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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.”

Coming This Week:

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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

“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.


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.

 


kitchen-4

So the new year started off with a big surprise. Bill followed Lorraine to her house and when he got there he discovered that her children had gone to a sleepover. He and Lorraine had the house to themselves.

Lorraine was no longer shy, at least not with Bill. When they got inside, she opened a bottle of wine and they sat on the sofa for a quiet moment toasting the new year. Then, Lorraine slipped off her shoes and lay back. “Give me a moment,” she said, closing her eyes. “I’m really tired and my feet are killing me.”

“I smell funky,” Bill said. He stood up, leaned over and took one of her feet in his hands. “You know my feet get tired too,” he said. As he said this, he started massaging her foot.

“I made a fortune tonight,” Lorraine said.

“Good for you.”

“Good for my kids. They need things, things I can’t afford to buy them sometimes. The holidays have been good however. Mr. Dad doesn’t always pay his child support.”

“I’m not having kids,” Bill said.

“Never?”

“Nope. I’m not dad material. Anyway, I’ve got a record and I don’t know how that’s going to affect the rest of my life. At least for now, I can’t even get a job using my degree.”

“Well,” Lorraine said, “I didn’t plan on being a waitress. I planned on being a housewife, on raising my kids, on making sure they went to college. But here I am.”

Bill let the one foot go and started on the other. While he did this, he lifted her skirt somewhat, just enough so that he could look up to see her panties. It wasn’t even an hour since he’d been with Marie. Marie had not bothered him too much. He was able to please her using just his hands. For her part she had wanted to do things to him but he had gotten away with telling her he was tired, smelly, and just wanted to go home. Having been satisfied, she let him off the hook.

After the shower, Bill and Lorraine went into her bed. Hers was a normal queen-size bed, not too frilly, not too fancy. They were both extremely tired and just about the moment their heads hit the pillows they were ready for sleep.

“What time do you have to be in?” Lorraine asked.

“About nine,” Bill said.

“I don’t have to be in till one. But I’m one of the closing girls. My kids will be home by the time I get home from work.”

“Must be tough raising two girls on your own.”

“You’ll never know.”

“No,” Bill said. “I won’t.” He kissed her, softly at first, then more fully and completely. Lorraine moved into his arms and shifted so that she lay on top of him. She took charge of the kissing and positioned herself so that he met her where she wanted to be met.

“You’re sure the kids aren’t coming home?”

“No problem. They’re at the eldest’s best friend’s house. There’s lots of girls there. I’m willing to bet they’re just about all asleep.”

“What we should be,” Bill said.

After he said this, he went to work. He kept Lorraine on him for a while while they kissed and pressed against one another. Then, since there was no hurry, he moved her next to him and did what he did. For her part, Lorraine did what she did, happily, slowly, and with the patience of a mature and experienced woman.

They spent a full hour enjoying each other and when they were done Lorraine poured them each another glass of wine. They sat in candle light in her bed sipping wine and readying themselves for sleep.

When they’d finished their wine and Lorraine had blown out the candles, she lay next to him in the dark. “I’m glad we met,” she said.

Coming Right After Mother’s Day

BW 1st 100 cover 2

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


Coming Right After Mother’s Day

BW 1st 100 cover 2

The line at the barber was thirty deep. The guards deposited Bill and went out for a smoke. They told the guards guarding the line to call them if they weren’t back in time.

There was no talking allowed. There was no anything allowed. Like all the other inmates, Bill stood quiet, trying not to make serious eye contact with anyone, especially the guards. With other inmates, eye contact could mean a stare-down which could mean a conflict. If a stare-down happened and you punked out, that could mean getting picked on.

No response to eye contact led to no predictable results. Each case was a crap shoot. With the guards, however, it was a sure problem unless they were addressing you directly. So like the other inmates, Bill stared at his feet, stared at the walls, looked up to the ceiling and around at the jail. He noted the walls and the floors were painted institutional grey. He noted the absence of windows. He noted the constant order maintained. He noted that the guards never traveled among the prisoners alone. They always walked in pairs, always carrying night sticks, never wearing side arms. He noticed there were guard stations. Inside these stations, guards wore side arms and carried shotguns. They looked down upon everything, watched everything everywhere.

Bill hadn’t cut his hair since he was fourteen. Until then his father made him wear a crew cut and took him to the barber once a month. At fourteen he’d rebelled and fought his father for what he’d wanted.

His was thick black hair, curly and long, falling more than halfway down his back. It had taken a long while to grow it so. At football camp just before his senior year in high school, when he was seventeen, he’d met a girl named Beth. They’d had a summer fling. Every night they went off into the woods and did what they did. Beth loved stroking his hair. She loved brushing it and braiding it. She brought her own brushes and did his hair. Then they made out and everything more. Beth was crazy about Bill. Bill liked her well enough.

At the University he was just one among many with hair down his back. His hair had become a trademark for him, even his tradition. To say he loved his hair was a bit strong, but as the line cut down to about fifteen, he started to feel separation anxiety. Up till now the idea of losing his hair had been an abstraction. He knew it was there on his head and he knew it was getting cut off. But he didn’t feel the reality of it going. It getting cut off did not yet exist among the realm of that which actually happened.

Bill had had that same experience—really it was a sensation—about going to jail too. Way back even before the summer trimester had begun, the deal had been cut and he’d known he was going to jail. He’d known exactly what he was getting: twenty-one days in the workhouse, a two hundred-fifty dollar fine and a year’s probation. In return, they kept the case out of court until after the summer session so Bill could graduate.

He did graduate. The court date had come, moved from the conceptual to the actual. Now he was first in line and the reality of losing his hair was upon him. Bill still couldn’t believe it.

“Next.”

Bill’s tormentor led him to the chair. “Not short,” he said. “Take it all.”

Bill noticed that the barber shop had windows. He closed his eyes to the light. He felt the first stroke with the clippers, then the next, then the next and the next and the next.

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