Saturday, November 5, 2011
GLAZED (Short Story)
Glazed was written years ago. It's all about a guy that is so focused on his own pleasures, he missed the important stuff. It's so old and I'd do it differently now. Honestly I don't think I'd write it this way at all now. I do love that I got to play with taste and scent. The food descriptions were so much fun.
But I think it's a bit rushed and it's not as well developed as it could be.
Still it's amusing so I'm sharing. Here is one of my early short stories---Glazed.
Glass rained down in a sparkling cloudburst. Slivers of light, like live things speared into the passersby. I could barely hear the people screaming from inside my bakery but I could see it in dazzling techno-color.
People, smeared with bright streaks of blood, were scattered over the street. Some still, some running, and the worst, just hugging the ground, crying. The large glass windows in the county clerk's office were shattered all over the road. I shook my head at the noise and mess.
I took one last bite of the chocolate éclair, deliciously sweet, licked the dark streaks from my fingers, and went about straightening the shelves and wiping down the counters. The police weren't long in coming, followed closely by the ambulances. I counted the personnel gathering at the scene and started mixing another batch of batter.
Both coffee pots were brewing, I put out the fresh glazed donuts and popped another batch of snicker doodles in the oven. Some song was playing over and over in my head; I hummed a little piece of the melody, trying to catch the title. I liked things to be orderly. What was the name of that song? I nibbled on a cinnamon roll, pinching off little bites, savoring the glaze. I hummed a few more notes.
The bell jingled over the door and two uniformed police officers came in. One sported a paunch over his belt and wore tinted sunglasses. The other was shorter, thin, and dark.
"Morning Officers, would you like to try some of the glazed? They're still warm. Mmmm...all gooey." I washed my hands at the back sink and turned back to the officers, "So, what will it be?"
The heavy one took off his sunglasses and tucked them in his front pocket, "I'm Officer Mulroy and this is Deets, we wanted to ask you a few questions about the trouble this morning."
"What trouble?" I opened up the back of the display and took out two crème horns.
"Sir, surely you heard the explosion this morning?" Mulroy stepped closer, the plastic buttons of his shirt scraping against the counter.
"Oh that. I saw the window blow out. Is that what happened? An explosion? Well, isn't that interesting. How about a crème horn, fresh baked this morning?"
"No thank you. Are you the Derry on the sign outside?"
"Yes, that's me. Derry Dean of Derry's Delights. How about some of my lemon cookies? I mix lemon zest into the batter and it really makes the taste pop." I held out a small display tray, I had developed the recipe myself. They looked good, crisp and not to sweet. I tossed one into my mouth, mmm...good.
"Sorry, I have a weakness for sweets. Are you sure you don't want any? They are terribly good, if I do say so myself." I helped myself to another. Heavenly.
The dark one cleared his throat, "Sir, about this morning, what exactly did you see?" He pulled out a small black notebook and cheap ballpoint pen.
"Hmm...this morning. Yes, I was just trying one of my new éclairs, the dark chocolate, when the windows blew out. Would you like one? Coffee?"
"No. The windows?"
"Oh yes, the windows." I checked the batch of snicker doodles in the oven, not quite ready yet, "Mmm, the windows. Well, about nine-fifteen the windows shattered and hit all those people on the street. The coffee's a special blend, hazelnut and vanilla. Are you sure you don't want any?"
"No coffee. Mr. Derry, we're trying to run an investigation here, do you think you could just give us the specifics? The explosion was at 9:15am?"
"Well...there was an explosion, the windows blew out. Oh, I was so fortunate that I wasn't baking cakes this morning. Yes, where was I, yes, the glass went everywhere and all the people started running and yelling. I don't suppose you want to try a piece of peanut butter fudge?" I slid a smooth, sinful portion into my mouth. I closed my eyes on the rich, delicious taste. I opened my eyes to Mulroy's red, irritated face.
"Was it 9:15 or not?" Deets spoke this time, his words bitten off and spit out like a mouth full of unsweetened baker's chocolate.
"Isn't that what I just said?" I poured a small cup of coffee, sipped. Ugh, the taste was off.
I poured out what was in my cup and poured another cup. Oh my, the taste was overpowering, almost bitter. Tsking to myself, I carried the pot over to the sink and drained the remainder of the pot down the sink. Thank goodness they had not wanted coffee, I would have been ashamed to serve this tainted concoction. It was the last time Andree would sell me...I heard a slapping sound. The heavy police office was slapping his notebook against his hand, his face flushed red.
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry if you wanted coffee but that sludge wasn't fit to serve to pigeons. If you have the time to wait, I'm going to put on a new pot. perhaps Sweet Georgia Brown...nice robust flavor..." Already, I had turned to get the beans from the sealed canister when I heard a muffled question.
