Cakepan Manuscript – Final Chapter

This is a creative writing experiment, shamelessly stolen from the Chopin Manuscript: a serialized story where each author writes a different chapter. The members of this blog are each writing their own chapter, and we’re calling ours the “Cakepan Manuscript”.

You can start reading at Chapter One, which began with the premise: “An unemployed teacher, in a wine store, runs into a former student.” Each week we will post a new chapter until we reach the thrilling conclusion!

We hope you enjoy!

Chapter 7:  A Twist of Tomasso


Image by mrjoro via Flickr

Dietrich’s borrowed clothes were too constricting for cooking. He needed to keep his whisk moving in the saucepan. He thought the whole outfit was hideous, but agreeing with Terrence and putting it on was the quickest and easiest way to get him out of the apartment and start dinner. As it was he would probably still be cooking when his date arrived even if she was fashionably late.

Dietrich took off the jacket and threw it at the back of a chair, pushed up the sleeves of his shirt. That was better and he started to get into the rhythm of cooking, letting the familiar movements take his mind off the bodega debacle. He was disappointed in young Zach. Dietrich knew the kid faced challenges but he had expected better than what he’d seen in the store. Lesson learned.

Dietrich laid aside the whisk and took up a sharp knife. He had fresh herbs from his window box and he laid them out on a cutting board. Before he could start chopping though the doorbell rang. He glanced at the clock but it was still a bit early for his date. Dietrich started for the door then stopped. He still had the knife in his hand. He didn’t think anyone had followed him from the bodega and he doubted the cops could track him at all let alone this quickly. Unless they got to Zach before Benny and his boys. He decided to use the peephole this time.

The person in the hall was a woman with her back turned to the door. All Dietrich could see was a mass of platinum blond hair. Terrence had said Kelly was a blond so he unlocked the door and opened it. She turned and Dietrich could tell she was scared even though her eyes were concealed by oversized sunglasses. The girl from the getaway car.


Dietrich started to close the door but a foot shot out and kicked it open. Zach had been hiding beside the door away from the peephole. Now he shoved Dietrich back and barged in with his gun pointed in Dietrich’s face.

“Yeah guess who motherfucker?” Zach was trying to sound triumphant but it came off as shrill. His face was still bloody from Benny’s boys.  “Drop the knife!”

“Zach,” Dietrich said. He did not drop the knife. “How did you get away from the mob?”

“When the cops showed everybody scattered. I ran and had my girl come get me.”

“Huh. Sounds like the only thing you got right today,” Dietrich said. “Why did you come here and more importantly, how did you find me?”

“Your phone dumbass!” Zach held it up and waved it. “It’s got Mapquest directions from here to Benny’s.”

“Wait,” said the girl, “you got that phone from Holfinger?”

“Yeah I took it from him in the store so the cops couldn’t trace mine.”

“Well you took one of my phones,” Dietrich said. He reached in his pocket and pulled out another one which he waved in mockery of Zach. “And you can leave it with me before you go.”

“We’re not going anywhere Holefucker.”

“Holefucker,” Dietrich said and laughed. “I like that one better than Dickface. And it’s more accurate. Of course your girl would know that better than you. Right Ashlee?”

“You recognized me?” Ashlee said and pulled off the sunglasses.

“Of course dear. The disguise was a good idea but you didn’t hide your talented mouth.”

“Babe,” Zach lowered the gun and phone and looked at the girl. “What’s he talking about?”

“Why do you think I got fired Zach? For letting you morons play video games?”

Zach looked back and forth from Dietrich to Ashlee. “Babe?” he said in a small voice and Ashlee just shrugged.

“Oh, you’re dead asshole,” Zach raised the gun again and Ashlee grabbed his arm.

“Zach no! You don’t know—” Zach shook her off.

“I’m gonna blow your head off!”

“I kinda doubt it,” Dietrich said and gestured with the knife at Zach’s tattooed chest. “For one thing this isn’t Grand Crimezone. For another I explicitly told Johnny V to give you an unloaded gun.”

“How the hell do you know Johnny V?”

