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Piece of Cake

by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson

It is not complicated to bake a cake. Yet not everybody can do it without problems. Begga couldn’t do it. No one knew that, not that she was advertising it. She often brought to work cakes that she’d bought in the bakery on her way, and pretended to have baked them herself.

Then one day her partners at work decided to have a party, and the boss demanded a cake from Begga.

“Bring a cake, Begga. You’re so good at baking,” he said, and Begga smiled beautifully in return. “No problem,” she thought, “I just run off to the bakery in the morning before work and buy a cake.”

Finally the day came, when the party was to be held, and Begga woke up happy and joyful at 6:30 and went to work.

In one of the coffee breaks, when she was in the cafeteria she heard her partners talking:

“Who died? I can see the flag only half-way up.”

“ I think it was Finn.”

“Finn who?”

“You know, the baker.”

Begga hit her head against the table she was sitting at. This was something she did, when something shocked or annoyed her very much. Always when things went totally out of control, she bowed and hit her head against the nearest thing.

The news of the baker’s death had deeply touched her. Now the baker was dead, she was expected to bring a cake, and she didn’t know how to bake. After work she ran out in to her car and “burned some rubber” (most of the rubber burned was inside the engine-compartment) and went home. Actually one could easily outrun her, because she did not know how to operate a car either, but her old Suzuki Alto was a status-symbol for her.

When she arrived home she ran into the kitchen and started to look around. She found no recipes. So she called one of her friends, who had a different job, and asked him for a recipe.

“Recipe? For a cake?” her friend said bewildered when she asked him.

“Yes, do you know any?”

“Ya, uh,” her friend said somewhat confused, “You get some flour, and sugar, a little salt, eggs, milk and stuff like that, uh, mix it all together and put icing on it. Then you put it in the oven and cook it until it’s hard.”

Begga wrote this down exactly and hung up on her friend, to his great surprise. She then browsed through the list, got a bowl and started looking for all the materials mentioned by her friend. She found an egg, some salt and milk, but no flour.

“Flour?” she said to herself, “Where did I put it?” She went through all her cupboards but found no flour. After half an hour she got to the conclusion that she had no flour, and she had to buy some. So she grabbed her wallet and ran to the store.

Few people where in the store, and the atmosphere calm. After a short search Begga found out that the flour was sold out, and became less than ecstatic about that. She began to shake, and chewed violently on her nails.

She walked to the door and wanted to go home, when her eye caught something. There, in one of the trolleys, in between the milk and veggies and cornflakes was... flour! She reached for it, happy. Then she saw the kid. “Mom,” said the kid, who to this moment had sat quietly in the trolley. Begga smiled her most beautiful smile at the kid, while sneaking the flour away under her arm. The kid smiled back. Begga walked towards the counter in a good mood, when the previous owner of the flour came back. It was a small, fat woman in her late forties. She immediately saw that her flour had been swiped, and yelled after Begga:


Begga looked around, and went stiff. Then she ran. The woman ran after her, pushing her trolley in front of her, so nothing more would be stolen. Not far from the counter she crashed into someone else, and there was a big row, but Begga escaped to the counter, put up the flour, the man at the box hit a few buttons and gave her the prize. Begga went through her wallet for a while, but found out she only had 20 kronor. In 1 kronor coins.

Begga hit the counter with her head. The clerk went speechless when his client started doing her gymnastics like that, but soon got back his speech:

“Want to put it on the tab?”

“Yes, okay.” said Begga, got it written on her tab and ran out. She looked over the parking lot in search of her car, but didn’t find it. Soon the woman came running out, with the kid in one hand and a shopping bag in the other, so Begga just jumped into the nearest car and hoped her keys fit. The nearest car was an old oxidized Saab, so her Suzuki-keys should have been good enough. Begga locked behind her, and the woman stopped outside and yelled curses at her.

Begga gloated in the woman’s face, but that just pissed her off more. The keys, on the other hand, didn’t fit the starter. Begga hit her head against the steering wheel with great art. She then tried the house keys. It worked, and the Saab’s engine turned on. Begga put it in gear and backed up. A thump, crash and then silence. Begga looked out. She hand just hit an old oxidized Mitsubishi Colt. Suddenly the woman screamed:

“My car!”

Begga hit the wheel again with her head, and when she finished her fun she drove off the lot. She thought she was safe now, and turned home. Then a horn was blown, and following that, someone hit her rear. The woman was back. Begga accelerated into 40 km/h, and shifted into second.

A terrible stench came from the floor. The exhaust pipe had a hole in it. Carbon-monoxide-poisoning set in, and Begga became sleepy. She finally drove in front of two juveniles driving a Daihatsu Charade, and they hit her on the right side. The cars settled side-by-side, turned in opposite directions. The woman couldn’t slow down, and hit the kid’s car on the other side, trapping them inside their car. Begga was awakened by the crash, and stepped out. When she saw that the woman also got out, she had got enough fresh air for the moment and jumped back in her car.

