Last one, I promise ^_^

Charlie Kuchenbecker walked into a hefty surprise as he entered his place of business that evening. The regular people were still there, drinking their regular drinks…but something was different.
They were eating.
And, by the looks of it, they looked like they were eating food cooked in his kitchen.
Something must be terribly, terribly wrong.
“Hey Charlie!” Sally waved from the bar, “Can you believe it? People are actually eating your food?”
“We serve food here?” Charlie said, a wry, sarcastic grin creeping up into his graying temples.
“Yeah, apparently there’s some wacko who charged back into the kitchen and started making, get this, edible food,” Sally shot a crooked smile and handed another beer to Tom.
“Wow,” Charlie whistled, examining some of the quality food that was adorning his simple plates, “I keep forgetting this place has a kitchen. I just use the damn thing for my own food, mostly… so who’s this wacko?”
“Ask Dan, he brought him in with him,” Sally chuckled as she wiped down the bar.
“You know this wacko, Mr. First at Five?” Charlie questioned.
“Yep!” Dan responded energetically, “That wacko’s my brother and, from the looks of it, a damn good cook! Hey Tom, lemme try some of that Philly Cheesesteak!”
“No way, Danno, this lovely’s all mine,” Tom chortled and took another bite.
Charlie decided it was time he saw what this “wacko” was really up to. As he walked into the kitchen, he heard the tail end of the following conversation:
“…and if you keep the grill nice and clean, it’ll turn out like this.”
He then heard the familiar voice of his normal and terrible cook:
“Waaaaaaow.”
“Well now, what’s all this then?” Charlie entered the kitchen with a toothy grin.
Spud was in a fine state of embarassment and apology. “Oh jeez, you must be the owner. I’m so sorry, sir. I just…no offense, kid, but I wanted a decent burger, ya know? I’ll pay you back whatever you want, don’t worry, it’s just that once I brought out my burger, I guess it looked so good that everybody wanted something. But don’t worry, I’ll pay it all back, I swear…”
Charlie cut him off in a fine display of mock rage, “you’re damn right you’ll pay me back for all of it!” he roared, “In fact, I’m gonna make you come in tomorrow at eleven to start paying it back! And I’m gonna keep you here, at seven fifty an hour, as long as it takes until I’m satisfied!”
“Thanks for understanding sir, I…” Spud stopped mid sentence, “seven fifty?”
“Would you like more? Cuz if you do I’ll hafta fire Jack here…”
“Don’t fire me, Mr. Kuchenbecker, please? Mr. Russel’s offered to teach me a little bit, and I promise I won’t burn anything any more, honest!”
“I dunno, Jack… I can’t really afford to pay you both…”
“Then cut some of my pay for the new guys.”
Sally Camden stood, bold as brass and just as resplendent, in the doorway of the kitchen. She cocked that charming crooked smile again.
“God knows you pay me too much already, what with all the tips I get from the bar boys. Why doncha let them have a little dough from my part? I’m not struggling for cash, and it looks like Boxcar Willie over here could use a change in wardrobe.” She winked at Spud, who turned a brilliant shade of vermillion.
Charlie held out his hands in mock protest. “Hey, it’s no skin offa my hide. You wanna give some of your dough to these two scabby lookin’ sons a bitches…no offense boys,” he winked at Jack and Spud.
“None taken,” Spud grinned back.
“Then it’s settled, you’ll–”
“Mr. Kuchenbecker?” Spud piped up shyly.
“Yeah?” Charlie cocked an eyebrow.
“Can I talk to you for a second?”
“Yeah, no prob.”
Spud asked Jack to practice some of the techniques he had taught him. Sally moved back out into the bar.
“Whactcha want, kid?” Charlie looked suspicious.
“Well, Mr. Kuchenbecker–”
“Charlie.”
“Well, Charlie…I’m a convicted felon. Draft dodger.”
“Oh really? How didja get outta that?” Charlie was curious.
Spud tapped his plastic half foot. It made a strangely hollow thumping noise. Charlie immediately felt sorry for asking.
“Oh, jeez, kid…I didn’t know…”
“Don’t worry about it, Charlie,” Spud waived a dismissive hand. He was used to it, and frankly didn’t like a fuss to be made about it, “I just wanted to know if that’d be a problem with payroll and stuff…”
Charlie chuckled and shook his head. He picked up a club sandwich Spud has recently made and took a bite, his eyes rolling back in ecstasy of the simple deliciousness.
“Mmmmmm…kid, if you keep making grub like this, you could shoot the President and I’d still give you a job.”
“Well, I’m not planning on it yet…” Spud chuckled softly. Charlie gave him a strong clap on the back and went out into the bar, still enjoying the sandwich. Spud heard a voice, possibly Dan’s, shout from the bar.
“So what’s the deal, Chuckie?”
“He’s gonna stay!”
A loud chorus of approval rang out through the bar. Spud turned bright red again. He was embarassed and felt a little stupid, but he had a job.
A job with Sally Camden, of all people.
Almost on cue, she appeared in the doorway again.
“Hey Boxcar…you know how to make a BLT?”
Spud smiled. “I think I could manage.”
She smiled back. “Then get crackin’, Willie!”
“Hey wait,” Spud called after her. She turned around and fixed those dazzling eyes on him.
“Did you know my name was Will?”
“Nah, I just thought the name fit,” Sally grinned, “but thanks for telling me, looks like you’re gonna have a nickname, Hon…”
She tweaked his nose playfully and shimmied her way back to the bar. Spud couldn’t help but watch her move all the way until she was out of sight. He touched a finger to his still-tingling nose.
“…she called me ‘Hon’ …”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *