“I wonder if this is why Mother only ever baked when I was gone?” Maria almost moaned, licking more whipped marshmallow cake filling from her beaters. “I LOVE being a grown-up!”
“If I had known that being an adult meant that I got to sit on the kitchen floor eating icing and cookie dough and drinking cheap wine, I would have given in years ago!” Jasmine joked agreeably.
“HEY! That wine cost me $15 girlie.” Maria groused good naturedly at her best friend and straining to get her chubby legs working again as she went to hit the time and pull out the last dozen of their cookies. “How long does the cake cook? We’re supposed to have all of this ready when the kids get back from swimming!”
Jasmine lazing reached a long, pale arm up and set the timer for 25 minutes before unfolding herself into a standing position, automatically dicking to miss the low hanging light as she put the dishes into the sink’s soapy water. “Chill out Mar, you’ve got plenty of time. Hey, why is there smoke in the house? What did you burn this time?”
“Nothing, I swear!” Maria frantically searched through the kitchen, and then the entire house. Nothing was on fire, nothing was even too warm. “Let’s check outside!” She called, breezing past Jasmine’s languid form and bursting through the front door. “Um Jas…You should take a look at this.”
“Fine,” Jasmine heaved a, mostly, joking sigh and stood up from the suede recliner to make her way outside. “What is it Mary Mother of OH My Goodness WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THAT?”
“I don’t know for certain,” Maria whispered, “But I’m going to guess that’s what sent smoke into the house…so I’ll take an apology for your burned food crack anytime you’re ready.”
“I think there are more important things going on right now Maria!” Jasmine skirted the issue, “Like, why is there a giant flamingo flying around downtown with a Native American on its back sending out smoke signals? None of this makes sense and, what’s more, it CAN’T be good.”
“Maybe it just wants some of the cookout food?” Maria suggested, pointing out that every house on the block had a grill going, each one with dumbfounded cooks staring up at the sky.
“Maybe it wants to save us from your cookies,” Maria’s brother, Rich, suggested saucily from his house next door.
“You love my cookies.”
“Watch out guys, here it comes!” Jasmine jumped behind Rich and cowered as the super-sized Flamingo landed in front of them.
“Hello,” The Native American Man slid from his perch upon the large bird and greeted the three in front of him. “My name is He Who Loves Big Boom…but you can call me Mark.” “hello, Mark?” Maria hesitantly stepped forward and shook hands with the odd newcomer. “What brings you to town?”
“I need to ask for directions,” Mark confessed with a slight blush. “The long distance smoke company has no signal out here and I’m a bit lost. Do you know how to get to Tatalogayo’s Fire Works Extravaganza!? I’m almost late and I have all the fireworks on Scarecrow over there.” He motioned with his head toward the Flamingo, who was busy trying to get his head back out of the next door neighbor’s car window.
“Yeah sure man,” Rich stepped forward and nudged his sister out of the way in order to go unroll the car window all of the way, “Do you want road names or just general directions?”
“Scarecrow can’t read so just point us in the right direction,” Mark smiled and pulled a box down from Scarecrow’s back as Rich explained the way to Tatalogayo. “Here is something for the trouble. Sorry if we freaked anyone out!”
They waved him off until the flamingo was just a dot in the western horizon. “What did he leave us?” Jasmine prodded, reaching for the box.
“Us?” Rich raised eyebrows and looked his pseudo-sister up and down. “You hid behind me in cowering fear. He left this for Maria and Me.”
“What is it then?” Maria snapped, trying to snag the box.
“Wait…” Rich slowly dug in his pocket, slowly opened his knife, slowly sliced open the tape, and agonizingly slowly pulled back the flaps to reveal…
“Thanks Aunt Maria, Thanks Auntie Jasmine, Thanks Uncle Richie,” the three teen daughters of their oldest sibling, Inez, came tumbling out of their father’s car and onto the front lawn, wet towels flying as they spotted the open box. “Aunt Maria, there’s smoke everywhere. What did you burn this time?”
Maria and Jasmine looked at each other in horror. “THE CAKE!”