Coming of Age Funny Romance

Outside Oleg’s Cakes was a concrete circus of coked up caffeine fiends, chain smoking already half-smoked cigarettes and chiming in and out through the front door of the shop, each time with a new conspiracy, or gripe. Chester, whom as his namesake implied, smoked chesterfields, wore a red beanie with a blue pom-pom on the top, heavily padded yellow mittens and a white wooled scarf that had yellowed from dried mucus and smoke. Inside the bottom left pocket of his green parka was always a half filled Mickey, assortments of dead lighters, dirty and dampened match books, and half century old, bubblegum caked coinage that rattled as he swung in and out through the door. 

Rosa knew every sewer grate and every alleyway, every motel parking lot, every electrical tower, and every chain link in every schoolyard fence. She knew every liquor store, stairwell, playground, abandoned construction site, and every commercial sized dumpster. Her nightly walks took her into the deep underbelly of the city, where the bedrock was so frozen and ashen and trash laden, the only flowers growing sprouted from rusted cans, and were fed on a chemicalized soil.

Rosa developed an affinity for the suction of vents and the distant screeches of trains and the dying meows of stray cats amidst the silence of her high heeled footsteps and the vacuous little tunnels and the distant motorways rushing like ocean tides. She kept her eyes peeled near every closed up flower shop or gas station, every newspaper stand, cigar store, and any puff of smoke coming from any bar or all night gambling cafe. She poked her head into any dimly lit pub with an iridescent sign and she sniffed for the scent of drunken loneliness like an old and weathered vulture. Bus shelters, storefront awnings and little stoops front of street level apartments with flower pots that served as mass graves for cigarette butts and beer cans. 

She reaped the pavement of every underground parking lot, and haunted every concrete shopping complex, she invaded every underpass and pressed her face into every window of every little shop looking for someone to prey on. Somewhere, someone had to be looking for her, there had to be someone like her, wandering the deserted city streets, haunting every corner, glary eyes peeled in every other direction, attuned to every stirring sound, looking, waiting, searching....

Rosa had seen the city square and the financial district, the busiest most rat infested, breast sucking, orgiastic circuses completely empty and apocalyptic as could be during those nights, devoid of all sight and sound except for Rosa, the wafting bag of bones. If it wasn’t for all the free range roast beef sandwhich containers, the cold pressed celery juice bottles, and the gourmet java cups littered and rolling, rattling along the streets, she would have been certain she were alone in the world.

And as Rosa made her rounds past the lit up windows of boutiques, she stood before the mannequins who looked upon her with scorn, as Rosa averted her eyes and shuffled past in haste, trying to stomach her own repugnance. And God-forbid she ever did see a face in a high-rise building, looking contentedly over the city, God-forbid she ever met the eyes of someone so happily lumped into their little blocks, neatly tucked into their miniature lush living spaces, their eyes falling upon her, encroaching into her, relaying her wretched reflection into full plain sight. And the same held true for the scurrying raccoons, who stood on their hinds as Rosa stalked past, only to deliver a pitying glance before continuing on their own nightly excursions.

Rosa’s midnight walking lasted until the sun rose up and she walked fruitlessly back to her little dusty cubbyhole in the immigrant section of the city where aside from the odd dress or tea cup left by the curb side, nothing good was ever found. 

The crosstown St Claren's bridge was aglow up with red and green lights and surrounded by massive mesh masts made to prevent all the suicide jumpers from hitting the train tracks one hundred feet below it. From a distance the bridge overlooked an expanse of trees and rivers blackened by smoky shadows of factories and credit card buildings. Often, Rosa ended up on that very same bridge just as the morning announced itself with little artisan bakeries flickering on their ovens, the countless boutique coffee chains percolating their imported, organic and exotic beans, the genetically modified dog breeds howling like roosters echoing through every neighbourhood. She spent many moments on that bridge observing the city’s reflection in all the different permutations of the skylight, the grey fogs of spring mornings, the rosy orange infernos of a dying summer evening, the deep black abyss of a mid January cold front, infinitely empty, infinitely bare. It was on one of those January nights when she happened upon a body laid across the train tracks straight beneath the bridge. Rosa envied the helpless little body as she looked down, unable to avert her eyes. She saw as the train lights were approaching, looking on as the tiny face of the man became illuminated, her eyes themselves tied down with him onto the tracks. The flash of light as the train came screeching past sent Rosa to her own momentary deliverance, a tenuous respite before she felt herself shuffling onwards. The frost emitted from her icy nostrils like cotton candy and the chill lingered in her bones until long after she crawled under the thin comforter on her springy cot, shivering herself to a dreamless sleep. 


“She’s just another one of those ‘we’ll looksie here types’ im tellin ya. I’m tellin ya. Hey. You hear me? You hear me? Yeah thought so. I thought right.”

