Lord of the Pies
A one shot requested by and dedicated to Harlequine (Better known as Witchlin or M. Silvermane)
"I'll have one mocha java, a java mocha, a mocha latte..." The young toffee haired woman ticked the items off on one perfectly manicured hand. "Hmm... Some latte latte, if you know what I mean." Chuckling at her own little joke, she stood on her tiptoes to get a better view of the wide variety of items that the bakery had to offer. "Oooh!" She squealed, "Scones! I'll have seven blueberry, no make that raspberry..."
As she listed, the boy at the front desk scribbled down her order in barely legible handwriting. 'What is she ordering for? A sleep deprived army?!' He asked himself, his oblong head leaned over the pad of paper he was scribbling on. 'Crap.' His pencil had just broken. He considered pricking his finger on its' sharp remains and scrawling the remainder of the order in his blood, but quickly thought against it. He'd just have to remember what she said from here on out.
"And four glasses of orange juice!" The customer finished with a flourish and a sigh. "So, um, can you read that all back to me, um..." She squinted down at his name tag, "Arnold?"
He sighed, 'The things I do to make a living.' he thought to himself as he rattled off the list, improvising on scone flavors at the end. There were so many other things he'd rather be doing right now other than working at Mrs. Greene's Bakery, but with Grandma in the nursing home and Grandpa's health deteriorating, he needed to make the money that the boarding house itself couldn't.
"Exactly." The customer asserted, waking Arnold from his thoughts. She looked down at her silver watch, "Oh, crap!" She exclaimed.
"Pardon, miss? Is there something wrong with the order?" He asked politely, trying to ignore the angry line of unattended customers behind her.
She waved her hands in front of her, "No, no, nothing wrong with the order. Just that I'm late. Here," She thrust a business card at the blue-clad boy, "Just send the order down to this building in a couple of minutes, okay?"
"But we don't---" Arnold began to protest.
"Okay! Thanks, Arnie!" She shouted over her shoulder as she bolted for the door.
"--do deliveries." He sighed, "And my name is Arnold" He ripped the order out of his notebook and put it on the oak counter. "Mrs. Greene, we have a problem!" He shouted behind him to the woman in her mid fourties who was putting pies in the oven, then looked back at the line of customers. For a bakery in it's first year, it was becoming quite popular. He didn't want slow service to become synonymous with Mrs. Greene's bakery all because of one customer.
"I'll handle it, honey," She promised. "I'll get Marty to do the delivery."
Arnold was about to mention that it would require Mr. Greene to actually leave his meat shop (conveniently positioned across the street) in order to make a delivery, but before he could pipe up, the next person in line began to get impatient.
"Hello! I'm not getting any younger here." The customer yelled angrily, banging a fist against the counter, rattling displays of cakes and cookies as he did so. With a sigh, Arnold grabbed a new pencil from off the counter, and began to take his order.
A chime sounded thorough the store, announcing that another costumer had entered. While he carefully wrote down what the man in front of him wanted, Arnold's eyes wandered to the door. There, a familiar face strode through the door, eyes confidently ahead. She sat down at a table next to the window, and pulled out a notebook. Chewing on the end of her pen for a moment, she began to think of what to fill the page with... maybe poetry. Or a hitlist. Both seemed probable, and he never quite knew what to expect---
"SIR." The male customer in front of him was practically livid now, "I asked if you got all of that."
Flustered, Arnold managed to mumble a "Yes sir." From behind him, Mrs. Greene laughed.
"I'll take the rest of the to-go orders, Arnold. You can start going to the tables." She said with a wink, looking from the girl seated by the window back to Arnold. Blushing, Arnold complied, leaving the wooden counter, and angry customer, to more able hands.
"Tremble... Nimble?" The girl mumbled to herself, scribbling down on her paper, "Thimble? Criminy! Helga, ol' girl, why can't you even write a decent poem?" She belittled herself aloud, her fists slamming against the oak-lined burgundy table.
"Excuse me, ma'am, " Arnold began with a smile. Of course, the "ma'am" wasn't needed, as Helga went to the same high school as him, but it was required for him to greet people respectively--
"Yeah yeah, go away. Can't you see I'm workin' here?"
---even if they didn't treat him with any respect.
"I'm sorry," He continued, "But would you like to order anything?"
She responded without even looking up from her piece of paper."Oh, sure. I'll have a slice of pie." Helga responded, before going back into her mutterings.
"Any particular type?" He probed, fiddling with the blue hat on top of his head nervously.
"Surprise me." She replied. "Tremble... Symbol? Wimble...don?" she murmured into her paper, once again trying to find a rhyme, leaving Arnold with a task; to find a piece of pie for a tough customer. Not just any tough costumer; for Helga G. Pataki, the bully who would probably tear him to pieces if he chose the wrong type. Quickly, he went back to the kitchen.
When he came to think of it, though, it wasn't just important for those reasons. "Mrs. Greene?"
"Yeah, honey?" She asked, looking up from her bowl of dough, flour sticking to her apron and in her salt 'n' peppered black hair.
"Any particular type of pie that's really good today?" He asked. "I've got a customer that wants me to surprise her... and I really want to."
A knowing look crossed the woman's face. "Okay... well, how about the lemon pie?"
