George…just George. What a George he was. He never knew a cake he didn’t like or cookie, for that matter. I knew George well. He was quite a tall, lanky, handsome fellow who loved to bake. Growing up and looking at him, I always thought that he would be a perfect mortician because he looked like Mr. Fletcher, the local one in town. Thin and bony he was too. Aren’t all morticians tall and spindly? Well, I thought they were. I shouldn’t have stereotyped him at all because he became a Baker! Well, I won’t tell you how I envisioned all Bakers. That will be my little secret. Again, I was wrong, thanks to George.
Let’s get back to George the Baker. He was a friend of the family, and most called him Uncle George, except for me. I knew he wasn’t my uncle, and since we were so close in age, I never called him that. Everyone thought that was odd, but I just liked calling him by his name. I loved that name and even named my firstborn son George. It was not because George was my favorite person (which he was); I just liked the name. I would have liked to have been named George, but my parents named me Ellison and called me by my nickname Eli.
George couldn’t wait to open up his bakery as soon as he could so he did when he turned eighteen. He had saved up all his money from mowing yards in the neighborhood and having a paper route as soon as he got his first bike when he was six years old. George was the star of the town everywhere he went. He loved people, and people loved our dear George. The bakery was a smash hit when it opened, and George always greeted everyone each day with his big famous crooked smile. He would be up at 3 a.m. and in the kitchen at his shop by 4 a.m. He never missed a day. You could smell the freshly baked cinnamon buns throughout every corner of the small town.
George wasn’t married, and as far as I knew, he never had a girlfriend while growing up. He lived to bake, and that was his absolute passion in life. George’s parents had died when he was very young from a tragic plane crash, and he went to live with his Aunt Anne, who happened to be my mother’s sister. Aunt Anne had married the brother of George’s dad and was a widow soon after. She never had children or remarried, so having George was her little blessing. She doted on him yet taught him to be a hard worker and perfected his skills in baking. Aunt Anne was like a life raft for George when he needed it most. With both his parents gone, Aunt Anne was his new mother and father combined. He was a lucky soul for sure, having her in his life.
George’s bakery was always so busy. Even when someone in town passed away, they would invariably order his famous Chocolate Death Cake to serve at the wake, memorial, or reception after the funeral. Someone anonymously even ordered that cake for a wedding to give as a gift to the groom! The nerve of some people! Anyway, I digressed, so back to the cake. While learning from Aunt Anne, George would bake a chocolate cake every week to commemorate the passing of his parents. He and his parents always loved to eat chocolate cake, and George would go through the neighborhood and share it with his friends. George called it his Chocolate Death Cake because not only was it made in remembrance of his deceased parents, but it was so rich in chocolate you could die for it! That cake became his most famous dessert in town after he opened the bakery.
One day in December, his whole life seemed to change overnight. A bus loaded with college-age students showed up at his bakery when their bus had a flat and ended up in a ditch right outside of town. His shop was busy with regulars, but suddenly there was an overflow of people, with many outside the door waiting to get in from the cold. He quickly sold out of his daily pastries but happened to have plenty of cakes in the back he had just baked for an upcoming wake scheduled within two days. He brought four upfront to sell to the hungry students, along with free bonus coffee to help thaw them out.
A girl named Christine caught his eye, and it seemed mutual from the looks they gave each other. George was not much older than the students since he turned twenty-four that year, and they were all seniors. Christine approached George and asked for a piece of the cake. George was spellbound and tongue-tied for the first time in his life, and without saying a word, turned around, cut a piece of the cake, and gave it to her while saying it was death cake. Stunned, she asked if she should eat death cake? He stammered and had a hard time getting the words out that he wanted to say. He finally told her yes, you should, so she did, and then asked him to tell her why he named it chocolate death cake as he sliced himself a piece as well. They talked the rest of the day and grew very fond of each other.
Christine left that night with her senior friends but returned two weeks later to the bakery, where she and George fell in love. Christine finished school in May of that following year and moved to our little town to marry George, the love of her life. They lived in the house that he grew up in that Aunt Anne left him in her will, and they had four children. One being named George, jr. The others were the three prettiest girls in town that luckily looked like their beautiful Mom.
When George passed away, everyone in town came to his funeral, and at his reception, there was not a dry eye in the house as someone yelled out, “pass me another slice of chocolate death cake!” Everyone was sure George was looking down and beaming with that big, crooked smile on his face along with his parents and Aunt Anne.
While raising their glasses, they thanked George for the beautiful memories and their heavenly slice of Chocolate Death Cake!