38 The Last Bucket o’ Bloody Mop Water

The Last Bucket o’ Bloody Mop Water

 

<<Finnegan, you walk through the Bucket o’ Blood, finding bits of your friend and

mentor’s body.  you are going through memories of his words in your mind.  

 

“Things change.”  <<the Reverend (Mostly High) Duff would often say.>>  

 

“People change.”  <<he had seen so much change over the years.  cooks change jobs.  

restaurants change owners.  workers change bosses.  humans change lovers.  what

changes you Finnegan?>>

 

Apparently a husband, a child and a Virus.

 

<<life changes you.  it changes us all.  look at me.  i used to live in a test tube>>

 

“Turn and face the strange.”

David Bowie – Changes

 

“I don’t know how I can fuckin’ cook today man.”, you say.

 

<<you say this to Notnek.  you speak to the Boss bluntly, as you wheel the last bucket

of bloody mop water to the mop sink in the back room of the kitchen.  i admire the

way you tell it how it is.  you always say exactly what you feel.  it is even cooler

when you say it whilst pouring a bucket of your buddy’s blood down the drain>>

 

“Of course you do Junior.  Just take meat and vegetables from the cold box, cut the big

pieces into smaller pieces and make the smaller cold pieces hot on that hot box over

there.  It’s just like old Pirate Paul used to say, ‘It’s so easy that my drunk grandma could

do it.’  And you’re at least as spry as Pirate Paul’s drunken grandmother Finnegan.  

Definitely as drunk.”, jokes Notnek.

 

<<at your expense.  he smiles too Finnegan>>

 

Oh Fuck all.

 

<<i am trying>>

 

Right.

 

&&&finnegan and virus face each other&&&

 

 

<<you look down into the mop bucket full of bloody Duff water.  you are debating

whether or not now is the time to begin the killing spree that a life of putting up

with other humans’ shit (this Boss and other bosses and various customers) has

inspired you to carry out over your service industry working career.  Notnek

misinterprets your silence and downcast eyes as sadness and feminine frailty in the

face of bloodshed.  the Boss feels bad for making fun of you and seeks the blackened

recesses of his grinch-sized heart for tenderness>>

 

“I know it is rough Finn, but we can get through this day together.”, says Notnek.  <<with

uncharacteristic compassion in his voice, and his hand on your shoulder>>

 

“Now get your sweet ass, and the asses of those lazy smoke break takin’ numb nuts out

there, back to opening the line in this kitchen.  And make sure there isn’t any god

damned janitor blood in the salad mix, okay Junior?  I’m goin’ to the bank.”, says Notnek.  

<<his hand then slaps your ass>>

<<the Boss puts on his faded blue ‘Merica’ Rawks!! baseball cap and heads out the

Black Metal Back Door of the Bucket o’ Blood>>

 

“That fucking guy.  I am going to drink every drop of his fucking rum today.”, you say.  

<<to the voices in your head.  wait…that is me>>

 

<<you assume that Notnek is out back making more asinine comments to Free Dave

and Hopskotch.  you practice your Dasha impersonation and roll your Finnegan

eyes.  you then take off your blood stained apron and head out to the dining area

and up to the bar.  Angel is polishing beer pint glasses with a towel.  she smiles at

you as you walk up to the bar>>

 

“What’s for breakfast Finnegan?”, she asks.

 

“Rum.  Lots of it please.”, you say.  <<as you watch Notnek’s truck pull out of the

parking lot>>

 

<<Angel grabs a styrofoam soda cup and fills it about half full with dark, sweet

smelling rum.  because Angel loves you, she adds a lid and a bendy straw>>

 

“For the sea-faring noble woman in you, love.”, Angel says.  <<as she passes you the

adult beverage>>

 

“Thanks Angel.”, you say.  <<immediately you take a long pull off of your tippy

straw>>

 

“What the hell happened this morning Finnegan?  I can’t believe Duff is dead.  I assumed

that he was going to outlive all of our drunk asses.  Is there a serial killer in Normal

Towne?”, says Angel.  <<she has resumed polishing pint glasses>>    

 

<<you take a sip slowly while she waits and say,>>  “I don’t know.  Duff came in and

started to clean.  Then someone tore him all to pieces.  His head was in the fucking mop

bucket when Hop and I came in.  Duff’s body…well…parts of it were all over the kitchen,

with bites taken out of them.  Everything except his hands.  They were gone, like

whoever killed him took them.”, you say.

