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Order of the Heart. III

A Slice of Chocolate Cake

By Bruce Curle `Published 2 years ago 10 min read

Andrew slowly turned the ladle in the pot. He sniffed the aroma of the sauce as it slowly grew to perfection. It might seem that the entire world was aflame, the end times might be upon everyone, but the pasta sauce Andrew created must always be the very best. He still remembered his restaurant on Oak and Broadway in Vancouver. During the Winter Olympics of 2010, people from around the globe lined up for his pasta and creative toasted slices of bread.

Martha, too, was a creative wizard, not only in her baking but also in her chemistry. She remembered dazzling her peers with her research skills at the University of British Columbia and following it up with her own particular apple crumble or chocolate layer cakes. That was a lifetime ago, before the pandemic and the infection that followed. As she thought of her past glories, she carefully removed the cakes from the ovens and placed them on the large metal cooling rack.

Andrew moved a spoon of his sauce across the kitchen to Martha for her sampling. She was always an honest critic, even at some of the grand UBC events he catered. He still remembered her bringing it to his attention when Martha noted that not all his garlic bread was evenly toasted. She even commented that she could tell that he truly did make his own pasta as the noodles were not identical in size, shape, and flavour.

Azir entered the rear of the kitchen cautiously. His knuckles were rapped more than once when he interrupted the sauces' tasting, and the icing of the chocolate cakes and apple crumble cutting. Azir was as loyal and dedicated to both Martha and Andrew as anyone could be. Martha kept a drug treatment going that seemed to prevent Andrew from turning all the way into one of the infected dead types. Andrew created a sludgy type of meal for him that his stomach could hold down. Azir appreciated that they kept managing to keep him as a "Half Dead" person.

"Ah, Azir, there you are," said Andrew. "I am hoping to bring in a few guests today; we will follow the usual protocol."

"Prefer no more gangs for a while, if possible, because they are always so demanding," Martha added.

Martha walked out front to where Penelope was preparing several guest tables. Martha always found Penelope a little slow, but since the internet got spottier, her work ethic has improved somewhat. She also found the new mix to assist with her illness had made her a much happier person. Martha did think Penelope needed to talk to old Doctor Sabozie about the spotting on her face. She did not believe it was her treatments causing this and was worried Penelope might suddenly change.

Azir brought out several bottles of water and various pop that were nearly impossible to find now. These were all placed on the large table near the washroom doors. The old "Roadhouse Café" might have been abandoned long ago. Still, the five of them worked very hard to create a homie atmosphere that might attract a few travellers if any travellers were left.

Matt and Mary drove quickly over the overpass towards the Bridal Falls area; their experiences at the barn had left them anxious to find a true haven. The "Oscar November Echo" and "Chilliwack One" broadcast had told them to go to the giant yellow duck head, and they were nearer the end of that journey. They were tired, hungry, afraid, and felt so all alone. As they passed the gas station, they saw a cardboard sign claiming the old Roadhouse Café was open and ready to assist travellers. They slowly neared the restaurant but were nearly driven off the road by a large older motorhome.

"Crazy or what!" exclaimed Matt.

The motorhome swung off the road before making a sharp right turn into the driveway of the Roadhouse Café. Mary drove on past, not wanting to stop where these "lunatics" were stopping. Mary and Matt would never honestly know how fortunate they were that the motorhome came along.

Azir pointed out to the others that an older motorhome had just pulled up outside; it was followed by a truck, but the truck seemed to have kept driving by. Everyone in the old diner moved quickly. Martha took off her apron; Penelope moved her long hair over the large, blackened stain on her right cheek. Andrew moved a large older pot onto the gas oven. Despite his advanced age, he moved like a young chef, always enjoying the moment when the first customers of the day would arrive.

David wiped his sleepy eyes as he put his tablet down. He peered out of the motorhome window at the old diner, slightly suspicious, but his hunger removed his doubts. It had been three days on the road since they broke out of the downtown core of the city of Vancouver, and he was tired of life on the road. Before this disaster, a trip to the beaches of Cultus Lake or Harrison Hot Springs was a mere three-hour drive with heavy holiday traffic. Such a trip now takes three days; roadblocks, dead wandering the streets, old ladies blasting away with shotguns when you borrow their lawn furniture; things were not the same.

Douglas Madman Patrick sat with his hand still on the gear shift; he was ready to pop it back into reverse and speed away from the diner. Twice before, inviting places turned out to be traps set by desperate masses of people; he remembered all too well the breakout over the Port Mann Bridge. As they swerved around vehicles and the occasional brick bounced off the motorhome, he laughed and listened to this strange radio station called "Chilliwack One." He really felt the Trooper song, "Raise a Little Hell," was a great motivator at that very moment. As his three companions bounced around the motorhome, sometimes shrieking his name out, he felt like he should shake the band members' hands that wrote that epic song.

