(Continued from Scenes From An Italian Restaurant – Two)
At six sharp the staff was gone, the door locked, house lights out and the bar dimmed. Connie and Marie moved through the room staying busy-wiping the clean bar or counting cheese in the fridge for the fifth time. At 6:10 Connie looked at the clock and sighed, untying her apron.
“Jesus, Tony”, she whispered.
“Yeah, right…” Marie answered tightly peeling her tongue from the roof of her mouth. She couldn’t have been more nervous if she were the one awaiting a spanking.
Then, ten minutes later, they heard the kitchen door swing open and their eyes settled on Antonio striding into the room. He had changed into a white logo-T that clung to his chest and shoulders and carried a long wooden spatula with three holes drilled down the center. Every time Connie happened into the kitchen she would glance at that particular tool hanging innocently above the stove with all the other utensils at the ready to stir a deep pot of sauce or anything else the chef saw fit to do with it.
Antonio pulled an armless wooden chair into the open space behind the barstools. “Good day today, Ladies. For a Sunday. Everything turn out OK?”
“Yes, Chef”, they echoed.
“All good”, Connie answered with a wry smile. “Counted and in the safe.”
“No more broken glasses?” he looked at Marie and she almost jumped-she had forgotten that.
Antonio sat. “Good, good…One question Connie”, he said looking up, seemingly taller than she even when sitting. “Seriously. And the truth. Were you drinking last night?”
“No!” She said quickly. Then, “well no more than usual…a glass of wine at close. Same as always.”
“That’s no problem. You’re a forty year old woman, if you can ‘t have a drink what’s the world coming to?”
“I’m thirty seven”, she chirped knowing she was being teased.
“So I round up.”
“You could round down to thirty five, you know.”
“Thirty seven, thirty five-what’s it matter? You run rings around the twenty five year olds.” He nodded over to Marie, “Between you and Sophia Loren over there you’re the best I got. Best I ever had. Without you two, I close down and go back into retail.”
Marie nodded a small bow. “Thanks, Chef”, said Connie standing like a penitent before him, eyes downcast.
“But that’s why what happened last night is so wrong. You know better-you know what to do but you don’t do it!”
“I do most of the time”, she said almost whining with her head down. Marie, watching intently, almost expected her to kick at the floor.
“People don’t come here because we’re good ‘most of the time’ do they? This is not a forgiving business. We have to be on the razor’s edge all of the time, right?”
“Sometimes I have to help you focus, right? To…help you keep your thoughts on the tasks at hand right?” Then, when she didn’t answer, “Right?”
“Yes Chef”, she said softly.
“You have to be…what is it? ‘In the moment?’ Don’t think of something else until the one thing is done. Right?”
“Hundred percent right Chef.”
“Oh, you agree then…”
“You weren’t in the moment last night were you?”
“Jesus”, thought Marie. She might cry if she were ever scolded like this. Antonio might yell-but she never knew him to lecture. She glanced at Connie who looked for all the world like a chastened, naughty child and felt tremendously uncomfortable. She had slipped into a memory that she couldn’t exactly remember, but could feel.
“I…don’t know, Chef”, she said miserably. “I’m sorry….”
“That’s OK. I’m going to make it right. See? I’m focused. I’m in the moment. The only thing I’m thinking about right now is paddling your bottom. Only thing on my mind.”
“Mine too, as it turns out.”
“Come on then.” He waved her over with the spatula that Connie was trying to avoid seeing. She moved to his right side and unsnapped her jeans. She would typically lay over his lap and he would pull them down when he was ready-usually well into the spanking. But now, “You might as well take them down”, he said.
“Oh, OK”, she said with nary a pause but a small gulp. She unzipped them and let them slide, with little prompting into a pile around her feet. He had put the spatula down and reached up to take her hand. Gently, as if leading her onto a pitching boat, he helped her settle across his lap.
“I don’t know Connie,” he said patting the back of her leg. “It seems like a long time since you’ve been here but you fit so well.”
She shrugged a rueful smile that no one could see, staring as she was at the ceramic tiles and Antonio’s leather sandals. It was true though-she had been with him for close to twelve years and two restaurants-started when she was twenty five. How many times had she had this view of his footwear?
But it had never gone beyond that. When she was married-which happily she hadn’t been for six years now-her husband never knew that her boss spanked her. He would have assumed what everybody assumed; that a good spanking was a prelude to a good fucking. It had never been like that for her. Or for Antonio.
“It’s probably been too long”, Connie said upside down.
“Probably. I’ve been neglectful…Forgive me. ”
She wriggled as he pulled her panties down easily over her slim bottom. “Oh, oh”, she thought. He had never started in on the bare-he always worked up to it. He pushed them all the way to her knees leaving her exposed in a way she hadn’t expected.
“Oh, oh”, thought Marie from the pub table where she leaned. The generalized flutter in her chest grew into more of a drumbeat. Without realizing it she had lifted her hand to her breast like an old woman with the vapors. She had told herself that she was here to support Connie-maybe comfort her in her time of need. She had told herself that to make it seem like she was here for more than to watch her friend being spanked. But now, seeing her bare bottom just feet away, she wasn’t so sure her intentions were all that noble. She suddenly had trouble trying to figure out where to put her eyes.