"I ate your gingerbread chocolates. Sorry."
"What? Why?" I want my mother to be concerned for my well-being, but of course she is concerned about the unavailability of the holiday chocolates.
"But I thought you said that was the last box?"
"I know," I tell her, "but things are not good over here. I'm not good."
"I can see that," she says. "Get rid of him."
"Yeah, well, I don't know what to do."
"Pack up the things you care about and come out here," she tells me.
"There isn't anything left. I've sold everything," I tell her.
"For God's sake, then get the hell out of there."
I don't know what to do so I change the subject. "How's the music going?" I ask.
"I wrote another song. Did I tell you? The name is Song for Asia. Do you want to hear it?"
I listen, but it's four o' clock in the morning. I am craving a particular pastry. The name of the sweet is Divorcee. There is only one bakery in all of Manhattan that offers the thing, and it is not a 24-hour joint. The Divorcee intrigues me. One half is frosted with dark chocolate, the other, with vanilla. The two sides are equal and clearly divisible. The difference in the flavoring is subtle. I want to talk with the baker about these things. I figure bakers work odd hours, so one might be on the job.
"Delicious music. You write beautiful songs. I'll call you in the morning."
The little light is on in the kitchen. I can see some rustling, an elbow here and again through the glass front. I knock softly. Nothing. The display cases are empty. Had they been brimming with divorcees, I might cry, or break glass. I knock again, yet gingerly. A thin, wiry woman, about my age, confronts me with a look of annoyance. My smile says I'd do anything for a pastry. She unbolts the lock and turns her back to me.
"Sorry," she says, her back to me already, "I forgot they hired you."
She laughs, and moves quickly to a vat of dough. I'm in. I don't say a thing. "Look, you can frost those," she says, pointing to an acre of treats. It could be them. It is tough to tell. They are naked. They are whole.
"What are these?" I ask, ever the neophyte.
"They will be Divorcees."
"How about now?" I ask.
"All a Divorcee is, is a cream puff. People like the name. They feel justified in eating them."
I work under the baker's direction until we are done. I am proud of our accomplishments.
"Listen," I tell her, wiping the excess flour on to a handkerchief, "I don't really work here." I have never seen such harsh eyes.
"What do you do?" she asks.
"I think about things." Very, very harsh eyes.
"You shouldn't have been in here all this time. It isn't funny," she says.
"No, I guess not," I tell her apologetically.
"I'm not paying you," she says.
"Fine by me," I tell her.
"Put your apron in that bin," she commands, pointing to a dark corner.
"Now that you're about to open, can I buy a few of these?" I point to the day's labor.
"No," she tells me, and at this, I am surprised.
"Fine," I complain.
"You can have a half dozen for the labor. They're $4.70 each times six is $23.50. That's what we pay, or would have paid."
I grab a sack and my bounty.
"Has it ever occurred to you that the Divorcee only looks like two very distinct halves clinging together, but in truth is one whole sweet thing?"
She rests her body against the cash counter. "Never," she tells me.
I want the bitter coffee, too, but dare not ask. I take my sweets on down the road before the baker has time to re-think things and call the cops.