Posttraumatic lamentations of a doomed groom
Posttraumatic lamentations of a doomed groom
Hell knows not the fury of a confectionary artisté scorned; and when the cake's all
finished, the party's over and you'd be best advised not to linger.
Quinn Rexel snapped the wrist of his right arm and furtively glanced at his Rolex. Half past nine. Could that be that the correct time? The city far below him was cast in grey tones and provided no answer to his question. One day he'll buy a real one and then…the unfinished thought left his brain with a woosh and appeared an instant later as a wry smile on his lips. He looked nervously over his shoulder in a vain attempt to locate the waitress and his Eggs Benedict before returning his gaze to the monotone city below. Grey-green hills dotted with quaint white Victorian houses enveloped the city bowl with its sprawling mat of buildings that spread all the way down to the harbour front. He marvelled at the human fixation with grey, white and blue. He's never been anywhere else in the world, but he imagined cities all over the world looked just like this one - albeit a little larger. Somewhere in the background someone screamed "Aaargh!" causing Quinn to spill sour orange juice all over his fresh napkin. "Goddammit! Waiter? Waiter!" A waif of a girl with acidic circles under her eyes appeared from nowhere. "Can I have another napkin please? And where is my breakfast? I've been waiting forever!" He whined. "Whatever!" was what he saw in her eyes, but instead she said softly, "sorry sir, it will be out in a moment I'm sure…" The mouse disappeared miraculously and reappeared again almost as quickly with a tray clutched where her tits were supposed to be, bearing a treasure trove of eggs benedict, crispy bacon and béarnaise sauce. A fresh napkin was folded neatly next to the plate when she sat it down. "More orange juice?" she indicated the almost empty glass. "No thanks," he replied and forgot all about her bony stick-man body as soon as the first morsel of crispy bacon entered his mouth. Suddenly he was oblivious to the tourists coming to see the gardens, oblivious of the students practising rugby below and totally oblivious of the funny little red tramcar he would take in a short while down to the bowels of the minute monotone city. The little tramcar was chokka. It leaned back heavily on its tracks as it cautiously braked down the steep incline, approaching Lambton Quay. But before it could get to its final destination, a stop at the Uni bridge. White letters on a green sign on a green post drifted towards him making nonsensical words. "No dogs, rats and biscuits allowed" he thought it said. "What on earth could that mean?" Thankfully the tram gracefully glided back into motion after the student fraternity disembarked. Through the window he saw his neighbour Veronica Beech, dressed in fake army fatigues and a sloppy carry-all slung over one shoulder. "Bloody old walk-like-a-man-talk-like-a-man-nik-bitch," he thought. "I'll show you too." It was ten-twenty-five and Quinn Rexel felt anything but alive. The sun burnt a hole the size of a ten-cent piece in the top of his skull through his thinning hair, and he winced as he touched it. He looked up and frowned at the fiery ball through the plexi-glass canopy under which he stood. The buzzer for the blind emitted its shrill whistle seconds after the first impatient foot stepped off the sidewalk, but it was not until the little red man changed to a little green man, that the pitiless Quinn Rexel was prompted to plough his way through the morning crowd, on his way towards the other side of the street. Despite the way he felt, his pace was like that of a porpoise possessed with purpose. He was, after all, enroute to suicide. Lambton Quay was as packed as the main shopping strip of a city of a mere 300 000 souls could be on a late Friday morning when most worker-bees have already been perched on their revolving chairs for more than an hour. Quay Computers, ANZ, National Bank, fled past Quinn in a blur of purple, blue and green. He strode ahead, not noticing the worried little man with the please-take-me-back-home look on his face, not noticing the old hag with the hole in the knee of her pantyhose the size of a green apple, staring with astonishment and a half-open mouth at her whale-like companion poised on one leg like Humpty Dumpty ready to fall, after Quinn pushed her out of his way. He did not notice the even fatter bank manager hurrying past him with sweat rolling down his bulging face and an untidy wad of files clutched precariously under his left arm. His thoughts were simultaneously on his future, which he planned