Jennifer moved to the front of the motorhome; she was glad they had finally stopped for a moment. Yes, Douglas Madman Patrick might well be the reason they were still alive, but she felt like they were in Purgatory the way he was driving. Jennifer could not believe just two years ago lived in a lovely apartment on Robson Street and had a high-paying job designing computer animation for the movie industry. Fast forward two years later, she was scrambling into the rear of a motorhome with three people she knew from a downtown club.

The student, voted in 2016 as the one most likely to make a million before he was twenty-one, slowly unbuckled his seatbelt. From a millionaire with a penthouse apartment on Burrard Street to a refugee in a thirty-year-old motorhome, fleeing for his very life. He moved forward next to Jennifer, looking out of the window as an older woman approached the motorhome. Douglas was ready to drop it into drive and run over the old bat at any given moment at the very first sign of trouble. Although he had to admit sometimes it was by accident; he had done it before; these things do happen in the end. He watched as she waved and moved toward the driver's side of the motorhome.

Martha smiled as she looked at the big, burly, bearded man in the driver's seat of the old motorhome. "Welcome, you must all be so tired; we have fresh food and ask only for some exchange for a hot meal, a slice of chocolate cake and an exchange of information." She had said this many times, and only once did the watching eye from the rooftop have to pull a trigger.

The group decided to move into the cafe slowly. Douglas went first, carrying a baseball bat with him as he stepped into the dinner; the smell of freshly cooked cake, bread, and sauce, had him drop his guard in moments. Jennifer followed and was excited about having an actual toilet to use as the other two followed closely. Martha had them all sit down and discuss what they might trade for.

After a few moments, Douglas went back to the motorhome. He brought out two canisters of propane, first aid supplies and four kilos of real Columbian coffee. The pasta arrived at the table moments later with a basket of fresh garlic bread and an actual sealed bottle of pop and juice.

Jennifer looked in the bathroom mirror as she washed her hands with running warm water and fixed her hair, feeling better than she had for days. She emerged from the bathroom, and the smell of the food-filled her nose almost instantly. Jennifer sat next to David and began eating. She felt that she finally had a sense of the past and was satisfied and nearly happy.

Douglas consumed two full plates of pasta and nearly half a loaf of bread, all on his own. He was a big man, almost six foot five, and got to know all three of his companions over the last few years at the dance club on Granville Street. Twice he saved David and Jennifer from others when they spilt drinks on the wrong people. His eyes grew wide as this older woman brought out this enormous piece of chocolate cake and placed it before him.

The others all had pieces of chocolate cake placed before them; David dipped his finger in the frosting and felt like he had tasted a little bit of heaven as he sucked it off his finger. Douglas finished his large piece in moments and let out a loud, hearty burp.

The four waited in the kitchen for some time, allowing their guests to finish their meals. Penelope looked first and could see that all seemed to be going as it usually did, or was it?

Martha looked and noticed one of the men in the group was standing upright and trying to communicate with the others; his chocolate cake had not been eaten. How rude, she thought as she went out into the dining area.

"I am Henry Hatfield Scott. What did you do to my friends? "

"Nothing dear, they are all so tired from their meals, it seems. Sit back and have some of my delicious cake and some more pasta if you like," Martha replied.

As she spoke, Azir appeared from another door carrying a rifle in his hands. He pointed and fired a large dart towards Henry. Being half-dead had some advantages and disadvantages; the dart struck Henry in the right temple of his head, bounced off and landed in his cake. Aiming the rifle was one of the disadvantages.

Henry struck back, striking Azir with several heavy blows, but being half dead, these blows were not felt. Henry turned around and around, watching both until a large metal pot struck his head, and he collapsed over the table. Andrew smiled and kissed the side of his favourite pot, which he called "The Equalizer."

Penelope entered, handing a radio to Martha, "Alright, all clear, let's clean up!"

A moment later, six people in military attire entered the room and began carrying the group out of the restaurant. Azir pulled the keys out of Douglas's pocket and went out to the motorhome. As a military truck pulled up to the front doors, Penelope began to clear the table and set it for the next guests. Martha loudly said, "Alright, corporal, you may bring in the first wave now. We have lots of pasta for all. "

Azir pulled the motorhome around back to a sea of vehicles of every size and shape; he worried they might run out of spots soon.

AUTHOR’S NOTE – This is the third in the “Order of the Heart Series”

“In the Beginning”

“The Old Rugged Barn”

“A Slice of Chocolate Cake”


About the Creator

Bruce Curle `

A Fifty something male that enjoys writing short stories, scripts and poetry. I have had many different types of work over my lifetime and consider myself fairly open minded and able to speak on many topics.

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