The waitress knocked on the door and entered the office without waiting for a reply.
“There’s a girl out there seen the sign in the window and she’s come about the dishwashing job.” She announced, casting a glance over her shoulder back into the restaurant. Luigi looked out and saw only one seat occupied. He took a second look which confirmed what he had seen the first time. It was not a girl; it was a woman. And what a woman! Although she was seated he could see that she was very tall. She was slouched, nonchalantly, on a chair with her right leg stuck out at a 90 degree angle from her left and it reached into the room like a flying buttress on the cathedral of her body.
“One of her legs is longer than both of my wife’s legs put together.” He mused.
The woman leaned arrogantly backwards and draped her arms over the tops of two chairs. Luigi saw that she wore no wedding ring.
“Hey, Marco.” He shouted to the man who sat not two yards away. “Come and look at this.”
Marco was his business partner and they were also brothers. They ran the Trattoria Roma on Drake Street. It didn’t really need the two of them but the business could support it. There was barely enough work for one manager so they filled up their time by eating. They had a private table in one corner of the restaurant and it was always open house for friends and family and they sat there from eleven in the morning until closing time. Occasionally, one of them would get up and stroll calmly around the room casting an enveloping gaze over the whole restaurant as though he was personally responsible for the total welfare of his clients at that exact moment in time. Then he would sit down again, his appetite renewed and restored by the exertions of running a restaurant.
Marco pushed the door slightly ajar and looked out.
“She don’t look like no dishwasher to me.” He said. “She looks like a hooker.”
“What’s a dishwasher look like? Tell me that!” Demanded Luigi. “If she says she’s a dishwasher then she’s a dishwasher.”
“Did you ever see a dishwasher wearing an evening dress and high heels?” Asked Marco, grasping the air and squeezing it.
“Sure. Plenty of times when they wasn’t at work. Maybe she was just passing on the way to a party and saw the sign in the window saying we needs a dishwasher.” Snorted Luigi.
“Who goes to parties at eleven in the morning?” Countered Marco.
“Maybe she had appointment somewhere or other. What do I know? She wants a job.” Said Luigi with exasperation in his voice.
“If I looked like her I wouldn’t have to work. I wouldn’t even have to blow my own nose. I’d have people to do it. Look at her hands. Do they look like hands that do dishes? I don’t think so. See her fingernails? She didn’t bite them into that shape. That’s a professional job. Real dishwashers don’t use nail polish.”
Luigi sneaked another quick glance through the narrow opening in the door. She was still sat there in the same position and she was pouting like she was perched opposite a lover that only she could see.
“I say we give her a chance.” He concluded. “Let’s not judge people on appearances. She might be desperate for work and just putting on a show. Maybe she’s a student finding it hard to make ends meet. I say let’s not condemn her before we see what she can do.”
“She looks like a high-class whore.” Said Marco. “Her whole attitude is ‘come and get me if you think your wad is big enough’. She looks like trouble. Go and tell her that we found someone.”
Luigi thought of his wife, Anna. She was a good person but she was almost as wide as she was tall and had stubble on her chin that could grate carrots. She was a lovely woman who had given up trying to make herself look lovely. As for himself, he was still a very youthful sixty and it was not fair that she had aged so much more than him.
“You don’t tell me what to do.” He snapped. “If I want to give her the job, I give her the job. O.K?”
“O.K!” Said Marco. “Give her the job.”
Luigi walked into the restaurant and sat down next to the woman.
“My name’s Luigi.” He announced. “You come for the dishwasher?”
He knew his English was incorrect. It always happened when he was on the telephone or faced with a beautiful woman. He became tongue-tied and nervous and talked like an Italian who had just got off the boat, yet he had been in England for thirty eight years.
“Yes.” She said, glistening her lips with the tip of her tongue. “You say you want a dishwasher?”
“Yes. We are very, very busy.” Replied Luigi.
“Well. This is your lucky day.” She said. “I have one that is in perfect working order and you can have it for nothing if you want to come and pick it up.”
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