 

“Somebody stole Duff’s hands?!”, Theta asks.  <<in obvious disgust as she walks into

the dining room from the kitchen.  she is followed by Hopskotch Sunday and Free

Dave>>

 

“Yup.”, says Hopskotch.  <<Hopskotch nods to Angel and points to Finnegan’s cup.

Angel nods in agreement and pours Hopskotch a to-go cup of booze>>

 

“I can’t believe that Notnek is opening the restaurant today.”, says Theta.

 

“I can.  I’m surprised he’s not making us cook fifteen different days specials in honor of

the dead co-worker we had to clean off the walls.”, says Hopskotch Sunday.

 

<<Hopskotch and you head back to the kitchen with your drinks to get ready to cook

for three hundred of your “closest friends”.  Theta starts to cut up lemons for the

customers’ water and tea.  Angel continues to stock the bar.  Free Dave stares at the

television screens on the wall behind the bar for a couple minutes and then turns to

Angel>>

 

“Hey sexy, can I get one of those drinks too?”, Free Dave asks.

 

<<with a look of disgust and condemnation of her face Angel says,>> “No you can’t!  

You just showed up here an hour late and didn’t help clean any Janitor up off the

kitchen!  Didn’t you just clock in and take a smoke break?”

 

“Hey, back off lady.  I was grieving for my buddy Doug.”, says Free Dave.

 

“His name is Duff!!”, <<shout Hopskotch and Finnegan from the kitchen, and Theta

and Angel upfront in something close to unison>>

 

<<Free Dave straightens up and puffs out his chest.  He balls up his fists and stomps

off towards the rest rooms.  Free Dave’s co-workers laugh at him in spite of their

sadness at losing Duff.  the Reverend Duff would be laughing at Free Dave too.  

perhaps he is, somewhere.  but we have not time to think of the spiritual world

because a balding middle aged white guy comes in through the front door carrying

two white cardboard boxes.  this man is the type of guy who walks into a place like

he owns the joint.  he swaggers.  he bobs his head from side to side.  if he were not

carrying boxes, he would be snapping as he walked.  in this man’s mind women and

men are drawn to his irresistible charm like flies to shit.  he feels like he has his

customers literally eating out of his hand.  these ideas, while being complete

personal delusions, do make this man’s life much more enjoyable to live.  his name

is Rickie Torch, and he is trying to get the Bucket o’ Blood (and all the other Normal

Towne restaurants) to switch from their current local meat distributors to his

company’s “cheaper, better blended brand” of meat from out of town cows.  Notnek

says that it is crappy meat at rock bottom prices, but Notnek is always looking to cut

some corners to better his business’s profits during ‘Merica’s latest recession>>

 

“Hey kids!  I’ve got some more meat for you!”, says Rickie Torch.  <<as he swaggers into

the dining room very much the loud mouthed braggart>>

 

<<Torch has mastered the art of being simultaneously annoyingly upbeat and

creepily sexual.  two customers followed Torch in through the front door.  hearing

Torch’s meat offering, the two customers both stop dead in their tracks with a look

of fear in their little old lady eyes.  they then turn and briskly retreat out the way

they came in>>  

 

<<Rickie Torch turns to watch and says,>>  “Huh, I wonder what their deal is.  Must

have forgotten their wallets.  

Any who…”

 

<<you, Finnegan, walk out from the kitchen and shout,>>  Yo Torch!  We’ve got a back

door for deliveries.  You dig?”