“Zach let’s get out of here,” said Ashlee. “It’s his phone.”

“Who’s phone?”

“When you called me from the store the number came up as Victor Tomasso.”

“But I called you with Holefucker’s phone.”

Dietrich and Ashlee waited while Zach looked from one to the other, then from the empty gun to the cell phone in Dietrich’s hand to the one in his own. Finally it clicked and Dietrich was pleased at the look of fear when Zach met his eyes.

Dunh dunh duhhn!” Dietrich waved the knife with a theatrical flourish.

You’re Tomasso?” Zach stammered. “But how did…it’s not…why?”

“Oh, please,” Dietrich said. “Do you have any idea what an art teacher makes?”

“I’ll tell!” Zach screamed. “I’ll go to the cops!”

“And tell them what? Your art teacher is also a gangster?”

“Yeah but the store—”

“The store you tried to rob? Where you pointed a gun at the gangster and he pissed his pants? I don’t think they’ll buy it. Lucky thing I had to go.”

“Zach let’s go,” Ashlee was backing out the door.

“Yes Zach go,” Dietrich said and advanced with the knife. “Keep the gun but leave my phone.”

Zach did as instructed and Dietrich followed and stood in the hall. He watched them go down the hall toward the elevator.

“Take the stairs,” he called as Ashlee reached for the button. “I’m expecting a date and I wouldn’t want your appearance to upset her.”

Zach and Ashlee disappeared and Dietrich heard the door to the stairway open and shut. The elevator doors opened at the same instant and an attractive blond woman stepped out. She stopped when she saw Dietrich’s knife. Dietrich plastered on a bland smile.

“You must be Kelly,” he said. “I’m Dietrich. I’m just making dinner.”

“Hi,” said Kelly and came to meet him. She handed him a bottle. “I brought some wine.”

“Woodland Syrah,” Dietrich said and fingered the woodcut on the label. “It’s perfect.”

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Cakepan Manuscript – Chapter Five: Move It Or Lose It

This is a creative writing experiment, shamelessly stolen from the Chopin Manuscript: a serialized story where each author writes a different chapter. The members of this blog are each writing their own chapter, and we’re calling ours the “Cakepan Manuscript”.

You can start reading at Chapter One, which began with the premise: “An unemployed teacher, in a wine store, runs into a former student.” Each week we will post a new chapter until we reach the thrilling conclusion!

We hope you enjoy!

Chapter Five: Move It Or Lose It

Professional baseball bats are typically made ...

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Ashlee knew better than to keep Victor Tomasso waiting so she quickly hit the answer button, all of her internal chaos becoming laser focused as she meekly said “Hello?”.

“Ash, it’s me Zach,” he said, sounding more than a little out of breath.

“What the hell are you doing with Victor’s phone.  You scared the shit outta me!” she yelled, her laser focus now lost, the chaos returning with a vengeance.

“There’s no time for questions, baby. Keep that car runnin’ hot and I’ll be right out.”

“You better be, you’re about to say hello to about a half dozen of Benny Nyguen’s little friends, dumbass.”

Over the phone, she heard a loud crash and realized that Benny and his cohorts must have gone around the back.  Sure enough, Zach came barrelling out the front door, dragging some guy with him.  Zach pushed the guy toward the car, and just a few steps behind them came the Vietnamese mob causing Ashlee to begin cursing with renewed fervor, “What the fuck are you doing? let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.”

As they drew closer, she realized that “some guy” was that wacko art teacher from school, Dickhead Somethingorother.  He had a big wet spot on his pants and apparently he didn’t realize that Zach’s gun wasn’t loaded since he was doing what he was told, which, at the moment was to get in the car and shut the hell up.  Dietrich was roughly pushed into the backseat and the door slammed behind him.  Zach wasn’t so lucky.  Before he could get in the front seat, Benny and the rest of his boys caught up with him, a baseball bat to the back of a knee sending him straight to the sidewalk.

