“It’s a very big step.”

Story 11

Tuesday, March 17,2020

“This is what hell looks like,” Chef said.

He wheeled his bycycle to the back of the kitchen muttering, not aware only two of us came to work.

“Biked past the New York Hilton and it looked like the day after a nuclear attack. Nobody on the sidewalk. Not one effin taxi zooming up Sixth Avenue. Not one person on a street corner waiting for the lights to change. You can take a hundred hits of acid and never see anything like what I saw this morning.”

The back doorbell buzzed.

“Who’s that?” Chef asked.

The porter walked toward the door. The bell buzzed again, and the porter shouted in Spanish.

Our produce guy wheeled his hand truck into the kitchen, stopping in front of the pickup station. Chef looked at him then at the boxes on the hand truck. A case of Driscoll strawberries. A flat of raspberries. Ten heads of chicory. Five heads of radicchio. A ten-pound bag of green beans and a dozen eggplants.

“What’s all this for? You know we are closed except for takeout and pickups,” Chef said.

The produce guy slid his hand truck away from the boxes, which stood between him and Chef.

“Who the hell ordered this crap?” Chef asked.

The produce guy took out the delivery ticket from his back pocket and put it on the pickup station.

“You need a pen?” the produce guy asked. “I swiped this one the day I got released from Rikers.”

Nobody laughed because he told us about Rikers the first time he brought us stuff.

“First tell me who the hell ordered this crap.”

The produce guy rubbed his chin and took off his baseball cap.

“You going to sign for this, or what?”

Chef tapped his fingers on the table.

“Tony must have ordered this fifteen minutes before we laid him off. Remind me never to hire a horse player again. Those guys never tell you nothing.”

Chef used the produce guy’s pen. When finished he wiped his hands on the side of his pants.

The produce guy wheeled his hand truck out of the kitchen. He went maybe five yards then turned and started speaking.

“Who’s this guy Fauci?” Donald J is putting alot of faith in this doctor nobody heard of. You know anything about him?”

Chef picked a strawberry from the flat and popped it in his mouth.

“What did Donald J say?”

“Lockdown is a big step.”

“That’s what DJ said ?” Chef asked.

The produce guy laughed.

“What are you laughing about now?” Chef asked.

“You should wash that stuff before you eat it,” he said. “That’s how people get really sick.”


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