 

<<you turn your back on him and walk back to your kitchen lair before he can

reply.  Rickie Torch continues to bob and bounce his head from side to side as he

dance walks back toward the kitchen.  Torch pauses at the bar to give Angel and

Theta a slow wink and says,>>  

“Back door?  I can dig it!  Oh I feel ya little lady…”  <<Rickie Torch then struts back into

the kitchen>>

 

<<Free Dave, back from the restroom, fills up a red cup with water and follows

Torch back into the kitchen.  He pauses before he walks through the doorway,

points with his thumb and whispers,>>  

 

“That guy is so cool!.”  <<to Angel and Theta>>

 

<<the two women give eachother a sideways glance, complete with open mouths

and raised eyebrows, and shudder.  they continue their labors>>

 

“I really don’t want to be in this place right now.”, says Theta.  <<she folds silverware

into napkins for customers to unroll upon arrival>>

 

“Why not?”, asks Angel.

 

<<Angel continues to organize the bar.  she changes the television station from a

rugby game to West ‘Merican’ National News with a remote control.  things that

control things without touching the things themselves are magical, do you not

think?  Angel then re-establishes eye contact with Theta and waits for an answer>>

 

“A guy just died in the kitchen this morning!”, says Theta.  <<in a hushed but

exasperated tone of voice>>  “And it was our Janitor!!!”, she adds.

 

“Well I’m sure it wasn’t the first person to die here Theta, and I’m pretty positive that it

won’t be the last.”, Angel says.

 

“What?!  I know you’ve worked here since like, the day after Jesus got strung up, but I’ve

been here six months and I haven’t witnessed any on the job murders!”, <<hisses the

Waitress at the Bartender>>

 

“Oh please.  I’m just saying that our restaurant is named ‘the Bucket o’ Blood!’  There is

probably a good reason for that.  And really?  Since ‘Jesus was strung up’?  I’ve only been

here a year longer than you little college girl.”, says Angel.

 

<<meanwhile.. back in the kitchen.  Rickie Torch is following you.  you, Finnegan,

are walking around the kitchen and the storage shed and Torch follows like a lost

little puppy with an erection.  you continue to put the meat he brought away,

without looking at it, along with the rest of the produce and various sundries you

received after the clean up of you spiritual mentor’s dismembered corpse.  Rickie

Torch follows you, and talks about the quality of the meat and how great the price

is and how much the customers are gonna love it and how well it does at the other

restaurants that he “let in on this great deal”, and on and on he talks.  he does not

even notice or acknowledge the glazed over look in your eyes as he prattles on

about things that you do not even care about>>

 

<<while you do care about the quality of your work; there is only so much care in

your heart for one day.  this man is using it up fast>>

 

“Look Torch…”, you say.  “In care-a-lot, we care…a lot.  Now get the fuck out of my

kitchen, I’ve got the blood of the innocents on my hands.  Don’t make me soil it by adding

your’s to it.”, you finish.

 

<<and it was true.  the boxes of meat Rickie Torch brought did leak some on your

hands.  it gave you a weird electric feeling.  the blood of your friend Duff was on

there as well, not too long ago.  your turn your back on the charming food company

representative and begin to wash your hands in the sink next to the waitstaff

station in the front kitchen.  without missing a beat, Rickie Torch turns to follow

another employee around and chat them up.  Hopskotch dodges Rickie Torch and

starts to wash some dishes.  Hopskotch starts splashing water in Torch’s direction

when the beady eyed salesman tries to initiate a discussion of the intricacies of

dishwasher soap bubble manipulation.  Rickie Torch takes the hint and starts to

chat up Free Dave>>

 

“You know, this meat is made from cows raised all over West ‘Merica’.  The cows are

raised on agribusiness farms using the latest antibiotic and gene manipulation

technology.”, says Richie Torch.

 

<<Torch is casually leaning against the Waitress side of the kitchen equipment line.  

the row of equipment consists of full size Refrigerator and Freezer, the Hot Food

pick up table, the steam table (for sauces and soups), and a salad line with reach in

cooler.  this equipment line separates Waitress Land from the Cook Land of hellish

grills and fryers>>

 

&&kitchen image  Free Dave and Torch&&

 

“Really?  Cool!!”, says Free Dave.  <<he is somewhat bewildered by Torch’s words>>

 

