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“So what did you talk about?” Bill stood up and faced Tommy. He stood hand on hip, smoked his cigarette, sipped his beer almost as if it were in defiance.

“Just that you’re turning into a damn good cook,” said Tommy. “Pretty soon be time to make you a manager. With your cooking knowledge complete and your college education, you’re a perfect choice.”

Bill didn’t say anything. He just smiled at Tommy.

“Well, I’ll leave you to your work,” Tommy said. “I know it’s late and by the time you get home be almost time to head on back.”

Bill didn’t say anything. He was deciding whether or not to stay over at Lorraine’s. With her kids there it was innocent enough and he could actually get some sleep.

Once Tommy was out of the kitchen, Bill took his first trip outside to dump the grease. He stopped at the Garland first, emptied the grease drawer into the stock pot filled with grease then headed out the door and outside to where the grease barrel was. Sitting out in the cold, the grease in the barrel was all congealed. The grease Bill spilled, still very hot, melted the top layers and slid into the congealed grease some as Bill poured. But there came a point where it wouldn’t melt anything more and then it filled the hole it had made and settled on top, a good six inches of liquid grease that would quickly congeal.

He cleaned the fryer before he went downstairs for the next grease cube. He ran hot water through the fryer, catching it in the same way he had caught the grease, in the small pot which he emptied into the big one, over and over until he was satisfied the fryer was clean. Then he wiped it with already soiled dish towels.

The dirty water he spilled out in the pot washer sink over by where Andy, the pot washer, would have been if the dishwashers hadn’t already finished work and gone downstairs to put on their civvies. Bill made sure not to dirty the sink Andy had left clean by rinsing any scum the water had left anywhere.

He parked that big stock pot at the end of the line, right by the knife sheath, underneath it and pushed up against the end of the counter. Then he headed down the stairs to get the second cube of grease. He was on the stairs as the dish washers rounded the corner and headed up toward him. They all said good night, first Paulie, the ADHD kid, then Mickey, the finagler, then Andy, bald-headed and with one strange eye. Jim came up last. He didn’t say good night. He stopped where he and Bill crossed paths since Bill was coming down. They stood face to face on the same stair.

“You could have given me a beer,” Jim said. He looked Bill straight in the eyes.

“Nah,” said Bill. “I couldn’t and you know that.”

“Really think you’re something, don’t you? But you’re just a snot-nosed kid.”

That said, Jim headed up the stairs.

Bill turned to watch him go up. He stood there thinking the matter was not going away, that Jim was becoming fixated on it. It was shifting from a little incident type thing to what looked like it was going to be a problem, and it was getting time, almost, for him to say something to Tommy, to have Tommy tell him he most certainly could not have alcohol.

Before he went into the store room for the grease cube, Bill stopped in the meat room for another drink. To his surprise, Marie was there waiting for him. She was sitting up on the counter Mary always sat on, still in her kitchen dress only the dress was mostly opened so at quick glance he could see the whole front of her bra on top and up her spread legs on bottom. Her skinny legs were covered more by her white half-slip than the dress.

“Been waiting for you, white boy,” she said.

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



Bill turned to face Marie. He rubbed his head where he’d bumped it.

“Damn girl,” he said.

“Damn nothing. Give me some.”

“Some what?”

“Some of what would make this punch I took worth taking.”

“Ain’t nothing make a punch worth taking. Maybe a million dollars cash up front.”

“Only reason I stay is my kids.”

Bill knew there was nothing to say to that. “Want a cigarette or some rib?” he asked.

“Told you what I want.”

“I got a lot of work and it’s late already. See me tomorrow.”

“Well, give me some bourbon then. And bring some good drugs tomorrow.”

Standing there, on impulse, Bill reached up Marie’s dress and under her panties. Marie spread her legs for him so he could have free access to her. He’d never done this in the kitchen with her before, not at her station, not standing there on the line, not even in the back. Sure, they’d copped feels, but not like this, underneath and in plain sight. He realized he was tired and he was getting somewhat spaced. He knew he needed to lay down, maybe do some Quaaludes and go off to sleep. The other choice was to pop another Black Beauty, enough upper to get him through the night.

