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Cupcake Kissin’ 47 – Alex Ankarr
‘Okay, let’s go.’ Caspar has his dander up, is having to practically tie a knot in his tongue to prevent himself, but he manages it. It’s Mack who’s telling Adam off, except he isn’t. Those words are delivered quite gently. And he pats at Adam’s hand, where it’s leeched on to his arm. ‘We’ll go get a drink, babe. Leave it at that, huh?’
And Adam relaxes against him, plastered up. And he shoots a smug look Caspar’s way, that is clearly only not a grin because he doesn’t reckon or rate Caspar as being deserving of any such effort and labour of expression from him. And Mack shepherds him over and away from the little grouping, over out of sight and through a doorway. And Caspar stands a moment, feels himself sweating and flushed with a quite unreasonable anger and hurt and shame. Mack doesn’t owe him anything, he reminds himself, no matter what they might have got up to in a not entirely sober moment, no matter what things he might half-hint when he likes to toy with Caspar’s feelings. (And he does toy with Caspar’s feelings, Caspar thinks, stung, and resolves to allow it to happen no more.)
‘You okay, man?’ one of Mack’s colleagues says to him, and he pulls himself together, mutters a short but civil, ‘Sure,’ grabs his jacket and gets out of there. He’s hung around quite long enough, he’s got plenty of stuff to do – more than enough to pack forty-eight hours into every twenty-four – and he can have a word with Sam later. (The word is not liable to be anything friendly or civil, not at this point.)
That’s the plan anyhow. Except as he’s getting out of the place, he manages to stumble across Mack and Adam again. It’s Adam who almost mows him down, walking fast across the outer reception area. But it’s Mack he speaks to, although he should know better. He does know better. But he’s kind of pissed off, and he does it anyway. He just can’t resist – not after the crap that Adam’s just been saying to him.
‘Thanks for the flowers, Mack,’ is what he says, and he’s instinctively careful to pitch it just loud enough that Adam can’t help but hear every single word. ‘You didn’t need to, though. I wasn’t that mad.’
Oh, o-ho, yep that’s right. He sets the cat amongst the pigeons – knowing that that’s exactly what he’s doing, too – and holding Mack’s eye while he does it, full eye-contact and a sweet, mild, passive-aggressive smile on his face. Well, Caspar thinks, furious and resentful. Fuck him, fuck him, fuck all of them and everyone and everything. And he marches out – a little fast, okay – with his head high and his back straight like a metre-rule. Yeah, the reception was a long way from unoccupied. Yeah, everyone heard him, not just Adam and Mack.
He perhaps slows down a little bit heading out to his car, because some degree of the euphoria he’s managed to self-induce begins to wear off pretty much immediately. But he bucks up, picks up his feet, keeps going. What the hell, he thinks. The bakery can get along just fine without this studio’s custom.
Before he’s even made it to his community college business class, the next thing on his schedule, Sam is calling and calling and calling again on the hands-free in his car. He finally takes the call, because Sam is nothing if not persistent, and will eventually find one way or another to speak to him. Even if it means turning up at his apartment in the middle of the night, or to the bakery at the crack of dawn, when he’s taking rolls out of the industrial oven.
And Sam is gleeful. Much too gleeful, for someone who ought to be busy apologising for costing Caspar’s business, business. ‘Oh man! You are not discreet! And you’re not telling me that wasn’t deliberate! I saw Adam’s face when he came storming back through the set after you were gone, he looked about ready to burn the place down!’ he crows. ‘What an asshole, though. Nothing he didn’t deserve.’
‘Sam?’ is all that Caspar says in response.
‘Ah, yeah, dude?’ Sam asks, innocent and surprised.
‘You know, Mack’s mad at me, and I’ve probably lost a really major customer for my business, and fucked up the party project too, and Sandy and Horace and Sophia and the rest of the guys are probably going to kill my sorry ass. And that’s best case scenario, if the business doesn’t lose enough turnover that someone loses their job over this. I’m pretty mad at you. Don’t call me again until you’ve either fixed this or you’re ready to apologise, and preferably both.’ He’s breathing hard when he knocks the call off, more righteous anger than he normally gets to experience from beginning to end of the average year. He’s growing and changing through this experience, all right. He’s not sure if that’s good or bad, but it feels somehow more honest and real than his old pacifistic people-pleasing self.
And when he’s supposed to meet Sara at Mack’s apartment three hours later, he craps out of it and gets there early enough that he can drop off the individual hand-blocked menus, take the measurements of the trestles they’ve had brought in, and leave her a note regarding the desserts he’d been going to talk over with her. There are three texts from her waiting on his phone, and she tries to call, but he doesn’t read them and he doesn’t pick up, nor from anyone else either. He knows it makes him a bad business-person and a terrible friend and all kinds of things, but right then he doesn’t care. He’ll check them out later.
© Copyright Alex Ankarr 2014
No unauthorised reproductions allowed. All rights reserved to the author. No inspirations for characters drawn from real-life individuals, no resemblance to real individuals intended.
Photo credit: Lyn Whitfield on Flickr, public domain.