Hours later, after the poker game broke up, Janos was still waiting in the kitchen. Arch Pennock thought he'd gone on home after all the dumplings had been finished by the ravening horde that was his poker buddies.

"Mister Pennock," Janos said, "I don't mind cooking Sundays, I really don't. But going into catering, well, I do not know if it is a good idea. When would I do it? I've got a job." He'd been having second thoughts . . . lots of second thoughts.

"John Ose, how much is that skinflint paying you to pluck chickens?"

"I am well paid, Mister Pennock. I make two hundred dollars a week."

"Kid, if you were working forty hours that would be five dollars an hour. But I know better. You're putting in ten and twelve hour days. You give your boss a week's notice tomorrow."

"Beg pardon, Mister Pennock . . . what means 'give notice'?"

"Tell him you're quitting and he's got one week to find and train your replacement."

"I can't do that! I need a job to pay my rent. And eat. Besides, if I tell him that, he'll fire me on the spot."

"Good. Listen, you're getting half the profits. We'll put you on a two fifty a week draw."

Janos was a bit confused. Mr. Pennock often had that effect on him. "Two fifty a week draw?"

"It means that each and every week you collect two hundred and fifty dollars starting next week . . . or this week if the skunk gives you the boot. We deduct it from your half of the profits and if there aren't any profits, I'll eat it."

Janos wasn't sure he understood every thing Arch was saying. "You will pay me two hundred and fifty dollars a week to make dumplings?"

"Well, if you want to put it that way, yes."

"Mister Pennock, I will start tomorrow!"

"No, you will start next week. You will give your current employer a weeks' notice. Of course, you don't have to be overly polite about it and if the idiot cans you, then the draw starts this week. And another thing, how old are you?"

"I am twenty-three years of age, Mister Pennock."

"Well, kid, you're way too old to be calling me mister all the time, especially if we're going to be partners. Call me Arch." Arch stuck out his hand, thinking everything was settled and Janos understood and agreed to what was going on. He was soon to find out different.


Monday morning, not long after dawn, Arch stumbled to the kitchen door in his robe and slippers, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. The knocking on the door was reasonably polite and entirely insistent.

"Good morning, Arch. I gave notice like you told me and now I am no longer employed as a chicken-plucker."

Arch looked at the horizon. About half of the sun was showing over the hill top. He closed his eyes and rubbed them hard. "Come on in, John. Have you had breakfast?"

"Yes. I ate a heel of bread while I walked to work this morning."

"Well. I haven't had my coffee yet. Do you know how to make coffee?"

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