The police noticed the wreck, and an ambulance was called to the scene, with many doctors to give comfort to the shocked bystanders. Begga and the woman on the other hand just hurried away, leaving only a big and foul-smelling cloud of smog. Begga drove like crazy, pretending to be getting away. Soon she had to stop, because of kindergarten kids crossing the road. The line was endless, and soon the woman appeared by her side. The woman was really pissed off, and yelled:

“I’m gonna get you for this! I’m gonna get you!”

This really annoyed Begga. At last, the group passed, and Begga drove off with the woman close behind.

Downtown, the transmission collapsed, and Begga was forced to leave the car. A moment later the woman arrived on scene, and saw Begga running for cover in a fashion store. Begga hid in one corner, behind all sorts of goods, when the woman came barging in. The clerk was a stupid looking blonde in a very tiny outfit. The woman asked her:

“Have you seen a young red-haired girl in a sport suit, carrying a bag of flour?”

“Yes,” the clerk answered, “she went that-away” and she pointed at the spot were Begga hid. Begga’s heart jumped to the moon and refused to come down. She quickly got herself out of the sporting outfit, and snatched some clothes off a dummy in the window.

Doing so she attracted a lot of onlookers that whistled at her and banged the window. Begga ignored them, and stole a wig off a dummy. The woman stood right by and stared captivated at the goods in the store. Begga grabbed dark sunglasses from yet another dummy, put them on, and felt like she could take on the world. She looked completely ridiculous. The clothes didn’t fit her, the skirt she stole kept her from walking naturally, and she still had the flour in her hands. She also had sunglasses, an awfully long-haired black wig, and from under that her real hair was showing. The woman didn’t notice her when she walked by. Begga said goodbye to the clerk and walked out. Then a gust of wind blew her wig off.

“THIEF!” yelled both the women after her. Begga “ran” off, but couldn’t go very fast. Therefore she just went around the next corner, and in through an unlocked door that happened to be there. This came out to be the back door of the most popular disco in town, and now Begga was in the cellar. In front of her sat six evil-looking guys around a table counting money. They stopped counting and stared at her. Begga put up a stupid smile, feeling really embarrassed.

“Are you her?” one of them asked and pointed at her.

Begga became speechless for a moment. Then she said:

“Uh?? Yes, yes!”

The guy pointed her to approach, and said: “Do you have the stuff?”

“What stuff?” Begga asked.

“Well, the cocaine!” the man said loud and clearly.

Begga felt she was in deep shit. She said yes, and hoped for the best. The guys laughed. Then one of them grabbed the bag of flour, put it on the table and drove his knife into it. The flour went up. The guy got some flour and sucked it up his nose.

“Whoow!” he yelled. “This is the best stuff I have ever had!” The gangsters celebrated, and Begga breathed a little lighter. Suddenly there was a knock on the door.

“Open immediately! We know you’re in there!” they heard yelled. The gangsters became upset, drew their guns and shouted:

“The police!”

Begga ran away. When the gangsters were ready to take on the entire Chinese army they opened the door, and the woman and the clerk appeared.

“Where is she?” the woman sprayed in the closest one’s face: “She has got my flour!”

“Flour?” They saw the light.

Begga had come to the third floor when she heard the people looking for her. The bag of flour was also leaking. She had been running so much that the skirt had ripped, so she went faster, but looked more ridiculous.

Because of that it was also easier for her to climb up on the roof. She squeezed out the window and climbed up the drain pipe. The gangsters, the woman and the clerk saw her climbing out, and chased her up on the roof. They, on the other hand, used the stairs. It had gone unnoticed by Begga. Begga almost got a stroke when she saw the clan appearing on the roof in front of her, and hit her head repeatedly on a nearby flagpole.

But salvation soon appeared. A truck, loaded with fish-waste drove by, and Begga decided rather to jump into it than to have a conversation with her “friends” on the roof. She sank in a gory mix of fish-guts and guano, so when the folks on the roof looked down, they didn’t see head or heels of her.

She arrived home after a long time, all covered in guano and stuff originating from the insides of fish. After taking a shower, she went back to the baking. She found some sugar, poured it into a bowl, broke an egg and threw it in with shells and everything still on it. Then she took the flour, and poured it in the bowl, with fish guts and gore, and all that. A small splat of milk came after it, and the next item was the salt. Oops. No salt. Begga went through all drawers and shelves looking for it, but found nothing. So she just headbutted the table. There went three eggs in a tray for nothing. She was rubbing it off herself, when she noticed a small can in one shelf. On it read: “Saltpeter.”

