Fiction Funny

Square the Circle

“Impossible!” She paused for breath. “Irrational!” Not the vibe I wanted. Though I was pretty sure she was overreacting, mucho. Typical Julie. A dyed-in-the-wool true-blue glass-half-empty negative Nellie. (Note to self: Avoid clichés.) But what if? What if she was right?

Julie’s the best baker in the metro area. Which is why I could not ignore her doomsaying. The job was big—huge, actually—no question. The timeline super aggressive, especially for Square the Circle. Four hundred pies. Two days. Engage beast mode. Per the contract: miss the deadline, we’re screwed. Couldn’t be higher stakes. On the upside, payout is ginormous!

Some backstory. Me and Jules go way back. Middle school, high school. Dated a bit. Went separate ways. Eventually both navigated back to the mile-high city. Me in construction. Her waitressing. Pow: Inherits bigtime from her fav gramma. Quits work and enrolls in Escoffier, fancypants pastry school.

Meanwhile yours truly, well I . . . Hold on. Afraid this part not so easy to share. I did something way stupid, and got caught. Burglary not my bag. Apparently. Three years slammer, then back in circulation, but broke. Jules calls, sez why dontcha stop by? Moi?

Gotta give it to my Jules. She goes big when any sane person would quit. Case in point. She made an offer on this Five Points dump? Talking falling-down rotted roof, rats’ nests, and raging mold-a-rama. “Seriously?” I said. You betcha I am, Mr. Construction Man. Not like you got options. Speechless . . .

Not like you got options? Jules knows how to hit where it hurts. Well, so . . . So I decided, what the hell, why not yes? Redevelopment zone, construction loan piece of cake. Buy supplies, hire workers. Your truly pounding nails, managing the whole shit show. Baby steps at first. Then hit our stride.

A year more or less. A couple of screw-ups along the way, none fatal. Grand opening. A year passes . . . Denver Post food critique gives a thumbs-up. Square the Circle all of a suddenly popular. Whew! Jules bumps me to quarter-share ownership. From convict to confuckinfabulous!

 . . . And what about our whacky name? Too cute? If math inclined, you’re gonna love this part. First, we take Greek letter, pi. Get it? . . . Pi, as in pie, like ones Jules bakes? Pi is a never-ending number, decimals out the wazoo. Cooler part: it’s all about copying squares from circles.

Which it turns out can’t be done, precisely. Thus the expression, “square the circle.” As if! Pie in the eye of impossible is us! . . . Do you follow? Comprenez-vous the double entendre? When Jules said “impossible” to the pie order? Not cool. Against our very ethos, man.

So, the decimals? Gonna love this, too! This story. This. Story. Say I based it on pi properties . . . Like every sentence, the word count? It matched one decimal number from pi? Would that be fun, or perhaps just plain ridiculous?

Math maybe not your strongest suit, Dear Reader? No sweat. Focus! We’re at decimal one-oh-four. Its value—and so sentence length—is four . . . The pesky zeros get no words, so ellipses! Let’s try a little quiz, DR. This sentence’s decimal value is? Five!

Back to pies! The order. Remember, four hundred, and Jules freaking big time? The customer? Some Arab sheik . . . Marrying off his daughter, in style. Why Denver, why pies, who knows? Then the bombshell drops. Crusts gotta be coated with gold leaf!

 . . . First off, gold-leafing not in Jules’ repertoire, which sucked. Then the cost. Loan officer at the bank was quite perplexed. Gold that people eat? Is it even safe? And where to get the stuff? . . . Anyway, got the loan and pegged a precious-metal purveyor. He gilts the capitol dome!

All’s moving in right direction. . . . Hired extra prep cooks pronto. Flour, butter, salt, sugar, fruit fillings loaded in. Then, oops! Pie-tin problem. Supplier all out. Shit! Jules, bless her heart, has a workaround. Repurpose hubcaps!

Was a long forty-eight hours. Lots of caffeine. A bit of choreographed craziness. Sheik popped by in his limo and seemed pleased. Said hubcaps were brilliant! . . . Did not invite us to the party, though. Boo-hiss! Who cares? Profit margin was, let’s say, more than adequate.

We’re thinking of expanding. Maybe to Boulder, or to Golden, or both. Possibilities! But. Wait. Now Jules is talking marriage and kids. Out of the blue. I may need new socks. . . . Cold feet!

Truth is, I have always loved that girl. So, anything is possible. Right? . . . Not impossible! Not like we’ve a pi situation here. . . Nope. Not a square-in-circle problem, near as I can tell. Might just work!

Proposed last night, bended knee, at Village Pizza. Admittedly not the best spot. Embarrassing actually. Retrospect. Hindsight. . . . She proffered an affirmative, though. Which is all that matters. I was not totally clueless. Scored some serious points with the gold-leaf engagement ring!

Told me today she is preggers. Did we move fast! Pie in oven already! She groans at my corny quips. Dad jokes? We’re happy. Also, making a list of names for the bambino/a. What gender is Pi? Stop, she says, laughing, then offers: Maybe Omega? Now it’s me laughing, holding her close, hardly believing.

The kid was a girl. We named her Sophie. She’s five now, and has a brother called Jude. Lots has changed . . . For the good. Our bakeries are killing it, Jules at helm. Me? Just one lucky so-and-so, ‘bout all I can say. Like pi, moving happily toward infinity.

Patterns are funny things. Can be good or bad. Take this. Story’s grafs rep ten decimals, so ten sentences. Title length is three, like pi’s one’s-place number. Jeesh . . . To get to one-thousand words was no easy task. Jules, between pies, gave it a read. Said I missed my calling!  

So now I’m thinking, what if? What if writing is for me? Put my hammer down, grab pen? Spin some yarns and knit a story or two? Might be nice. A new outlet. Chance to plug in. Maybe get more grounded? How hard can it be, anyway? Hum. 

February 24, 2023 20:08

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Greg Pearson
12:06 Mar 04, 2023

Thanks to both of you for reading my submission. I joined Reedsy on a whim, and entered the contest on a whim as well. Sally, of course it was hard to read! Try writing something in which the length of every sentence is controlled by a random number! And do that while trying to tell a story. I'm sure I could have done better, but I'm actually pleased I was able to maintain the storyline, with a bit humor. I am no spring chicken myself, by the way. Keith, I am not quite sure what to say about your comment. I think you did not fully underst...


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Sally Jupe
20:34 Mar 02, 2023

I could see how you were trying to use the Pi thing, with references all the way throughout with the story of Pi and the metaphor with the 'pies' Greg but oh how I found it really hard to read! So many single words, slang use and odd sentences that it felt I was like darting around from paragraph to paragraph to find or follow the story and glue them together. It felt a bit like a what's app audio conversation transcript to me. :) However, I'm quite old and so take no notice of me as I am probably conventional when it comes to reading and...


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Keith Maynard Jr
00:31 Mar 02, 2023

I both liked and don't like your story. Your use of all those hyphens to separate words feels like you just learn of it and decided to use it. It was actually a bit jarring how often you used them. Your answer to the prompt also felt like it was forced. I honestly didn't get it. Only at the end did I see the use of slang but for most of the tale it was not that apparent. If some of your sentences are in fact slang, you got me cause they felt like you were missing words and not that they were slang. Please do not take my comments wrong. I ...


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