"Too sour... I know for a fact she likes really sweet things."
Mrs. Greene nodded, "Okay then, Boston crème? It's fresh out of the oven."
Arnold shrugged, "What's your favorite pie, Mrs. Greene? The one that's most interesting, most special, most---" he paused.
A knowing twinkle in her eyes, Mrs. Greene smiled, "I have a feeling you're not talking about the pie anymore."
Arnold blinked, "I'm not?" Pausing, he looked back down at his order notebook, "All I know is she wants to be surprised, and I want to do that."
Lightly chuckling, Mrs. Greene looked down at her watch. "Oh! Well, what do you know? It's time for your break."
"I just got here a couple of hours ago, ma'am." Arnold replied. Sure, he wanted a break as much as the next person, but he didn't want to have cheated anyone out of a well-deserved rest.
"And it's been quite busy. Now my son's going to do the rest of the morning cooking, and I'll get Marty to deliver the coffee and scones from earlier... and bamboozle a big tip out of them. In the meantime..." She carefully placed a plate with a slice of coconut cream pie in his hands, "Surprise the girl." Arnold stood with his mouth agape as the woman dried her hands and walked out of the shop.
Helga, by now, was in a frantic stage of writer's block. Absolutely nothing would flow from her pen to the lined paper in front of her. Frustrated, she began to pull at the end of her ribbon as a plate was slid in front of her.
"Took you long enough." She mumbled, still looking down at the nearly blank piece of notebook paper.
"It's hard trying to think of ways to surprise someone like you." Arnold smiled. Blinking, Helga slowly looked up from her paper as Arnold slid into the seat across from her.
"Arnold?!" She sounded surprised and slightly flustered, "I mean, what are you doing here, Football Head?" He didn't say a word, only motioned to his name tag. Helga grunted in response. "Well, then, why aren't you working?"
Arnold leaned forward on one arm, "Well, I was working until a rather irate customer asked me to surprise her." He awarded her with a grin that spread all the way across his odd-shaped face, "And here I am."
Her face flushed, Helga buried her face in her notebook, "Har de har. Okay, good joke, we've all gotten a good laugh. Now will you let me work in piece?"
"I'm sorry, it just didn't look like you were doing much working..." Arnold trailed off, looking at her notebook at an angle. "I figured maybe if you gave it a rest for a second, maybe the writing would come easier?"
"Well you were WRONG." Converting her discomfort to anger, she continued, "You don't know the first thing about poetry, all you know about is how to make an artist disgruntled." She put her notebook aside and stabbed a fork into the slice of pie with vigor. The prongs slid in easily, but the filling was just firm enough to suspend the fork in that position. She glared from it's silver surface to Arnold, and then back to the wounded pie. Slowly, Arnold got up from the table.
"Yeah, that's what I thought!" Helga grunted after him, fixing the bow that she'd nearly ripped out minutes earlier. "Stupid, dumb, wonderful, loveable football head." She mumbled to herself almost sadly as she gathered up her notebook and pen. She'd just have to go somewhere else for inspiration. With a sigh, she started for the door.
"Where are you going?" Helga turned around to see Arnold yelling to her from behind the counter, "I was just about to make an expresso!"
"Well, don't let me stop you." She shouted back as she opened the door.
"No, I mean..." The machine that he was working wurred a bit before chugging to a halt, and quickly, he placed a lid on the cup and jogged up to her, "Why have a slice of pie without having something to wash it down with?" He pressed the warm, steaming cup into her hands. She looked from the cup back up to him.
"Come on," he chided, "You murdered the pie without even taking a bite... or paying me." Grabbing her arm, he led her back to the table where her maimed pie still sat.
Letting out a sharp chuckle, Helga allowed him to help her take her seat. "Since when have you become so forceful, bucko?"
"Since you wanted a surprise." He answered calmly.
"I meant the pie." She clarified, settling herself back down into the padded chair. She removed the fork from the pie (which was now bleeding rich filling), and took a forkful. "Mmm..." She exclaimed as the rich, sweet taste entered her mouth.
Arnold sat back down in the chair across from her, all the while wondering exactly why he was doing this in the first place. He squirmed while she ate the pie and sipped from the expresso in silence.
"Well..." She drawled, leaning back in her chair, "I guess you could say I was surprised."
"Could I?" He asked hopefully, folding his hands in his lap and belatedly noting that he was still wearing his maroon bakery apron.
"The pie was wonderful," She continued, "And the company was surprising... and just as sweet." A blush bloomed on her face, though her features were trained in a calm and collected stare. She gathered her notebook and pen together, and got up from her seat, "Same time next week, okay." It was more of a statement than a question, a hopeful look in her eyes that was almost masked by the determined angle of her monobrow.
"Same time next week." He echoed, surprised by the words coming out of his mouth. He watched wide eyed as she strode out of the bakery, the chiming of bells announcing her exit. Regaining his composure, he gathered her dirty plate and cup to take back to the kitchen before realizing that she hadn't left any money on the table. A rueful grin spread across his face. He was paying... that would mean it was a...
"Yes!" he cheered quietly, almost skipping back to his position behind the counter. He'd scored a date with his childhood bully, all with a little luck, surprise, and pie.