to end soon in an absurdly dramatic way as well as his past and in particular on his mother. The smells that wooshed past him changed from perfume to quince to rubber in a mere three strides, but even that, went by unnoticed this morning. Quinn remembered his mother with fondness. In fact, she was the only fond memory he possessed. She was the one who taught him how to bake. She was the primary reason why he was the genius that he was today. Many a night while his drunken father, The Sod, slept off the worries he accumulated from doing the very stressful job of train conductor everyday, he and his mother baked. They baked tarts for the church bazaar, cookies for the Girl Scouts, cakes for the Salvation Army and savouries for the teacherparent association - until that day that he baked his first wedding cake. The beauty of the thing overwhelmed Quinn to such an extent that he believed it to be a benediction from God and vowed never to create anything else but Wedding cakes ever again. He became a legend in his community, sought after by many a bride and a confectionairé extraordinairé before his eighteenth birthday. He was a made man then. But now as he strode towards the locked doors of the Chocolate Cake Factory where he had been applying his artistic panache for the past fifteen years, he was a dud. Dead in the water. He grimaced at the flamboyant burden he had to bear and straightened his shoulders a little. Just a little, so that no one would notice but him. It was six months ago when it arrived. A huge truck bearing the end of life as he knew it. "What's that?" he asked his employer - a fat Turk with manners like a pig and an oversized calculator stuck in his top pocket. "That, my friend, is the future of The Chocolate Cake Company! The Super-Duper- Confectionaire-Extraordinaire Mk I. The first in the country and bloody high time too!" He snorted while he wiped the sweat from his forehead and farted loudly. Quinn cringed. If only there was a customer in the shop, the pig would not dare to humiliate him with his putrid-smelling bodily functions. It's got his name? HIS title? Quinn watched first silently as sweaty man after sweaty man unloaded huge crates and boxes from the flatbed and later he watched in horror as they assembled the machinery that appeared from within the cargo from hell. He felt like acting like an old woman and vomit and feint at more than one occasion, but he pushed through to the end. The final product was a monstrosity, it had a computer brain, an unblinking screen for an eye and it baked, amongst others, perfect wedding cakes. It was meant to replace him. "No it's not!" the Turk shouted. "You'll be its operator!" His elephantine belly shook with laughter as he turned away, snorted and spat in the trashcan. That night at home, Quinn rolled around in his little single bed and sweated like the Turk while dreaming of clambering machinery and gigantic wedding cakes falling off the end of a moving conveyer belt. For six months he pushed its buttons, made its selections, loaded its reservoirs and watched as the one magnificent creation after the other, rolled off its conveyer belt. All the while he brooded and plotted and last night he finished his plan of action. His grandiose plan, his grand finale, his ultimate victory over Turk and machine and all those friends of his mother that snickered behind their manicured hands at her drunken husband and her stool-pushing son. So, there he was, alone in the cake shop; his holy of holies for the past fifteen years, now rudely invaded by a crude chrome-and-lights machine, bound to be the end of him - in more ways than one. The Turk rarely came in on Fridays since the SDCE I was installed. He preferred to stay home and nurse his horrendous headache after Thursday nights of drink, poker and debauchery, the latter, an act that Quinn found hard to imagine the Turk managing successfully. Quinn perched himself on the circular, revolving and bar-like chair in front of the SDCE I console. Ankles, knees and buttocks firmly squeezed together, elbows tucked in, neck extended in a dramatic swan-like perch, head tilted slightly away from the wall, lips pursed, unyielding gaze stretched taut, straight down his nose to the never-blinking computer screen and fingers poised over the offending keyboard. Click-click-click, he began. Click-click-click, click-click-click, click-click-click; faster and faster he went. 200 Chocolate chip muffins, 85 chocolate custard slices with chocolate ribbons, 60 mocha cheese cakes and 144 medium rich chocolate cakes. Then, 65 extra-large coffee cakes with smooth chocolate icing, 333 chocolate brownies and 75 chocolate