Lorena suddenly slammed on the breaks. She couldn’t see exactly what it was, but there was something large in the middle of the road. The placement seemed very precise. It wasn’t an animal or a box. She wasn’t sure what it was, but it sure looked like…. yes…. she stopped and put on her flashers and got out of the car. Yes. It was what she thought it was. Large, and white. Three tiers. Fondant ribbons in peach and gray on the top. Peach flowers cascading down the side. A wedding cake. A very elaborate one. More salmon than peach…a slight touch of pink to the fondant.
Lorena was bumfuzzled. Who? What? But more importantly Why?
The cake was in perfect condition. It hadn’t fallen. It hadn’t slipped out of the back of a bakery truck. It had been deliberately placed, evenly bisecting the yellow lines of the road.
“What the actual …. “ Lorena stopped herself from saying that word. She was trying to quit using it so much. It was losing its power from overuse. But really. What the actual fuck?
She looked around. It was a heavily forested area. She didn’t see any houses or driveways. A large hawk swooped in the blue sky above the canopy of the trees.
Lorena went to the car and got her cellphone. This. She had to have a picture of this. No one would believe her. She stood in the middle of the road with the cake and snapped photos from different angles. She was trying to get the right perspective. The most astonishing thing about it was its size. It was the largest cake she’d ever seen. Designed to feed several hundred people.
She heard a car in the distance. At least she thought it was a car.
A beat-up red Ford 150 was coming from the other direction. That driver too slammed on the brakes. An old man neatly dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up got out of the truck.
“What the hell? Excuse me, ma’am. I didn’t mean to say that out loud. But really. Is it yours?”
“No. I was just headed to the campground and saw it here. Just like that. I’m taking photos. No one will believe me.”
The old man took off his ball cap and scratched his head. The expression on his face and the stereotypical response to the puzzling scene made Lorena to laugh.
“Is there a church around here?’ she asked
“Yeah, up the road a piece.’
“A big church? That cake is designed to feed a lot of people.”
Jeanne Louise looked at her phone again for the time. The bakery was late. As wedding coordinator, it was her job to solve these problems. She dialed the number of the bakery but just got a recording.
She was aggravated but didn’t let it show. She hated inefficiency and tardiness – something that plagued weddings. She might be in the wrong business.
She went to the parking lot to see if there was a delivery person looking for the right door. It was a large cake. The bride wanted big and elaborate. The cake cost more than a thousand dollars — closer to two thousand. There would only be 60 or 70 people at the wedding. But the cake had been more important to Kathleen than her dress.
Kathleen was a pastry chef for the Greenbrier Resort and had wanted to make the cake herself. Jeanne Louise persuaded her not to. It was too stressful of a time for a bride to make an elaborate cake in the days and hours before the wedding.
Kathleen had gone all bridezilla when it came to choosing a bakery. She interviewed pastry chefs. She demanded tastings. She tweaked and cajoled. Finally, she had settled on one from Clark’s Confections.
The owner, a portly man of 50 or so, was genial through it all. Laughing often, he was never rattled. Never impatient. Never curt. Jeanne Louise had thought him a saint.
Where was the cake?
Gerald Clark chuckled to himself. That would teach the bitch a lesson. He chuckled again. He imagined by now the cake was causing quite a stir. At the church. On the road.
He chuckled again. He’d have to return the money, he supposed, still chuckling.
This story was the result of a well-known writing prompt. The origin of the story as it was told to me was a graduate student offered a wedding cake in the middle of the road as her reason for being late to a creative writing class. The professor was so amused, that he made it the writing prompt for the day. This is not quite the story as Publisher’s Weekly tells it. I suppose they would know. But I like to think it really happened.