Hot oil. Early in the morning. Sugar, butter. Sprinkles. Cream. Chocolate drips into the smell of coffee, and I open the windows to let the fragrance out, to lure you in.
I line the trays with jelly-filled, powdered sugared, glazed rings and holes. Custard peaks from golden frosted dough. My sugar white hair is tucked under my sugar white cap, and I mix the dough in a bowl the size of a tub.
The cash register curls out its totals in little blue numbers. Ready for the day, quarters in change wait for my fingers to slide them out and drop them in your hand.
They come. Father and son. One barely sees, bleary eyed in the morning. The other barely talks, but smiles and points from his perch in Daddy’s arms.
“Which kind would you like?” The father says, arms around his boy. Sprinkles. No, maple. No, sprinkles. They take a half dozen. I pour the dad a coffee. He laughs and says “Yes, thank you!” and drinks a sip right away.
One by two, six by ten and a baker’s dozen leave on plates or in paper boxes, my little fried friends. They’ll never go stale or dry. I won’t let them.
I’m not your grandfather. I’m not your dad. I’m not your neighbor. I’m not your lawyer, your dentist now retired. That’s you, there, though. Yes, you, just over there. You’re a teacher, determined in your ways. A musician out the night before. A grandfather yourself. A friend. Your own best lover. You can’t say no. You shouldn’t say no. Eat your salad. Eat your beans. But on Saturday morning, celebrate the day, eat me, eat my cakes, made for your delight.
Old Greeko comes in the window in the late afternoon. He sits with me as I sip my tea. He scavenges my muffin, pecking at the crumbs.
“Why do you come here Greeko?” I say. He hops along the table’s edge and cocks his head. Sunlight glosses the fine black feathers across his breast.
“Caw-aaaww,” he says, leaving his beak ajar.
He hops a few steps and looks out toward the garden.
Jonathan was out fishing. I could see him, in my mind, his boat atop the bay, Jonathan looking down through the cold clear water to the bottom. Little fish swirling near the surface, larger fish coming up to glug them, whole or in pieces. Jonathan, the whale from outside the sea, his fingers his teeth.
We’d eat well for dinner that night.
“Come Greeko,” I say and reach out my forearm. He hops on and up to my shoulder. We walk through the kitchen, and I nudge his talons, lift him to the sill. His legs skip across the long pot of soil and herbs, and I watch him skewer, swallow a worm, fast and whole.
I reach out to the vine to pick a feast. The tomatoes are firm and blood red, and I pluck two that are perfect together. My thumb pierces the third; pulp flows to my wrist. My lips embrace the gaping wound and I suck; seeds and rich red leak at the corners of my mouth. Greeko turns away.
After dinner we would stroll under the moon, our memories our servants, our stomachs our slaves.
Yes, we’d eat well for dinner that night.
The spider’s web swelled with midnight dew, and the orb weaver spread her legs. Bugs fingered her sticky candy thread, slick with water, until they could no longer move.
What would she see if she could see in a mirror? With one of her eight eyes and then the next? What would she see by looking down her slim polished leg, before she pulled close her prey?
I curled inward, tucking my head into my knees. One shoe fell and flopped on the ground. My eyes pressed against boney joints, and nails bored into my flesh. My right palm wrapped my shoe, waiting, fearing.
I could feel her hugeness next to me. I could feel her unwrapping me from her web, her teeth sinking in to drain me dry. She would come into my house. I could feel her coming into me. I exploded outward and smashed her with the force of a million enemies, ripping apart her sticky weave, and I smashed her again and again and again until I knew without question she was dead, and I was saved from being eaten.