It’s the Little Things
A Slice of Cake Story
“Man, that was the best cake I ever had in my life,” said Virgil. “Maybe even the best dessert.”
“The best ever?” asked Dale.
“Yeah, man,” said Virgil. “I’ll bet if you went all the way up my family tree, you’d be hard pressed to find any one of ‘em who ever had a slice near as perfect. Four layers of moist chocolate. Icing almost like pudding. Cherries on top. Did you see how big the serving was?”
“Yes,” said Dale. “The steak looked good, too.”
“It was fine,” said Virgil with a slight shrug. “A little overcooked.”
“I’m sorry,” said Dale.
“Aw, quit yer whining,” said Franklin. “It was better than what I’ll get for dinner, probably.”
“It’s alright,” said Virgil, ignoring Franklin. “Before the cake, I would’ve complained about the steak. Cursed my lot in life like I always did before.”
“Have you had a rough life?” asked Dale.
“Yeah. I tell you,” said Virgil. “I felt like I could never catch a break. Not since kindergarten when I got in trouble for tripping Billy Jenkins in Miss McCather’s class. That was the start of the downhill spiral, I think.”
“Was Billy okay?” asked Dale.
“Broke his nose,” said Virgil. “Not from the fall. I stomped his face while he was down.”
“I see.” Dale cleared his throat. “Is there anything else you want to get off your chest?”
“There was the time I bashed my cousin Roy’s forehead in with a crowbar. He was never the same after that.”
“Did you get in trouble?” asked Dale.
“Pop tanned my hide with his belt for ruining Christmas dinner,” said Virgil. “Still have a couple of scars to remember that day by.”
“I’m sorry,” said Dale.
“S’alright,” said Virgil. “Builds character.” He let out a single booming laugh.
“Anything else?” asked Dale.
“He starts down his laundry list of dirty deeds, we’ll be here ‘til Easter,” said Franklin.
“How about the big one?” said Dale. “Do you have any feelings about that?”
“Ol’ Nicky Green Eyes?” said Virgil. “He had it coming to him more than me even.”
“That may be,” said Dale. “But wouldn’t you like to repent before it’s too late? For all your sins?”
“I never really believed in god, but that cake,” said Virgil. “That may have convinced me.” He let out another laugh.
“God believes in you, my son,” said Dale.
“You’re lucky, padre,” said Virgil. “If there is a pearly gate, that rich slice of heaven is sure to be on the other side of it.”
“There is a heaven,” said Dale. “I am certain of it.”
“That may be,” said Virgil. “It’s not where I’m goin’, though. But I tell you what. I think that slice of cake made this whole journey worth any hellfire to come.”
“You wouldn’t do anything differently?” asked Dale.
“Before this, I would’ve said yes. I’d do everything differently. Maybe even from birth. I always thought I came outta my mama too soon.”
Dale smiled uncomfortably.
“But now,” said Virgil. “Nah. It was all leading up to that cake. If I die right now, I die happy.”
“Good thing for you,” said Franklin.
“Why’s that, boss?” said Virgil.
“We’re about to make your dream come true,” replied Franklin with a chuckle.
“Well, see ya on the other side,” said Virgil. “Not you, padre. Unless you murder someone ‘tween now and then.”
“If you’d like to repent, or even just pray, now is the time,” said Chaplain Dale.
“Does it work if you can’t press your hands together?” joked Virgil, pulling against his restraints.
“Yes, my son,” said the chaplain.
“God,” said Virgil, raising his eyes skyward as far as the head strap would allow. “Thank you for the one delicious moment of pure joy in my whole goddamned life.”
“May the Lord bless you, my son,” said Chaplain Dale, making the sign of the cross toward Virgil.
“Any last words, inmate?” asked Franklin.
“Yeah,” said Virgil. “My compliments to the chef.”
Franklin flipped the switch.
About the Creator
Bernadette “Berni” Johnson is the author of The Big Book of Spy Trivia, many tech articles, movie reviews, short stories, and two novels in perpetual editing.
You can find her blog, other work, and mailing list at bernijohnson.com.
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