“Sir, this is a fine cake,” a Moustachioed Gent commented as he imbibed birthday cake – moist sponge, delicious jam, colourful icing and, oh oh, buttercream – though it was nobody’s birthday. He was sitting at the kitchen table of a flat he had not visited before.
“Thank you,” said the man leaning against the sink. “But I think that you came here to speak with your wife…”
The Moustachioed Gent agreed and when he had finished his cake he got up to go and find her whilst the other man filled his washing machine and unloaded the dish washer.
The wife was found on the balcony, smoking in her furs. The fact that she now lived in another man’s flat hit the Moustachioed Gent squarely in the moustache for the first time. It wobbled a little. For her part, she concentrated on her smoke.
“He is a competent baker, but no artist,” was the Moustachioed Gent’s opening gambit and he awaited her reaction. His wife smoked some more and he observed and missed her and her furs.
“He is a good honest man and I believe you have tasted his birthday cake.”
“It is nobody’s birthday,” the Moustachioed Gent replied coolly.
She returned to her smoke, something she was good at. A former junior champion. They both gazed out to the harbour where the low tide reminded them of a near-gone glass of wine. Boats were beached on the sand, hanging limp from ropes like balloons that had lost their fun. They both felt the weight in the cake room of their stomachs.
“I made you a banana cake with your favourite icing,” said the Moustachioed Gent finally. “Please come home.”
There was silence for a moment and then the Moustachioed Gent’s wife turned away, stubbed out her smoke on the balcony railing and daintily wiped a tiny tear from the corner of her eye. She did it so carefully as for the movement to be invisible unless you were watching for it.
“What’s wrong?” demanded the Moustachioed Gent, gently taking her elbow.
“It’s all cake cake cake. He is a nice man and he thinks of more than cake. He would not up and leave me in the middle of the night and disappear for two months to dig around in the Black Forest Gateau and-“
“That was an important archaeological exploration,” snapped the Moustachioed Gent. “It was vital to visit the project at that time. The history of cake was there to be discovered and and…”
They had reached an impasse and there had grown now between the Moustachioed Gent and his wife a gap which cake could not possibly be expected to fill.
His wife’s new lover appeared at the door to the balcony. “Dear the lemon drizzle cake is ready.” Lemon? The Moustachioed Gent was sure that he saw his wife wince.
“I think you’d better go,” the lemon drizzle man warned the husband of his lover, the superior cake match but not the tender, caring man he could be. The Moustachioed Gent turned and left, a leaving leave with solemnity, dignity and finality.
Back at home the Moustachioed Gent was not so composed and with his eyes scrunched into bawls like smudged love letters he cried sugary tears whilst stuffing a lazily-made, error-strewn carrot cake in his mouth. It didn’t matter how good the cake was – he wasn’t enjoying it.
He moved quantities of butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl and with a fork began to take out his frustrations on the ingredients, treating it roughly until it became buttercream exactly to his liking. Now he walked through his silent home to the spare room which he had monopolised with his projects. The cake that stood in that room was a six foot tall Victoria sponge – the base three feet high and the top of the cake also three feet tall and suspended from the ceiling by strong chains. Was this obsession something to do with his wife leaving? The Moustachioed Gent wondered as he stood looking at his beautifully big cake, a quantity of buttercream in his hands.
After an interlude of sadness he climbed carefully into the middle of the cake and, lying on his back, began to apply a layer of buttercream to the underside of the top layer of cake. And, he mused, if the cake were to fall on him then no one would know he was ever there.