gingerbread men. It was almost five in the afternoon when the last chocolate gingerbread man rolled off the conveyor belt and felt softly and neatly into the waiting box. SDCE I folded and sealed the box, but Quinn Rexel did not notice. His ankles, knees and buttocks were still firmly squeezed together, elbows still tightly tucked in, neck still extended in a dramatic swanlike perch, head still tilted slightly away from the wall, lips still pursed, his unyielding gaze still stretched taut, straight down his nose to the never-blinking computer screen and his fingers still poised over the offending keyboard. On the screen though, was a picture of the most beautiful and delicious-looking wedding cake anyone has ever seen. It was time for his grand finale'. Deftly he pressed the appropriate keys, putting the cogs of SDCE I in motion for the very last time. When he was done, he got up from the little revolving, bar-like chair that served as his perch for the past six months. He walked proudly through the store, head up, shoulders back, elbows still tucked in and fingers touching in an angular gesture in front of his chest. Oh, how he would have loved to be back in the days before SDCE I came to town! Oh, how he would have loved to be back in his mother's comfortable kitchen once more! Oh, how he would have loved to have breasts on which to wipe his flour-covered hands! He inspected each picture on the wall of days gone by, days when wedding cakes were created with care, not popped off a conveyor belt like fast food! At the final picture he paused for a while. He remembered the feeling of achievement that he felt when he finished the wedding cake for the Abramowitz couple, four years ago. It was his best creation ever! But today, he planned to top that. Slowly he turned and walked towards the rumbling SDCE I. He peered over the edge of the gigantic mixing bowl before placing the circular, revolving, bar-like chair on top of the counter top that he chose with care for both location and dramatic effect. He stepped onto an empty flour tin that he placed in front of the counter earlier and ascended the counter top like a queen ascends a throne. The heels of his cheap patent leather boots clamped tightly together, he turned ninety degrees towards the circular, revolving, bar-like chair with soldierly precision. He stepped onto a second empty flour tin and progressed his ascent to the top of the circular, revolving, bar-like chair where he stood for a moment, arms precariously outstretched like a dove on a power line, finding its balance. Then he pulled his shoulders back and looked up and straight ahead. Far below him, SDCE I rumbled excitedly, mixing flour, eggs, cocoa and water into a maliciously delicious mess. Quinn Rexel smiled serenely, proudly and toppled forward in a graceful swan dive. Somewhere in the background the powerful crescendo of Verdi's Nabucco climaxed just as Quinn Rexel glided into the cake mix, feeling the wonderful rich texture of his creation covering his face and tasting the sweet, sweet taste of sugar on his lips for the very last time. He floated in a dreamlike state of exquisiteness and was suddenly strangely joyous over his decision to exit this monstrous monotone world created by a cruel God who made him gay and everyone else straight. He wanted to say goodbye with a triumphant smile on his face! But just then the bulbous end of SDCE I's gigantic mixing arm struck him behind the head and cracked open his skull like a fresh egg, spilling his brain out of its protective chamber and into the wedding cake soup in which he swirled, instantaneously contorting his serene smile into a crushing grimace, microseconds before his lights went out. "Saturday morning's a time fer dancin'," sang the Turk, in his mushy mind. He thought he knew the song but was not really sure if it truly was one. The key crunched in the door and he pushed it open with a smile on his lips. "Morning Quinn my friend!" He bellowed jovially. He felt better than he'd had in years! "I'm in love," he told himself. Today was the day he kicked that old hag that insisted on calling herself his wife out on the street! She can go back to her mother in Turkey, bloody old bitch(!), and tonight(!), yes tonight(!) the beautiful Katja will move into his house and live with him forever and ever! He was dying to tell someone. Quinn my old friend, where are you?" He could still taste the little Katja's titties in his mouth and feel those tiny little buttocks in his hands. The fact that she cost thirty bucks an hour (of which he used less than a third) did not matter to him, he was in love! "Quinn?!" No answer. The Chocolate Cake Company