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