I heard Stans voice "Hi Tess, how goes it" I turned from the closet I was stacking napkins in,"Not bad,you're here early to talk about Gus aren't you." He looked downcast, "Yeah Tess, I don't know what to do anymore, he's too difficult for me to work with." I sighed, "Look,Stan, you know all chefs are like that,.you two have been working together over a year now. You don't use his language, but you've got an annoying habit of stirring him up by telling him he shouldn't use it, everytime you talk to him, as if you were a preacher trying to reform him . You can't treat him like that Stan." I knew I had hurt him he's easily offended. "Okay Tess, I can see your taking his side so I'll just do my job and shut up." As Stan began to walk towards his station, I said"I'm not taking his side I'm just being fair." He mumbled "Oh sure"
I let it go at that hoping his pouting wouldn't last all night, but it was better than him arguing with Gus, and getting a pot of food thrown at him. I knew Stan wouldn't quit he had found a home here.I was worried about Liz and Gus's wife having a brawl without having to worry about Stan. I decided to have a drink at the bar and relax a bit, let Myra do the rest of the set up, it's her job. Just then in walked Beanzie, oh no I thought. I didn't like too many mob hanging around at the same time. But right after him came Detective Arlen and Ken the bailbondsman.
Margie our hostess showed them to a corner table in the lounge, a nice dark one. She came over to me and said they asked me to join them for a drink. They liked the idea of having the owner sit with them, and tell them personally what the menu was and discuss what specials Gus was cooking up, among other things. In general people never understood how wise guys and lawmen were so much alike, but I learned it early on in the business.It was my first real encounter with the strange duality of life, of how opposite sides of the coin were melded together. Most diners are unaware of the fact that many mafia, mob and law men spend much time in restaurants doing their deal making. It's a fact of life. Of course it's more prevalent in certain neighborhoods, but they can be found in the best of them no matter the location.I told Margie to tell them I had some business to take care of first, then I'd join them.
I put off having a drink and faced the task of a talk with Gus, about Stan but mostly, the close encounter that almost occured last night between his wife Rita and his mistress Liz. They had missed each other only by a matter of minutes I was tired of the charade I played with these women. It had become too involved, and it had to stop. At first I just tried to be noncommital when I'd talk to one or the other about Gus, when either of them had come in the restaurant. However it had become almost a case of lying to them both to keep stories of Gus straight. I never meant for it to go this far. They both loved Gus, Rita a lovely greek woman very passionate in her ways, very smart, and easy to like, but she could be too stern. Liz redhead attractive not a beauty like Rita, but full of fun though much less smart. She could be trouble. I had discussed all of this before with Gus. Now it was time to give him an ultimatum. I dreaded it. I didn't want to lose the best chef I ever had.
To be continued