“Yes, there are personalized medicines, gene sequencing for different cows affected by different diseases in different areas of the continent.  It is the future food of tomorrow…today!!  And, so as not to detract from the freshness and provide local jobs, we have the cows raised all over the continent and shipped to slaughterhouses near where the meat will be sold and distributed.  The closest slaughterhouse to here is in MickAlester Cowley or McCow Towne, as the locals have publicly nick-named it.”, says Rickie Torch.  <<salesman extraordinaire>>

 

<<you spin around, dropping the bucket of salsa you were carrying; your attention

brought back to Torch when he mentions the city Ruben worked in before he left.  

the bucket of salsa misses Notnek’s foot by inches when it hits the ground.  salsa

splashes up on his left leg.  Notnek has returned from the bank.  the Boss’s arrival

normally means a return to unpleasantries; but today it brings the employees of the

Bucket o’ Blood a welcome reprieve from the attention of Rickie Torch.  this break

comes just as he started something that interested you>>

 

“Heeey!!  It’s Boss Man!!”, sings Rickie Torch.  

 

<<Torch is a feller who always follows his brown nose to the person with the highest

authority no matter where he finds himself.  Notnek attempts to ignore the food

service salesman and clean the salsa off his leg as he walks through his restaurant.  

Notnek checks on the progress of each of his minions.  a third Waitress stumbles in

through the Black Metal Back Door of the B.o’B.  this time the door has returned to

sticking to the ground and makes a loud scraping sound as it is open and shut>>

 

“Junior!  See if you can find some more Janitor Blood to quiet that Black Metal Door back

down … MMM’Kay?”, says Notnek.  <<he giggles to himself and does not notice the

pause and look of horror on everyone in the kitchen’s faces.  even Rickie Torch

pauses and looks a bit lost after hearing Notnek speak so callously about the death

of the Janitor>>

 

<<you have no idea how the Boss was able to get the police in and out so quickly this

morning; but Notnek has sped the wheels of justice along and now has his

restaurant open.  the question of legality is up for debate.  can one serve

hamburgers at a crime scene?  you, Hopskotch and Free Dave are sure gonna try!  

the focus this morning was on clean-up and sanitation; so you decided to run with

the leftovers of Yesterday’s specials and to stock and restock the line as the day

runs on.  the cooks who were in jail Yesterday are out on bail Today and there is

even a new guy coming in to watch the dish machine work this evening.  it looks like

you and your morning crew might only have to work one shift today>>

 

<<you think that (other than losing a dear friend to seemingly random violence) this could turn out to be a decent day!  Finnegan, you know that thoughts like that only lead to the entire world going to hell>>

 

&&image of finnegan calling out ticket order, Free Dave grilling chicken and Hopskotch washing dishes and Notnek looking at them with a scowl on his face and his hands crossed over his Hawaiian shirt&&

 

<<the day is somewhat warmish and the sun is shining.  the first customers of the

morning only order light sandwiches and salads to wash down their alcohol and

caffeine with.  you call out tickets, Hopskotch Sunday assembles salads, you grill

bread for the sandwiches, and Free Dave fries some Fries and other assorted fried

foods.  the lunch crowd starts to thicken as the morning ends.  the construction

workers and college boys come with their appetites for steak and various grilled

meats.  Free Dave’s grill area starts to heat the kitchen up, despite the aging vent

hood’s attempt to suck smoke and heat out from the grill area.  Free Dave goes

through the last of the regular local beef patties and opens a new box>>

 

“Okay guys, let’s try out the new hamburgers that Rickie Torch brought us!”, says Free

Dave.  <<with obvious obnoxious joy in his voice>>

 

<<Free Dave sticks his hand in to the box of meat in the fridge and after a second,

he starts to scream>>

 

<<you and Hopskotch (and probably everyone else in the Bucket o’ Blood) stop what

you are doing and turn to look at Free Dave.  Free Dave tries to pull his hand out of

the burger box and out of the refrigerator, but he meets with resistance.  you

cannot see what it is that he is struggling with, but before you can come to his aid,

