“I can’t talk to you now.” Mark hung up his phone and placed it on his kitchen counter. His phone trilled. Mark picked it up and fingerprinted the keys with flour. “What?”
“Why can’t you talk to me now?” Jack signaled and merged into the right lane.
“Bro! I’m busy. What’s up?”
“This traffic is ass.”
“I’m having a crisis. I’ll call you later.” Mark clicked and put his iPhone back on the counter. He removed his bifocals. He bent at his waist and tried to read the recipe on the small screen. “How the hell am I supposed to read shit this small?” he said to no one. He was alone. His phone trilled.
“What the hell is going on?”
“Jack if you call me I can’t read the Goddamned screen!”
“What the hell are you doing?”
“I’m trying to bake a cake.”
Jack’s snicker burst into a chuckle. “This is your crisis?”
“There’s nothing funny here.”
“Why are you making a cake?”
“Okay is it making a cake or baking a cake? I’m not actually going to bake it. The oven will.” Mark picked up his soda and took a swig.
“Who gives a shit? Why are you making a cake? Go buy one.”
“It’s a birthday cake. Now leave me alone. I’m having problems.”
Jack laughed. “Jesus, anything to get laid!”
“You can laugh, you dick. But I’m having trouble and you’re not helping.” Mark took a sip.
“It’s a cake. How hard can it be?” Jack checked his speedometer and eased on the gas pedal.
“Okay. Well, first I wanted to bake a homemade cake.” Jack started to laugh. Mark warned him, “Shut up.”
“Okay so you wanted to bake a cake.”
“Yes. Well I don’t have a recipe book. Because … why would I?” Mark walked over to his sink and opened the bottom cabinet and put his emptied bottle in his recycle bin. “So I found a recipe online. And what the hell flavor is yellow? Fuck it. Never mind. And then I had to go buy all the ingredients. When will I ever use baking powder again?”
Jack interrupted, “I don’t know why you’re using it now.”
“Shut up. So I get all the ingredients but I don’t have cake pans. Because …”
Jack interrupted, “Why would you.”
“You should have asked Beth. We would have loaned you the pan.”
“First, it’s pans. Two pans. I’m doing the real cake thing. And I don’t talk to wives. You know that part.”
“And you can’t borrow one from an ex because they all hate you.” Jack laughed.
“Shut up. So I bought the pans, and the ingredients, and I followed the recipe, and I baked the Goddamned thing and I’m telling you my cake is so flat it looks like a hubcap.”
“There’s nothing funny here.” Mark took his hand and whisked the sweat from his forehead.
“There’s this thing Marky, it’s called a bakery. Go buy a cake.”
“Could I finish my story?” Mark walked to the mixing bowl and poked the powders with a spoon. “So I’m trying again.”
“You’re making another cake?”
“Are you even listening?”
“Go buy a cake. The end.” Jack glanced at the state trooper parked on the right shoulder.
“I’m not buying a cake. I bought a cake. I just need to assemble it.”
“Text me a picture of the cake. I’ll ask Beth what you’re doing wrong.”
Mark dropped his voice. “You are not to tell one human being on this earth about this cake.”
“You really like this one.”
“Actually you like them all.”
“Have I ever baked a cake before?”
“It can’t be that difficult to make a cake Marky!”
“Sometime when I don’t hate you and we’re drunk, I’ll tell you my pinewood derby story.”
“Tell me now. The freeway is at a standstill.”
“Jack. I have to bake this cake. I’m down to a couple of hours here. I don’t think you appreciate the level of fucked I am. I am drowning in fuckeddom.”
Jack laughed. “Oh you’re fucked! But the plan is to get fucked.”
“I am not baking this cake to get laid.”
“Yes you are.”
“Whatever. Now I’ve got to go. Pray this cake turns out.” Mark hung up the phone and began to stir the batter.