Kilkenny Fried Killing
Kentucky Kilkenny Fried Killing
The Friday night twilight shift – 8pm to 2am closing time plus the end of day clean up – in the city’s cheapest fried chicken take-away is Siobhan’s least favourite duty. There is almost always a tussle or two between rival local lad gangs; regular attempts at sleazy flirtation, which leave her feeling like she needs a wash; and if there isn’t at least one lot of sick to clean up she feels as if she’s won the lottery. This particular late October evening is proving to be particularly taxing. Burdened with the worry of how to pay for the promised Halloween themed birthday party for the twins, especially now that Joe’s hours at the warehouse have been cut, she’s not looking forward, to say the least, to the rowdy post-pub crowd.
To save money Siobhan’s own main meal of the day is going to be the free combo which supplements her paltry wage packet but as she hasn’t yet had her break low blood sugar results in a less than usual ability to keep on top of the rush. The queue is impatient and more than one angry customer returns to the counter insisting that their order is incorrect. But it isn’t the, clearly very drunk, woman’s ‘get it right ya silly cow’ that brings her to tears. Rather it’s Pete’s ‘final warning’ that does it. She’s been employed by Kilkenny’s Fried Chicken Shop for six years now and enjoyed working for, and with, Christie the previous owner. He was great at calming tension, generally using humour and a bit of craic, to effectively diffuse aggressive encounters; always asked after the girls and worked the rota around her childcare responsibilities. Managing home and work became much more stressful when he retired and that along with longer hours for less pay – ‘there’s plenty of others who’ll want the hours if you don’t’ - and meaner portions - leading inevitably to more complaints from consumers - means that Siobhan now loathes a job she once enjoyed.
It’s 1.30am and Siobhan and Kate, who is tonight’s fryer, still haven’t had a break. It’s almost impossible to take one since Pete cut down on the number of people on a shift. He could step in and help of course but for the past hour he has done little other than count and re-count the takings. It’s quieter now, a little earlier than usual, and Siobhan decides to clear the tables and empty the overflowing bins before she eats.
There are no more customers and Kate is preparing chicken plus accompaniments for the two of them as 2am nears. Rubbing her aching back Siobhan walks to the back of the shop to turn off the sound system. She hears Kate sigh, with what she assumes is the same relief that she feels, as the too loud music gives way to quiet. Then she hears something else; a dull thump, thump. Entering the store room Siobhan sees that the large walk-in freezer is shut and the banging accompanied by Pete’s muffled shouts are coming from inside. The lock’s been dodgy for months but its owner is both too lazy and too mean to get it fixed. Quietly closing the door to the storeroom Siobhan looks towards Kate who nod is brief but definite.
After eating their meal in companionable silence Kate turns off the lights and Siobhan locks up posting the keys though the front entrance letterbox. This practice is fairly common given that Pete often slopes off early, via the backdoor, with a take-out and a top-shelf purchase from the local newsagents. The two women hug and walk off in opposite directions. Following a few hours’ sleep, and, Siobhan assumes, a visit from the police, they will each need to start looking for a new job. Right now neither woman cares.