Free Dave falls to his knees and then pushes himself away from the refrigerator.  he

is holding what is left of his right arm.  it seems to be missing a hand and most of a

wrist.  blood pours out of Free Dave’s stump.  you think that he is going to pass out;

but he just keeps screaming and trying to crawl away from the fridge, where his

eyes are still fixed in terror.  you turn to look.  out of the refrigerator crawls a

creature somewhat larger than a basketball.  it has an eye in the center of it, a few

strand of greasy black hair with a bone spike on it’s top,  four rather sharp looking

teeth protruding out of a mouth and five tentacles that it is using to manner around

with.  the meat creature has Free Dave’s missing hand in it’s mouth.  you watch in

awe as the creature swallows the hand whole.  the hand passes though the blob’s on

foot tall body.  the hand the protrudes inbetween the monster’s tentacles.  you can

see the hand is now a fully functional part of the living meat.  the monster is using

the hand to crawl..or walk.  the hamburger meat creature moves like a hungry

spider toward Free Dave.  Free Dave lay between you and the fridge monster on the

floor>>

 

<<you grab your spatula off of the grill.  the meat monster flings out one of it’s

tentacles and wraps it around Free Dave’s favorite right leg.  the monster pulls

itself toward him and lunges at the leg barring it’s razor sharp teeth.  you then jump

forward, straddling Free Dave’s torso, and slice through the tentacle with your

spatula.  the meat screams in pain, much like Free Dave did a minute ago.  the meat

then turns it’s attention to you>>

 

<<you jump up off of your broken co-worker, spatula in hand, and face down every

cook’s worst fear: the food fighting back.  you stand, feet spread apart, ready for a

fight or to flight.  the meat jumps over it’s first victim and lands at your feet.  this

thing moves quick, you gather.  it really is fast food!>>

 

I wish you wouldn’t have reminded me that I thought that.  I almost lost the fight from

laughing to myself about that…

 

<<ha ha ha ha!  the meat fakes left and then lunges for your right leg.  you raise

your leg out of the way of it’s attack and then smack the meat monster with the

back of your spatula.  the cow patty goes flying back down the cook line, tentacles

flailing, and lands on the wall between the freezer and the fryer.  the thing sticks to

the wall, dripping with grease and grime and Free Dave blood.  the monster looks a

nit dazed from the blow you delivered.  it shakes it’s body and focuses it’s one eye

on you.  the eye narrows in anger.  the meat bares it’s fangs and tenses it’s limbs.  

you step forward wielding your spatula and pick up a knife off of the salad line

cutting board.  two warriors on the field of battle.  the fryer next to the back wall

bubbles>>

 

&&image of meat monster and Finnegan preparing to fight&&

 

<<Free Dave lay bleeding on the ground.  the meat monster waves a tentacle at you;

like a boxer enticing an opponent to bring on the attack.  you raise spatula hand to

block with and lower your knife hand to stab and cut with.  the formerly dead cow

jumps at your head.  almost in slow motion you watch as that which came from a

box of hamburgers now flies though the air, five feet across the kitchen, tentacles

swinging at your face.  you prepare to respond to the attack, but Hopskotch Sunday

steps between you and the pint sized beast.  Hopskotch holds a metal cooking pot

and it’s lid.  the meat monster’s eye grows real wide when it’s flight through the air

is abruptly ended by the Dishwasher catching it in a soup pot.  “CLAANG!!”, echoes

the lid as Hopskotch captures your food based foe.  a cheer comes from Lawyer Bob

at the bar.  you turn to see him raise a glass of gin to you and Hopskotch in salute.  

Notnek is nowhere in sight.  he is probably out front welcoming more hungry

customers>>

 

<<the battle brought to a halt, you high five Hopskotch after he places the pot on the

floor and puts his foot on the lid to keep the beast at bay.  you try to think of

something clever to say to your painting buddy, but suddenly Notnek comes

storming into the kitchen; and as is often the case, he is screaming>>

 

“What the hell is going on in here Junior?!  You guys drinking my cooking wine again?”,

Notnek says.