Speaking slowly through clenched teeth, the gypsy cop, darker than ever, leaned over the counter, "Did you see anyone strange around the area earlier this morning?"
"Stranger? No...no one strange. Nobody but the regulars but I was pretty busy. I guess business will be pretty bad until they fix up the street. I hope the repairs won't take long. Are you sure you don't want something? A piece of coffee cake?...danish?" At the sharp shake of their heads, I sighed. No one really appreciated the art of dessert anymore. I picked up a lemon tart and bit into it's perfect sugared brown crust, God on earth.
"Well, I guess that's it, Mr. Derry. We're going to be leaving now. If you remember anything else, you can contact us at this number." Aggravated, Mulroy tossed his card on the counter. The two men then turned and headed back out to the carnage outside.
I shook my head. They hadn't even had a cup of coffee. I took another succulent bite of tart. A riot of taste assaulted my taste buds.
Glorious. Hearing the bell, I glanced up to see Mr. Pearly ease his way through the door. Wizened with age, hair whitened by the years, Mr. Pearly was my favorite customer. Often, he would come in and sit at the counter, trying my newest confections, sipping coffee and looking out the window. Poor fellow, retirement had been hard for him. I knew money was tight so often I would let him critique my experiments and not charge him for his order.
"Morning Dee, quite a bit of excitement you had this morning," his voice was warm and heavy like molasses.
"Yes, but I'm afraid that no one seems hungry. Do you want to try my new chocolate strawberry crème?" At his nod, I pulled open the display door, and extracted a perfect dark chocolate cup filled with strawberry crème and placed it in front of the elderly gentleman.
Distracted, I looked around my spotless kitchen. I checked the fridge for the second time. Sigh. Something felt out of place but I couldn't quite place what it was. I turned my attention back to my customer.
Mr Pearly raised his fork and broke the surface, slicing deeply into the soft center. He lifted the sweet morsel of pink and chocolate mixture to his mouth and tasted. He held the bite for a moment, chewed, and swallowed delicately.
"Nice presentation but the filling is just a bit tart, don't you think?" he held a second forkful up to my mouth. I scooped it up in my mouth, held it, absorbing the flavor. True, I had noticed it before; the strawberries were a bit overbearing to the chocolate. Perhaps, the strawberries weren't ripe enough...maybe milk chocolate.
I nodded to him, smiling with relief. That's was it. The filling was off. Mr. Pearly had helped me perfect quite a few of my recipes in the last year. I retrieved three of the white chocolate truffles from the back case, his favorites, and set them beside his plate. He smiled and finished the strawberry crème.
"I thought you'd be in earlier, Mr. Pearly."
"I would have been but I had a little retirement business to take care of. Some goodbyes that needed to be said," his brown eyes were momentarily sad.
"Yes, I saw you go into work this morning. It must be hard to be denied doing the thing you love. Mandatory retirement is a terrible thing. Thank goodness, I own my own shop." I blushed, realizing what I had just said to poor Mr. Pearly. Losing his job last year had been hard but I didn't need to rub his nose in his misfortune. "Forgive me if I said anything..."
He waved off my apology, "What they did to me was a terrible blow but I finally feel I made a little peace with myself."
His dark nut brown eyes looked out my front window and stared at the glass covered street, sheet covered bodies, and crying victims huddled in front of the gutted building. Mr. Pearly pointed to a middle aged woman in a blood stained pink suit, "That was my supervisor."
Blood still streamed from her head and left leg, her eyes open but unseeing. Poor, poor woman. Those that had survived would be out on the street, living hand to mouth just like my friend, Mr. Pearly. I vowed to send each family a gift basket, it was the least I could do. Something niggled at the back of my mind, I was forgetting something.
I started to mentally check of the supplies I would need to finish the baskets.
"Do you want me to send your regrets with the care baskets that I'm sending?" What was bothering me? Nutmeg? I'm sure I had nutmeg.
"No, that's all right. I'm sure they all know how I feel."
Digging through the cabinets, I found the nutmeg. Placing it on the counter, I couldn't shake the feeling of unease. I nibbled on a butter cookie. Anxiety made me so hungry. What was it?
I mentally ran through my morning, Mr. Pearly had enter the building across the street about nine this morning just as I put the second batch of cookies in. The bombing just had me all rattled. Oh, I was missing something so important. What was it?
"Oh well, as long as you're sure." Aggravated, I refreshed our half-full cups. Business was going to be so slow today. Sigh. No use letting good food go to waste, I selected a perfect glazed donut from the covered glass platter and bit into it's sugar flaked outside...delicious.
Then, I smelled the acrid smell of burning cookies. Darn it, I forgot the snicker doodles. I always miss the important things. I found myself humming...what was that song?