He screamed out, “Ash, get outta here,” as he went down.  She punched the gas, tires squealing, and in the rearview mirror she saw familiar red and blue lights as two squad cars pulled up.  The imminent gang beating appeared to draw their attention and she was able to slip away, despite her erratic driving.

She forgot all about Dietrich until he sat up in the backseat, causing her to swerve, almost hitting a fire hydrant.  “Hey, Miss, can you just let me out right here?  Pretty sure you don’t want to add kidnapping to the litany of charges you and Zach are facing at this point.”

“Wait, you recognized Zach?”

“Yeah, had him in my art class a while back… when I still had an art class that is.  My apartment is near here, I can just walk, really I don’t want any more trouble.”

Numbed by the morning’s events, she acquiesced, dropping him at the next corner and speeding off.  Dietrich quickly fished his keys from his pocket and made his way to his apartment.  He needed a change of clothes and he still needed to find the right bottle of wine before Kelly showed up.  While cleaning himself up and considering himself lucky to have only a few scratches and bruises, there came an insistent knock at the door.

(Continued in Chapter Six)

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Cakepan Manuscript – Chapter Three: Pay to Play

This is a creative writing experiment, shamelessly stolen from the Chopin Manuscript: a serialized story where each author writes a different chapter. The members of this blog are each writing their own chapter, and we’re calling ours the “Cakepan Manuscript”.

You can start reading at Chapter One, which began with the premise: “An unemployed teacher, in a wine store, runs into a former student.” Each week we will post a new chapter until we reach the thrilling conclusion!

We hope you enjoy!

Chapter Three: Pay to Play

Internal mechanics of a Cash register

Image via Wikipedia

It was a frozen moment in time with a deep red floral smell permeating from the Merlot.  Zack was furious and at the end of his patience but he couldn’t pull the trigger.  Holfinger had given him away and he couldn’t shoot pretty little green-eyes at the cash register anyway.  His plan had been simple — grab the cash and deliver Victor Tomasso’s message.   The message was simple too.  If you want to run a business in his neighborhood, you have to pay to play or suffer the consequences.

The Merlot was beginning to smell like blood, and Zack needed to do something so he yelled, “Everybody out!” waving his gun to and fro at the line of customers behind Holfucker.  That’s what the students called him, Dickface Holfucker, because the dude was a loser, one of those teachers who thought he could hang with the home boys, a failure, wannabe artist, all talk and no walk, getting himself fired and Zack kicked out of school at the same time, all over that freakin’ game.

He should have shot the dumbass, put the sucka out of his misery but Zach couldn’t — the gun wasn’t loaded.   Instead he shouted, “Except you,” and aimed the gun at Holfinger when he started to move.  A pool of pee formed between the older man’s feet.

Zack jerked his head side to side, directing a straggler out the front door, and then spun his gaze to green-eyes who he could see desperately  wanted to join the departing crowd.  He’d never seen her before, and realized she must have started working at the neighborhood bodega in the last few weeks, in the time since his father had tossed him from the apartment for getting expelled, in the period when he’d realized he either earned a spot on Tomasso’s team or he’d starve on the street or maybe become something worse than dead.

“Who’s in the back?” he asked her.


Zack moved to the front door,turning the lock, never taking his gaze off the young girl.

“Where is Mr. Nyguen?”

She shook her head side to side, mumbling, “He didn’t say.”

Zack edged around the two of them and ducked into the back room where he quickly found the rear door,
unlocked and ajar.

(Continued in Chapter Four)

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Cakepan Manuscript – Chapter One: Broken Bottle

Our blog has been quiet of late, so we’ve decided to try something new. The Chopin Manuscript is a serialized story where each author writes a different chapter. We’re shamelessly stealing that idea for what we call the “Cakepan Manuscript”.

To help me write the first chapter of this impending masterpiece, the other members of my writing group gave me the premise “An unemployed teacher, in a wine store, runs into a former student.” Now each week one member will write another chapter and post it in the blog.

We hope you enjoy!

Chapter One: Broken Bottle

Wine Bottles

Image via Wikipedia

Dietrich rubbed the wine label with his thumb and frowned.