Marie closed her eyes and let him feel her. She was happy he was doing this and she’d already decided how she was gonna get even with her husband for punching her. Having had her time with Henry Lee this afternoon was a big part of it, but now she saw opportunity before her eyes.

They both jumped when they were disturbed by the sound of the automatic doors. Bebe, the barmaid, came in. Marie was the one facing the front of the kitchen. She saw Bebe’s face, saw Bebe raise an eyebrow seeing them there together. Not that she actually saw anything, because she really didn’t. At the sound of the doors, Bill quickly withdrew his hand and Marie started to move toward her station. But Bebe was swift. After she left the kitchen, after Marie told Bill about her facial expression, Bill thought she surely surmised what they’d been up to, maybe not precisely, but in general. Having turned in her dinner order and delivered two bottles of beer, Bebe’d told Bill they were getting more tables, that he shouldn’t hurry to clean up.

As it turned out, Bill worked orders until after midnight. As it turned out, Marie had to do all her cleanup all over again and Bill would not start doing the grease until quarter-to-one in the morning. By then, at least, all customers and help had been fed and no new tables were being seated. So Bill could concentrate solely upon the cleanup, which he did, working faster than he could if there were the chance of customers coming in. He shut everything down, broke down the steam table and wrapped all the foods to be put away. He left that food on the counter back by where Mary worked so it was out of his way and he could scrub indiscriminately, meaning if he slopped sudsy water around, it didn’t bother any food stuffs.

He scrubbed quickly up and down the line. As he did so, both Lorraine and Victoria came in. They each brought more beer and stood watching him work, sipping from one of the beers they brought. The other Bill gave over to Marie.

Bill caught a look at Jim when he went to light a cigarette and have some beer, when he stood just an instant by the two waitresses.

“People still sitting there,” Victoria said.

“My dogs are killing me,” Lorraine said. “Damn but that rib was good.”

“Hell yeah,” said Victoria.

“You want more?” Bill asked.

“Nah. We gotta go back out,” Lorraine said. She reached down and rubbed her ankles, first one, then the other. “I could sure use a foot massage,” she said.

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


Bill smiled at Lorraine. After putting the beer bottle down he went to drop the onion rings and pick up the fries. She’d come into the kitchen to see if her order was ready. Seeing it was close and knowing where she was at with her customers out in the dining room, she decided to wait.

“It’s coming,” he said.

“Which one?”

“Burger table.”

“Good. Wish I was coming.”

“Wish I was going,” Bill said. Then, “Soon as I put it up, I’ll cut some more rib. Bring in another beer when you come back.”

Bill plated three steaks on three plates he’d laid out on his board. Two were medium and one was rare. One medium and the burgers took fries, the other two steaks took a baked and veggies. He spooned the veggies onto the plates, then put the buns under the grill to toast.

Quickly, he slid down the line to get the fries. Basket in hand, he scooped up the buns, just golden brown, and plated them, then he plated the fries, went to put the basket back on the fryer, slid back to the grill and plated the burgers.

Ordinarily, in the midst of a meal service Bill would have speared one of the steaks with a colored arrow to indicate how it was cooked. If there were two rare and a medium, he would have speared the medium, and so on. For this order, with Lorraine standing there, he just told her which was the rare steak from the two with the same sides. She acknowledged and deftly hoisted all five plates into her hands. Two she took in one hand. With her free hand, she balanced a third plate on those two using her wrist to keep the balance. The other two she took up with her free hand. Off she went.

Bill flipped the steaks that were left working. He lit a cigarette, took a long drag, put the cigarette down on the shelf under the steam table near him. Then he sipped a beer. Then he flipped the steaks again, took the two rare ones and moved them where they would get warmed but not cook much. On the way to drop the pickerel and the onion rings and get one more basket of fries, he took another drag on his cigarette. All that done, he cut the rib and cubed it for him and the waitresses. Like before, he used his spatula to plate the cubes of meat.

For a moment, in the midst of what was going on, both Lorraine and Victoria stood at the end of the line by him. They ate the rib, sipped his beer. Marie came over and reached down to where he’d left his cigarette. She took a drag on it.

“How about a beer for me?” she said.