 Cheater’s orange tinted canines glared as he snarled at Rosa, and went on with his tirade 

“ I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,”

“Oh, theres he goes, reciting Howl again…” 

Said Stu, the out of work construction worker, whom, even though he had been laid off months prior, continued to wear his steel toe boots and orange construction vest over his coat, as though at any moment, he could be reinstated with his job. Stu had been unluckily pinned as the culprit for Mitchell Fitz’s breaking his back. While Stu was partly to blame, being one of the main proponents behind the decision to implement the ever popular ‘drunken Friday mandate’ at the site, he was sold out as being the sole organizer once it was revealed that it was his puddle of piss which led Mitchell Fitz to slip and break his over a cinder block. In the weeks following, Stu was in great need for a place to escape from his plant infested, baby screaming, dog hair haven of an apartment, where his wife, Sloane, the nature loving, aroma therapy consultant ran her practice out of. Stu left first thing in the morning and sometimes remained out for days at a time, ashamed and afraid to go home and face the terror that was Sloane and their son Ramses, and all of there unprovided for needs. 

Oleg’s Cakes, being the Valhalla for dessert, was on one hand highly sought out even by the most lush and privileged of people from the city and their dogs, rolling onto the holed up asphalt lot in cobalt and crimson sports cars with quaffed and done up hair dos and business suits, the ladies in their best skanky receptionist office wear. Often they showed up after a gala event, wasted from the open bar, leaving the cab meter running as they went in and ordered “Coconut Nirvana” and something pretentious like “Champagne Bliss” which actually happened to be rather delicious. 

But, Oleg’s Cakes also served as the quaint little lair for the junkies like Chester who would fix up in the grimy bathroom, or unemployed, closeted alcoholics, like Stu, and that kept Rosa coming back each night with the hopes of finding her next mark. 

“Look at that tootsie roll roll on by, my oh my oh my” 

Chester would shout between his recitations of Ginsburg and Johnson, some of the crumpled and folded and mouldy paged books stuffed in the massive pockets inside his parka. 

Rosa became a frequenter, ordering herself green teas and much to Olga’s dismay, asking for ice cubes inside of it, which caused Olga’s stencilled brows to wrinkle every time, and to curse as Rosa prattled back out to the curb infront of the shop, staining the rim of the paper cup with her triple coated lipstick job. 

Many afternoons and nights were spent idling by, listening to Chester’s waxing off lines in between his drug fixings and double doubles, watching for the sun's brief appearances through the sky and surrounding buildings onto the slush piles collecting by the curb, as she continued waiting for the moment of eye contact from some patron for her to make her move on. 

The rich suits never looked her way, nor did the well to do fathers picking up treats for their wives and kiddies. Rosa could sniff their aftershave as they whisked by, she could feel the warmth and the tingle of her hand on their stubbly faces. Their drive and their purpose emanated from their electric eyes and the brisk breeze from the wake of their strides. She wished so bad for just one look, just one moment to look into the eyes of one of those men, who she saw, were real, real men, real flesh and blood men with smoothened back hair and cool breath. And every so often, she received that look, and when she did, she tried to hold it, she tried to lock it into her possession, to claim it as her own. Rosa wanted nothing more than to take a real man for herself, she wanted nothing more than to know that for all it was worth, for all its beautiful glory through every crease and fold and wrinkle and every dry and rough patch. 

But there was one eye she had caught once or twice, from a hulking, sweaty man who showed up in a fossilized mini van. His beady little eyes darted quickly from behind his boxy glasses as he maneuvered himself out from his van, one limb at a time. 

“Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen! Moloch whose name is the Mind!”

Chester recited as the mammoth figure approached the door to the shop. 

“They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven!”

The man was bald beneath his toque and he wore a black bubble jacket with a buttoned up checkered shirt underneath and brown pants with brown shoes and his face was expressionless and Indiscreet aside from the redness on his cheeks from both the cool air and the hot embarrassment. he stole a quick glance towards Rosa as his thick fingers wedged the door open, and Rosa, whom had been looking the entire time at him since he had extricated himself from van, returned his fearful stare with an inviting, almost seductive look back. 

Flushed and filled with shame and a hardly yet digested sausage pizza, Dan gave his order to Olga whom unlike for any other customer, smiled as she rang him through and handed him back his change for his twenty. The smile was one of recognition for all the self loathing written across Dan’s face, and a cold type of encouragement for his self chastisement and self disgust and his gnawing affliction. The smile on Olga’s lips was so mocking, and so deeply cunning Dan had to turn away while he waited, and then still as he reached to receive his long coveted, his deeply cherished goods, before Olga walked to the backroom to share her merriment with Oleg about the disgusting Cupcake Dan, who had returned yet again.

