Skolnik Page 13
at the greasy spoon were nothing to look at and most of the time he was busy slicing and weighing and washing and scrubbing if he wasn't actually cooking so he was on his feet for hours at a time. He wore a chef's hat and a dirty apron and lined up dishes at the service window for the waitresses to take away. At first he'd liked taking orders, never knowing what was coming next, the tuna on rye or the poached eggs or the cheeseburger, but there were only so many dishes on the menu and after a while it didn't matter what he got, he was on automatic pilot most of the time, his mind a total blank. At the end of the shift his feet and back ached and he felt the grease all over his skin. When he got home he couldn't sleep right away but had to decompress for an hour or so, so he took a shower and watched TV for a while. He worked for a little more than the minimum wage with minimum benefits and nothing for nights. The waitresses gave him something out of their tips. Dishwashers were a problem. They came

and went. Once he'd had to do a double shift for nearly a week sharing the dishwashing with Mac. Everyone treated him like a hero and Mr. Lipmann, the owner, gave him an extra fifty bucks. Mr. Lipmann would come by with his wife from time to time wearing his expensive camel's-hair topcoat and leather gloves and smoking a cigar. They never ate in the place and who could blame them.
     Charlie was a social type. That was why he'd gone to work on the lot. His wife was social too. They were always having barbecues on their seedy lawn or getting invited to barbecues on other people's lawns. Charlie played cards once a week and jumped down to Tunica a few times a year for the riverboat gambling. He wasn't really much of a gambler but he liked the milieu. He liked crowds and parades and festivals. Ginny was on all kinds of church committees. There were plenty of people in Memphis just like them and they all got along fine. Once in a while Charlie got depressed, even when the commissions