not.

Coming Right After Mother’s Day

BW 1st 100 cover 2

Pick up a copy of my published works here: Books by Peter Weiss. 


kitchen-4

“So, we gonna see each other after work?” Bill asked Mary when they had a moment where he could talk to her freely.

“You want to?”

“Might be my last chance for a while.”

“If I can,” Mary said. “Have to see if Eddie will watch the twins.”

But they didn’t get the chance to see each other that night. Eddie refused to babysit and Mary did not want to push the issue. So once her day was done she rode home with Bea. For his part, Bill went straight home after work and spent some time cleaning up the apartment so that when his fiancé returned it would be decent. She had taken the cats with her and he was looking forward to their return.

The new year brought the beginning of the new trimester at school. His  fiancé   had   only  this one and one more to go. She had just finished the UDC winter concert series and the new trimester meant the immediate beginning of the spring concert series preparation. This would keep her very busy, so busy she wouldn’t really miss Bill at work. Her school day started early in the morning and ended late at night because at night the UDC had rehearsals. Then there were always other things the dancers had to do such that sometimes she was gone four nights a week.

That Bill mostly worked seven days a week didn’t seem to matter too much to her. Bill was not too upset either because now they were able to pay the rent, buy food, put money in the bank and pay back debt. Bill had already paid his brother the money he’d borrowed for rent last year. He’d also started paying back Mr. Bowman for the car. Bill had not wanted to borrow the money from his boss, but since his fiance’s father would not loan them money, there was little choice. So Bill paid extra when he could such that they could pay off the car more quickly. There was even money for some frivolous things, and of course Bill spent money with Doc for his substances.

Not long after the turn of the new year things at work started to get routine. Routine was satisfying for Bill. He liked regularity. He liked sameness. He liked everything being in the same place all the time and not having to look for anything. But having learned just about all there was to learn of the cooking at Suburban, one day he realized he was bored. Not even fooling with waitresses and kitchen help changed that, and except for Mary he wasn’t interested in fooling around. With Mary it was way beyond fooling around. There were feelings and emotions and cares and…

The day Tommy approached him about becoming a manager Bill sat in the office and listened to everything Tommy had to say. He told Tommy he needed a little time to make up his mind but he was thankful for the offer. Tommy asked him how long he thought he needed and Bill asked for a few days.

At home, he discussed this with his fiancé over and over. She told him to go on and take the job. He told her he didn’t think it was fair because soon after she graduated they’d be leaving. He also said that he didn’t know enough about the workings of the kitchen to really be able to be a good manager.

There came a time when Bill discussed this with Mary. Mary was quick to pick up on his self-doubt. She called him out on it right away telling him he was scared to take the job, telling him that he should have no hesitation, that it was a good opportunity for him and a good deal for Suburban. Bill only shrugged his shoulders and walked away from her.

Coming Right After Mother’s Day

BW 1st 100 cover 2

Pick up a copy of my published works here: Books by Peter Weiss.


BW 1st 100 cover 2

In all, the barber, or whatever he was, only made about ten strokes. He went front to back from one side of Bill’s head to the other and came back again. Years and years of growing that hair, and in less than two minutes it all lay there on the floor of the jail barbershop.

The barber had left his cigarette in an ash tray on the counter. Finished with Bill, he stepped over the hair and took it up, flicked the ashes on the floor on the hair. Cigarette in mouth, he walked over to where the broom and dustpan were. He returned to Bill who was standing by the chair with his tormentor.

“Clean up your hair,” the barber said.

No other inmate that Bill had seen had to clean up his hair. That one guard, his tormentor, had fixed it like this. It wasn’t the first time he’d been picked on or discriminated against in his life, he thought. Anyway, there was nothing he could do. He shrugged it off, took the broom and went to work.

“Garbage, like you,” Bill’s tormentor said about the hair.

Bill didn’t say anything. He swept up his hair, did what he was told and wondered what was ahead of him.

On the walk back to the dorm, Bill and his tormentor were unaccompanied. Not even completely clear of the barbershop, his tormentor started in on him. “I got all my people watching you. Step out of line anywhere and it comes back to me. Say something, it comes back to me. I’m making you my mission, boy. We’re gonna teach you about America. We’re gonna teach you respect. We’re gonna teach you you ain’t as free as you think. You understand me boy?”

“Yes sir,” Bill said. What else could he say?

His tormentor stayed on his case all the way to D dorm, but when they got there and he opened the door for Bill, he turned nothing but sweet. He walked Bill in and stayed with him so Bill could make sure all his things were still on the bunk. Only then did he head out, leaving Bill on his own.

Bill hadn’t peed since just before getting on the bus. The scariness of it all and the constant anxiety had kept that urge at bay. Now he really had to go, so before he started setting up his bed and getting settled, he walked to the toilets. No one seemed to pay him any mind and Bill thought that was a good thing.

Back at his bunk, he stowed himself away. On the wall between the bunks were two shelves, one above the other. Bill folded his towel, still slightly damp, and placed it on his shelf. He did the same with his skivvies and socks. Then he unrolled the mattress and made the bed. Set, he climbed up, slipped off the shoes and lay down. He so wanted to cry, but he didn’t dare. He wanted to close his eyes and sleep, but he didn’t dare. He didn’t know what time it was. He just knew he was locked in this dorm with forty-five other men and he wasn’t getting out for twenty-one days.

Announcing:

The first volume of Fiction Outtakes, Bill Wynn: The First Hundred will be available on Amazon right after Mother’s Day.  Thank you all for following the series and the blog.

Please do pick up a copy of my already published works here: 

Books by Peter Weiss.

All of the outtakes are autobiographical. The workhouse outtakes are especially autobiographical.

Enjoy!


kitchen-4

Bill’s fiancé was not due home until the day after New Year’s. So if you looked at it that way, he still had one night free. But Bill was conflicted. Bill was always conflicted. He was conflicted and afraid as well as shy and reticent. One might not have known it regarding how he was with the kitchen help and waitresses, but this was true of him in his personal life. Later, he would discover a whole host of things about himself that would show how having had his life torn apart several times at a really early age affected him. When he added to that the survivor stuff and the substance abuse it was even more complicated and that didn’t talk to the effects of the substances.

For now, at any rate, he was a young soul way off the track he’d picked for his life, about to get married and busy messing around in a whole lot of things he should never have been messing around in. No one could have told him anything about any of this. The only thing that might have deterred him, or stopped him in his tracks, would have been getting caught.

Mary and Bea were already dressed in kitchen whites and up on the floor at work when Bill got in. He’d slept until almost 8:30 when Lorraine had awakened him with kisses.

“You’ve got to go to work,” she’d said.

Bill did not stir. Despite her kisses he lay still, refused to move. Finally she pushed at him until he sat up. “Damn,” he said.

“You got time for a quick shower if you want.”

“Nah. I’m okay.”

“Might wake you up.”

“I’m up enough.”

A moment later he got up from the bed. He was naked but Lorraine had laid out clean skivvies for him.

“Mr. Dad may not always pay his child support, but I still have a few more sets of his unused, packaged skivvies.” She laughed. “Anyway, I wouldn’t care if you didn’t wear underwear.”

“Sometimes I don’t,” said Bill. “Not lately though. We change in the hall a lot now.”

“That must be kind of strange.”

“Yes and no. In the end it doesn’t really mean anything. We change and we go to work. Mary says that you always love your first crew.”

 

“So where’d we sleep last night?” Mary asked when Bill came up on the work floor.

“At Lorraine’s. We didn’t get out of here till very late. It was much easier to just sleep there.”

He made sure to omit the fact that Lorraine’s daughters were not home. He made sure to be selective in what information he let out. He had one more night without his fiancé and he wanted to spend it with Mary. He didn’t know if that could happen. He didn’t know if that would happen. He only knew he would try. Since it was the holiday and they were closing early, he felt he had a shot at it even though they were not able to use The Upper Room. Maybe, he thought, they could find a place to go or they could go parking somewhere. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d gone parking.

Meanwhile, up on the floor he assessed what he needed to do to work with Mary to get her set so he could go downstairs to cut meat with Henry Lee. Because of how busy they’d been there was a lot of meat to cut. Prime ribs were already in the oven. That was the day’s special. They were running a limited menu of steaks, prime rib, fried fish or shrimp. This meant they’d probably sell a lot of steaks. Then, with any sort of luck, they’d be out of the place early.

Coming Right After Mother’s Day

BW 1st 100 cover 2

Pick up a copy of my published works here: Books by Peter Weiss.