November 1, 2014
A Piece of Cake
Posted on Mar 10, 2012
By Mr. Fish
“What the fuck did they tell those girls in that room to make them act like that?” Beats wanted to know when I told him about the blood later that day. “It’s fucking bizarre,” he said, shaking his head and plopping himself down onto the ground to pluck and then worry a blade of grass in between his thumb and forefinger. “It’s like their vaginas are Anne-fucking-Frank or something and our curiosity is the Gestapo! ‘Look, I’m a uterus! Here comes somebody with a penis! I better breathe into my sleeve so nobody hears me behind this bookcase!’ I’m sick of it!” He was referring to the early afternoon at the end of the school year when all the sixth-grade girls were kept inside from recess and crammed into the nurse’s office for 45 minutes with the door closed and Mrs. DeWitt standing guard outside. “Zeeker said that Vivian Petropoulos started to hyperventilate so hard when she was in there that some of the other girls closest to the window started writing HELP in the condensation on the glass hoping that somebody driving by would notice.”
“The thing is,” I said, “I know that my sister left with a pamphlet that day and if I could just find out where she put the goddamn thing …”
“Well, like I said before,” interrupted Beats, “Plan B is going to Uncle Paul’s and grabbing one of those cakes in the red boxes from the walk-in.”
“What’s that going to teach us?!” I shouted. Beats was talking about his mom’s younger brother who was a racetrack tout who had recently come into a lot of money and had purchased a tiny bakery in Upper Darby called Cake in the Box. In addition to wedding, birthday and bar mitzvah cakes, the shop also sold erotic novelty cakes for bachelor and bachelorette parties, something that was trending like crazy at the time.
“It’s a start,” sighed Beats, falling backward and rubbing his face in exasperation. “At least it’s a start.”
Q: How do you know if there’s an elephant in your bed? A: He has a big ‘E’ on his pajama shirt pocket. Q: What do you call a cow with no legs? A: Ground beef.
That’s what it said on the Dixie Cup full of rubbing alcohol and dead fleas that I had next to me while I sat cross-legged on the floor, staring up at the sky through the window in my bedroom and doing my best to ignore the playing card-sized pamphlet in the corner, its title, “My Period,” pressing maniacally into the bruise that my mood had become. I was waiting to hear the cartoonishly inaccurate crow call from Beats, pausing every so often to pluck a bloodthirsty flea off my ankle and to toss it into the cheerful cup of alcohol, where it would sink and die almost immediately, its only crime being its refusal to live contrary to its cosmic design, its body a black period signifying the end of something.
“Are you sure we’re ready for this?” Beats panted, his watery eyes pleading with mine for some corroborating cowardice that would’ve slowed the momentum of the previous five minutes to a speed that, had either one of us wanted to jump off and retreat from the moment, we wouldn’t be killed by the fall. We were alone in our treehouse and Beats was looking at me, breathing hard like he was struggling against drowning, his chubby freckled face a declaration of unconnected dots, his strawberry blond hair perspired into the color of exploded peanut butter. On the floor in between us sat a red cardboard cake box with its lid taped shut.
“Yeah,” I said, staring hard at the greasy spot pooling cruelly at the box’s rear and imagining how different my life was about to become once that hopeful square of shiny tape was peeled back and the lid was allowed to open. “We’re ready.”
“And you don’t feel any sense of doom in the air?” he asked.
“Nope,” I said, lying.
“You’re not worried about this turning out like Pandora’s box?”
“Yeah,” he said, his heart still racing to catch his breath. “You know, releasing all the contents of hell into the world?”
“Jesus, I would hope that your uncle worked out all those little glitches before setting out his Open for Business sign,” I said.
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