Ann was in the kitchen, precooking French fries.
Potatoes don't cook all that fast, even when they're sliced thin and fried at 360 degrees. So you have to cook them ahead of time, until they're almost done, then, when someone orders them, you pull them out an order at a time, and give them their final few minutes in deep fat.
Ann was lowering a load into the deep fryer as I came in. I picked up the kitchen knife with the bent tip, and waved it in front of her.
"You need a new knife."
She glanced at it, then began filling another basket.
"Yeah, I know. Our last cook wasn't very careful."
"I've been thinking about our talk the other day."
"In the attic."
"I can see why you might resent this place."
"I don't resent it."
"Might want to 'escape' it, then."
She lifted the second basket toward the fryer.
"I'm pretty busy at the moment, Clarence."
"Sorry. It's just that—are you sure Julie feels the same way?"
She stopped, halfway to the fryer, then turned and dropped the basket back on the counter. She wiped her hands on her apron and cocked her head to one side.
"Are you sure Julie wants to escape?"
Her eyes narrowed, and she pressed her lips together, tightly, before answering.
"Julie doesn't know what she wants."
End of discussion.
I decided to switch the focus.
"You think that's what's going on with Tim, too?"
"What do you mean?"
She was giving off the same warning signs about this one. I plunged ahead anyway.
"Those two don't spend much time together—for a young couple in love."
"He was over here just the other day. What are you getting at?"
"It's just that Julie doesn't seem quite as happy as…"
Whatever her limit was, I had exceeded it. She snatched the knife from my hand and slammed it on the counter.
"Look. You've been a great help. I'm very grateful for everything, okay? But I'm Julie's mother, and you're not. So butt out. Got it?"
I backed toward the door.