 

<<he sees a trail of blood on the floor and Free Dave holding a formerly white bar

towel over his wrist stump.  Notnek looks at Hopskotch Sunday resting one foot on

top of a soup pot that is trying to jump around on the floor.  Notnek then looks at

you holding a bloody spatula and a large knife>>

 

“Gawd damn!?!  You freaks trying to cook Free Dave’s goddamned hand for lunch?!”,

Notnek says.  <<he starts to back out of the kitchen>>

 

“No Boss!”, squeals Free Dave.  <<you cannot believe Free Dave is now standing up>>  

“Finnegan saved my life from some…some kind of monster that came out of the fridge!”,

continues Free Dave.  

“Monster?  You boys on some new drugs?  Uh…sorry Junior.”, says Notnek.  <<he stares

at your breasts>>

 

“Nooo Boss…  It came out of the meat box Mister Rickie Torch brought us.  i almost died!  

Died!  It ate my damn hand, and then it pooped it out and used my pooped out hand to

walk with!  It attacked us all!  It is in that soup pot.  For real Boss!  Look!”, says Free Dave.

 

<<after about the second word of Free Dave’s second sentence, Notnek had walked

past you and Hopskotch and the moving soup pot and put his arm around the

injured Free Dave and started escorting him toward the Black Metal Back Door>>

 

“I’m gonna go get Free Dave patched up.  He’s delirious from blood loss.  Damn drunk cut

off his hand.  You boys clean up this mess…uh, sorry Finnegan.”, says Notnek.  

 

<<and with those words, another glance at your breasts, Notnek leads Free Dave out

of the Black Metal Back Door of the Bucket o’ Blood and to his pick ‘em up truck.  

you presume that Notnek is going to take Free Dave to a hospital…or out to

pasture>>

 

“He doesn’t believe him?”, Hopskotch asks.  <<as he continues to hold down the soup

pot lid with his foot>>

 

“Would you?”, you reply.

 

“What the hell happened Junior?”, asks Angel.  

 

<<Angel and Theta walk into the kitchen.  the folks from up front are immediately

repulsed by the sight of a floor full of blood>>

 

“I told you Theta!”, says Angel.  <<she points to the blood on the floor and to the blood

oozing out of the bucket-like soup pot>>

 

“No it’s…”, you start to explain.

 

<<but just then, the soup pot slides sideways on the greasy, bloody floor and

Hopskotch is thrown off balance and falls.  he catches himself on the flat grill.  

Hopskotch Sunday screams in burning red pain.  the Waitress screams.  the

Bartender screams.  you scream, because the hamburger monster is crawling out of

the pot and up the side of the salad line.  Hopskotch is quick to pull himself up off

the burning grill and you are also quick to smack the gory ghoul back into the pot

with your spatula of glory.  you drop your weapons, pick up the soup pot and run to

the fryers at the end of the line>>

 

<<there are screams from the co-workers behind you and a growl of rage and

protest from the one eyed, one handed, one horned blob of blood and guts in the

pot.  you turn the pot upside down and shake out the monster inside into the fryer

full of boiling oil>>

 

“AHHHHHHHH!!!”, screams the meat monster.  <<as it melts into nothingness>>

 

<<black smoke pours up from the fryer and flows up into the ancient vent hood>>

 

“Angel honey, can I get another gin and some more fried shrimp sticks?”, hollers Lawyer

Bob.  <<from his front row seat at the bar>>

 

&&image of lawyer bob holding up his empty high ball glass&&

 

<<after Notnek left the Bucket o’ Blood with the newly crippled Free Dave, you and

Hopskotch went to work wiping up and burning off the blood and gore from the

kitchen equipment and floor…again.  yes, for the second time today, you and

Hopskotch had to clean co-worker off the walls.  truth be told, however, there is so

much grease on the walls and ceiling, that Free Dave’s blood doesn’t really attract

much attention there.  Angel and Theta tell all incoming customers that the kitchen

has closed for a couple hours for restocking.  the Waitress and the Bartender of the

Bucket o’ Blood now sit down at the bar next to Lawyer Bob and the other regulars

and drink the Boss’s oat loads whilst folding silverware into napkins…for the

customers to take out again.  the Boss’s friends always enjoy the ladies’ company

while they watch athletes do athletic things on the large flat screen televisions hung

over the bar>>

 

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