A Piece of Cake
By Jorge M.
“Piece of cake”. It is an expression that I’ve never liked. If we have to get cakey, I prefer the Spanish pan comido. Bread is simple; baking isn’t. Believe me. I make a living making cakes. And I also have learned that baking in Liverpool can be as difficult as hell.
As you probably have already figured out, I'm a baker and I’m from Spain. I’ve been living in Liverpool for twenty years and the reasons that brought me here could be the subject of another long story. When I arrived here, in the year of our Lord 1868, I really didn’t know where to start, so I started looking for something sweet.
Soon I learned that the sweetest thing that you could find here was a pint of warm beer. But I took it as an opportunity. I searched for the dingiest bakery in all Liverpool and with just half of my savings, I made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.
Things worked out. And they did pretty fast. In the first month, I conquered the street; in the first year the neighborhood. After two years, the clients came from all corners of the city. And, of course, almost from the beginning, my bakery became one of those places you couldn’t miss for all the Spanish sailors who landed in England. Precisely the most assiduous of these clients ended up becoming my business partner.
His name was Pedro, and he was a Spaniard who, like me, although for different reasons, had had to leave Spain. He came from a very wealthy family in which he didn’t fit, so he decided to weigh anchor and set sail.
Pedro was different. So different that many people didn’t look upon him in a good light. I, however, accepted his differences we became partners. But despite having different ‘tastes’ in many ways, we both shared a passion for sweets. “You are the best at making cakes and I am the best at eating them. We make the perfect equipo,” Pedro used to say.
My good work in the oven, Pedro's money and his nose for business—they were the perfect combination for success. Eventually, I also got married, "to the only thing sweeter and more delicious than your cakes," Pedro loved to tell me. Susanna closed the circle. Everything seemed perfect.
I remember well the first day the two kids showed up at the bakery. They carried an air of superiority that did not sit well with their lack of experience. I was there too, and I noticed something wasn’t right. The boys asked to speak to the manager.
I immediately knew who they were. "I'm in charge and you cut no ice here," I told them. The taller one said, “let's get the fuck out of here, Timmy. The bleeders don't do business with faggots.” He spat on the ground and left.
There were no more warnings. Pedro appeared naked and beaten to death in an alley with a sign around his neck that said only one word: Maricón.
I wish I could tell you the story of how I fought back. But I can't. I did nothing. What could I do? I had a wife, two children and a lot of fear. Everything would have stayed there if Bernard McCall had never tried my cakes. But he did.
With every bribe he demanded "something sweet.” And one day McCall finally showed up at the bakery. "I came here to meet the man that is sweetening my evenings," he said and he and he thrust out his hand so that I would shake it. I did. "And who's that?" he asked, making a gesture with his head.
My blood ran cold at that very moment. I'd totally forget she was there. I said nothing. “Who are you, sweetheart?” he repeated this time directly to my wife. Susanna turned around with a smile that slowly faded from her face as she realized who this man was.
“My name is Susanna, sir,” she said.
“You are a fortunate man”, he said while winking at me. “Well, well… Now I have to go, but maybe next time Susanna might bring me my sweets”. That maybe wasn’t a maybe. At least I would have to do something drastic. Something I told myself I'd never do it again.
Now I see that I have to take back what I said at the beginning. Once I made my decision, it was a ‘piece of cake’ to take care of McCall.
The only thing I regret is that he left in such a sweet way. A man like that deserved a much more bitter way to go.