With the prize in his hand Dan headed straight out the door of the shop and into his van, where he sat with the box atop his lap, and looking around him guardedly, like a guilty dog, to make sure no one was watching him. With the keys resting on the passenger seat, he remained silent and motionless inside the car for only a few minutes, but what felt like eternities as he stared down at the plastic film over the cardboard box, an assorted collection containing the ‘What the Fudge’ ‘Buttercream Dream’ and ‘Custard Magnolia’ ‘Red Velvet Corridor’ along with all his other favourites. Aside from some very particular clients, usually old ladies, most of them British, Dan was one of the only customers whom ever ordered the ‘Egyptian Black Liquorice’. With just the dim light of the car light, and the lights from the shop entering into the van, Dan marvelled at the decadent black frosting until his tongue felt ready to fall off and his hands shook. Trembling, unable to constrain himself any longer, Dan jigged the lid upwards and took a cupcake into each hand....

From a corner of the darkened lot, her painted face behind the already frozen cup of tea she had purchased hours before, robed in her inconspicuously white fur coat, Rosa witnessed the entire scene. She watched with amazement and horror and revulsion at Dan’s glutinous display from behind the wheel of the darkened mini van. Time sped to a blur, and within minutes, the empty Oleg’s Cake box went sailing through the driver window and the van sped off into the slick city streets. 

Perched in her little corner, Rosa viewed the same recurring scene for many nights before she finally approached Dan herself, one night as he was walking out the door with his cake box cradled in his arms. 

Dan was appalled the moment he laid his eyes on her, and too stunned to move or speak as Rosa stood before him. Rosa took Dan by the arm and led him to the side of the shop, an alleyway facing an iron fence and a waist high stone garden which had degraded into a community waste bin. 

“Eh-uhhh-whhh- can I help...you?”

“Well, yes, actually. I think you can. “

Said Rosa. 

“I’ve noticed you here...”

Dan’s face grew flush. The embarrassment he felt made it difficult to swallow. He knew he had been seen before, but the mention of it, having his secret pleasures casted out into the air was not something Dan could bare to face. And worse, to have been seen by a woman! With his head down, Dan surveyed Rosa's fish netted legs and took a deep swallow. Aside from the angry customers over the phone, his own mother, or the beefy Olga at the shop counter, Dan hadn't spoken to any woman in as long as he could remember.

“Yeah. And?” 

Dan said, looking down, his eyes lingering to the ‘Peanut Brittle Pinnacle’, and all its smooth and creamy, ribbony perfection. As the shakes started to come, Dan grew desperate to eject himself from the conversation, and to take shelter in the dark solace of the van, to be alone with the cakes, ceaselessly taunting him every moment that went by.

“I figured maybe you could use a little company, you seemed , uh, lonely.” 

Said Rosa 

Dan’s attention flickered as the impatience rose, he struggled to speak through his mouthful of sugarless saliva. 


Dan said. 

For a moment he met Rosa’s piercing gaze, penetrating down into his claustrophobic chest stuffed full with hot embarrassment and raging blood pressure. Despite his massive size, towering over Rosa in the narrow alleyway, Dan’s tininess, his pitiful frailty and pathetic lack of being became overwhelming to him, standing utterly naked and exposed before Rosa, whom, always keen towards the scent of weakness, could sniff the waves of self loathing oozing out of Dan’s heavy perspiration. The winter air wasn’t enough to diminish the flames of self disgust coursing through Dan’s soul, and he found himself beginning to take to Rosa, longing to give his exposed and broken self for her to possess in all its horrible entirety. 

“Well, What did you have in mind?” Asked Dan. His eyes had grown wide and thirsty as a young calf. 

Rosa lowered her eyes seductively, and the ideas turning through Dan’s mind caused his heart to pound and his hands to shake even more violently. His ears were red and numb, ringing from the slap of the shrill winds, blaring from his racing thoughts. Rosa could see the painful level of stifled, latent desire being watered and nurtured, sprouting like a poisonous weed in Dan’s eyes, she could hear the greedy dissatisfaction in his breath. After all those weeks perched in her corner, calcuateledy anticipating her moment to strike, it had finally arrived. 

“Anything you want, handsome.” 

“What do you mean anything?” 

Said Dan, flustered and gnawed with hunger. 

“Literally, that. Anything. I will do anything for you.” 

“Well, are you, uh sure…?” 

“Of course, baby.” 

Said Rosa, growing impatient herself. 

“Well, I hope you are….” 

‘Because, I’m not sure if you’ve ever really done anything like this before.” 

Said Dan, looking deep into the box.

“I’m sure I have, baby. I don’t get surprised too easily.” 

“Well, in that case…” 

Said Dan.

“That is my mom’s van over there..” 

He said, pointing.

“Uh huh….” Said Rosa rolling her eyes.

“We can go back to, uh, my place?” 

Said Dan, stammering over his slobbering tongue. 

“It’s not far. I mean, its not MY place. I mean, I uh, live with my mom, of course, but well, I have a place there, in the, uh, basement.” 

“Sounds good baby.” 

Said Rosa, her voice flat and dead.

“So how does this work?” 

Said Dan, stiffening. 

“Pay upfront.” 

“How much?” 

“75 for the hour.” 

“My money is at home.” 


February 13, 2021 18:40

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