It was beautiful. A rich off-white paper, almost parchment, with the image of a medieval woodcut printed in deep maroon. The woodcut was fourteenth or fifteenth century if he had to guess, and showed a woodsman riding a mystical beast through a forest. The beast was part lion, part deer, and seemed unconcerned about the rider it carried. Matching the label color, the bottle glass was a deep maroon, helped in richness by the wine inside. The vineyard on the front was “Woodland”. A Merlot.

Or did he want a Syrah?

Dietrich sighed and picked up the next bottle on the shelf, trying to remember. The label on the Woodland Syrah label was identical to the Merlot except for the type of wine. Dietrich wondered where the woodcut was from. It looked original and not something cobbled together by a graphic designer for the label.

Flipping the bottle over, he saw the Syrah was even more expensive. He couldn’t afford both, not with what he spent on dinner. Setting the Syrah back on the shelf, he headed towards the front of the store with the Merlot cradled in his left arm. He knew he probably shouldn’t even buy the one bottle. Spending this much on dinner with a stranger would be silly even when he had a regular paycheck. Art teachers didn’t make much even by teacher standards. Now his income was scraps, and a new job was likely far away in time or geography. Possibly both.

Dietrich’s odd approach had cost him his job, and would make a new one tougher to get, but he was okay with that. He was fascinated by expression and creativity in all forms, whether a classical painting or a sculpture made of refuse. His bizarre projects infuriated the administration but delighted his students. More than once his class was the only one where a notoriously  “bad student” received an ‘A’. Not because he was an easy teacher, but because he actually got them curious and engaged. He heard some students attempted a Sit-In after he was fired.

Running his fingers from bottle to bottle on the shelf as he walked, Dietrich watched the labels go past. Bump, bump, bump. Every few steps the label changed but the bottles stayed the same. Or almost the same. Subtle differences, but each relied overwhelmingly on that small piece of paper to attract the eye and proclaim its individuality.

Dietrich turned at the end of the aisle and entered the checkout line behind a few people. Why had he agreed to this blind date? His brother could not have more incompatible taste in women, and he never understood Dietrich’s fascination with art, or why he would want to teach it to “smelly, stupid kids.” Dietrich would rather spend a year trapped with the smelliest and dumbest of his students than an hour with the bankers and fancy suits that filled his brother’s life. Yet in a staggering act of personal interest, Terrence had set him up with this woman, Kelly, and swore they would be a perfect fit. It would take his mind off things and get him back in the game, Terrence said. What game was that, Dietrich wondered.

The line shuffled forward as a customer finished paying.

Dietrich studied the bottle, turning it over in his hands. He wondered if winemakers were allowed to change the shape of the bottle at all. Sculpt it. Keep the same basic dimensions for packing but make the glass really flow with the label. Make a single presentation.

The line shuffled forward again.

He realized it was probably for an excuse to cook more than anything else. Cooking was an art, and an art form he was good at. Other things may escape him, but give him a canvas (or a pan) and tools (or ingredients) and he could work wonders. Maybe he should cancel with Kelly and just make dinner for himself. Then he could experiment more.

The line shuffled forward. Dietrich was at the front of the line. He placed the bottle on the stand and looked up at the cashier for the first time. She was a young girl, maybe twenty-two, with enormously green eyes. She smiled for a moment, about to speak, before she saw something over Dietrich’s shoulder and stumbled backwards in alarm.

Dietrich turned and saw a gunman rush in through the front doors, a pair of pantyhose over his face, his automatic pistol waving wildly. Dietrich backed into the cashier stand in alarm, knocking over his bottle of wine and sending it smashing to the floor.

“Empty out the registers! Now! Move it!” yelled the gunman in an oddly warbling voice. “Do it quick and nobody gets hurt!”

Dietrich blinked, confused. He knew that voice. He squinted at the face under the pantyhose.

“Zack?” he asked. “Zack Newberry?”

The gunman turned to him, the look of surprise clear even on his smooshed up features under the nylon.

“Mr. Holfinger?” the gunman asked. “From… from art class?”

(Continued in Chapter Two)

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