Bill began plating the rest of the orders. First he took off all the steaks. Then he got the pickerel. Then he put the sides on including the fries. Two at a time, one in each hand, he slid all the plates under the warmer lights.

Once the orders were up, both Lorraine and Victoria jumped into action. They quickly swallowed whatever they had in their mouths, went around to the front of the line and waited as Bill sorted their plates for them by pointing and speaking. In a matter of seconds, they were heading out the door with their food.

Bill bent down and took up his cigarette.  Marie snuck over behind him and goosed him while he was bent over. Surprised by her, he bumped his head on the server shelf as he was getting up.

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



You ain’t getting no beer, Bill thought. He was already reaching down into the meat cooler for the steaks that were ordered when the dishwashers turned the corner and went back to their machine. He noted Jim eyeball the beer bottle and he watched as Jim went on to the dish machine and put his dinner dishes inside one of the racks. Then he watched as Jim assumed his position at the machine.

Lorraine came back in first. She had two more dupes and Bill suddenly found himself in the midst of a little rush all by himself. It wasn’t the first time this had happened and it surely wouldn’t be the last but he wasn’t getting out early this night. He took a moment to look at the French fryers with disdain. He had to change the grease and that would make him even later.

Lorraine had brought him another beer. She sipped it before she set it down. Once her hands were free, she took up another piece of the prime rib. That left only one on the plate.

“Go ahead and eat it,” Bill said. “I’ll cut another piece.”

“Good,” Lorraine said. “We’re gonna be real late tonight.”

“Yeah, well, no one’s home waiting on me.”

“Where’s your fiancé?”

“Up in Cleveland with her parents.”

“You want to sleep over then? I mean my kids are there, but you could sleep on the sofa. It’s close by.”

“I might just take you up on that.”

“Good. I hope you will.”

Lorraine ate the last piece of rib then went over to the pantry for her salads.

Marie was bitching because she’d already done most of her clean up and was gonna have to do it again. She’d covered everything and now it was all uncovered. She’d wiped everything clean and dry. Now she had to do that again.

Meanwhile, Bill had eight steaks, three hamburgers, two fried shrimp and a pickerel working. He also had two orders of rib to cut. He had five orders of fries to drop and one order of onion rings.

As the steaks and burgers cooked, he put the fries in the baskets but didn’t drop them both. He dropped one, the one with the fries that went with the fried shrimp. The other basket would wait until he was close to plating steaks. The pickerel was coming up next to last so it sat alone in one fryer basket. The two orders of fried shrimp came up with the two ribs. The shrimp were working, so Bill cut the rib quickly then turned the steaks that needed turning. He plated the rib orders, put a baked potato on each plate, ran au jus over the meat to warm it up. Then he picked up the shrimp, shook them free of excess grease, plated them, picked up the fries, shook them free of grease, plated them. One plate in each hand, he pushed the plates up on the shelf under the warmer lights and hit the bell. Before he did anything else, he took the order of onion rings he’d taken out when he got the fries and set it in the empty French-fry basket. Then he dropped the other basket of fries.

Up was Victoria’s order. Soon as she came into the kitchen, he warmed the ribs one last time, this time leaving au jus on the meat. He split the baked potatoes and spread them open, put parsley over the ribs. Then he pushed these plates up for Victoria to usher out to the dining room.

Being nice, Marie brought him over three set-ups. The burgers and some steaks were next up. Beyond this order, two rare steaks came with two medium-wells, so Bill held those two to the very front of the grill where they wouldn’t cook. He flipped the burgers a second time, rotated the steaks. Then he took a moment to stop and sip his beer.

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



Bill watched Lorraine somewhat daintily reach onto the plate and take up a piece of rib. She popped it in her mouth and chewed it. As she did so she closed her eyes to savor the sensations she was feeling.

What Bill saw was her hands, in particular her fingers which were still somewhat slim and gently tapered. She had done her nails in deep purple, dark, and at least for waitresses not so unusual since the color was sensual. The more sensual a waitress appeared, the better her tips. The nails themselves were longish, which meant they were kind of long but not long enough to get in the way of handling things.