“This must be okay” Begga said to herself and got a teaspoon. It couldn’t be very much salt in cakes, because they rarely tasted of salt. She dug up a little saltpeter, but started thinking: “Cakes are not salty.” She phoned her friend again, the one that told her what cakes where supposed to be made of, and asked him:

“Are you sure that there is supposed to be salt in cakes?” The friend got somewhat surprised.

“I have no idea, but it say’s here on my bread that it contains some salt”

“But cakes do not taste salty!” Begga said, not feeling very sunny.

“There, just put some salt on the thing. No one will notice!”

“Are you sure?” Begga asked and scratched her head with the spoon. The saltpeter fell all over her head, but she didn’t notice, said ’bye to her friend and went back to the baking. Naturally, the saltpeter was gone.

She wondered why for a moment, and came to a conclusion when she started to scratch her hair. The saltpeter was in the hair, you know. After immense scrubbing and noise, she was going to do as usual, hit her head against the table.

Then she remembered the eggs. She carefully picked them up, placed them in the refrigerator and threw the containers in the garbage. Then she banged the table so hard it was heard all over town. After having that much fun she continued baking her cake, and in a matter of minutes the cake was “ready,” and the only thing left was the icing.

But the cake was somewhat hard. Begga stabbed it with a fork, but it didn’t penetrate. It wasn’t even round. And because weapons could not harm it, Begga put her brain in use. Finally, she saw the light, she grabbed the cake and ran to a carpenter. There, she had the cake machined in to shape. But it was still hard as a rock. Begga had no time to wrinkle up her brain all over again, but instead put the cake in water, and it all became softer right away. Now Begga was happy. She began to think about the cream.

“Cream?” she thought, “cream? Would toothpaste be all right?” she said to herself, and walked to the bathroom. There, she grabbed two tubes of toothpaste, and a bright future shone at her. But she soon saw that toothpaste is not very like icing. “Ahrrrgh!” Begga growled: “I just use it anyway! But I can color it so people won’t recognize it, and then it most certainly will taste different!” Begga thought that was a stroke of genius and immediately began searching for food coloring. (In every cupboard and closet of course.) Of course she found nothing more than the other day, but on top of the cupboard were three containers that she had no idea what contained. She had no intention of taking them down, and just flipped them over instead, one by one and opened the lid. The first one was empty, so she opened the next one. There the flour was after all! Begga turned snow-white, and irritated with it. She found herself no time to colour the toothpaste, just slapped it on the cake as it was -striped. An immense peppermint smell filled the kitchen. Something told Begga she just made a big mistake, so she decided to call her friend.

“You? Again? WHAT?” he grunted into the phone when she called.

“Oh, forget it!” she said in a tired voice and hung up.

Suddenly the doorbell rang. Begga was startled, and ran for the door. On her way she stepped on the salt shaker, which had fallen on the floor a little earlier, and fell over. Still the bell rang. Begga got on her feet again, and this time she walked.

“Mother!” Begga cried rather happily, when she saw who was standing outside. Her mother got shocked when she saw the state of her daughter, and fainted. Begga stood over her like a fool for a while, but soon came to the conclusion that it wasn’t very nice of her to leave her mother outside.

On the other hand night was falling, and only two hours to the party. So Begga dragged her mother inside and put her on the sofa. But she had no time to hang around until she woke up, because she had to bathe (again) and hurry in her good outfit. Those sports took their time, but most of it went by when Begga saw herself in the mirror. Then she found out her hair was beginning to turn grey. She had a mild shock, and hit her head repeatedly against a near-by table. In a few moments her mother became conscious again, and started to cry: “Begga! Begga!”

Begga came to, and stopped her daily exercises. She looked at the clock, and could tell she was getting late. Never in history has anyone moved so fast. It took her 15 seconds to run with the cake to the car while her mother yelled some incoherent nonsense and attracted a lot of attention from the neighbours.

Now the car would not start. Good ideas weren’t inexpensive, and so Begga started to do her exercises again with great enthusiasm. Finally she went in again, and got her rolling pin. As soon as she appeared on the parking lot with it, the car started.

Begga drove as fast as she could to her party but got little attention, for most people were indoors. She breathed deeply before she entered, and hoped everyone would be very, very drunk before they tasted the cake. Everything went as planned for the moment. Then one of her colleagues approached her, and asked, completely sober, “Did you know, that you have a big purple mark on your forehead?”

“No.” Begga told him as she felt her forehead. It was a perfectly round bump.

“What a big bump!” said another colleague of her’s, and continued: “You should see a doctor about that!” Luckily Begga didn’t need to worry much about her appearance. Everybody was too drunk to notice her. Everybody was also too drunk to notice the exceptionally bad taste of the cake, and much of it was eaten. So much really, that Begga was tempted to taste it herself. Shortly afterwards she threw up on the floor.

Copyright © 2003 by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson

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