The cook/bartender gave her a good long look sideways, called out the names attached to the fat food baskets and came to approach her. She simply handed the tickets to him with the orders she received while he was in back. Instead of kicking her out of the establishment like she half expected, he hesitated, took the order slips, and headed back into the kitchen without a word.
As she filled drink orders up front, she felt him watching her from the kitchen. Watching her specifically when she used the till. He continued the pace of collecting her orders, cooking and calling them out, and she kept the pace of the bar patrons. A little after one the cook called out, “Last Call!” and a few guests sauntered up to the counter. The sloppier their walk, the less strong she made their drinks.
When all was said and done, he kicked everyone out. He turned a few lights on over the dance floor, shut a few things down, and locked the front door as she tidied her area.
He then turned and faced her straight on. She was ready. Bring it.
Instead of hollering at her for breaking the rules, he simply said, “Thank you. How much do I owe you?”
She had braced herself for the worst and was not prepared for this particular question, or his calm demeanor. “I was just helping a new friend, no charge.”
He muddled over her words a minute. “Do you think you could help a new friend again tomorrow night?”
Yes! She did a mental backflip. She learned that the harder she tried, the luckier she seemed to get. “I would love to.” She responded.
“I’ve got some paperwork in back – just hold on a second and I’ll get it.”
“Uhm. Actually, that’s not necessary…”
“Lady, this is a legit business, and we have laws to follow about this kind of thing.” He said gruffly.
“I have no doubt about the legalities, I just know that I don’t want my name on any papers.” Her voice drifted off as the reality of the situation hit her. Names on papers would get her caught, found, and the memory of smoke filling her nostrils came back with intensity. “I was hoping I could just work for tips. No paperwork, no wages, I just get to keep my tips at the end of the night.” She was holding her breath and forced herself to breath normally.
When she saw his hesitant look, she continued, “I assure you I will not be turning you in for any mishandling of paperwork.” He studied her inquisitively for a long moment before nodding his head.
“If you do, I will never remember seeing you working in this establishment.”
“I would hope you could give that answer to anyone who may ever ask.”
His questioning gaze traveled her face once more. She must look amiss. She did the best she could to tame her wild hair, but she got the feeling that this man could see right through her.