“You like?” she asked seeing him observing her. “My toes are done too. I went to the salon. Bought the matching lipstick too.” She smiled at Bill as she took another square of rib from the plate and put it in her mouth. “I was hoping we might get some private time but doesn’t look like that’s gonna happen.”

“Why not?”

“My kids.” She took a napkin from inside her apron and wiped her lips. “I can see you need a beer. Want me to get you one?”

“When you’re ready. Victoria said to save her some, but just eat all you want. I’ll cut more.”

As Bill said this, Victoria came back into the kitchen. She carried a beer with her and put it down on Bill’s cutting board atop his reach-in meat cooler. Lorraine quickly reached for it. As she was sipping from the bottle, Victoria told her they’d just gotten three new tables. Victoria took up a square of rib and popped it in her mouth. She and Lorraine immediately left the kitchen.

“They just got three new tables,” Bill said to Marie.

“Want me to pray to Jesus?” she asked.

“Not really,” said Bill.

“Well, they could all kiss my ass. I just want to get on home.”

So your husband can smack you again? Bill thought. He wanted to ask her. He wanted to say something. But it wasn’t his business, not really. Instead, he asked her where she got the bruise on her face. Marie didn’t say anything at first, but then she came over, just before the orders for the three tables came in and took a sip of Bill’s beer.

“Where you think I got it?” she asked leaning against his counter.

“I know where you got it,” Bill said. “And I know it’s none of my business.”

“Just makes me hotter for you,” Marie said. Then, “One day you gonna read about me in the papers. Either I be a murder victim, a murderer, or just another divorce statistic. Maybe I be none of that.”

“Why you cheat if he hits you?”

“He hit me anyway. And he cheat all the time. Don’t even hide it usually. It’s all messed up.”

“Yeah. It is.”

Marie laughed, a bit of a wild laugh. Then she looked Bill right in his eyes. “Ain’t as messed up as you. You ain’t even married yet and you fooling around. What kind of husband you gonna be?”

“When we tie that knot, I’m done with strange.”

“My ass,” Marie said. “Which, by the way, you can have.” She took another sip of Bill’s beer and started back to her station just as the automatic doors opened and both Lorraine and Victoria came in with their orders. They each handed Bill their dupes then took a piece of rib and a sip of beer. Then they went over toward Marie’s station for their salads.

Bill read the dupes. He heard the dishwashers coming up the stairs from having had their dinner downstairs. “I’m gonna get me a beer,” he heard Jim say in his deep voice.

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



They worked straight through until nearly eleven. Lillian had taken one fifteen-minute break, relieved by Tommy. No one in the kitchen had a break, so when the slowdown came, Jimmy ran down to pee. When he came back, Bill took his turn. Marie chose to go then too. She went into the men’s, sat with the stall door open and hoisted up so Bill could watch.

“You’re one sick girl,” Bill said. He turned to her when he was done so she could see him. Then he quickly zipped up, washed his hands and ran up the stairs.

When Marie came up she stopped by Bill at the broiler. By this time Lillian had broken down her spot and returned the stool to its place.

“How about a nice medium Super?” she asked.

“And a medium rare Boston for me,” Lillian said. She handed Bill a slip of paper with her order on it.

All waitresses and other help had to turn in written food orders. The only ones who didn’t have to do this were the cooks and salad ladies. The early waitresses came in as they could to order their dinners too.

A few customer orders were still working when Bill started Lillian’s dinner. Turned out Lorraine and Victoria were working late, Lorraine because she was late girl, Victoria because Tommy had asked her to stay since they were busy. Bill and Jimmy finished working the customer food while Bill worked the staff orders. They put up the customer meals first, meticulously, then pushed out Lillian’s dinner as quickly as possible so she could get gone.

Apparently, he would find out later, Lillian and Tommy had a full discussion about him. Tommy, Lorraine told him later, sat with her while she ate. She pretty much ratted him out regarding his drinking, drugging and philandering, but she did compliment him on how well he could handle a broiler. She told Tommy that in her time she’d seen a lot of broiler cooks and after only a few short months Bill was as good as the best of them. That counted for a lot, she told Tommy, and it excused a lot of the vices, although she added that it didn’t excuse all of them by far. Lorraine happily reported that she’d told Tommy to do his best not to lose Bill.

