Petie stowed the Tupperware container in the refrigerator and said, "You call Nadine and tell her we're on our way. I'll load the car." The vats of soup were too hot and too heavy for either of the women to carry, so Eddie Coolbaugh had rigged up a table-high dolly for them, and a ramp down the two steps outside. From there they just slid the vats into the back of Petie's old Ford Colt. Together they jockeyed the huge pots onto the dolly and out the kitchen door. Petie disappeared down the ramp while Rose dialed. It was ten-thirty in the morning; Souperior's started serving lunch at eleven. Nadine answered on the first ring.
"You're pushing it, you guys," she said when she heard Rose's voice. She sounded unusually testy; Rose guessed it was a migraine day.
"Petie's got the engine running. Corn chowder and lentil."
"Where's the vegetable barley?"
"We got a deal on salt pork, so we switched. Does it matter? Did you publish the menu in the paper?"
"As it happens, the ad doesn't start until next week. But I'd like to have known. You should have asked me. I'm the owner. You're the employees."
"You sound like you have a headache."
"I have late soup, is what I have. Give me a break, Rose."
"We'd be there already if we weren't talking."
Nadine sighed. "You're both taking advantage of me."
"Yes," Rose said, "but we're completely supportive. Look for us in five minutes." Rose retrieved the empty dolly and closed the kitchen door behind her, smiling. She'd just been kidding about a newspaper ad.
Souperior's turned its back on the highway to moon westward from the high and rocky rim of Hubbard Bay. Petie remembered when the shambly little place had been the barbershop and all the Hubbard men had looked alike because old Walt Miller hadn't gone to barber school up in Portland yet to learn a second way to cut hair. Petie's father used to hang around the place half plowed making a pest of himself, especially after her mother died and they lost the house and had to move into the camp trailer up at the top of Chollum Road. Old Man was a contentious drunk; sometimes Walt had had to sneak out of his own shop to get away and call her to come get him. Once, while Walt wasn't looking, her father had taken his little buck knife and carved into the shop's doorjamb, I got fucked in '74. JST. That was the year her mother's uninsured hospital bills came to seventy-five thousand dollars and she died anyway. Walt had sanded most of the message away, but he'd left the JST as an expression of sympathy. Although the initials had been covered over with a few coats of paint by now, Petie could still feel a faint depression with her fingertips.
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