Chillicothe, Missouri, July 1928

(A faint hum, followed by a mechanical "pop", followed by "crunchcrunchcrunch, slurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp, mmmmmmmmmmmmm!")

Spike had to admit, the bloody gadget was pretty neat, even in this middle of nowhere town in the middle of a nowhere continent because...

(A faint hum, followed by a mechanical "pop", followed by "crunchcrunchcrunch, slurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp, mmmmmmmmmmmmm!")

...as usual, one of his more intricate scams had blown up in his face...

(A faint hum, followed by a mechanical "pop", followed by "crunchcrunchcrunch, slurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp, mmmmmmmmmmmmm!")

...no thanks to Dru, who, bored at being draped decoratively across his lap in the demon speakeasy in the bowels of the Kansas City Stockyards, jammed two yellow #2 Ticonderoga pencils up his nose while gleefully describing in excruciating detail the double cross he'd intended to pull on the Big Cheese across the table from them once he'd gained control - at exactly the wrong-right moment during a summit between himself and said Cheese... so instead of holding a K.C.-wide monopoly on hooch AND the slaughterhouse blood supply...

(A faint hum, followed by a mechanical "pop", followed by "crunchcrunchcrunch, slurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp, mmmmmmmmmmmmm!")

...he'd had to beat it like a sap with Dru (though maybe he should have just socked her in the kisser and left her behind just this once seeing as this was all her fault) in tow to this little...

(A faint hum, followed by a mechanical "pop", followed by "crunchcrunchcrunch, slurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp, mmmmmmmmmmmmm!")

...dump of a railroad bungalow where they'd convinced the owners, an elderly couple, that they were newlyweds from K.C. whose flivver'd broken down a mile back, and did they have a phone they could borrow to call home with?

"Spike?"

Swollen-nosed, Spike peered nervously through a parting in the faded velvet curtains, the heat of the surrounding sun-baked prairie like a blowtorch against his face, "What, pet?"

"Spike?"

"What, pet?" he snarled without turning around, using a pencil (one he'd found on the floor beside a half-completed crossword puzzle in last Sunday's Kansas City Star) to part the curtains a little wider to avoid the blast furnace of July sunlight but just enough to see out onto the dusty road that fronted their newest temporary lair. The juice-joint Big Cheese and his fancy-dance yodler of a boyfriend were nocturnal and mad as Hell at the caper he'd tried to pull- he thought he'd shaken the goon squad sent after them last night, but demons that didn't fear daylight could be hired...

"Spiiiiiiiiiiiiiike!" He started violently at Dru's insistent wail as she came up behind him, knocking the new fangled gadget, an electric pop-up toaster, out of her hands where it landed with a rattling thump beside the pencil on the neatly kept but faded red carpet of the parlor of the home they'd "borrowed".

"Bloody Hell, warn a bloke, will you?!"

"Mean, mean, mean!" Drusilla whined, dark bobbed hair slicked to her head with blood and butter, "You broke it, my new popper-opper up bread machine. You broke iiiiittttt!"

"Dru," Spike glared at his Eternal Beloved, "Now is NOT the time to be worried about elevenses." He looked out the window again, trying to avoid moving the curtain, but Drusilla wasn't going to let it go:

"'Tis!"

"'Tisn't!"

"'Tis'Tis'TIS!" Drusilla shrieked, stamping her foot, barely missing the chrome gadget he'd found in the kitchen to keep her occupied so he could watch for pursuers, "'TIS'TIS'TIS!"

"Pipe DOWN!" Spike screamed at her as the curtain blew open in the hot prairie wind so that a bar of sunlight sizzled across the back of his pomaded head in a flash of burnt-bacon smoke. "Hell's bells!" he yelped, falling back, slapping at his heavily Marcelled and pomaded hair to put it out before the rest of him went up in smoke no thanks to terminal sunburn even as the heel of one of his two-toned Oxfords caught the pencil, sending him and a nearby knick-knack laden end-table crashing to the carpet.

Dru stood over him in her short, beaded dress, watching him slap and writhe, chrome toaster nowcradled in her arms like a baby. "'Tis." She added matter-of-factly, followed by a loud Bronx cheer.

"All right pet, " Spike mumbled around his hair-scorched hand as he got up, the remains of china poodle dogs in unnatural colors and Kewpie dolls crunching underfoot when they weren't sticking to his back and hair, "You win, spill!"

"We're. Out. Of. Bread."

"So?" Once more, Spike peered cautiously between the gap in the curtains; still no sign of pursuit. His hand still smarted so he put it back in his mouth.

"We're out of bread."

Spike removed his hand, snarling, "So?"

"We're out of bread we're out of bread we're out of bread!" Drusilla stomped back into the tiny kitchen to kick at the drained remains of the elderly couple and two bakery delivery boys, "And tea!"

Spike flopped down into the big overstuffed chair in the equally small, hot front parlor beside the radio, free hand covering his face, moaning, "Aw, BALONY!" around his burned fingers.

Granted, the toaster had kept Dru occupied- as had the bag of amazingly uniformly sliced bread sitting next to it - enough so he could plan their next move, but peace from Dru ALWAYS came at a price: sooner or later somebody would miss the delivery boys, the ones that calling the number of the bakery printed on the bag had got them along with fresh loaves. The last thing he needed was some band of small-town John Laws getting suspicious and busting down the door in broad daylight with nowhere to run but open prairie with not even a tree... clutching the toaster like she would Miss Edith, Dru plumped down on her fanny in the middle of the kitchen floor amidst the empties and began a low moan, which then escalated into a whine, which modulated naturally, into an ear-splitting howl syncopated to the drumming of her French heels on the worn black and white checked linoleum.

"All right, all right!" Spike snarled, lighting a ciggy as he got up, hair a blackened mess, stepped over Dru's tantrum, and cranked the handle on the side of the wooden telephone hung by the back door before telling the operator on the other end the number of the Chillicothe Baking Company, hoping that the eventual voice on the other end of the horn wouldn't get suspicious and call the coppers because two delivery boys had already gone missing after going to his stolen address even as Dru abruptly ended her tantrum as quickly as she'd started, staring up at him with huge, kohl-rimmed eyes and pouting, beestung lips.

Finally the skirt on the other end picked up; flicking poodles and Kewpies from his ruined hair, Spike ordered five more loaves on the elderly couple's account, so that thirty minutes later the familiar song of a faint hum, followed by a mechanical sounding "pop", followed by "crunchcrunchcrunch, slurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp, mmmmmmmmmmmmm!" resumed, meaning that Drusilla was able to continue her long leisurely tea in the middle of nowhere in the middle of a nowhere continent while Spike fumed over one ciggy after another, waiting for sundown and a chance to beat it someplace else, maybe New York or L.A., where humans were civilized, demons gullible- and Jazz, giggle-water, and blood were easy pickings- all the while hoping the bread supply held out until sundown.


Guess what? Sliced bread was first marketed locally in Chillicothe, Missouri of all places, where eventually it spread until sliced bread became a market standard. The pop-up toaster came first, however, which was invented in 1919, in Stillwater, Minnesota.