was as quiet as a graveyard. "Bloody poofter's late again!" He thought. Then he saw it. The Ranparan-Paratski Wedding Cake. "Oooh! Those two kids are going to be so heppy when they see dis cake!" He squealed, wringing his podgy hands together in pleasure. He danced a silly little semi-circular dance in front of the cake where it sat on the display table where SDCE I deposited it the day before. It had six levels, alternating squares and circles, sitting one on top of the other, covered in the whitest of white marzipan and gaily decorated with garlands of wafer-thin, finely crafted sugar roses in pale hues of yellow. At the top stood a miniature bride and groom under a green latticed canopy comprising of yet more and even smaller yellow climbing roses. He knew the bridal couple was not plastic, but perfectly formed by his magnificent machine from marzipan and delicately painted to resemble the real couple. They seemed so real, he could swear they were looking at him! Hmmm! They will be really glad when they see his magnificent creation and will pay the fat bill with a smile! That will make his little Katja happy and he counted out the hours and the days with Katja that this cake represented. After he had calmed down sufficiently and neatly folded the bill for the cake that SDCE I graciously printed and placed it in a clean envelope, he loaded the cake in his van, ready for delivery. Evening fell, a nippy little southerly blasted over the rooftops and the wedding guests huddled together whilst moving hurriedly towards the brightly lit and beckoning door of the wedding reception hall. Inside, stood the wedding cake and everyone admired it. Soon the hall filled up with guests and gaiety, awaiting the arrival of the newly-wed couple. The evening was cold and the guests were hungry. In the absence of food and with a gnawing need to warm themselves, they consumed the offered complimentary sherry in great big gulps. The waiters brought out more and more and the groom's bill grew larger and larger, without him having to lift a single finger. At last they arrived and the hungry, slightly tipsy guests stood up and roared out their approval for the grace and beauty of the usually dowdy and former Gloria Paratski, now Gloria Ranparan. The fact that her hair was too blonde, her dress too tight, her makeup to bright and her heels too high, did not seem to bother her husband, Hari Ranparan, on whose arm she clung like the leech she was. The fact that he had no idea how he was going to pay for the food for all these people nor how he was going to afford the expensive honeymoon his dearly beloved new wife was expecting after he paid for that outrageous wedding cake, did not seem to bother him either, right then at that moment. His face glowed and it was as if the guests' roars were affirming the fact that he made the correct decision in marrying Gloria. He led his bride through the standing crowd all the way to the bridal table where they sat down, all the time smiling into each other’s eyes like two lovesick puppies. The guests sat down, nervous about how much longer before they were going to be fed. They were hungry; and most of the overweight uncles and cousins-twice-removed were getting rather drunk. All the time while the speeches rambled on and on, singing the praises of the bride and her family, then the groom and his family, as well as the praises of those responsible for the flowers, the food, the wine, the cars, the dresses of the bride, her bride's maids, the suits of the groom and his best man, the little cards on the tables, the serviettes with the names of the bride and groom printed on them, the still photographer, the video photographer, the poor damn sod that had to call the ambulance to fetch the bride's now dearly departed grandmother from the church service and of course, the person who created the magnificent wedding cake, the groom added up the cost of this increasingly outrageous occasion that seemed to be the result of a spur-of-the-moment decision during an impromptu act of falatio a few weeks ago in the backseat of his 1964 Chevvie Impala. He grew increasingly nervous and before long he jumped up and hopped over like a psychic nutcracker to where the wafer-thin caterer stood with her back against the wall. He whispered furiously into her scrawny ear, cancelling both entrees and desserts with lamentations of not being able to afford it anymore. The emaciated caterer grew eyes as big as desert plates and smoke billowed from her ears, but he was adamant and she too weak. Appetisers were out and the deserts were to be replaced by the wedding cake. He hopped back to his seat, sat down and wiped