Bad influences, Tommy had said, according to Lorraine, and he’d listed them out starting with Henry Lee and Bea, who, Tommy told Lillian, should have never indulged herself with the boy. That was how he’d referred to Bill. But then he’d said that the boy had to learn, and apparently he had to learn a lot more than the cooking.

Bill did cut that piece of rib. Just before he started getting ready to break down the line and begin the cleanup work, there came a moment when he and Victoria were alone in the kitchen but for Marie. Marie was already into her cleaning and the dishwashers were still down in the party room eating their dinners. Victoria had brought Bill a beer and stood with him at the end of the line.

After trimming all the fat and cutting the slice into neat, bite-sized squares, Bill put the meat on a plate with his spatula and left the plate on the cutting board atop his reach-in box so Victoria could stand there and help herself, which she happily did.

“When you’re done, tell Lorraine to come in for hers.”

“This is so good,” Victoria said.

“Yeah. I’ve been wanting some of that all night.”

“I never see you eating meat.”

“I generally don’t. It’s not a thing. I rarely make myself a steak or eat the rib, but every now and then I get a craving and then I indulge happily.”

“Yes, you do indulge happily,” Victoria said. She stuffed her face and smiled. “I got to go back out,” she said. “I’ll send Lorraine in. Save some more for me.”

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



Bill didn’t respond to Jim. This had become a sore spot, a bother, even a small worry that stuck sometimes in the back of Bill’s mind. Jim had been kicked in the head by a horse and was never right since. He always wanted that beer. He could never have it. Sometimes he hovered over and lingered by that knife sheath when he said something about that beer. This was the concern, that he would go off and grab a knife.

After Mary, Bea and Henry Lee had left, Bill sat on the milk cases. He stayed there as long as he could. He wasn’t inclined to get up. He didn’t want to do anything. He felt weary, and having felt this way before, he knew none of his drugs could do anything for him. So he sat. He smoked a cigarette. He drank a coffee that Lorraine had brought him when she’d stopped out in the hall. Lorraine, having seen how droopy he was, asked if he was okay. He said he was just tired, very tired.

He was on a second coffee when the orders started coming in. He asked Jimmy what he had when he saw Jimmy reading the first dupe. Jimmy told him stay sitting so Bill watched from the doorway where he’d positioned the cases so he could see what was going on. He could see the line and the pantry station past it. He could also see a little of the area before the line, this through the serving shelves. He couldn’t see the front kitchen door, but he could hear it open, and he could see the waitresses going into the pantry’s reach-in for salad dressings. When he saw a third order come in he got up. He hadn’t actually planned on it, but kind of instinctively he reached into his pants pocket and took out a Black Beauty. He popped it in his mouth and took it down with some coffee.

Bill and Jimmy started into their dance. They had four dupes, three deuces and a trey. Bill worked the broiler and cut the one order for prime rib. The rib looked really inviting and he was inclined to cut a slice for himself which he decided he’d do when they cleared the board. But they never cleared the board and even before seven, which was unusual, Tommy was in the kitchen setting up the expediter’s spot and calling orders.

Tommy called the orders straight through until Lillian relieved him. Amidst the steady, somewhat heavy but not excessive flow, Lorraine brought coffees for Bill and Tommy. Victoria brought sodas for the dishwashers. Marie made her own tea and kept herself busy on her station.

Lillian drew up her stool and Tommy showed her what was what. That done, he left the kitchen to check on the front of the house. In the switch over, Lillian had collected a handful of orders and soon as Tommy was gone she bellowed out her first “Ordering.” It was a string of items, one after the next, steaks and prime rib, fried shrimp and onion rings, two fried chicken for Grandma and a chef’s salad and shrimp salad for Marie.

The voice contrast and melody pattern was stunning. Tommy was quiet and sing-song. Lillian was raspy, sharp staccato and harsh. Bill, for his part, took over as much as he could, pushing Lillian to pick up as he wanted, as he needed. Lillian was less accommodating than Tommy or Drenovis, so Bill had to be more insistent.

On it went through the service, busy and rushed but not overly burdensome until the first lull after which, thinking it might all be over, they got positively slammed.

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