Yo, have a seat over there because I’d like to tell you a story.
This time of year is always a time of year when I feel a bit lonely. See, my dad died two days after St. Paddy's Day several years ago. I was just 12 years old. I can still remember his long, dark beard, his gold-rimmed glasses, and his booming laugh that could be heard from outside. I never knew my mother, and he never really liked to talk about her. When I try to imagine my mother, I think of a short, smiling woman in an apron. On cold, lonely nights, my father and I would sit and have a pitcher of beer over a roaring fire while the wind would howl outside, and he’d tell me stories about lands far away and times long ago, when the pace of life was a lot slower, the ladies even more fair, and the clothing of the common folk was a lot more simple than the crazy rags I see people sporting these days.
I also remember a white cat that lived in our house with us. We found him in the garage when he was probably about two weeks old; his mother was a stray that died a few months after we brought them both in. I called him Fuzzy, because his fur was very thick and he was very warm. I’d often use him as a pillow whenever I got tired of making cake mix in the evening, and he would just lay underneath my head and purr. Whenever I’d get up and look around in the fridge, he would sit in front of me and survey all of the wonderful things that we had.
Anyway, I digress.
We made cakes. Not just any cakes, mind you – but all sorts of cakes. We made them in our house, which was white with pink trim; best of all it reminded me of a pretty unicorn. People would often call it “the Cake Man’s House.” My father and I would start baking the cakes long before it was time for me to get up for school, and we’d stay up until midnight getting the ingredients ready for the next day’s cakes. My earliest memories are of sugar, cinnamon, chocolate, and so many other things that to this day I cannot name. We made angel food cakes, birthday cakes, strawberry shortcakes, cheesecakes, and a few of our very own custom cakes that Dad and I came up with. I remember one cake that I invented myself; unfortunately the details escape me now but I believe that it involved skittles and rum. When I was very young, I would sometimes make mistakes on the cakes, and they would go into a special bin that we put out front for homeless people to eat. To this day, I can still remember the large orange and blue sign that we put above the bins – “Fail cakes – 50 cents each.” We also made cookies on the side, but the main source of income for us was the cakes, which brought people from all over the land to our house.
Each year, we’d make a list of all of the people in our little town that we knew were less fortunate than we were. Not everyone can make cakes for a living, and work was sometimes hard to find in our small corner of the world. Every Christmas Eve, my father and I would go around to each house that belonged to someone that had a hard time that year, and we would give them a nice cake that they could have for desert after they finished their main course. We would get thank-you cards from grateful people, which decorated the mantle above our fireplace where we would sip eggnog after a long day of driving around.
Those were the best years of my life that I can remember. It was just my father and me living and working together in order to provide for ourselves. We were never rich; we had a comfortable life in our little town. We always did what we could for other people whenever they came by. I loved my father very much for what he did to raise me, and I saw myself someday taking over the family cake shop when he was too old to manage it by himself.
Until one day my father was killed by a cake.
All that I can remember of that day is that we had an order for a massive fruitcake, and while we were trying to take it out of our oven, it somehow got a mind of it’s own and immediately flattened him. The police arrived, and the cake was put on the stand in an official trial, which was officiated by a rather charming elderly lady that I would later find out was my mother, even though I never saw her again after that. As she limped away from the murderer and moved toward the table that I was sitting at, I heard her say, “I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to move in with your auntie and uncle.” I knew that I could have run the shop by myself even though I was 12 at the time, and made a living – but the government said that they couldn’t allow me to do that in their good conscience.
Fortunately, the years passed for me quickly when I was living with my aunt and uncle. One day, I was adventuring in their basement, looking to find, perhaps, a bag of Skittles that someone had neglected, when I happened to find a box that appeared quite rare. It was old and musty, but it seemed that it was made of pure gold. I opened it up and found in there a will that said that in the event of my father’s death, my inheritance should be quite fair. According to the papers, my family owned a rather large second shop elsewhere that was practically the size of a castle. And so to avoid being a hassle to my aunt and uncle, I immediately stepped outside and whistled for a cab. As it drew near, I saw that it had dice in the mirror and the cabbie offered me a beer. So after giving him directions to the right place, I took a nap on the right side of my face. He woke me up when we arrived there, and so I grabbed my stuff, jumped out of the car, called my auntie and uncle and said “Yo homles, smell you later” as I walked up the steps to my father’s lair, ready to assume my title as the Prince of Bel-Air.