his brow with his new wife's veil, just in time to jump up again and offer his own speech filled with love and hope covered in sugar and syrup, now, with just a pinch of reservation and doubt added for flavour. The guests were sitting on the edges of their chairs, fingering their cutlery nervously. They wanted to eat! They had to eat! "Hear, hear!" someone said, "Hurry up!" someone else shouted. At last, the nervous wreck of a groom sat down, now very much doubting the sanity of his hasty decision and openly fretting about the impact of this exercise on his financial stability. The food rolled in. Breaths were held. Eyes rolled along with the trudging trolleys. One, two, three, four, five…and then it stopped. Five trolleys of food?! Who was going to eat and who was going to watch? "Where's the appetisers?" the bride screeched. "Fuck the appetisers," screamed her husband, eyeing the hungry guests, "ruuuuun!" and the entire guest party rose as one man and ran for the food. They fought each other for drumsticks, slapped each other with handfuls of beetroot salad, grabbed whole potatoes stuffing it in their mouths not bothering to dish up anything and even scoffed the decorative fruits! "Hey! I gotta use those again tomorrow!" screamed the bulimic caterer, moments before she got smashed to the ground by a fat tipsy cousin-twice-removed. She got trampled underfoot until she stopped twitching and got kicked irritably out of the way and under a table. By now the groom seriously doubted his sanity and vowed never to practice felatio ever again. When not a scrap of food was left, the crowd fell silent and turned their collective eye to the kitchen door. It remained closed. "I hope there are desserts" someone whispered loudly. It yanked the groom back to reality. He wiped some potato salad off his face with a shirt tail and wobbled over to the enormous wedding cake. He turned to the crowd, raising a gleaming cake knife inscribed with his and his bride's names and their wedding date. "Dessert anyone?" he said, plunging the knife into the moist marzipan-covered doubledelicious chocolate cake. "Noooooooo! Not my cake!!!" screamed the bride and threw herself upon her husband, grabbing at the gleaming knife. The huge foot of a fiercely overweight aunt socked her square between the shoulder blades and she drove the gleaming knife straight into her groom's throat. The wails of the instant widow were deafened by the din towering over her wedding cake and she furiously stabbed at the feet trampling her dead groom. A hand clutched her by her hair and rudely pulled her up. "We want more cake!" a fat chocolate-smeared face screamed into hers. "Yeah! More cake!" the crowd bellowed. "More cake?! More cake?! Here's some more cake!" the bereaved bride screamed wildly and slashed the fat chocolate-smeared face in half with the not-so-gleaming knife. Blood spurted over the crowd. It stunned it into silence. Then one of them licked the spray of blood from his lips. He looked at his companion and licked the blood off her cheek. Then the crowd fell upon the bride with their cutlery and ate every last bit of her and her dead groom, including the corns on her little toes. A feeding frenzy erupted. Crazy-eyed wedding guests chased each other through the room, hacking off limbs and gouging out eyes, devouring each other until only two men were left standing. They were covered in blood and gorged with flesh. They bulged like balloons and their clothes were torn to shreds, hanging like ribbons from their bulbous bodies. They stood in the middle of the room, eyes rolling wildly, teeth bared and cutlery at the ready. They stomped like wild beasts and raged at each other. They stormed and collided, wobbled and slashed, hacked and swallowed until all that remained of them was a messy pool of blood on the polished parquet floor. The hall looked like Cape Helles on the 1st of May 1915. Broken limbs and bits of bodies lay strewn amongst broken furniture in pools of blood. But now it was quiet; quiet as an undiscovered Pharaoh's sarcophagus. On the little stand with the white cotton table cloth decorated with tiny yellow roses on which the wedding cake stood, there was a patter. Amongst the remaining smears of that magnificent cake laid the soles of Quinn Rexel's cheap imitation leather boots. Heels together, toes slightly out, left foot lightly tapping to the beat of a silent song. Then they broke out into a frivolously jubilant little dance, jumped off the little stand, danced and swirled through the pools of blood, all the way to and out the door; and with a pitter-patter like that of an experienced tap dancer, disappeared off into the night.